We were assigned a mission to fly solo over Japan to drop pamphlets requesting the Japanese to terminate the war. We were required to go to high altitudes on the jet stream (little known then).
We began to have trouble with the No. 2 engine, having a propeller run away, which led to the propeller coming off, narrowly missing the plane. The drag created by the propeller greatly reduced our speed.
We were over water heading back to Saipan and it became apparent that we were not going to make it. We were forced to ditch in the Pacific Ocean. After a brief time in the water, we were picked up by an American ship.
Later, thanks to the Marines who secured Iwo Jima, we were able to land on the new airstrip, which shortened our distance to Japan.
I was assigned to a group of 300 B-29s to strike against Tokyo. We had been having high-velocity winds on the ground, which set up firestorms that caused 15 square miles of destruction in Tokyo. Fatalities were estimated at 100,000.
I participated in 30 bombing missions over Japanese cities as a navigator. After Japan's surrender, I was able to land in Tokyo and view the destruction.
We flew back to the states and disbanded our unit. I went on to pilot training and a 30-year career in the Air Force.
- Col. Dwayne Weatherwax, ret., Bellingham