Army Air Corps in C/B/I Theater - flying the HUMP

Cincinnati, OH

Unfortunately, my 95-year-old father (Krieger W. Henderson Jr.) passed away a year ago (ANC columbarium 524). As all fellow Legionnaires can attest, we owe an incredible debt to Legionnaires like him and my mother (ANC columbarium 524), for their service in WWII. In response to the Legion magazine's recent request (May 2020 issue), and in Dad's absence, I wanted to take this opportunity to relate one of the more amusing China/Burma/India Theater experiences from his autobiography:

"The weather in the Himalayas was known to be the most violent in the world, and nobody relished the thought of plowing through it. Hair-razing stories abounded over the punishment it meted out - in one night 42 airplanes were lost due to weather. Many was the time, when we flew with our boots lodged against the instrument panel, in an effort to fight powerful wind shears to keep the airplane under control. I have to say that even experienced Army Air Corps pilots rotating overseas experienced throat gripping fear, realizing that flying the HUMP in the C/B/I theater was where they could end up. Most went with great trepidation; I was no different. My first night in country only served to compound these fears, when I took a C-47 shuttle up the Assam Valley to the B-24 base at Tezpur.

It wasn't any time before we were in thunderstorms and severe turbulence. Only 4 of us had boarded this particular shuttle - three "gravel pounders" (non-flying types) and myself. The rest of the ship was filled with cargo tied down to the seats. One thermal we hit ripped a seat from the floor, shooting it upward punching a sizable hole in the top of the fuselage. The gravel pounders were throwing up all over the place. I'm sitting there in stark terror, but saying to myself: Man, you've got wings on; you can't look concerned or get sick. Then the cockpit door opened and out came two empty beer cans. Shortly thereafter, another two. Next time the door opens, the copilot staggers out and collapses in an empty seat in front of me. Then, believe it or not, out staggers the pilot, and he collapses into the seat next to the copilot. That's when I almost had heart failure. After a brief period of letting the autopilot fly the airplane, the crew got up, made its way back to the cockpit, and we negotiated the storms to finally reach Tezpur, without any further theatrics. Subsequently, I found out that this was standard leg-pulling for the new troops entering the theater."

Proving that it is truly a small world, after marrying my wife, I found out that her father had been stationed in C/B/I at the same time - he was one of those "gravel pounders" that stood guard at the airfield in Tezpur .

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