Major William Braxton on the island of ie shima

Major William C. Braxton Naha Air Force Base in Okinawa 1957and WW2 P-47 Thunderbolt Fighter Pilot Instructor. 

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Information needed about Major William C. Braxton who was an instructor pilot at Naha Air Force Base in Okinawa in 1957 flying the P-47 Thunderbolt fighter airplanes.
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  1-11-2009  A reply to the letter below from the webmaster.

Dear Bob,


Thank you very much for your letter.  This better explains a lot of historical facts that were never told.  I never knew that the merchant marines were this involved in the war.  I need to talk to my friend Harry McFetridge, who was a merchant marine in the war and is now the mayor of Prairie City Illinois.  He too may have photos and would like to share his stories.  He told me some of how they were shot up after passing Hawaii, but he never got into the details.  The one thing that he told me is that the merchant marines were never treated as soldiers.  The more I learn, the more I realize that the merchant marines were soldiers just as much as anyone else in the war and should be recognized as such.

 There is one part that I would like to hear more about and that is about what happened and your experiences and feelings about when when you were sunk and how long before and how you were rescued.  This is talked about very little and is something that everyone needs to know.

 At the Museum of Science and Industry, in Chicago, the U-505 Exhibit shows several men floating on a piece of wood after their ship was sunk.  This is not a picture, it is mannequins on a piece of wood with simulated water, so it was very realistic.  The new U-505 Exhibit is very fantastic to see.


From Bob Shackles

Dear Jeff;

Yes I do have pictures of me in uniform and in my senior years  but unfortunately they are at my home in Missouri.  My wife Norma of 62 years and I are now living in the Villages Florida during nine months out of the year. I will see if I can get copies from my kids and forward them to you. I did not know Major Braxton but I witnessed the activities of the fighter groups stationed at IeShima and Okinawa. There were times when the Japanese Zeros were escorting the Betty Bombers to bomb the Island especially the airstrips and I witnesses the P-47s taking off to engage the Zeros.   Here again it would be impossible for me to explain the action I witnessed during these dog fights except to say I believe the kill rate was about ten to one in our favor. I could see some of the Japanese Zeros and the Betty bombers that were shot down hit the Islands in a huge ball of fire. Some credit is also due the Army anti-aircraft gun crews who were also downing some of the bombers. The night time raids that required our ground anti-aircraft crews to use the huge search lights to locate the bombers were frightening to witness but very impressive. I was a 17 year old Merchant Marine who was a 20 mm Anti- Aircraft gunner stationed aboard a supply ship that was hit by a Japanese suicide plane. We were loaded with high explosives and that was the end of our mission. Those of us who survived were rescued at sea by the Navy and taken ashore at Okinawa.   I volunteered to join the 1st. Marines fighting on Okinawa,    When the Atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima I was sent home and discharged but not before we had to weather a terrible Typhoon at sea.  I found it difficult to adjust to civilian life and I joined the Army and went through Airborne Jump school and sent to Germany where I was assigned to the 508 Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82 Airborne Division stationed at Heddernheim Germany.  That's a brief history of my WW2 activities.  However I will mention the Air Force landing strips at Okinawa were also used for emergency landings by our B-17 and B-29s returning from Japan that were crippled and unable to make it back to their base at Guam. It was always a relief to see them land safely but I saw a couple that landed in a big ball of fire and we knew the crew had perished. This was sad!  It made us angry and we fought that much harder.  Okinawa was a hell hole and according to our War Department  we lost over 14,000 of America's  bravest but we accounted for 117, 000 enemy dead during this three month battle. 

Bob Shackles

Cyndy this is not what you are looking for but I have something to say about the instructors who trained our fighter pilots that fought the Japanese at Ie Shima and Okinawa in WW2.  I was stationed aboard a supply ship that was anchored close enough that we could see the island of IeShima. We were at our battle stations constantly because we were being attacked by the Japanese suicide planes. I witnessed the pilots of the P-47s the P-51s-and later the P-38s as they returned from protecting our bombers during missions to Japan. When a pilot was credited with a Zek kill he was allowed to put his fighter plane through aerobatics before landing and it appeared there must have been competition among these pilots. I say that because it would be impossible for me to describe to you how great these young pilots were doing their thing above the Island of Ie Shima and Okinawa and they seemed to want to out do each other.  I often wondered how their fighter held together. They had to be well trained to down the Japanese Zeros and also to get that kind of performance out of their fighter planes. They put on a great exhibition and we always enjoyed watching them. I know they were a credit to their country and also their instructors.  Well trained pilots had a greater chance of staying alive. 

A WW2 Veteran

Bob Shackles

Click Here to to read the Best WW2 Story that I have ever read about Geckos, by Bob Shackles
Hi - 

My Dad, Major William C. Braxton, was an instructor pilot for the P-47 back in the 1940's.  He was  stationed at Naha AFB in Okinawa in 1957 as that is when I was born.  I would  like to find some of the men he trained and flew with that may still be alive.  My Dad is now 80 and takes great pride in the fact that he trained many men and flew many missions on the P-47.  His name and rank at the time he was an instructor pilot was Major William C. Braxton, he retired as a LTC. 

If anyone recognizes his name, please send me an e-mail. 

Click Here to Write to Cindy



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