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The USAAF in the Middle East

Discussion in 'North Africa and the Mediterranean' started by TheFonz, Oct 24, 2014.

  1. TheFonz

    TheFonz recruit

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    My grandfather enlisted in the USAAF in July 1942, and spent most of the war state-side. He completed a AAF Technical School course in Radio Mechanics in January 1943 in Chicago, and another course in the Control Net System in Tomah, Wisconsin in March 1943. He did not go overseas until February 1945 in Egypt. He kept a little notebook with friend's addresses and a list of his postings. The ones overseas are as follows:

    Camp Huckstep, Egypt - February 7, 1945
    Payne Field, Cairo, Egypt - February 13, 1945
    Habbaniya, Iraq - April 17, 1945
    Departed Alexandria, Egypt - January 20, 1946
    Discharged - Camp Shelby, Mississippi - February 8, 1946

    According to his Seperation Qualification Record, his military occupation was:

    Radio Operator C.N.S.: Radio operator (control net system) in 98th Fighter Control Unit for 18 months. Operated, inspected, and made minor repairs to very high frequency radio equipment and to fixed and mobile ground direction finding equipment. Cleaned, adjusted, installed, and replaced parts in direction finding and very high frequency receivers and transmitters.

    I'm trying to understand why he was sent to the Middle East instead of Europe or the Pacific, as it is not the theater of war most associated with America at this time. So, my questions are -

    How active was the USAAF in the Middle East during the war?

    What AAF would he have belonged to (i.e. 8th AF was England, 5th AF was Australia, etc.)? Other unit designations on his "ship home" papers are the 744thAAF Base Unit (114th AACS Sqd.).

    He did mention working with Brits and Aussies. Could his unit have been "loaned" the the British? I could see how his field of work could be useful in the Mid East, with pilots losing their way in the endless desert, especially if their instruments go out.

    Thanks for any insights!

    Oh, here are a couple of pictures I have. The first is in Cairo - my grandfather is standing on the far right.

    [​IMG]

    And another of him in Iraq.

    [​IMG]
     
  2. Highway70

    Highway70 Member

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    I don't know, however I did some Googling. It appears to me that the 12th Air Force is the most likely candidate. It was established for Operation Torch and operated in the region to beyond the end of the war. It worked closely with the RAF and appears to have been made up of a mix of US, British and Commonwealth forces.
     
  3. TheFonz

    TheFonz recruit

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    He told me that he and his group would go out to remote locations and set up radio equipment to help keep aircraft from getting lost - that is the "dumb down" version he gave me as a kid. I do recall him talking about being on a British base in Habbaniya. He said that when they would be out setting up the stations, they would sometimes trade things with the nomads passing through. He also said Cairo was the dirtiest, filthiest place he had ever seen and you had to keep an eye on what was in your pockets because the natives would have you cleaned out before you reached the end of the street and you wouldn't even realize it. The only other overseas story that I remember from him is that he hardly remembers the voyage home because he was sick with a fever and was unconscious for most of it. The rest of his stories were about being state-side, and meeting my grandmother while posted in Vernonia, Oregon in 1944.
     
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  4. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    I'm sure many unsuspecting servicemen were cleaned of their money/etc in most places
     

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