From Fort McClellan to Hickman Air Field:
A Few Reflections of My Dad’s Time of Service to His Country
By Richard Mabey Jr.
My dad was stationed at Hickam Air Field in Honolulu, Hawaii during the Second Word War. Hickam Air Field neighbors Pearl Harbor. It was the Headquarters for the mighty Seventh Army Air Corps during World War II.
Hickam Air Field was totally completed in 1938. It was officially activated on September 15th of 1938. By September of 1940, Hickam Air Field was fully occupied, making it the largest American military installation of its time. It included barber shops, a 24-hour medical dispensary, a laundry, a post exchange, multiple squadron dayrooms and a huge mess hall in the center. Hickam Air Field was nicknamed the “Hickam Hotel.”
Hickam Air Field borders Pearl Harbor. My dad was stationed at Hickam Field after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. So, at a very young age my dad saw the horrible wreckage remains of that terribly inhumane air attack.
My dad joined the Army Air Corps at the incredibly young age of 17. My dad was a very earnest, patriotic man. When his brother Edward’s ship was sunk by the Germans, off the coast of England, Edward was missing in action for some time. I think this heavy emotional trauma inspired my dad to enlist at such an early age.
Dad had a tough time convincing his mom and dad to sign the paperwork, allowing him to join the Army Air Corps under the age of 18. My grandfather had lost his brother in World War I. And, now Grandma and Grandpa’s son, Edward, was missing in action. However, if you had the privilege to know my dad, you know that he didn’t give up easily on something when he set his mind to it.
My uncle, Edward was rescued by a British ship, after spending days bobbing up and down on the waves of the Atlantic, relatively far off the coast of England.
Dad received his basic training at the US Army Base, Fort McClellon, located near the town of Anniston, Alabama. After a short furlough, Dad was shipped to San Francisco for a very short time. Then, from there to Hickman Air Field, where he became a member of the elite Seventh Army Air Corps.
This is very interesting, and a credit to the humble spirit of my dear father. After Dad went Home to be with the Lord; Mom, my sister Patti and I, went through Dad’s things. Dad had a strong arm box, in which he kept his most precious possessions. It was kind of cute. Dad had taped the key to the small safe, on the bottom of its casing.
Inside the small safe, Dad kept his treasured scouting mementos. Among them were the Eagle Scout tie clasp, which he received when I earned Eagle Scout; various graduation pictures of my sister and I, his scouting District Award of Merit Award, and his well-earned Silver Beaver Award.
Also, among these treasured possessions was a newspaper clipping. It was an article that had appeared in the official Seventh Army Air Corps newspaper. It was an article about how Dad had received the “Army Airman of the Month Award” for outstanding service in all of his duties and responsibilities. When I read the article aloud, we all felt just a little bit sad. We cried. Dad had never mentioned a word about receiving this wonderful award. It was just the humble nature of my father.
I wish that I had asked my Dad more questions about his time of service in the Seventh Army Air Corps. From time to time, he would talk about it. But, all in all, it was something that he did not like to talk about. I respected that, very much. Still, I wish I had been a bit more a pain in the neck and bugged him about what it was like to serve in the prestigious Seventh Army Air Corps during World War II. Sadly, it’s too late.
Peace and harmony,