Skip to comments.Excerpt:Chapter 19-Reunion
Posted on 10/08/2001 6:55:45 AM PDT by Copernicus
Here is a little tale that suddenly seems highly relevant.
A tale of guns and money and government corruption as told by an old pilot from the greatest generation. (Note: keep in mind in 1943 a descent house with indoor plumbing (a big deal in those days) could be had for about $8000.00. Cars were anywhere from $800.00 to $1200.00.
He was traveling with a chunk of change and NO trigger locks on the guns!)
A Paul Tibbets Book 1998- "Return of the Enola Gay"
© Paul W. Tibbets
Published and distributed by Mid Coast Marketing,
1620 E. Broad St Columbus, Ohio, 43203.
"You son of a b****, put that down!"
The voice was mine, but I could hardly believe it.
The scene was the U.S. customs shed at Homestead Air Force base south of Miami.
I had just pumped a live round into the chamber of my .45 automatic and was pointing the gun at a very surprised and officious customs officer who was trying to take $1,600 from me.
This was my return to the United States in February 1943, after eight months overseas. I was tired and run-down from months of combat flying and a strenuous seven-day trip home in slow-flying military transports. My weight was down to 155 pounds, 37 less than when I left for England the previous June.
Before I left Algiers, an old flying friend, Christopher Karis, had given me a little more than $800 to take to his parents back home. He had been helping to support them since he was in high school. When he gave me the money, he was on brief leave from his base in the desert, where there had been nowhere to spend the monthly pay he had been collecting. Although we were paid in Algerian francs, a serviceman returning to the States could convert them to American dollars.
I had taken Karis's money and my own to the finance officer and converted them into a little more than $1600 in U.S. currency. This I put into a French-made Moroccan leather pouch that was a little larger than a billfold. Although it would fit in an inside jacket pocket, I put it in my B-4 bag, which was never out of my sight on the trip home.
My luggage consisted of the B-4 bag, which contained an automatic pistol, and a parachute bag in which was stowed an assortment of belongings, including my Thompson submachine gun.
I hoisted the bag onto a table and the customs agent started going through them. He saw the weapons and never said a word. When he came to the leather pouch, he asked, "What's this?"
"Money-about $1600." I replied.
"Well, I have to take it."
That was when I exploded. Normally, my reaction would have been less violent, but the war and the long trip home had loaded the camel's back to the breaking point. I wasn't about to give up that money.
"You can't have that," the customs man said, looking nervously at the gun I was pointing at him.
"The hell I can't."
"Where did you get it?"
"I earned it fighting the war."
"Is it yours?"
"You're damned right it is."
I'm not sure what I would have done if the argument had continued much longer. Our heated conversation brought a man through the door immediately behind the customs officer. He calmly asked what the trouble was.
"This son of a bitch says I can't have the money," I told him.
"Is it your money?"
"Where did you get it?"
"I've just come back from North Africa. It's my pay and some money I'm bringing home for the parents of a friend of mine."
He took the pouch from the customs inspector and handed it to me.
"Take it," he said. "No problem. It's all right."
The man asked for my name and address, then returned to his office. I caught a taxi home at once.
I realize now, and I probably knew then, that there were some American servicemen profiteering from the war. They were selling supplies that were meant for the front, sending the money to bank accounts at home.
Despite the seriousness of the problem, I'm sure the Miami customs officer's solution wasn't the right one. His superior, who gave me back my money, confirmed my suspicions the following day when he called at my parents' home.
"I wouldn't have been very surprised if you had shot that inspector," he told me. "He's given us more trouble than he's worth."
He was fired and an investigation determined that he had seized a considerable amount of "contraband" that he never turned over to the government. It seemed all the people profiteering from the war were not in the supply dumps overseas.
You can expect that many people today are carrying. Whenever I get pulled over, or have any official interaction with LEO's, I hand them my firearms card first. They usually say something like,"This isn't your license, Sir!" I apologize and say Opps! They look soo much alike these days. In ten encounters over the years, I've received one ticket.
How about them apples, DrMike
I was really implicating the "pc wussies." =o)
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