While the source of this post is another diary, the person who wrote it played a different role in the Pacific Theater. Jack Fox was a tech representative for North American Aviation, the builder of the famed B-25. Sending a rep so far from the factories in United States was invaluable for both the company and the unit flying their aircraft. Jack Fox stayed on the base with the men so he could be available to assist them 24/7.
“They Also Served”
My first assignment as Tech. Repr., covering the aircraft known as the good ole’ baker 25 Mitchell Bomber, was with the 17th Bomb Group. The B-25 aircraft was engineered and produced by North American Aviation, Inc., in Los Angeles, California. I welcomed the opportunity to serve as a Technical Representative. Before departing for my new assignment I would require some briefing so I spent a little time with the Field Service Manager, Frank Lyons, in his office. I received my instructions and we worked out some of the details of the assignment. As I was about to leave the office Frank stopped me by saying, “What the hell can we call you besides John?”
“Well BUB, that’s my name and you had better be damned careful what other name you use.” I replied. “That’s no good,” Frank countered and continued saying, “Let’s call you Jack as this will be better for everyone and easier also.”
That ended the conversation right there and I made my departure not as John Fox, but as Jack Fox and it remained so from that time on. All my correspondence came addressed to Jack Fox, so I continued using it also in my correspondence. I reported in at the Group Engineering office of the 17th Bomb Group at Felts Field in Spokane, Washington. Evidently there was a telephone conversation between this point and Frank Lyons as they were expecting a Jack Fox to report in as Tech. Repr. I guess it would have to stand that way so there was no use to change or check it now. I arrived in Spokane in the spring of 1941. During my assignment with the 17th Bomb Group, I became mighty fond of this doggone good ole’ B-25 airplane.
At the end of 1941, Jack Fox learned that he was recommended for an assignment with the Netherlands East Indies Air Force. After taking care of all the required formalities, Fox left for Australia at the end of February 1942 in a B-25. After a short stint with the NEI crews at Archer Field, he joined up with the 3rd Bomb Group at Charters Towers.
These 3rd Attack Group men were most certainly a wonderful bunch of guys. I had much respect for each and everyone of them. They were a close knit Group, a hard working bunch also mighty brave and courageous fighters.
I was getting an urge to go out on Missions but permission was refused me and it wasn’t until I had the opportunity to go over to Port Moresby, New Guinea that I was able to sneak in a mission or so at different times. I felt that I should go a on mission or so because what better way was there to learn first hand what it was all about and also what was required of the airplane under these conditions. Through this medium I was able to obtain first hand information by way of experience regarding the equipment I was representing and besides I could form good reliable first hard reports which was another part of a Tech Reprs. job; to send reports back to the company and to do this it took a considerable amount of time especially when sketches or drawings had to be made up to accompany failure reports. Being on a mission was a hair raising experience. My first experience with ack-ack was over the Jap target of Lae, New Guinea and it startled me so I dam near had a shit hemorrhage. Yes, darn right I was scared and I would think, how stupid I was in not knowing when I was well off as I should have had stayed put on the ground back at our base. Then I would think about these combat crews who went out daily to try to paste the enemy and they faced this condition frequently and took their chances. I felt I wasn’t any better than these guys so I tried not to show too much concern but no doubt I didn’t cover up completely. Most of these men figured I must be plum nuts to want to go out on missions as I had no business to be in the airplane on a combat mission. Major Lowry, the C. O. of the 13th Squadron presented an idea of his to make me a fine control member aboard a combat airplane out on missions, mainly I believe to guard against and direct fire on enemy aircraft. He approached me with the idea one day and frankly speaking I was all for it and started making plans for this new role I might find myself in but something happened somewhere as the Major’s idea did not materially. Then one day, Major Lowry was out on a mission and he and his crew went down in their airplane in the New Guinea Jungle. He sure was a mighty fine man and pilot, a good Squadron C. O. and flight leader so his death was great loss to the squadron as well as the Group.