This story is about: Jorgen Jorgensen
1st lieutenant , 33rd squadron 513 group
It takes place: 1945
in China


Smoke from the Back of the Plane

Our mission as army pilots was to aid Chiang Kai-shek, leader of the Chinese nationalists in the war against the communists under the leadership of Mao Zedong in 1945.

My copilot and I met the Chinese raw soldiers at the C-46 cargo plane and we were to fly them to a designated field from Kunming, in southwestern China. We looked at these seemingly half starved peasants with no uniforms, but just a cotton undershirt and pants that looked like cotton underwear. They were all wearing straw conical straw hats and fiber sandals with bare feet. They each had a pair of bullet-loaded belts slung like a cross against their chests. Each had a rifle. There was a leader who understood a little English.

After loading the troops, we closed the doors of the plane and put on our parachutes. The parachutes were dual purpose so that in case the main chute failed to open, the second chute should. The main parachute formed our seat and the other chute formed our back cushion.

As we flew, it was a clear day and all was well. But soon, we started to smell smoke coming from the back of the plane. My copilot went back to find all the Chinese huddled around a fire. My copilot managed to put out the fire and asked why they had started a fire in the plane. The answer was they were cold and wanted to warm up.

We were happy to finally land and deliver these troops. We both were thankful they did not try to shoot us while we were in the air.

Chinese soldiers in front of a US C-46 transport plane.