My Uncle was a Bomber Pilot over Japan in World War II

I have had great success hunting down information about the World War II war record of my uncle, Alden Jacobson, who died on 16 November 2001 at age 85. I was started on this search by my cousin, Edward Jacobson, who sent me a video entitled "From Pearl Harbor to Tokyo Bay", which my uncle had sent to him. This video provided a tremendous wealth of information, plus it contained footage of an actual B-29 airplane which my uncle flew. The footage of his aircraft comes directly after the start of a section in the video entitled "Mining the Inland Sea". His aircraft was Circle X 53.

With this information, I joined an Internet e-mail group at The address is . I soon thereafter received a letter from Robert Mann, a member of the group, who provided me with a list of 16 missions which my uncle flew, plus the name of my uncle's aircraft, which was "Jake's Jalopy", plus the serial number, which was 44-69985. Since my uncle, Alden Jacobson, went by the nickname of "Jake", and he was the Aircraft Commander, it was obvious that this aircraft was named after him.

This led me to an online book which is available on the Internet at This book contains two direct accounts by crew members of my uncle's crew on pages 248 and 272. Here they are:
Jake's Jalopy
Jake's Jalopy: The aircraft that was named after it's commander, my uncle, Alden "Jake" Jacobson

Edward P. Piatek, Pilot, 99th Squadron
Experiences from my tour as pilot for the Jacobson crew: Becoming a target for about fifteen minutes when caught by enemy searchlights while dropping mines into the Shimonoseki Strait...As a superdumbo saw the might of the atomic blast at Nagasaki shortly after Major Sweeny's "Bockscar" cleared the area....provided cover for the PBM as it rescued a downed P-47 pilot from the sea near the coast....Being part of the world's greatest display of aerial power at the signing of the peace the peace treaties in Tokyo Bay and the subsequent flight back to base with B-29s scattered all over the partly cloudy skies, which slowly disappeared with the setting sun, giving one the impression of victorious legions returning home in triumph, peace, and finality.

Pages 272-273 Chapter 14-Anecdotes

George W. Fields, Gunner, 99th Squadron
Corporals Robert Lasto and George Fields got the first confirmed fighter kill for the 9th BG on April 7 on a daylight strike at the Mitsubishi Aircraft Factory at Nagoya. The fighter was a twin engine Nick. Captain Alden Jacobson, AC, had offered five dollars to the first gunner to shoot down an enemy fighter - he accused his gunners of "ganging up" so he would have to pay twice. (He did pay both gunners.) Captain Jacobson's crew was the first replacement crew in the 99th Sqdn. Since the mission to Nagoya was the crew's first combat mission, and the twin engine Nick was the first enemy fighter plane the crew ever saw, the whole episode was quite a thrill - especially to a couple of "warriors" who had just turned 19 years old. Captain Jacobson's crew went on to fly 30 more missions over the Empire before the war ended, including a Super Dumbo mission for the Nagasaki strike when Major Sweeney dropped the second "A Bomb."

My uncle, Alden "Jake" Jacobson, flew "Jake's Jalopy", an airplane named after him. Few airplanes were named after their commanders, but another one was "Bock's Car" which was commanded by Fred Bock. Bock's Car dropped the A-Bomb on Nagasaki, but Fred Bock was not flying it that day. Fred Bock was flying "The Great Artiste" which was Charles Sweeney's airplane, whereas Sweeney was flying Bock's airplane. The reason for this switch is that Sweeney's airplane had been flown when the A-Bomb was dropped Hiroshima and contained all the scientific instruments needed to measure the blast. When, only three days later, it came time to drop the A-Bomb on Nagasaki, rather than move all the scientific instruments from "The Great Artiste" to Bock's Car, it was easier for the pilots just to switch aircraft.

The Enola Gay, which dropped the A-Bomb on Hiroshima, was named after the mother of Paul Tibbets, the Commander. Enola Gay was her maiden name.

Here is the list of 16 of the missions which my uncle flew over Japan in Jake's Jalopy. This list was provided by Robert Mann. The first 15 were bombing or mining missions and the last was a power show. The power show was one of two which took place before and while the Japanese were signing the surrender documents on the USS Missouri. More than 600 B-29s were flown directly over the USS Missouri at low altitude while the surrender ceremony was taking place. The obvious purpose was to impress the Japanese with the power the USA had at her disposal, just in case the Japanese had second thoughts about surrendering. At the conclusion of the first Power Show, my uncle landed at Atsugi, Japan. He was in the first US Air Force airplane to land in Japan. He stayed in Japan for the next five years.

However, it was not intentional that my uncle was a member of the first crew to land in Japan. In this instance, my uncle was not the Aircraft Commander. He was a member of the crew, probably the co-pilot. The airplane, "Battlin' Bonnie II", developed engine trouble. After two of the engines failed, the choice was to land or to ditch. They chose to land.

This caused embarrassment, because General Douglas MacArthur was supposed to be the first to land in Japan. He was due to arrive soon. As a result, they were ordered to push the airplane off the runway, so that General MacArthur's airplane would appear to have arrived first. They followed orders and, as a result, their airplane got stuck in the soft dirt. The airplane and the crew had to stay there and were not able to fly out in time for VJ-Day. My uncle stayed for five years.

Here is a picture of General Douglas MacArthur taken just after he landed in Japan. Note that that there is just one aircraft in the background. That is General Douglas MacArthur's aircraft. However, there was another US aircraft on the ground that day, the aircraft my uncle flew in, which had landed earlier. This picture was taken to create the fiction that General Douglas was the first US commander to land in Japan. In reality, my Uncle Alden was the first.

Here is the list provided by Robert Mann. The format is date - target - aircraft commander.
My uncle and his crew
My uncle, Alden Jacobson, and his crew, the crew of Jake's Jalopy

5/16-17 Mining, Jacobson
5/20-21 Mining, Jacobson
5/24-25 Mining, Jacobson
5/26-27 Mining, Jacobson
6/1 Osaka, Jacobson
6/5 Kone, Jacobson
6/15 Osaka-Amagasaki Urban area, Jacobson
6/17-18 Yokkaichi, Jacobson
6/26 Aichi Aircraft Works, Jacobson
7/9-10 Wakayama UA, Jacobson
7/19-20 Chochi Industrial/Urban area, Jacobson
7/24 Tsu UA, Jacobson
7/28-29 Ujiyamada UA Jacobson
8/1-2 Nagoya, Jacobson
8/7 Toyokawa Naval Arsenal, Jacobson
8/30 Power Display, Jacobson

The source of the data is a paper document entitled:
Ninth Bomb Group
313th WING

(Copied from the 9th Bombardment Group Commanding Officer's Notebook contributed to the 9th Bomb Group Archives by Henry Huglin, Brigadier General, U.S. Air Force, Retired)

I soon thereafter received a letter from Terry Lindell, Professor of History, Wartburg College, Waverly, Iowa 50677, who confirmed the obvious, that Jake's Jalopy was in fact named after my uncle Alden "Jake" Jacobson.

At 05:15 PM 9/5/2002 -0600, Terrence Lindell wrote:

I'm sorry to be on the late side in getting into this conversation, but things didn't "click" until Bob sent the photo of JAKE'S JALOPY. We all have Sallyann to thank for making lots of information and connections possible.
Flight History of Jakes Jalopy
Flight History of my uncle's aircraft, Jake's Jalopy

Some years ago I started collecting information about WWII aircraft with names tied to Iowa. (There are at least four B-29s in the collection: "Postville Express" of the 468th, and three "City of ..." planes of the 314th Bomb Wing named for Cedar Rapids, Council Bluffs, and Grundy Center).

A couple of people I know from the Iowa Chapter of the 8th AF Historical Society told me that they had an Iowa cousin named Jacobson who flew a B-29 named "Jake's Jalopy." Although my focus is on names tied to Iowa rather than planes named for individuals, I sent off a query to Alden Jacobson of Indian Harbor Beach, Florida.

Sam, your uncle's reply was brief, providing some of the basic information on the identity of the plane you already know, and citing some other people I might want to contact. I'll be happy to provide a photocopy of it if you send me your mailing address. Also, if you don't know about your cousins named Ford, I'd be happy to put you in touch with them. I saw them two weeks ago at the Iowa Chapter's annual meeting.

You might also be interested in knowing that there is a color photo of a 9th BG formation in which "Jake's Jalopy" is visible in John M. Campbell's Boeing B-29 Superfortress, p. 34. No nose art visible and the plane isn't in the foreground, but the 53 is evident on the after fuselage."

Terry Lindell
Professor of History
Wartburg College
Waverly, Iowa 50677

Following this, Terry Lindell sent me a copy of a brief note which my uncle had written to him in 1997. In addition to referring Professor Lindell to a book, my uncle's note stated: "Allan Goff and I were from Iowa. Five of our crew are still living - Four of us with wives were at our 1997 reunion in Washington, DC."

I was directed to an online book which is available on the Internet and which I downloaded. The title of the book is "HISTORY of the 9th Bombardment Group (VH) 1st, 5th, And 99th Squadrons as a B-29 Superfortress Unit In World War II In Training at McCook AAF, Nebraska and In Combat as a Unit of the 313Th Bombardment Wing On Tinian Island In The Marianas under the XXI Bomber Command of the 20Th Air Force United States Army Air Forces". It is by Lawrence S. Smith, Historian, 9th Bomb Group Association.

This book is available in downloadable form on the Internet at and at The book contains lists of missions flown by B-29s and photographs of the airplanes including their nose art plus their crews. Included in this book are photographs of my uncle plus his crew plus his airplane "Jake's Jalopy".

This book shows more missions flown as Aircraft Commander by Alden Jacobson than the 16 listed above, plus it shows that he sometimes flew other aircraft besides Jake's Jalopy. It says that he and his crew flew 19 combat missions in Jake's Jalopy. He also flew missions in eight other aircraft. He flew five missions in unnamed aircraft # 47, plus one mission each on # 37 "Old 900", # 44 "Indiana II", # 49 unnamed, #51 "The Judy Ann", # 52 "Hon Spy Report", # 53 unnamed, and # 55 "Limber Richard".

Note that there were two aircraft with number 53. The first airplane flew five combat missions and then was taken out of service due to damage. Thus, we cannot be sure which #53 is shown in the video "From Pearl Harbor to Tokyo Bay", but it hardly matters because Alden Jacobson flew both of them.

About the first #53, the book says:

SN293926 (Renton) 99th Sqdn CC Unknown
Dep Herington 2/10 Ret 6/14

Received structural damage and bomb doors torn off in fire thermal at Kawasaki 4/16. Declared "war weary" and sent home. Final Davis Monthan 1/01/48 to 6/22/50

Here is what the book says about "Jake's Jalopy":

SN469985 (Wichita) 99th Sqdn CC Langley
Dep Herington 5/08 Ret 3/20/47
1st Msn Clark 5/18 - Last French 9/02
Combat Missions 29 ..... Aborts 0

The book also contains lists of the more than 2900 men involved in these missions and of the missions themselves. My uncle is listed as "Jacobson, Alden D. Capt. 99th". Since the book shows that he was the only person named "Jacobson" involved in these missions, we can be sure that every time the name Jacobson subsequently appears, it is him.

The first mission listed is number 13. The date is April 7, 1945. It was a "SPECIALIZED MISSION, NAVIGATION OF P-51S TO IWO JIMA". On this one, he is listed under C&S (Command and Staff). On all of the others, he is listed as crew. Here is the list of all 30 missions.

#55 MOJI URBAN AREA June 28-29
#63 TSU URBAN AREA July 24

Jacobson 8/09 Super Dumbo

(NOTE: This "Specialized Mission" was flown while the A-Bomb was being dropped on Nagasaki.)

Here are the photographs which were sent to me by members of the e-mail group and which are also in the book. Again, the book is available in downloadable form on the Internet at and I was directed to this book from members of a Yahoo e-mail group at

This picture is of the nose art of the airplane and clearly says "53 Jake's Jalopy".

Next, is a picture of my uncle and his crew. This picture is from Chapter_05.pdf, chapter 5, page 21 in the Adobe Acrobat file version of the book. However, the caption of the picture is in error, because the names are reversed. The crew members listed as being in the top row are actually in the bottom row and those listed as being in the bottom row are actually in the top row.

The crew members are listed as follows:
My uncle and his crew
My uncle, Alden Jacobson, and his crew, the crew of Jake's Jalopy
JACOBSON 99th Sqdn

"Jake's Jalopy"

AC Jacobson, Alden D. Capt.
P Platek, Edward P. 2Lt
N Wilson, Robert H. 2Lt
B Hansen, John N. 1Lt
RN Carrigan, David J. 2Lt
FE Goff, Allen J. T/Sgt
RO Feferblum, Julius Sgt
CFC DeLorenzo, Mario Sgt
RG Fields, George Sgt
LG Hartupee, David T. Sgt
TG Lasto, Robert A. Sgt

Front: Goff, Fefelblum, DeLorenzo, Hartupee, Fields, Lasto. Rear: Jacobson, Piatek, Hansen, Wilson and Carrigan.

As noted previously, there is a mistake in the caption above. The upper and lower rows are reversed.

My uncle Alden Jacobson is kneeling in the lower left-hand corner. He is not the man with the moustache.

If you look at the picture and the caption, you will see that the picture shows five men seated and six men standing. However, the caption says that there are six men in the front and five in the rear. They reversed the rows. The man with the moustache is presumably Goff.

Please note that the two crew members who wrote the accounts above are in the picture. Edward P. Piatek, who wrote "UNFORGETTABLE EXPERIENCES", is apparently seated directly next to my uncle, and George W. Fields, Gunner, 99th Squadron, who wrote " FIVE BUCKS FOR A NICK", is apparently standing, second from the right.

Here is the summary of the aircraft history which shows that 19 missions were flown in this aircraft by my uncle and ten by a total of nine other commanders.

My uncle also flew on the mission which dropped the A-Bomb on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. That is the "Special Mission" listed above. However, he did not fly on that mission in Jake's Jalopy. He was in a support aircraft. He was flying "Super Dumbo", which meant "Air-Sea Rescue on Station". His plane was to be called to for help if a plane had to ditch or needed an escort home. He was to circle around the downed plane and drop additional emergency supplies while notifying rescue submarines in the area. My uncle said that he was not the commander on that flight, but was flying as a back-up and essentially as a passenger.

There were five B-29s on Nagasaki mission.
1. BocksCar - Pilot - Sweeney
2. Aircraft #95 - Pilot - McNight - Weather aircraft to Nagasaki
3. Aircraft #88 - Pilot - Marquart - Weather aircraft to Kokura
4. Great Artiste - Pilot - Bock - Instrument aircraft
5. Big Stink - Pilot - Hopkins - Photo aircraft

Source: Gen. Chuck Sweeney's book, "War's End", page 201.

I am trying to find out in which airplane my uncle flew during the Nagasaki A-Bomb drop, which took place on August 9, 1945. It was a Super Dumbo, which was supposed to rescue airmen who had had to ditch in the ocean. It was not one of the five listed above.

My uncle, Alden Jacobson, was also in the first B-29 to land in Japan, which was Battlin' Bonnie II. However, he was not the commander. The Commander was Cornelius "Neil" Fulton, Jr., AC, 1st Squadron. My uncle was the co-pilot.

In the book, in Chapter 8 - Mission Participants, page 129, it lists the crew on Mission #72, Power Display, August 30. Among the crew members listed are Fulton and Jacobson. Jacobson was my uncle.

There are two account of Mission #72 in the book. One is entitled "Mission to Tokyo" and is by James H. Burkhalter. The other is "LANDING AT ATSUGI AIRDROME" by Cornelius "Neil" Fulton, Jr., AC, 1st Squadron.

It was not intentional that my uncle landed in the first B-29 to land in Japan. It was because fires broke out in two engines of the aircraft. One engine failed and another was in the process of failing. The crew decided that they had no choice but to land at the Japanese airbase at Atsugi. The runway was short and they were not sure that it was strong enough to hold their plane, but the choice was either to land there or to ditch. They preferred to land.

The problem was that General Douglas MacArthur was supposed to land there at 3:00 PM that day. The general was supposed to be in the first airplane to land in Japan, not my uncle and the rest of the crew. They were told not to land on the runway, but in an area to the side of the runway. However, they landed on the runway anyway and got yelled at by the US Forces. The advance elements of the First Calvary Division had secured the airbase only a few hours earlier. After landing, they were ordered to drive the airplane off the runway. They tried to do so but the nose wheel promptly sunk into the dirt.

This explains why my uncle did not fly Jake's Jalopy in the Power Display three days later. The airplane was stuck in the dirt and did not have enough fuel to take off, so the airplane and the crew had to stay there for some time. My uncle stayed there for five years.

The following are excerpts of two accounts from the book. Please note the brilliantly written under-statements by Bombardier James H. Burkhalter:

MISSION TO TOKYO by James H. Burkhalter, Bombardier, 1st Squadron

It was the night of August 30, 1945. We had sweated out a lot of missions, but this was the first briefing we had sweated out because we were afraid the mission might be canceled. The war was over - or was it? In those days, none of us trusted the Japanese. For months, we had been flying over their homeland, dropping unpleasant things on them. We figured they didn't include us in their list of Best Friends, and we might be a tad unwelcome. The Mission was a Display of Force mission, a thing of which I had never heard. It was a smart move, I admit. Because the Japs were notorious about never accepting defeat, there was a real danger that many of them would think the surrender was a hoax, and that we were still at war, with Japan winning, of course. The sight of the largest bomber force ever assembled, and belonging to the enemy, flying at low altitude for three hours over their capital without even being opposed would surely be enough to convince the most skeptical. We didn't have a complete understanding of the oriental - particularly Japanese philosophy - about "losing face", but we did know they respected force. Looking back from our future, I believe it was good psychology, and I believe it paid off.

Suffice it to say, we did go, and by mid-morning the next day we were flying in a huge rectangular traffic pattern some sixty miles long by thirty miles wide cutting across downtown Toyko - or what had been downtown Toyko. The 400 B-29s left no significant gaps in this circuit, and they followed the path for three hours, repeatedly, before heading back to the Marianas - an 18 hour round trip, longer for some!

General MacArthur was scheduled to arrive at Atsugi airbase 18 miles outside the city at about 3 pm. From here, he would begin the most amazing occupation of an enemy country in all of history. As we flew in Battlin' Bonnie II in that traffic, suddenly our number three engine began to trail black smoke. Since it would be touch and go to get back on three engines, we decided to attempt a landing at Atsugi.

It was not known whether the runway would support a B-29 or not. None had ever landed there. In fact, at that time, none had ever landed in Japan. Again, the single runway was only 4000' long, and only 1000' at each end was concrete. The rest was packed clay. Since we would be moving while on the clay, we didn't worry too much about breaking through although we weighed about 100,000 lbs at the time, but we were used to 8500' runways at Tinian, and 500' wide. We preferred not to have our landing run exceed the available length of runway. It could spoil the appearance of the aircraft. Also, getting off again would take a little skill.

With great skill, Capt. Neil Fulton brought it down safely, successfully making the turn at the end, and brought the aircraft to a full stop on a taxi strip/parking area.

The first response from Atsugi Tower was "Get that B-29 off the parking area!" "Where?" "Pull it out onto the grass!" "We tried to park off of concrete once before. This airplane is heavy, it will break through and mire up." "No it won't. There's a wire mat in the grass out there." "Are you sure?" " Listen, this is Colonel _______, get that !@#$# B-29 off that concrete, now! That spot is reserved for General MacArthur, who's due in this afternoon!"

Being thus encouraged, we restarted the (three) engines, and pulled off onto the grass. Well, almost. As the wheels reached the edge of the concrete (18" thick), huge chunks broke off, and, as predicted, said wheels got no further than a foot or so till they had mired deeper than they had traveled horizontally.

We came to a screeching halt. There wasn't any wire mesh there. Neil tried to pull forward by revving the engines, but all he achieved was the invention of a new type of trench-digging machine.

By the time the trip was definitely over, we had brought the rear door about to the runway's edge, with the tail still in MacArthur territory.

Even at only 900 lbs per crew member, we weren't about to lift that airplane out. It would have merely driven our feet into the ground. Besides, some of us couldn't lift that much and walk at the same time. Neil looked it up in the manual, and in spite of a good index, could not find what one does at a time like this. We certainly didn't intend to get out of MacArthur's way by the time he landed. We agreed on that.

The occupation of Japan was only about 5 hours old at this time, so no heavy American towing-B-29s-back-onto-the-runway equipment had yet arrived. We decided to let the aircraft stay put for the time being. Later that afternoon, a P-47 fighter came in, low on gas. By filling him up from our own tanks, we also were able to lighten the takeoff load, making our own chances of getting home better, whenever we could get out of the good Japanese earth.


By Cornelius Fulton, Jr., AC, 1st Squadron

Editor's Note: Following are the contents of Neil Fulton's September 7, '45 letter to the Commander, 9th BG following a week at Atsugi Airdrome, Japan. The Fulton crew with "BATTLIN' BONNIE II" made the first landing of a B-29 on Japan.

On 30 August 1945 in ship No X-15, we were over Japan at 7,500 feet. Formation rendezvous was accomplished, and the formation proceeded toward the Tokyo area. About 30 minutes off the coast, number four engine began to backfire spasmodically, and it was decided to try to keep it running. We made one pattern around Chosi PT, down around Tokyo and Cheba Peninsula, and number four cut out completely so we feathered it. We dropped behind the formation and caught up again as they turned toward Tokyo. It was here that number three engine started to backfire. We maintained our position by pulling 48" and 2600 RPM on number one and two History of the 9th Bomb Group 246 engines and getting power from number three intermittently. As we started the third and final pattern, I fell back too far to catch up again. Capt Brown in Crosstown 18 was my buddy. As we came across Tokyo, I attempted to contact Arsenic several times on "B" channel. Capt. Brown also called several times but received no answer. It was then that I called Arsenic on "A" channel with no reply. About that time I received a call on "A" channel to call Image tower which I promptly did. All this time we were heading in a general southwest direction at an indicated airspeed of 158 MPH looking for Sagami Field. Image tower is located at Atsugi Airdrome which we were approaching. They called and asked me what my trouble was, and I informed them that I had one engine out and another going. They informed me that I could not land on the main strip; but if I cared to, I could use a wire matting strip to the right of their main runway. I could not contact Arsenic or see Sagami, so I called Image tower and informed them that I would land to the right of their main runway in a southerly direction. We landed successfully and ended up on a short strip of concrete.

After landing I was ordered by the tower to taxi onto the dirt and to the side of the field. I protested, knowing that the airplane was too heavy and that we would be stuck before going far. The next transmission from the tower was a direct order to taxi off the concrete. I complied; and both wheels sunk about 18 inches, about eight feet off the concrete. So I cut my engines, and we attempted to free the ship. It was impossible to move the ship due to the lack of equipment heavy enough to pull the ship out.

In the meantime the fuel strainers on number three and four engines were pulled and found to have an abundance of water and almost completely clogged with coral dust. This situation was the cause of all my trouble, and due to having fuel injection engines, it showed up quickly. Two new strainers were obtained for the master control from a C-46 crew chief. These were installed, but the engines could not be checked due to all the dirty fuel being drained and no fuel available to replace it. Three Japanese half-tracks were found, and we attempted to pull the ship out with them. Finally we jacked the ship up with two Jap jacks, which we located, and built a wooden platform and ramp under each wheel. Then with the aid of two half-tracks and three full gas trucks we finally got the ship back on concrete. Number four engine, which was feathered for two trips around the pattern, was unfeathered at this time.

There are many members of the e-mail group on which I got most of this information who were pilots and crew members of these crews. One provided an account of the "Power Show", where more than 600 B-29s flew over Japan on VJ-Day, while the surrender was taking place: Here is the account by General Earl Johnson that was posted to the e-mail group. I am including it here even though my uncle did not participate in that power display. He had participated in another power display three days earlier. The reason he did not participate in the second power display was that he had already landed at Atsugi, Japan three days earlier. His B-29 was the first to land in Japan. He was one of the first victorious airmen to hit the ground. He remained in Japan for the next five years. One of his sons was born there in April, 1948.

From: "Earl Johnson"
Date: Thu Sep 5, 2002 1:37 pm
Subject: B-29's Over the Missouri on VJ-Day

It seems we have more children and grand-children participating in this site so they might be interested in the "Show of Force" flown by the B-29's over the Missouri on VJ-Day.

I may be off somewhat in the numbers of B-29's participating but I think it was in the neighborhood of six-hundred plus from all the B-29 units on Saipan, Tinian and Guam. The timing was to be that the first formation was to go over the Missouri at exactly the time that Gen. MacArthur was to sign the surrender documents and it was somewhere around 10:00 A. M. Then from that point on a second Squadron (a 9 or 12 ship formation) was to go over roughly every two minutes so if we had say 600-B-29's divided into 9-ship formations that's about 67-formations, two minutes apart or the so-called "bomber stream" would take about two-hours with a formation every two minutes.

To say the least, this was quite a complex operation in which timing was essential. Not only did each B-29 have to "navigate" to their correct rendevouz location off the coast of Japan but they had to get into formation at low altitude and the leader had to take them down over the Missouri. I still marvel at the planning and timing of the Ops Order which was all done at 20th AF Headquarters on Guam then sent to each of the five (5) B-29 Wings.

But here is the most amazing part! The Ops Order said that once-formed each formation was to not go south toward home after the first pass over the Missouri but to go out over the water east of Japan and go back up north to around Hokaido (the original rendevous area and formation departure point) and come back down south in formation for a second pass over the Missouri. So if we had 67-formations on the first pass then "theoretically" we would have another 67-formations for the second pass totaling 134-formations or 1,206 B-29's over the Missouri--I think the altitude was around 3,000 feet or maybe staggered between 3,000 and 4,000.

Now, even a non-B-29 flyer can tell that this is no small operation. Flying that much formation is very tiring and the navigating on the part of the lead navigators had to be accurate in almost seconds and not minutes. As a consequence, by the time the second-pass came around the "tired pilots" wanted to do a little "sight-seeing" and the formations disintegrated. A 9-ship formation became a 2 or 3-ship formation while the "others" were off buzzing Tokyo or some, I am told, might have wandered as far away as Nagoya or other burned-out cities.

This display brought out the "wrath" of Gen. MacArthur and he wrote a scathing msg. to the 20th AF which was forwarded to all the Wings but without comment from anyone at 20th Hqs. The war was over, we had been victorious and the B-29's were letting off a little steam. How we avoided any accidents in this melee is still a mystery but I have never heard of any.

Now you know the story.

Gen. Johnson

Here are a few side subjects: I am now married to a Japanese woman. The famous quote by Genghis Khan is that, when you conquer a country, you get their women. My wife's father is very angry about this. He has disowned her. He was in Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, when the A-Bomb was dropped, but he was not in the center of the city. He was 15 years old and his school teacher had sent him away for the day to help in the war effort. The school teacher and all of the other kids in his class were incinerated by the A-Bomb. He alone survived. For this, my baby daughter, who is his granddaughter, is grateful.

I had five uncles who were military officers in World War II. Four were on my mother's side and one was on my father's side. Two on my mother's side did not see combat. The other one, besides my uncle Alden, who did see heavy combat, was my uncle Newell Jacobson. My uncle Newell Jacobson was in the Army Tank Corps under General Patton and fought as a Liaison Officer in the Battle of the Bulge. He was almost the only member of his group who was not killed in that battle. My other uncle, Edward H. Sloan, was in the US Marines and fought in the Invasion of Iwo Jima.

As nearly a million men fought in the Battle of the Bulge, I imagine that it would be difficult if not impossible to find any information about my uncle, Newell Jacobson, or, for that matter about my other uncle, Edward Sloan, who fought at Iwo Jima. If anybody has any ideas about this, please let me know.

None of my uncles were killed in the war. They all survived and lived to a ripe old age of more than 70.

Alden Jacobson was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and other medals by the US Air Force. He served 20 years in the US Air Force and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel. He died on 16 November 2001 at age 85 and is survived by his four sons, Robert, Richie, Willie and Philip, and two grandchildren.

Sam Sloan

PS In 1975 I was injured in an automobile accident and I was laid up at my mother's house in Lynchburg, Virginia for six months. Near the end of this time, my Uncle Alden Jacobson came by to visit and stayed in my mother's house for a few days.

During this time, I found out that my uncle could play bridge. I can play bridge at the average level. I am certainly not an expert at bridge like I am at chess and other board games, but we decided to play in a local duplicate bridge tournament. We looked in the newspaper and found a bridge tournament being played in Lynchburg that day.

We played in the tournament and, to my great surprise, we won the tournament. Of course, this was truly a very minor event and no big deal. Nevertheless, this is the only time that I can remember that I actually won a bridge tournament.

We were so elated by this accomplishment that we decided to play again. So, the next day, we went back and played in another duplicate bridge tournament.

This time however, we did not do so well. We finished near the bottom. I do not think that we finished dead last, but we were close to it.

So, we gave up, and never played bridge together again.

Sam Sloan

UPDATE: A new National Cemeteries website at contains burial information about Alden Jacobson:

VETERAN SERVICE DATES: 08/16/1941 - 03/31/1964
DATE OF BIRTH: 06/04/1916
DATE OF DEATH: 11/16/2001
(703) 607-8000

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