From the good people over at Free Republic another example of the difference between “then” and “now”. Pretty amazing tale.
The book can be found for sale here:
The link to the excerpt can be found here:
Here is a little tale that suddenly seems highly relevant.
A tale of guns and money and government corruption as told by an old pilot from the greatest generation. (Note: keep in mind in 1943 a descent house with indoor plumbing (a big deal in those days) could be had for about $8000.00. Cars were anywhere from $800.00 to $1200.00.
Paul Tibbets traveled with a chunk of change and NO trigger locks on the guns!)
Chapter 19 Reunion
“You son of a b****, put that down!”
The voice was mine, but I could hardly believe it.
The scene was the U.S. customs shed at Homestead Air Force base south of Miami.
I had just pumped a live round into the chamber of my .45 automatic and was pointing the gun at a very surprised and officious customs officer who was trying to take $1,600 from me.
This was my return to the United States in February 1943, after eight months overseas. I was tired and run-down from months of combat flying and a strenuous seven-day trip home in slow-flying military transports. My weight was down to 155 pounds, 37 less than when I left for England the previous June.
Before I left Algiers, an old flying friend, Christopher Karis, had given me a little more than $800 to take to his parents back home. He had been helping to support them since he was in high school. When he gave me the money, he was on brief leave from his base in the desert, where there had been nowhere to spend the monthly pay he had been collecting. Although we were paid in Algerian francs, a serviceman returning to the States could convert them to American dollars.
I had taken Karis’s money and my own to the finance officer and converted them into a little more than $1600 in U.S. currency. This I put into a French-made Moroccan leather pouch that was a little larger than a billfold. Although it would fit in an inside jacket pocket, I put it in my B-4 bag, which was never out of my sight on the trip home.
My luggage consisted of the B-4 bag, which contained an automatic pistol, and a parachute bag in which was stowed an assortment of belongings, including my Thompson submachine gun.
I hoisted the bag onto a table and the customs agent started going through them. He saw the weapons and never said a word. When he came to the leather pouch, he asked, “What’s this?”
“Money-about $1600.” I replied.
“Well, I have to take it.”
That was when I exploded. Normally, my reaction would have been less violent, but the war and the long trip home had loaded the camel’s back to the breaking point. I wasn’t about to give up that money.
“You can’t have that,” the customs man said, looking nervously at the gun I was pointing at him.