Segment 1


[Annotators Note: Interview begins mid-conversation.] Herbert Heilbrun was waiting for his crew in Salt Lake City when he heard his comrade was killed. He harbored animosity towards the Japanese until he met and took a young Japanese boy to a Christian Science church. [Annotators Note: Interviewer asks to turn down volume and Herb instructs him to turn the volume off causing a silent pause.] Heilbrun grew up in Avondale [Annotator’s Note: Avondale, Ohio] and went to Avondale School and Ohio State University. He participated in swimming and polo but never graduated. Heilbrun used to read pulp magazines named G8 and His Battle Aces about World War I pilots that flew Spads [Annotator’s Note: French SPAD S. XIII biplane fighter] and Jennies [Annotator’s Note: Curtiss JN-4 biplane] with his wingmen Bull Western and Nippy Martin, when he was 12. He also made model airplanes of balsa wood. Heilbrun and his friend would put matches on the plane and launch them out the window of a second story house convincing Heilbrun to go into combat. Heilbrun loved flying and tested engines like the GR2600 [Annotator’s Note: Wright R-2600 Cyclone 14] on the B-25. He would test them on test blocks. Heilbrun took a test to become a pilot and continued to work to be a cadet in a nine month program. He wanted his wings more than anything. Heilbrun joined the cadets after the war began. He was working for Wright Aeronautical Corporation when Pearl Harbor was bombed. He took the test but had to wait because the flight schools were all full. Heilbrun preferred to fly, but would have enjoyed the navy. Heilbrun was fortunate to get B17s. Heilbrun and his friend met at the local swimming pool. Of the five friends, two still remain. All of his friends were three or four years older and joined the military before Heilbrun. Heilbrun lost one of his closest friends in combat.


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