The Norman Transcript

Columns

October 27, 2012

James Mahaffey served in New Guinea

NORMAN — Jim Mahaffey was born in Devol in 1921, the only boy in a family with five sisters. After he graduated from high school in 1939, he started at the University of Oklahoma, studying aeronautical engineering in January 1940.

In the summer of 1940, his mother moved to Norman and rented an apartment over the Campus Grocery, which was across Boyd Street from the campus. During his time at OU, Jim had a paper route. One of his customers was incarcerated in the county jail, which at the time was on the top floor of the courthouse. The inmate would lower a rope out the window and Jim would tie his Daily Oklahoman to the rope for the inmate to pull back up.

Shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Jim and a couple of buddies went to Oklahoma City to enlist. Jim was the only one who passed the physical. When he arrived at Lackland Army Air Corps base, the camp was not ready yet and the recruits had to live in tent bivouacs.

He received navigator and bombardier training before receiving his commission in 1942. He then joined the newly formed 345th Bombardment Group at Columbia, S.C. His group was eventually sent to Australia in June, where they became a part of the 5th Air Force. The camps weren’t ready there, either. They had to wait until the construction troops could build the barracks.

The 345th was sent to Port Moresby, New Guinea, and, eventually, to Dobodura, New Guinea, where they spent their combat time bombing and strafing Japanese troops and small shipping. Extra guns were added to the B-25s his unit flew to enable them to strafe enemy positions as well as bomb them.

The rule was that, after an airman flew 50 missions, he was rotated back to the states. On Jim’s 40th mission, they were on a low-level strafing mission over the Admiralty Islands and got shot down. A PBY (flying boat) rescued the entire crew. When they arrived back at the PBY base, the crew was treated with a big steak dinner. On Jim’s last mission, they had another close call when they encountered Japanese Zeros.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Columns
  • Norman Forward builds momentum

    The quiet campaign to build momentum for a citywide public works project is beginning to attract some attention....

    July 20, 2014

  • Tax those trees out of here

    I read your editorial “Pesky red cedars” in the Norman Transcript of Tuesday, July 15, 2014. I have attended two meetings where the problem of the eastern red cedar trees was discussed. Because of the drought conditions in Oklahoma, we ...

    July 20, 2014

  • Make gun safety a health issue

    Quick, are you more likely to die by a bullet or in a car crash? Common sense would seem to suggest the latter. Cars are everywhere. We are an auto-obsessed nation. To be American is to drive — everywhere. Teenagers itch to get behind the ...

    July 20, 2014

  • They just want to be free ... maybe

    Massoud Barzani, president of Iraq’s semiautonomous Kurdistan region, rattled many cages this month when he announced in parliament that the KRG would be moving ahead soon on a referendum on independence from Iraq. If Kurdistan goes ahead ...

    July 20, 2014

  • Congress must accelerate solutions

    Congress has roused itself, at the last minute, and now is scrambling to save the Highway Trust Fund. Better late than never. Better still will be if lawmakers agree to come up with the money to prevent the fund from becoming insolvent. ...

    July 20, 2014

  • The heavy burden of college aid

    Return on investment is a clear measure of what you get for your money. Incredibly, the federal government doesn’t apply that simple concept to the $137 billion a year it spends on college financial aid....

    July 19, 2014

  • James bears weight of Cav’s dreams

    LeBron James has done it all on a basketball court. He’s a great scorer, rugged defender, proven big-play leader and champion. But that might not be enough in Cleveland, where he’ll also need the powers of Merlin the Magician....

    July 17, 2014

  • Steve Boaz.jpg Breathing Rhythm Studio a center for creativity

    Recording engineer Steve Boaz has brought his musical ambitions to fulfillment in a downtown Norman studio.

    July 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Matt Lauer is so last century

    How about we rename “The Today Show” the “Yesterday Show” since host Matt Lauer asks questions from 1953? Isn’t what Lauer asked GM CEO Mary Barra about whether she’ll do “well” at being simultaneously an executive and a mom about, oh, 30 ...

    July 14, 2014

  • Religion’s role shrinking

    Surveying the response to last month’s Hobby Lobby decision, I was struck by a comment from progressive Massachusetts senator and possible Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren....

    July 12, 2014