Guardian Angel -- A True Story
Once airborne, I typed in the time and the notation "Out-Not Sent" at the start of my radio log. Today the log would contain many five minute interval "nils" because of the strict radio silence in effect, with the exception of enemy contact and emergencies. To gain maximum signal output, I carefully extended the trailing wire antenna to match a one-quarter fraction of the physical length of the wave length I was guarding. After we leveled off at cruising altitude, I unbuckled my seatbelt and shoulder harness and, with my extra length headphone cord plugged in, stepped through the hatch into the galley compartment. I then started the first of many pots of coffee that would be consumed that day.
Our assigned outbound track was 258 degrees for a distance of 500 miles, then an approximate 90 degree right turn for a cross-leg of 50 miles, another right turn to our inbound track of 500 miles, and finally return to Pearl Harbor at sunset. Aside from the choppy weather, the outbound and cross-leg proved uneventful. Cupps and I rotated several times between the radio and lookout watch. Just the mere possibility of sighting some Japanese forces kept all the "Mark VI" eyeballs of the lookouts glued to the horizon.
During one of the late morning radio watches, I stepped into the galley compartment wearing my radio earphones. This time I whipped out a Southern-style full course lunch for the entire crew. The menu was the pre-eminent rib-eye steak, home fries, sliced tomatoes, garden peas, buttered toast and a simple fruit cocktail for dessert. My country-living mama had taught me well as a youngster, so it really wasn't much of an added chore to double as the duty cook.
Little did Warlick know this country style meal was the last routine thing he would be doing for quite some time...
(Come back next Saturday for the continuing drama of Guardian Angel - A True Story.)