Training - Boise
Stan Hand recalls the group's short stay at Boise. "What a place! Marjorie and I were lucky. We were able to rent a basement apartment where we lived like a couple of moles. An article in the Boise paper noted that a Lt. Col. Archie J. Old had just arrived to head a new group, and that the squadron commanders were Capt. W.D. Ready, 337th; Capt. Francis Tiller, 338th; Capt. Leon Lowry, 339th; and Capt. Stanley Hand, 413th.
2/Lt. Bob Mahan, who would fly most of his combat missions as co-pilot to Norm Tanner, was an early transfer from Salt Lake City. "About all I can recall about Boise," Mahan writes, "is getting chewed out by Colonel Travis for not having my hair cut. I was, however, selected to go TDY to Randolph AFB for special training in the 'new' oxygen-on-demands system -- when I returned to the 413th, I was appointed assistant Operations officer because of my superior knowledge in oxygen systems. Good thing they didn't send me to carrier pigeon school or I'd have been assigned postal officer."
While at the Boise army base, crews destined to become part of the 96th were given "First Phase" training. This consisted of checking out pilots and co-pilots and individual crew members training in the skills required for the performance of their respective jobs. This phase also concentrated on the integration of bomber crews by developing a process of molding them into units which could be considered teams rather than collections of individuals. With a contingent of 36 crews, most of them taken from the 29th, the air echelon of the 96th departed Gowen Field starting 31 August '42. The ground unit, which had left as early as the 14th, was far from complete. But it was a skeleton force of trained, efficient orderly room personnel. Many other ground personnel hitched a ride to Walla Walla when the air echelon left Boise. Consequently, some men (like pilot Garey Lambert) flew to the new base, but others went by troop train. The group's departure from Boise split personnel from their wives. Stan Hand recalls the meeting that did it. "Archie called us in and told us that all the wives must go home. His already had. 'We'll have no time for family life during the next few months,' he said. And we didn't."
Brand new 96 BG evacuates Gowen Field (Boise) for Walla Walla.
Farewell party for the wives. Boise