The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Navigator recalls old warbird

 


World War II warbirds on static display Saturday and Sunday at Clovis Municipal Airport brought back memories for one Clovis man who trained with a B-29 Super-fortress bomber.

Both a B-29 and “Diamond Lil,” the world’s oldest B-24 Liberator bomber, were displayed, courtesy of the Commemorative Air Force — formerly the Confederate Air Force — based in Midland, Texas.

Charles “Chuck” Moore, 84, of Clovis, recalled when he was stationed at the Clovis Army Air Field in 1945.

“That year, we were training B-29 crews for the South Pacific,” he said. “On my last training flight as a navigator, we crashed and burned our B-29 just north of Clovis. We were held up after that until we got a new pilot and a new engineer.”

The pilot and engineer on the plane were injured, but not critically. The other crew members, including Moore, survived with only bumps and bruises.

Moore’s then-fiancee Georgian said she was sick at home when the crash occurred.

“I told my mother, ‘Chuck was in that plane,’ ” she said. “When he came by that evening, he was limping, and I knew it was his plane. The plane was burned up — except for the tail section.”

By the time Moore and his crew were ready to leave for combat, the war had ended — due to B-29s dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Six months after the United States entered World War II, the Army Air Corps took control of the Clovis airfield (now the site of Cannon Air Force Base) on June 1, 1942, renaming it Clovis Army Air Base, according to historical records.

From 1943 to 1945, the base was used primarily for training aircrews for bombardment groups.

Training in the B-24 began in 1943, but by Feb. 6, 1944, transition to the B-17 had been effected, according to records. Throughout that year, flying and gunnery classes averaged 500 or more students per month.

By February 1945, the first B-29 class had reported, and as the transitioning got under way, the installation was redesignated Clovis Army Air Field, which is when Moore entered the picture.

Richard Cullen, 65, now of Clovis and formerly of northern Virginia, was among the fans of the B-29 on display at the airport this weekend.

“The B-29s trained here in Clovis,” he said. “This is nice to see some of the old planes. It’s pretty impressive restoration.”

 
 

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