LIEUTENANT EARL S. WOLCOTT, JR.
Earl S. Wolcott, Jr. was born on April 14, 1920, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the son of Earl Sr. and Emma Lesher Wolcott. Following the death of Earl’s mother, Earl Sr’s job as a railroad telegrapher took the pair throughout the United States. They settled in Grand Rapids where Earl began elementary school. Naturally athletic, Earl Jr excelled in the mile run and became a Golden Gloves boxer by the time he graduated from High School in 1938.
Earl enrolled at the University of Michigan for one semester before finances compelled him to drop out. Enlisting in the U.S. Army 2nd Infantry Regiment, 5th Infantry Division, at Fort Custer, Michigan he served for the next three years, training as an infantryman. He was honorably discharged, in November 1941.
Less than a month later, on December 7, 1941 Earl woke to news of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Having experienced the life of an infantry soldier, he was determined not to spend the war as a ground-pounder. Making his way to the packed recruiting office he was advised to return for enlistment on his birthday. April 14, 1942, Earl became a part of the newly established Army Air Forces.
After completing primary, basic and advanced pilot training at airfields in Texas, Earl transitioned to the B-24 Liberator heavy bomber at Tarrant Field before receiving orders to March Field. Arriving in California, he joined the 392nd Bomb Squadron of the 30th Bomb Group as the unit prepared for combat.
October 1943, saw the 30th Bomb Group deploying its squadrons to the Pacific, where the longer range and heavier bomb loads of the B-24 were needed to support the campaign against Japan. In route overseas, the group stopped briefly at Hamilton Field, California, where a visiting MGM Studio cartoonist painted “The Little General” from the Tom and Jerry cartoon series, on the nose of B-24J 42-73030 . “The Little General” would see Earl through some of the most dangerous missions of the P
- ©2018 John Slemp
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