- Birth Date: 2/6/1922
- Place of Birth: Ft. Wayne Indiana
- State of Residence: Arizona
- Years of Service: 4
- Branch of Military: Army Air Corps
- Rank: Corporal
- Wars Involved In: WWII
- Theater(s) of Operation: The Pacific Theater
Ed Falk was born in Ft. Wayne Indiana on February 6, 1922. When WWII broke out, he knew that he would be drafted. At the time, he was living in Cincinnati, where he was working as a machinist and on October 17 1942, he went into the service. He was first sent to Ft. Thomas Kentucky for one week there he was given physicals and underwent IQ testing. Then he says that he was sent to basic training in Atlantic City for 18 days, where he was housed along the shore. He shipped out and was sent to Buckley Field outside of Denver Colorado. This was when he learned about the aircraft that he would soon be working on. He recalls that he went through aircraft armament training which entails learning about the machine guns on the aircraft, the bomb racks, and how to read the systems in order to properly adjust the guns. Unfortunately, he was sent to the hospital for surgery so that he could be as healthy as possible. When he got out of the hospital, his group had already moved on, so he had to join a new group. After his aircraft armament training, he was sent to Florida in March of 1943. He was stationed in Panama City where the Army was training aerial gunners. He says that he would strip down the guns and clean them so that they would be ready for the next day’s practice. During the practice, the targets were towed by the airplanes while they were flying, and the flyers would have bullets tipped with paint that they would shoot at the targets. The color of the paint identified the shooter. He recalls that one time a pilot asked him if he would like to fly in an airplane. During the flight, he said that he was lying on one of the Bombay doors so that he could see the ocean as the plane was flying above it.
In July of that same year he was sent to Auburn Alabama to Auburn University to be in the Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP), where he studied engineering for, as he recalls, 9 or 10 months. After the ASTP, he was sent to an infantry unit stationed at Camp Atterbury in Indiana. He was only stationed there for a month or so he says because the army realized that he was trained in aircraft armament. Upon realizing this, he was sent to Lakeland Florida and he then went on to a field outside of Gainesville Florida. He says that he was lucky that he did not stay at Camp Atterbury because the men stationed there became the 106th and went on to fight in the Battle of the Bulge which was one of the bloodiest battles of WWII.
In Gainesville, during the summer of 1944, he was attached to the 3rd Air Force Group, which flew P-51’s. He was shipped out to California, near the bay he says, and then on November 7, 1977, right before the election results came in declaring Roosevelt the winner of the presidential election, he was sent to Leyte in the Philippines. Upon arrival, they were let off on a beach, and no one knew what they were supposed to do. Mr. Falk was forced to eat C and K rations for a few days because there was no camp set up and none of the Officers had any idea of what they were supposed to be doing. When the officers finally figured it out, they set up camp. There, they sent out P-51’s to escort bombers to Formosa, which is now known as Taiwan. After five or six weeks, they were sent to Luzon where they did the same thing. Occasionally they would load bombs on the wings of the P-51’s who would fly over to the southern coast of China to drop their bombs. During his time there he was in charge of taking the 50 caliber guns, of which there were three and which could shoot 650 rounds per minute, off of the plane, cleaning them, and re-mounting them. Then they had to move by air, because the roads were closed, to northern Luzon.
In the summer of 1945, he was sent to Ie Shima, which is an island off the coast of Okinawa. On one occasion he recalls that a storm was coming in, so they were forced to get on a ship and go out to sea to avoid it. This is where he was stationed until the end of the war. When he left the island, he was sent to Japan to an area he says was called Okido. Then he went to Tokyo. In Tokyo he remembers seeing the bay filled with ships of all sizes and he also remembers Mt. Fuji looking exactly like it did on Japanese postcards. At the rail station in Tokyo he recalls that he saw civilians waiting in traditional dress. While he was on the train, he said that he saw nothing, because nothing was left of the area after Tokyo had been bombed, only blocks on the ground maybe the foundation of a house, and a water pipe sticking up. The bombing destroyed everything else. He was housed in Yokahama, and was then shipped back to the U.S. he was discharged at Camp Atterbury Indiana on December 7, 1946.
His advice to future generations is, “In the service, as in real life, but particularly in the military, don’t believe 80% of what you hear and be skeptical of the other 20%.”
After the war, he decided to get an education, so he used the G.I. Bill and went to college where he studied to become an English teacher. He then moved to Chicago where he met his wife and had children. In 1959, he moved to Phoenix and worked as a substitute teacher and worked in machine shops. In 1969 he got a permanent job as an English teacher at Mesa Community College where he taught for twenty years. He currently lives in Phoenix, Arizona and is an active member of the Jewish War Veterans.