I’m Lawrence Day from Chattanooga, Tennessee, . . a . . grew up . . a . . from the first grade wanting to be a Naval Aviator. World War II started, and . . a . . I thought my opportunity was all gone. It ended, and I still hadn’t made it yet. In . . a . . May of 1946, the Navy recruiters came to Central High School in Chattanooga and said . . a . . said, “Boys, we still need some Aviation Cadets; won’t you come over and join up?” Well, that’s what I’d been looking for, and I did, and fortunately made . . was able to pass all the tests--for the World War II V-5 Program. I was accepted for the V-5 Program at NAS Atlanta, in May 31, 1946.
A couple a . . well, about three weeks after I was accepted, I received a letter from the Navy, and they said that . . well . . that . . well, Lawrence, . . we appreciate your involvement up to this time, but we’re eliminating . . doing away with the aviation cadet program, . . and . . a . . the new program is called the Holloway Aviation Midshipman Program, and in this program, if you want to sign up for it, we’ll buy your books and pay for your tuition so you can go to college for two years and then we’ll send you to flight school and give you an opportunity to integrate into the regular Navy.
I thought well, that’s for me, so I signed up for it. Went to the University of Tennessee at Knoxville for the two years; and July 7, 1949, we reported to Pensacola, and [were] sent out to Corry Field for about three weeks. Then they brought us back to Mainside and . . a . . designated us Aviation Midshipmen. Then we started Preflight, then. And after Preflight, then a little bit of delay . . we were ordered to Whiting Field for Basic Training. After Basic, they sent us to Corpus Christi, for . . Advanced Training . . in my case, for PB4Y-2s. I got my wings at Corpus Christi in February of ’50 and received orders to . . a . . North Island [NAS San Diego]—Air Pac—for further assignment .
I got out there . . they said, “We need a bunch of navigators in this squadron over at [NAS] Miramar.” Now they’re getting ready for deployment and, “Every time they go out on deployment we . . just a . . we pay them per diem.” And, I thought, if I go, I get to see the world and I get per diem every time I go out, so I’ll accept that.
Went out to Miramar, and joined VJ . . VC-61, which was then the West Coast photo squadron. We had . . PB4Y-1Ps, or the B-24; the F8F Bearcat; and the SNB or JRB twin Beech.
So we got to the squadron in March of ’50. And my first deployment was to Newfoundland in those PB4Y-1Ps. And I completed my two years as a midshipman in Argentia, Newfoundland, in July, 1950.
At which time I received my commission.
A bit of regression here. While I was deployed to Argentia, the Navy had . . due to lack of funds . . had separated a number of former aviation midshipmen—then ensigns—who had already been in the squadron, but they didn’t have money to keep them, so they separated them, whether they wanted to stay or not. A number of these fellows had already been separated at North Island on Friday [June 23, 1950], and the word came in [Sunday, June 25] that the Korean War had started. So NavAirLant and NavAir Pac sent out some of the active duty people to the local hotels and bistros to see if they could find any of these guys. So, some former aviation midshipmen who were separated on the last of June were found and asked, and many of them accepted, and came immediately back into the Navy. And were sent back, in some cases to their former squadrons, and in some cases to new squadrons.
The entire program for me was a great one. I [garbled] to the needs at the time of the service with the Korean War going on. After a year, I applied for regular Navy and was accepted. This is what I’d wanted to be all along. I had some very, very rewarding assignments, and spent 29 years in the Navy, and if I had it all to do over again, I’d do it the same way.
[Voice]: Who are you talking to?
Day: The historian wanted me to put it on the screen. Now, how do you turn it off? Larry Day 16-48.
[Voice]: Larry Nichols. 13-47. Your name awful familiar. I can’t place it.
Day: Well, I don’t know whether you remember—I was the first president of the [Flying] Midshipman Association. I happened to be in Washington in’69 going to the National War College, and we were trying to get credit for our aviation midshipman [time in service].
Nicholls: Were you the one who did it?
Day: No, I didn’t do it, but …
Nichols: Nicholls: [Ort] Rudd, maybe. I heard Rudd …
Day: Well,no, a …
Nichols: We’ve got to thank somebody.
Day: Actually, the major credit should go to a former Marine who we can’t even find anymore. His name was Larry Sharp. I didn’t know that any of the [aviation] midshipmen became Marines. But Larry Sharp did, and he was really working for this, and he contacted me and a number of former aviation midshipmen.
Day: Go ahead [Larry] speak into this …. [See Larry Nicholl’s story]