A Collection of
EIGHTY-ONE WAR STORIES
of Life in the 40th Bombardment Group during World War II
Ira V. Matthews
The United States Army Air Forces were encountering an unprecedented growth from 1941 of some 150,000 personnel peaking to over 2,300,000 in 1944. Understandably, there were herculean problems to be resolved in establishing bases and support facilities, incorporating advanced technologies in aircraft, and in the training and care of its people. Similarly, the overseas squadron personnel and their Squadron Commanders were forced to cope with and resolve many difficulties they faced on a daily basis.
Colonel Ira V. Matthews started his active duty with the 40th Bombardment Group as a 2nd Lieutenant in the latter part of 1941. The writing herein presents experiences and observations during his assignment in the 40th Bombardment Group that culminated in 1945.
As expected, the stories present subject matter of wide ranging situations. They bring to light and reflect upon situations that may have been encountered in various degrees by other personnel but remain undocumented.
Colonel Matthews, even as a 2nd Lieutenant, was a capable, illustrious officer with superior flying abilities. He was particularly aware of difficulties experienced by the enlisted maintenance and support personnel, and credits them of assuring he was able to accomplish his assigned mission.
James I. Cornett
Colonel, USAF (Ret)
About the Author
Ira V. Matthews
1919 - 1990
Ira V. Matthews was born on August 30, 1919, in Townley, Alabama. He grew up on his grandparent's farm in Fayette, Alabama, and graduated from Fayette High School.
In September 1939, Ira enlisted in the Army Air Corps at Maxwell Field, Montgomery, Alabama, as a Private in the Aviation Cadet Program. He graduated from Advanced Flying School at Maxwell Field and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in September 1941. He was assigned to the 40th Bombardment Group, Caribbean Area, in October 1941, flying antisubmarine patrol missions in B-18 type aircraft.
In June 1943, Ira returned to the States to begin transition training in Boeing's B-29 Superfortresses at Pratt, Kansas. He served an 11 month combat tour with the 40th Bombardment Group in the China-Burma-India Theater. He and his crew were assigned the "Eddie Allen", a B-29 named for a Boeing Test Pilot killed in early testing of the B-29. He returned to the States in March 1945.
A career officer, he served 16 years in the Strategic Air Command while flying B-47 and B-52 bombers. During this time, he served a tour of duty in the Korean War. In 1959, he was assigned to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base as the Wing Commander of the 4043rd Strategic Wing. Under his command, this unit won SAC bombing competitions.
Leaving SAC, Ira served as Military Advisor to Laos in Southeast Asia. On his return to the States, he was assigned to Brookley Air Force Base, Mobile, Alabama, as Director of Maintenance until he retired in the grade of Colonel in 1967. During his military career, he received the Legend of Merit twice, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star, and numerous other medals.
Following his retirement from the United States Air Force, Ira joined the staff of Mobile College (renamed University of Mobile) as Assistant to the President. He served as the Financial Aid Officer until his retirement in 1981.
Ira was a member of the First Baptist Church where he was a Deacon and a past Sunday School Teacher. He was also a member and past President of the Mobile Lions Club.
Ira V. Matthews died on October 8, 1990.
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About the book:
Many of these stories were originally published as "Sketches & Stories" by Ira Matthews. Ira wrote about 70 of these brief sketches about the 40th. These covered events from Puerto Rico to China. Ira hacked them out on his own typewriter and reproduced some sets of them in typewritten page format. Some years after his death, Fountain Brown undertook the task of editing the collection and getting it reproduced in quantity. In 1997, with the help of Bill Rooney, these stories were published as A Collection of EIGHTY-ONE WAR STORIES of Life in the 40th Bombardment Group during World War II. This book was published, and offered for sale at cost. There were only enough copies printed to fill the orders received, so when the project was complete it was closed down. At the time of its publication, a decision was made not to seek copyright protection, in the hopes of encouraging wide distribution. This book is presented here in its entirety.
These stories may be reproduced without formal permission, but credit should be given to the author and the 40th Bomb Group Association
William A. Rooney
40th Bomb Group Assoc.
517 1/2 Ridge Road
Wilmette, IL 60091
Fountain L. Brown
Lt. Col., USAF (Ret)
40th Bomb Group Assoc.
1806 NW 8th Street
Meridian, ID 83642
U.S.A. military aircraft are identified by a letter, a dash, a number, and another letter, i.e., B-29A. The first letter indicates the aircraft's mission -- B for bomber, F for fighter, etc. The number is the manufacturer's identification. The second letter indicates aircraft model beginning with A and continuing through the alphabet as major changes are made to the aircraft. In these stories, the second letter is not used because the model of the aircraft being referred to is unknown.