John P. Eichmiller, Jr.
My induction into the Army was in January, 1943, at Fort Meade, MD. After travelling south overnight by train, I arrived in St. Petersburg, FL, where I learned I was a member of the Army Air Corps.
After basic training in Florida, I transferred to Seymour Johnson Field, NC, and received six months of concentrated training as an aircraft mechanic. During this period I qualified for acceptance in the Army Specialized Training Program (A.S.T.P.) and expected to be sent to medical school under the program. However, I was informed that aircraft mechanics were vitally needed and I could not be released to the A.S.T.P.
From Seymour Johnson Field, I was transferred to the Douglas Aircraft Company in Long Beach, CA, for specialized training on the C-47 aircraft.
On arrival at Baer Field, Indiana, I learned of my assignment to the 27th Troop Carrier Squadron of the 14th Air Force at Dunellon, FL. The squadron was already alerted to ship overseas.
I joined the 27th TCS on December 7, 1943. I left Newport News, VA, with the ground echelon-we traveled by Liberty Ship, and landed in Oran, N. Africa. We spent a month waiting for transport through the Mediterranean Sea. Finally, aboard a British Troop Ship, we traveled the Mediterranean and Suez Canal to India. Eventually arriving in Silhet, we joined our air echelon in the battle to drive the Japanese from Burma.
Sometime in May, 1944, following an accident on the line in which I broke my left arm. I developed a very high fever in the 105-106 range. I was transported by a British evacuation plane to Calcutta. India. There I spent three months in the 263rd General Hospital. On arrival, the fracture diagnosis was made, but the fever remained a mystery for five days until someone ordered a blood smear and diagnosed malaria. The malaria recurred five times during the following seventeen months.
On discharge from the hospital, my main concern was returning to the 27th TCS, which had transferred to China in the interim. I got little help from Headquarters Co. in Calcutta, where they put me to work as a clerk. In time, I learned of a plane stopping at Dum-Dum Airfield enroute to China and the 27th TCS. I hitched a ride over the hump to rejoin my squadron.
I crewed and flew Able King with Henry Merritt as Crew Chief. I was assigned to Able Fox as Crew Chief and Aerial Engineer while still a Corporal, and had AF as my responsibility until I returned to the States in November, 1945.
My discharge from the service on November 13, 1945, was at Indian Town Gap, PA. Military occupation and speciality number: Aerial Engineer (2750). Grade held: T/Sgt. Decorations, etc.: Air Medal with one oak leaf cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross. Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal with two bronze stars, World War II Victory Medal, Good Conduct Medal. I had flown over 300 operational hours aboard the C-47 while in theater.
Believing that ten years would be too long a time to invest in the study of medicine, after returning home to Pittsburgh I earned the degree of BS in Business Administration from Duquesne University. In time I owned a furniture business in Madeira Beach, FL. In 1955, ten years after discharge from the service, I still had the desire to study Medicine. I earned my M.D. degree in Sept. 1959, from the University of Tennessee College Of Medicine in Memphis, TN. I returned to Pittsburgh for internship and residency, where I practiced Anesthesiology for over 30 years.