Homer Myers was born in Union Grove, North Carolina in October 1924. His parents worked hard on a little farm. He got by in school. He came right out of high school and joined the US Army Air Corps [Annotator's Note: in 1941]. He served four years in the Air Corps. He was interested in flying and it seemed like the best deal. He enjoyed it very much. He was inducted in Charlotte [Annotator's Note: Charlotte, North Carolina]. He started at Thunderbird Field [Annotator's Note: in Glendale, Arizona] in Arizona flying the PT-7 [Annotator's Note: Boeing-Stearman PT-17 Kaydet primary trainer aircraft] in 1942 and 1943. [Annotator's Note: Myers has a hard time recalling dates. The interviewer asks when he heard the news of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on 7 December 1941.] He was at church and they talked about it. He had already made plans to join the Air Force. When he graduated, they sent him to Winston-Salem [Annotator's Note: Winston-Salem, North Carolina] to sign up. They told him they were not taking anymore cadets. They only way he could get in was to join the Army. He went and asked to get on the next group out for the Army. He went to Charlotte on a bus. He had five or six days off and he went home. He reported to Fort Bragg [Annotator's Note: Fort Bragg, North Carolina]. He was then shipped out to a holding squadron.
Homer Myers flew the T-17 Stearman [Annotator's Note: Boeing-Stearman PT-17 Kaydet primary trainer aircraft] in training. He loved it and he loved flying. He was sent to Florida and took some tests. [Annotator’s Note: unintelligible]. He got a rating of T-5. He went through more basic training and was shipped off to Tampa, Florida [Annotator's Note: Myers moves around in time.] He then went to Fresno Field, California. He was in a holding squadron and would march into the mountains and back. He went to Phoenix, Arizona for his pilot training. It was a nice field. He went through classification. Three months later he went to bomber training at Tucson, Arizona to train on the BT-13 [Annotator's Note: Vultee BT-13 Valiant basic trainer aircraft; nicknamed the Vultee Vibrator]. It was a nice airplane. They would do acrobatics in the PT-17. They went back up to Mariana Air Force Base [Annotator's Note: unable to identify] where they flew a twin-engine Cessna [Annotator's Note: Cessna AT-17 Bobcat advanced trainer aircraft]. He enjoyed flying all of the airplanes. Back before classification, he was shipped around all over including the University of Utah [Annotator's Note: Salt Lake City, Utah] and then to Pullman, Washington for college training in math. He then went to California for the classification of pilot.
After pilot training, Homer Myers got his commission. He went to Tampa, Florida and started his B-17 [Annotator's Note: Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress heavy bomber] transition training. It was a great airplane. He loved to fly it. It was stable and you could depend on it. The crew was 12 or 13. They trained to drop bombs. He was scheduled to ship to England. The morning they were to leave, they assigned them to Air-Sea Rescue. The B-17 carried a 26-foot by 5-foot wide [Annotator’s Note: Higgins Industries A-1 lifeboat]. They would drop it from about 1,200 feet above the water and it would hit at about a 60-degree angle. It had a water-activated air system and would inflate. It had a small engine. They would have a bomb load and would take-off at about 90 miles per hour. They would release the boat at about 95 miles per hour. He trained as a bomber crew, but he lost his bombardier and the ball turret man when they went to Air-Sea Rescue. He was in the first flight to go through that training in rescue. They would orbit about five miles off the target. The flight would go in and drop their bombs and come back. If anyone had any problems, Myers would be called to go drop the boat.
Homer Myers flew his own airplane from California across the Pacific. The first flight was 12 to 13 hours. They left San Francisco [Annotator's Note: San Francisco, California] for the Philippines. They stopped in Hawaii first. Then to Biak, New Guinea. They spent one night at Guadalcanal [Annotator's Note: Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands]. His first base was at Biak. They left their airplanes there as replacement aircraft. He was assigned to 3rd Air Rescue [Annotator's Note: 3rd Emergency Rescue Squadron] and went to Floridablanca [Annotator's Note: Floridablanca Airfield, Floridablanca, Pampanga, Philippines] in the Philippines. That was their home base. They usually flew one mission a day. They liked to have them about five miles out in orbit to go and help if anyone got shot up.
[Annotator's Note: The interviewer asks Homer Myers to tell him about being called out to assist the survivors of the USS Indianapolis (CA-35) on 2 August 1945.] They flew from Biak, New Guinea and to spend the night on Peleliu [Annotator's Note: Peleliu, Palau] at a Marine Corps base. There were three planes flying together. The CO [Annotator's Note: commanding officer] of the airbase came with his arrival reports. He wanted to see the Air Rescue planes. Two of them were equipped [Annotator's Note: with a Higgins Industries A-1 Lifeboat; also known as the Higgins Air Sea Rescue boat]. Myers' plane did not have a lifeboat on it. They checked into their airbase and his plane was loaded down with 26 rubber life rafts. They flew about two hours north and found the guys. They were floating on anything they could get to float. There was a PBY [Annotator's Note: Consolidated PBY Catalina flying boat] that found the crew and the men got on it. Myers went looking for more. [Annotator's Note: Myers falls asleep and apologizes.] It was about 20 mile area where the men were scattered. They would kick out the life rafts. The men had been out there about five days. He talked to some of the survivors later at a dedication. One said he was sure glad they got up there. He said he wondered where the life raft had come from. It made Myers feel good. He told his crew to get more rafts ready. The navigator was standing on the catwalk, which was about 14 inches wide. The crew would pass the rafts to him. They were all communicating over the radio system. Myers would tell them when to drop them. They unloaded all of their rafts and returned to Peleliu. Afterwards he saw a lot of rafts and knew they were the rafts they had delivered to them. He heard about the rescue the next day and had not realized they had been out there in the water that long. Sharks were eating them. [Annotator's Note: Myers apologizes for being sleepy.] The pilot [Annotator's Note: US Navy Lieutenant Commander Robert Adrian Marks] of the PBY told Myers it was the hardest thing he ever had to do. He would taxi by two guys and go further and there would be eight or ten. He had to take the eight and leave the two. He ended up with over 50 men in that plane. 317 [Annotator's Note: crewmen from the USS Indianapolis (CA-35)] of them survived. Myers does not recall having any missions after that. His B-17G [Annotator's Note: Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress heavy bomber] had no nickname or nose art. They would just be assigned a plane to fly. He was too busy looking for survivors to really think about it much. His was the only aircraft dropping rafts. It took two hours to find the men, but the mission was not that long. It was a pretty exciting time. [Annotator's Note: The tape fades to black and then resumes with panning around his home. Myers is talking when it ends.]
All oral histories featured on this site are available to license. The videos will be delivered via mail as Hi Definition video on DVD/DVDs or via file transfer. You may receive the oral history in its entirety but will be free to use only the specific clips that you requested. Please contact the Museum at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in licensing this content. Please allow up to four weeks for file delivery or delivery of the DVD to your postal address.
Your browser is out of date!
To get the best possible experience using our website, we recommend that you upgrade or download an alternative web browser. Downloading a new browser will make internet browsing safer as well as more enjoyable.