Posted by Myron Barnstone, edited by Joel Bowers on April 13, 2016
I was stationed in Japan. I walked across the hanger and there was door that said, “High Security Clearance Required” (which I had). So I walked in and said, “What are you guys doing?” They explained that they were responsible for scheduling all the maintenance on the aircraft and writing the work orders to send to all the shops where the technicians go out and serve and fulfill the requirements as the engine man or propeller mechanics, hydraulics technician or whatever was needed.
I told the men that what they were doing seemed much more interesting than what I was doing. We had more people in the shop than we needed so it was a bore. So I convinced them to let me assist them to see what I could do to help. There were enlisted men; there were non-commissioned officers, sergeants, lieutenants, and captains and majors. It was quite a crowd.
So I went in and I ignored the warnings. Because as I went in, I was taking on more responsibility, and as I took on responsibility, the people I took it from went out to play golf. So they were happy. They were malingerers; they didn’t care. “Let the kid do it.” Meanwhile, I am eliminating others’ responsibilities. They are off golfing. I’m reducing all the paperwork. It had been reduced to a single form and mostly replaced with all these visual aides. I’m having the time of my life because I loved being busy and I loved having something interesting to do. It was such a pleasure to see a whole squadron running as smoothly as it was. Even though I had no rank, I was in a position to dismiss the whole squadron for a day simply by saying we had to shut down. “We don’t have the parts so you can go.” So I was well liked.
I discovered that working in the hangar was a Japanese guard, who in fact, was a master carpenter cabinetmaker. I designed a desk that was a quarter sphere; a great sweeping panel. It had telephones to all the hot stands, radios, and communication with the aircraft. It was a jewel. The surface was out of this world and the detail was magnificent. And it allowed me to sit there with all the status posts that I had put around top of the room showing the aircraft’s number and showing all the systems. I had a system of colored pegs; a green peg meant it was pre-flight and ready to go; a red peg meant it was awaiting parts etc. All the systems, which at a glance, talking to a Colonel over the phone, I could give the status of all the aircraft.
The insurance marker to my system was that I cannibalized one B-29. It was at the end of the runway and when I couldn’t find parts I would simply take them from the cannibalized plane. I was awfully glad that I was no longer in that squadron when the issue of identifying the missing aircraft was discovered.