WWII-KW-VN US AIR FORCE FIGHTER PILOT GROUP – TIMOTHY CRONIN

A small but significant group of insignia (and named canteen!) to a Wisconsin born fighter pilot that served in 3 wars! International customers, please email me before purchase to figure shipping costs. Thank you! The following is an abstract of the recording Wisconsin Veterans Museum Research Center Transcript of an Oral History Interview with Lt. Col. Timothy J. Cronin Fighter Pilot, Air Force, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War that was conducted in 1994. Timothy J. Cronin, an Oconomowoc, Wisconsin native, discusses his career as a pilot in the Air Force in World War II, Korea, and the Vietnam War. Cronin touches upon his early life in Oconomowoc during the Great Depression. After graduating college in 1939, he attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Cronin tells how his father, a U.S. Attorney in Milwaukee, mailed him a postcard stating he had drafted his son. Cronin “didn’t want to be a ground pounder” so he joined the Army Air Corps. Cronin reveals he chose the Air Corps over the Navy because he was afraid of getting stranded at sea. Cronin was called up in February 1942 to San Diego (California) where he passed a written exam to become a pilot. Cronin recalls his basic training in Greenville (Texas) and his first flight at flight school in Bonham (Texas). In 1944, Cronin was assigned to the 8th Air Force, 4th Fight Group in England; however, he mentions he missed the D-Day invasion because he was hospitalized for a month with the mumps. Cronin briefly discusses his voyage across the Atlantic on the USS New Amsterdam. Next, he describes his first combat mission in 1944; Cronin was a fighter pilot whose primary mission was to escort bombers. Three squadrons, or forty-eight planes, flew on these missions. Cronin states he shot down two-and-a-half German planes (the “half” was a plane he and another pilot hit at the same time). Cronin briefly describes the German air defense and characterizes the Germans as good pilots and fighters. When not escorting bombers, Cronin would strafe roads, aiming at trains, trucks, and moving vehicles. He explains he was authorized to shoot at “targets of opportunity” and that he occasionally carried bombs and went on “skip bombing” missions. Cronin takes time to describe his psychological mindset during World War II, stating he was sure he would not come back alive. He also discusses military life and recreation: he was stationed at Dundon Air Base (England) and visited nearby Saffron Walden or London where he and other troops drank warm beer and played darts. Cronin states he flew his last mission on New Years Eve 1944. Because he had completed seventy missions, Cronin was allowed to returned to the U.S. on Easter Sunday 1945. He recalls attending Gunnery Instructors School in Texas when he heard the news that the atomic bombs had been dropped on Japan. After World War II, Cronin states he returned to UW-Madison and earned degrees in civil engineering and law. Cronin addresses college life on a campus full of veterans, commenting that he lived in a fraternity house that was taken over by women students until 1946 when the men returned. Cronin jokes that during college he “goofed up along the way... and joined the Wisconsin Air National Guard” in 1947. Cronin enjoyed the weekend exercises— until he was called up to Korea in 1954. Throughout the interview, Cronin discusses the merits of various aircraft including the P-51, F-89, F-94, T-33, and C-130. Cronin compares flying a T-33 jet with radar in Korea to flying a P-51 propeller plane in World War II. He explains it was important to trust the jet’s instruments and radar in Korea because he was flying at night in bad weather. Cronin describes sleeping in huts at the air base in Suwon (South Korea) and contrasts these conditions with the RAF base in Dundon (England). After a year in Korea, Cronin was reassigned to Minneapolis (Minnesota) to fly with the Air Defense Command. He tells the story of meeting his wife, a commercial airline stewardess, on a trip to pick up new aircraft from another city. Cronin explains he was “shuffled around” in the next few years to Kansas City and attended Command and Staff College before he and his family were transferred to Wiesbaden Air Base (Germany). In Germany, Cronin explains he did civil engineering work and flew top officers to various bases in Europe. He reflects on raising a family in the military, mentioning that he and his wife liked Germany and “military life” and that the entire family took trips to Holland and France. Cronin depicts relations with the German people as positive and mentions many Germans he worked with had fought on the Russian Front during World War II. Next, Cronin discusses his service in the Vietnam War. In 1968, he was stationed at Mactan Island (Philippines) and ran frequent missions to Tan Son Nhut Air Base (Vietnam). Cronin explains that he flew back and forth so often because he was on “temporary duty” and “it was a numbers game they [the military] were playing.” Cronin describes flying “trash hauler” missions; he would haul anything from ammunition, food, and supplies to troops, Vietnamese prisoners, and dead bodies. Cronin feels this was a good assignment and notes positive experiences like delivering fresh vegetables and ice cream to American troops on the frontlines. Cronin tells a vivid story of how his aircraft was hit and he had to land and evacuate his crew. Several members of his crew were injured, and his loadmaster lost an arm. The loadmaster and navigator were evacuated back to the hospital, but rather than wait for another helicopter, Cronin flew his original plane back to base with an illegal skeleton crew. Cronin reflects upon the differences between the Vietnam War and World War II. He comments that as a 21-year-old in the Second World War, he was ironically more afraid of dying than he was in Vietnam, with a family and four children to return to. Cronin reflects: “I was probably better off mentally in Vietnam than I was in World War II.” He discusses the difficulty of being away from his family during his year in Vietnam and tells how he had telephone dates every Saturday night with his wife in Oconomowoc. He recalls how his wife “was scared stiff” when Cronin missed one of their dates because he was on a mission at a special forces camp. After Vietnam, Cronin returned to McClellan Air Force Base (California). Now a lieutenant colonel, Cronin heard from a friend who was a chief master sergeant that he was in line to go back to Vietnam. Cronin states he “would have been in civil engineering in Vietnam” and that he disliked the idea of “sitting in the back of a helicopter” while a second lieutenant was piloting. Cronin retired in 1971 before he could be sent back to Vietnam. Lastly, Cronin discusses his participation in veterans’ organizations. He joined the American Legion shortly after World War II but later left because they weren’t providing the support he wanted. He now belongs to the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Disabled American Veterans. 3Biographical Sketch:Cronin (b. 1921) was born and raised in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. In 1942, he joined the Army Air Corps to avoid being drafted by his father, a U.S. Attorney. In World War II, Cronin flew with the 4th Fighter Group, 8th Air Force, escorting bombers over Germany. He shot down 2.5 planes and flew 70 missions, which qualified him to return to the United States in Spring 1945. After World War II, Cronin graduated from the University of Wisconsin with degrees in civil engineering and law. He joined the Wisconsin Air National Guard in 1947 and was called up to Korea in 1954. In the 1950s and ‘60s, Cronin served with the Air Defense Command in Minneapolis (Minnesota) and at Wiesbaden Air Base (Germany). In 1968, he was deployed to Vietnam, where he hauled supplies, prisoners, troops, and casualties between Mactan Island (Philippines) and Tan Son Nhut Air Base (Vietnam). Cronin retired from the Air Force in 1971 with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He lives in his family home in Oconomowoc and is a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Disabled American Veterans. (Transcription edited and abstract written by Darcy I. Gervasio, 2010 )

Item: 1213

Price: $475.00
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WWII-KW-VN US AIR FORCE FIGHTER PILOT GROUP – TIMOTHY CRONIN