The Diary of Private Keifer
July 18 1941- Today I finally arrived at Mabry Field with the rest of the 81st airborne division. The base is much smaller than I had anticipated, but it will not be my home for too long so I am not concerned. The barracks’ are nice because they are new, but I have to share my room with 3 other airmen. Zhang Lee is one of my roommates, he is a Chinese man, but he speaks English very fluently. I also room with Richard Green a Texas boy, and Phillip Davidson. Me and the boys are only here to train for a few weeks before we head off to California to complete our training. I will be training mainly on the Bell P-39 Air cobra. I can’t wait to start!!
July 20 1941- Today on only my second day of training one of the Chinese airmen had a malfunction with his plane and had to eject at almost two thousand feet. I am starting to be worried about the construction of these planes, but then again it may have just been the pilot’s error. I have been getting along very well with my leading officer Sgt. Henderson. He said that as long as I show up to the rest of my training this week he will give me an extra hour of flight time this weekend to work on a few aerial maneuvers. All these early flights have been wonderful, the sunrise in Tallahassee is so beautiful, the sunrises are nothing like the ones back in Wisconsin. The humid air sometimes makes it hard to see through the windshield, but once I get up high enough it doesn’t seem to bother me much.
August 3 1941- There was a huge fight today in the mess hall because one of the Chinese pilots tried to flirt with a cook that happened to be dating Pvt. Green. Green turned around and sucker punched him right in the jaw, he dropped like a sack of potatoes. But then three of the other Chinese pilots jumped in and an all-out brawl started between the Americans and the Chinese. It was funny to watch, but then all the soldiers got assigned an extra five mile run at three am for the next two weeks.
August 28 1941- Today is my last day being trained on the P-39, after I finish the rest of my time here will be spent learning flight maneuvers and learning how to fly with broken instruments. I have to be able to safely land a plane in the dark without any equipment in order to be cleared for international deployment. I am guessing I will be shipped straight to the front once I finish my training, but I am ready for that. I have flown three different types of planes and the P-39 is by far my favorite. The 37 mm cannon is deadly accurate and I have had lots of time to work with it. Sgt. Henderson let me use the cannons to destroy some of the old planes that no longer worked, he also let me fly one of the P-39s down to Pensacola. Once I got to Pensacola I was able to fly off the coast and practice shooting some of the older model boats from WWI. I feel like my knowledge of the P-39 is far superior to most pilots. My dad fought in WWI and has been training me to fly ever since he returned. My comfort level in the air is equal to my comfort on land. I have been flying for over 15 years and I am ready to prove myself when I get to Germany.
September 18-1941 I have been deployed to California for three weeks. The beaches here are incredible. We have over 6 miles of landing strips on the air base here. That’s basically double Mabry’s 3.5 miles of air strips. They have so many different types of planes here, they even have more than one kind of bomber. I have never seen an airbase so large in my life. They call this place Ft Carson. I am awaiting final clearance before I get sent to Germany, they are waiting on everyone in my unit to pass their physicals and final pilot tests. I already completed mine within the first two weeks of being here.
October 12-1941 I have had lots of leisure time here in California, I found the love of my Life. Charlene is the woman I have always dreamed of. Her hair flows as majestically as a lion, her smile is brighter than the sun. She is educated and kind, brave and beautiful, she cooks the most amazing lasagna and bakes the best apple pie. She is going to law school to hopefully become a judge one day. She says she will wait for me while I am away. She said that she will be too busy with her schooling to have time for other boys. I plan on marrying her when I get back from the war! I am going to treasure our last few months together before I head overseas. I plan on taking her to fancy dinners and to all the movies we can see.
November 17-1941 California has been swell but I am ready to leave this dump. Charlene says that she is moving to New York to finish her law degree. I can’t believe she isn’t even waiting for me to leave, but at last she will still be waiting in New York when I get home.
December 7-1941 The Japs have bombed Pearl Harbor, and the United States has declared war on them. Many units are already being gathered to go to Japan. I fear that my unit may be on of the ones to be summoned. We are already fully prepared for combat so we would be deployable almost immediately. There is panic among the unit, but I am ready for combat weather it be in Germany or Japan.
January 3 -1942- Today I am set to fly to Hawaii, I am being sent to Japan rather than Germany. Japan’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor has altered many US soldiers’ destinations. The United States now has pilots bombing Japan, I believe that I am going to be sent to defend the huge bomber planes. The dog fights over Japan are crucial because without the bombers being protected they are easy targets for Japanese pilots. The bombers are too big and too slow to defend themselves. I am nervous and excited at the same time. I have been waiting for this day for 15 years, but now that it is here I am more aware of the dangers ahead of me. Some of my friends from my training days at Mabry Field have already been shot down. Zhang Lee has already been confirmed dead, and Green is still listed as MIA. I am still shaken over their losses, but it gives me more motivation and justification for the terrible acts I am going to have to commit. This is all the time I have to write before I leave, I will update when I have down time in Hawaii.
January 14-1942- I have been extremely busy since I landed. I have been assigned my first mission, 8 P-39s are set to escort a battle ship to the coast of Japan. We are set to leave in three days’ time, the thrill of getting a chance to show my flying ability is exhilarating, but I am nervous that not everyone will survive. The number of pilots being shot down only goes up each day, the average time a pilot spends in the air is only three weeks. Casualties among pilots are the highest they have ever been, I have a knot in my stomach, but I think I am ready for this mission.
January 17-1942- I wanted to write this note today in case I do not come home from this mission. I am assigned to be the lead plane, this means I will be first into combat and last to be able to retreat if shit hits the fan. I wanted to say a last few good byes, to my Mom I love her so much. I have always treasured her wisdom and kindness. You have always been there when I needed you most, but today I must go alone, there will be no one to tell me things will be alright as you always have, there will be no one to hold me when I cry, there will be only me and my P-39 and the raging Japanese that may be waiting for me. To my Dad I know that we have not always gotten along, but your flying lessons made me into the pilot that I have become today. I am honored to serve my country even knowing the great perils that may in sue. I know that you have always meant the best for me even though sometimes your decisions may have been the wrong ones. I have always admired you for your flying abilities and your bravery, but now I only wish to have you feel the same about me. I am recognized throughout the military as a great flyer, but you have never once commended me or even seemed to notice. And finally to Charlene the love of my life- know that I love you with all my heart, and I plan on making you mine when I get back from Japan. I already have bought the ring it is in the pocket of this notebook, if I die in Japan I want you to still have it and keep it with you. I know that our paths will meet again weather in this life or the one after. Stay safe and good luck with your schooling!
February 16 1942- My plane was shot down over the Pacific, a nearby French ship rescued me. I was unconscious for three weeks, and when I woke up they had amputated half of my left leg and all of the right. The doctors said that my leg was badly burned in the crash and it got severely infected. If they had not amputated I probably would have been dead by now. Charlene wrote me today saying that she has fallen in love with someone else and she hopes I understand. I am so glad I never gave her that ring. She is a lying deceitful woman and I am sorry that I ever thought she would wait for me. I will be on government aid for the rest of my life, so on the bright side at least I don’t have to work anymore. I plan on moving back to the Midwest and spending my days fishing and hunting in piece. My last note would like to go out to Charlene’s new lover I am a carrier for herpes you should probably get yourself checked.
Comments: Historical fiction? Or based on someone real? Could all of this have happened? If so, be more specific. If not, then fix things up based on more research. For example -- where was he shot down in the Pacific? were there French ships out in the Pacific?