THE LADIES' MAN
On June 15, 1944, the 40th Bomb Group launched a B-29 combat mission against the Imperial Iron and Steel Works, Yawata, Japan, from Hsinching Airfield in Western China. It was the first strike against the Japanese homeland since the Doolittle raid in April 1942. This historic Yawata mission attracted many distinguished visitors, Allied brass, photographers, and news reporters to our Chinese base. General Chiang Kai-Shek, the President of China, and his lovely wife, Madame Chiang, came to witness the event.
Shortly before aircrews were scheduled to climb aboard their planes, Madame Chiang, trailed by her husband and the press, went to the flight line to visit the flight crew of Captain Edwin Glass who would lead the 45th Bomb Squadron's planes into combat. Eddie was our squadron's finest pilot, and unknown to Madame Chiang, our group's #1 ladies' man. Tall, handsome, with curly blond hair, Eddie Glass could be counted on to show much interest in any lady he met. His comrades were aware of the courtly Alabamian's uncanny knack of showing up at social functions with a beautiful woman. This was especially true when the group was training near the small town of Pratt, Kansas, before moving to the China-Burma-India theater.
When Madame Chiang arrived at Capt. Glass' B-29, she was introduced to the Captain by Group Commander Colonel Leonard Harman. The handsome Captain removed his cap with a great flourish, took the Madame's dainty hand as if it were fragile porcelain, and with a sweeping bow, gently kissed the back of her hand. Madame Chiang's ivory complexion turned pink as Eddie exclaimed in his best high school French, "ENCHANTE, MADAME." The great lady was so flustered that she failed to introduce her dour-faced husband. In flawless English, she replied, "God bless you, Captain Glass, and your brave crew. We wish you good luck on your mission." Capt. Glass stepped back and saluted. The General and his wife departed.
Writer's Note. My crew and I witnessed this fascinating event from the next hard stand, and we realized that the dashing Captain's behavior was in keeping with his reputation. I can recall seeing the broad grin on Eddie's face as he jauntily waved to us, winked, turned, and climbed into his plane. I believe Capt. Eddie Glass was the only man in the 40th Bomb Group who would have thought of kissing the Madame's hand. As we were to see later, he did it with grace and style. Pictures of the kiss were featured in many magazines and news stories that covered the historic bombing mission. Naturally, the handsome Army Air Corps Pilot was prominent in the photos.
* From Ira V. Matthews' Eighty-one War Stories. *