James Carl Nelson
My father was originally from Conneaut, Ohio. He wrote his mother letters during his training in the AAF which she kept and passed down to me. He joined the Army Air Forces in November, 1943 and attended basic training at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri. He was tested for aptitude during the basic and selected for aviation cadet training. He did this at Akron University starting in January 1944. This was the Third College Training Detachment.
After completing courses there he was transferred to the pre-flight instruction at the East Central College in Ada, Oklahoma, in April 1944, as part of the 2579th AAF BU, class 44-C-1. He then started learning how to fly in the trainers. He was selected to be a navigator rather than a pilot, and then assigned to Group 1, Squadron 86, class 45-C at the S.A.A.C.C – San Antonio, Texas in August 1944. He seemed to prefer the navigator role more than the pilot since it suited his technical nature.
Once he completed the basic navigation school he then did advanced Navigator training at San Marcos Army Air Field, San Marcos, Texas. Class 45-6N-8. Once he had completed the navigator training, flying extended training missions into Louisiana, Oklahoma, and even as far as North Carolina, he waited for reassignment either overseas or to an instructor post. He was issued a lot of complex equipment that he had to keep with him, including a $450 sextant that he learned to use in navigation.
He eventually was assigned to C-46′s in the Troop Carrier Squadron at Pope Field, North Carolina as an instructor in May 1945 until after the end of the war. After being discharged in October, 1945 he entered Purdue University and became a civil engineer. He died of kidney failure at 40 in 1965 leaving a wife and 2 daughters. I miss him.
Submitted by his daughter, Carol Nelson Dufinetz, May 25, 2009
Did you or a family member serve in the Army Air Forces during World War II? Please contribute your own biography, or that of a loved one, to the Keep ‘em Flying memorial at the AAF Collection. Contact the curator for details.