WWII Kilroy Was Here  Jim Faircloth The Marshall and 15 Minute
 Pensacola News Journal, January 31, 1943. The head- line says "Crestview Is Off Eglin's `Black List.' Click in the picture to see large view.

By Jim Faircloth

Now, What could possibly be behind that headline "Crestview Is Off Eglin's `Black List'? Well, I'll just tell you.

The buildup at Eglin began slowly in late 1939, sped up over the months, and was going full-out by the end of 1942. The size of the base had expanded from about 1000 acres to near a half million acres, the largest military reservation in the United States, if not in the world. By then Eglin was the Army Air Force Proving Ground Command under the Southeast Army Air Force Training Command at Maxwell Air Field, Alabama. Not only was it engaged in dreaming up new combat techniques and equipment for aircraft, but it was engaged in several training missions. One of them was to train Aviation Engineers. Three battalion sized contingents were in training at any one time with staggered completion dates.

All the enlisted personnel in training were black. All the officers, whether doing the training or being trained, were white. The training officers were all college graduates with degrees in Civil Engineering or had experience with large construction companies. Those officers being trained were similarly qualified. The trainees were being instructed in the operation of heavy construction equipment, methods for clearing an area for construction of an airfield, the laying of runways, the use of explosives, etc. They were equivalent to the Navy SeeBees. As a contingent completed training it was immediately shipped out to an overseas destination as an Aviation Engineer Battalion.

Eglin had acquired another distinction. It had the best military provost marshal of all time. Forgive the hype, I loved the guy. I don't remember, at the time of this incident, whether he was Captain or Major Smith. I shall refer to him as a Major. He had acquired the reputation of responding to anything which affected military law enforcement within 15 minutes anywhere in the area. And it was a large area. He had thereby acquired the sobriquet "15Minute Smith". Wherever he went, he was accompanied by four MPs, all six foot 200 pounders, and the best looking guys in uniform that can be imagined. They were known as "the strong-arm patrol". They were not 15Minute's bodyguards - they were law enforcers.

The rest of this anecdote, except where I was personally involved, was told to me by various participants and observers.

One of the engineer contingents finished it's training and was immediately ordered overseas. They were loaded into a convoy of 6x6s about 5 in the evening and headed for the railhead at Crestview. The first vehicle in the convoy was a jeep carrying a Lieutenant and a sergeant. Their function was to show the way and lead to the point where the convoy was to park and unload. When they arrived in Crestview, the jeep stopped at the edge of the railroad track which crosses the main street and as close to the right edge of the street as possible. The convoy, of course, stopped and waited for further orders. The Lieutenant ordered his driver to cross the railroad, proceed some distance up Main Street and make a U-turn to go back to the convoy to oversee the off-loading of men and equipment.

Now the main street is unusually wide for a small town - about 50 feet. U-turns were quite commonly made by the local populace. As the Lt and Sgt made the turn a Deputy Town Marshal stopped them and placed them under arrest. The Lt tried to explain why they had to make the turn. To no avail. Thus the charge of "interference" with an officer. They were arrested and taken to jail.

As usual, our hero, 15 Minute Smith, arrived with his strong-arm patrol in the allotted 15 minutes. They entered the jail where the town marshal and his deputy were standing behind the counter.

Major Smith said to the marshal, "I want my officer and sergeant out of your jail. "You can't have them," he replied. "One more time - I want them out of your jail." "No way." "Is that your final word?" "You can bet on it."

"Git'em, boys." And with that the strong arm patrol flew over the counter, grabbed the marshal and deputy, de-armed them, removed their badges, took their keys, opened the door to the cell, removed the Lt and Sgt, replaced them with the marshals, and locked the cell door.

15Minute sent the Lt and the Sgt out to their jeep and back to their job of entraining the engineers. He instructed his men to set up a patrol around the jailhouse and let no one enter the building without his instructions or those of a higher authority. Those arriving for work the next morning were denied admittance.

At the time I was a Warrant Officer and Personnel Adjutant of the Proving Ground Command. Arriving early for duty the next morning I saw Major Smith sitting in a chair next to my desk. Then I noticed pistols, holsters, and badges on my desk.I asked the Major, "What's going on?" He told me the astonishing story. I told him that I thought he had goofed and that we must immediately tell the Commanding General. He agreed but decided I should do the telling while he waited in my office.

I went across the hall to the office of the Administrative Adjutant, Lt Griezidieck, and told him of the predicament. We went in to see General Grandison Gardner, the commander of the Proving Ground. We expected him to go into a rage when told. I told him the story. When finished, instead of raging, he reared back in his chair and gave forth a great belly laugh and said, "That's the funniest thing I've heard since this war began". He then instructed Lt Griezidieck to immediately put the town of Crestview "Off Limits" and have Major Smith enforce it starting immediately. We told him we thought the town fathers would be coming down to see him very soon. "That's exactly the reason for putting the town off limits," said he.

It wasn't long before they arrived acting as if they were outraged. They were standing in the hall outside the General's Office. Lt Griezidieck asked them to wait and went in to tell the General of their presence. He said, "Let them cool their heels for a while." After about thirty minutes they were ushered in. They rushed to his desk and all of them started talking at once and in loud unmistakably angry tones. He let them rave, then stood up and said to them, "Gentlemen, you didn't come down here to tell me what to do, you came to ask me for something. Well, I'm going to tell you what you are going to have to do. You are going to get rid of that Marshal of yours and install one that realizes there is a war on, that Eglin pumps money into your town, and he must respect the military. When that is done Crestview will be placed "On Limits". Good day, Gentlemen." That is the "conference of town officials and Eglin Authorities" described in the newspaper article.

And a new Marshall was installed and Crestview and Eglin lived together happily ever after.

WWII Kilroy Was Here  Jim Faircloth The Eglin Field Dog

The Eglin Field Dog

By Jim Faircloth

Eglin Army Air Field - Valparaiso, Florida. Major Maxwell was in command. We ran the place - all 35 of us. At the time of this drama, that was the size of the personnel complement of the Eglin Field Gunnery Range, a sub-unit of the 13th Air Base Squadron, of Maxwell Field, Alabama. Our job was to furnish facilities for Air Corps and National Guard Pursuit Squadrons to fly in and try their hand at machine gunning ground targets - they were actually on a T-shaped pier about a hundred yards off-shore.

PFC Rodman, our electrician, while out on-the-village one night, found a small young dog, brought it to the barracks, tied it outside, jumped in his bunk and promptly forgot about the dog. We discovered it the next morning and what a sight! The small amount of hair it had was black and the remainder of its body was covered with red mange. Oh, and such sad eyes. Cpl Hobbs, who lived off base, came by on the way to work, took the dog to the truck repair shed, dunked the dog up to its nose in used oil which cured the mange.

The dog soon became the field mascot and was known as "Eglin Field Dog". With all the attention he was getting - the finest food from the Mess Hall (you say, "that ain't saying much?" let me tell you that for us country boys who joined up during the depression, it was a helluva lot better than what we had been getting at home), a once a week bath, and the medical attention of Dr. Bell - a Private First Class who was our only medical support, he became a beautifully sleek black dog of medium size.

Eglin Field Dog soon decided that the Field belonged to him. So, if he decided to lie in the middle of the road, it was our responsibility to carefully avoid him. It was his road!

The First Pursuit Squadron, Selfridge Field, Michigan was deployed to Eglin for gunnery practice and training. The squadron was a part of what was known as General Headquarters Air Force (a high sounding title that I am not sure was official) or GHQ Air Force. They came by air and highway bringing all of their squadron equipment (not much - the military wasn't very well thought of nor well supplied at that time) including their vehicles. The squadron was commanded by Major "Pursuit" George. His brother was Major "Bomber" George. Both became famous during WWII. "Pursuit" was a strict disciplinarian and would brook no monkey business as we were soon to realize.

On their second day with us, Eglin Field Dog was lying in the middle of the main road on base alternately snoozing and looking over his huge domain. One of the pursuit squadron drivers came along, and when the dog failed to get up and move off the road, we believed the driver deliberately ran over and killed Eglin Field Dog.

Of the total permanent personnel at Eglin only about 20 lived on base and in the single barracks. When we learned of the tragedy all in the barracks acted as if one of our most well thought of members had been killed. We took possession of the pups mangled body. One who worked in the carpenter shop made a wooden cross and burned into it these words: "Eglin Field Dog - Murdered by GHQ AF" and the date.

The next morning all of us gathered at the small weather station immediately across the road from the small but neat Eglin headquarters building. Major Maxwell, the commander and his adjutant, Lt J P McConnell (later to be Air Force Chief of Staff) observed from the headquarters. We dug a grave and laid Eglin Field Dog, wrapped in a new towel, to rest after one of our complement, of better character said a few words of love for him and commended his spirit to Dog Heaven. Then we implanted the cross and sadly walked away. A few hours later we were called into formation and told by Major Maxwell that Major "Pursuit" had seen the cross and had flown into a rage about our demeaning of his outfit. We were therefore ordered to remove it. We loudly objected to no avail. After removing it, all of us went AWOL in a body. We were gone three days, two of them fortunately being over a week end. Major Maxwell was obviously on our side. Not once did he ever mention our leaving without permission.

From the memoirs of JIM FAIRCLOTH, Chief Warrant Officer, W-4, USAF (Ret)"

WWII Kilroy Was Here  Jim Faircloth  A Member of the Foreign Legend


By Jim Faircloth

In the pioneer days at Eglin (1935-40), we who lived in barracks, had no means of transportation. We had only one truck, used mainly for making the trip to Fort Barrancas at Pensacola to pick up standard rations for the mess hall and other items which could only be obtained in a large city. Fort Walton Beach had a permanent population of a mere 300 at that time. Our commander authorized the use of the vehicle to take us to and from such places as Crestview, Ft Walton, or Mossy Head on Saturday nights.

Other than that, it was stay in barracks or walk.

Pa Fink was the owner and operator of Fink's Place, a combination general store, hamburger and juke joint, and beer dispensary some five miles from base on Boggy Bayou near Niceville. Several of us would quite often walk there and back for an evening's entertainment. Pa Fink was glad to have our business even though most of us were in the $21 - $42 dollar a month category. There were times when we would buy a case of beer at the little Post Exchange on base (we got it much cheaper) and carry it to Fink's. Although Pa Fink didn't like it, especially when we asked him to exchange the hot beers for cold ones, he put up with it because we would spend the savings with him.

He did get angry with us when, one night, one of our company threw an empty beer bottle through the glass of the Juke box after the song "It Makes No Difference Now" had played for about the twentieth time. Pa was a heavily built fat man who wore suspenders and used a walking cane. I don't think he needed the cane, it was more of a threat to those who got out of order. After our impetuous fellow threw the beer bottle, Pa Fink raised the cane high above his head to strike our man. The suspenders broke, the pants fell, and the crowd broke out in hysterics. Including the embarrassed Pa Fink.

Joe Brusky, the Mess Sergeant was often with us on these outings. We usually wore our Air Corps work coveralls. These coveralls had large front and rear pockets, better to carry large work items. Wack, the 1st Cook, was also along with Joe. On the long way home, after several beers, our pace was laggard. Usually, about three miles into the trip, Joe would pull out of his rear pocket a large package wrapped in newspaper, unwrap it, and, behold, a large baloney sandwich, which he had made up before leaving the mess hall, would appear. Large is a conservative description. Only one who is familiar with the size of G I bread as baked and sliced before WWII can appreciate just how large. It was big!!!

Each time Joe pulled the unveiling, Wack, the cook, would raise almighty hell. "Dammit Joe, why do you pull this on us. You know we are all hungry as the devil." exclaimed Wack. Wack's words were really much stronger than that.

Joe would reply, "Why, Wack! You know I was a member of the French Foreign Legion. And we were taught never to be caught off base without at least one ration in our pocket."

Then one night while Joe was eating his sandwich Wack said, "Joe, don't ever pull this again, if you do I'm going to beat the hell out of you!"

About a week later, we had spent the evening at Fink's and were plodding homeward about midnight. Reaching the center of the bridge over the bayou between Fink's and the base, Joe stopped and very carefully unveiled the ubiquitous Baloney Sandwich.

"Joe," screamed Wack, "I told you never to do that again!"

Joe began his spiel, "Wack, I told you I was a member of the ................". With that Wack grabbed him by the seat of the pants and the scruff of his neck, lifted Joe's 140 pounds high into the air and held him out over the waters of the bayou. "Damn you Joe, I'm gonna drown you."

"Please, Wack, I can't swim!"

"Good, you'll drown quicker."

"Please!!!........................ Wack turned him loose. Splash! It soon became obvious that Joe couldn't swim. So, over the side went Wack, grabbed Joe and swam with him the fifty yards or so. We never heard Joe mention the Foreign Legion again and we all lived happily ever after.

From the memoirs of JIM FAIRCLOTH, Chief Warrant Officer, W-4, USAF (Ret)"

WWII Kilroy Was Here  Jim Faircloth  Dawn to Dusk Maughn


By Jim Faircloth

Between the big wars (WWI and WWII) the American military was shrunken to a level of complete impotency. There was no way we could fight a war against even the smallest power. The total military strength was less than that now assigned to Fort Benning, Georgia, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Eglin AFB, Florida and the Pensacola Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida combined. The pilots of the Navy and the Army Air Corps were small in number and spent their off-duty time in agitating for more aircraft, bases, and carriers. When the clouds of war finally appeared, the responsibility fell upon their shoulders to train in military tactics the thousands of pilots turned out by the basic flying schools, both civilian and military. And they did an outstanding job. Major Maughn was one of these unsung heroes.



Our Mess Sergeant at Eglin was Joe Brusky, a rough tough little guy who weighed about 140 pounds and ran an outstanding mess hall. The food was excellent and the coffee was abundant, available at any time of the day, and always hot. No meal was ever served without Joe being there to supervise the serving. The mess hall was strictly for enlisted troops. There were no facilities for officers. There were only two officers assigned. Occasionally the commander or his Lt would come over and eat, sit alone at one of the 4 man tables, or at times invite one of the non-commissioned officers to sit with him.

I would guess that Joe had about 15 years of service. He claimed that he had been a member of the French Foreign Legion. I don't and never did doubt it. In short, he was a colorful character.

Major Maughn was the first person to fly from Los Angeles (or maybe San Francisco - probably March Field) to New York all on the same day during daylight hours, thus earning the nickname "Dawn to Dusk" Maughn. And he was very proud of it, not hesitating to let people know of the
source of his glory.

He was stationed at Selfridge Field, Michigan. The force was expanding and the big job at the time was to train the many people joining the service just before World War II. One of Major Maughn's duties was to train the new pilot graduates from such places as Randolph Field, Texas. Part of the training was in "cross-country" flight procedures.

So, one day about noon there arrived at Eglin 15 brand new P-36's flown by 14 brand new 2d Lt pilots and Major Maughn. After parking the aircraft and seeing to their servicing and safety, the Major shepherded his charges to Joe Brusky's Mess Hall. After they had entered the door, the Major announced in a loud voice, "I'm Major MAUGHN, better known as Dawn to Dusk. Where do the officers eat?" and Joe shouted back, "I'm Joe Brusky, the Mess Sergeant, better known as Reveille to Retreat. Grab a tray and get in line and don't piss about the chow."

And the Major did and didn't!

From the memoirs of JIM FAIRCLOTH, Chief Warrant Officer, W-4, USAF (Ret)"

WWII Kilroy Was Here  Jim Faircloth

 WWII Kilroy Was Here  Jim Faircloth , 1970

Chief Warrant Officer, W-4, USAF (Ret)

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