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Looking Backward: Remember when Harley flew over the Hump

"Then I went to twin-engine training in Frederick (OK). When we finished, I received a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant. My wife and mother were both there for my graduation. From there, they sent me to C-47 training at Bergstrom Field in Austin (TX). Finally, I went to mission training in Sedalia (MO), but there was a crash call for pilots overseas. We picked up our planes in Ft. Wayne (IN), and headed overseas."

After stopping in Puerto Rico, Brazil, and Ascension Island, they crossed the Atlantic and Indian oceans before landing first in Karachi and then Sylhet, India. He wasn't there very long. "That outfit was flying night missions over the Japanese lines. The only reason we even had room to bed was that one of the crews went out one night and never came back. We were short officers, so I became Captain in only 16 months."

"Then, we got orders to move to Ledo, India. We lived in tents during the monsoons, and it rained every day. We flew supplies from Ledo to Myitkyina, Burma, a little place that the Americans had just captured from the Japanese. That was the take-off point for China."

China had been at war with Japan for eight years before becoming an ally when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Japan later bombed the Burma Road, too, the 700-mile road the Chinese built by hand so that the Allies could supply Chiang Kai-Shek's Chinese army. The loss of the Burma Road sparked the need for an air route into China.

"We'd fly over the Himalayas, or 'over the hump' from Burma to Kunming, China. First, we'd bring in a load of supplies from India and unload it in Burma. And, then they'd load us back up with supplies or troops to take to China. We'd meet Chinese troops when we landed in Kunming. Very few spoke English." Harley was awarded the China War Memorial Medal from the Republic of China in 1985, albeit 40 years after the fact.

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