Logo from a painting by Robert Morris

You Are Denied Permission to Land

At dawn on New Year's eve (December 31,1952) I was strapped in my sear as the four engines of the Navy PB4Y2, Privateer, roared to take-off power and we lifted off the runway on Guam and headed out to find a particularly bad storm.  It was during the Korean War and the Navy had recalled me from civilian life.  They returned me to my World Was II duty of flying typhoons as a flight weather officer in a typhoon reconnaissance squadron.  As we were flying out to find this typhoon the queasy feeling in my stomach was not caused by the 3:00 am breakfast of powdered eggs and reconstituted milk.  I had plenty of time to reflect on my situation.  I thought about my three month old son, Mark, whom I had never seen and my wife who I loved dearly. We were headed into a dangerous storm, which was going to take all the skill we possessed.  Charlie Dodds was the plane commander.  I realized
that the odds were not good and there was a very good chance that I was going to die that day.  I didn't try to bargain with God, but I knew that if I survived this storm, I would never be the same.  My job as the flight
aerologist (meteorologist) was to direct the plane commander into the center of the typhoon, make or supervise the weather observations, code the data so the radioman could sent it and advise the plane commander how to
exit the typhoon in the safest possible manner. M ore important than all of this was to remain cool and confident and keep the trust and confidence of the plane commander and his co-pilot so they would trust me to help get us
all out alive. We spiraled into the storm in the normal manner the radioman had sent my urgent messages, the plane crew had secured everything that had broken loose, and the smokers had, had a couple of cigarettes.  We prepared to leave the eye. We looked around the "soft" quadrant of the storm for an easy way out but couldn't find one. There is no good way to leave the center of a typhoon. The Air Force had planes with the ability to fly high
enough to escape most of the wrath of the storm. Because of the limitations of our airplanes, and due to their need for observations of the surface of the sea the Navy used low level reconnaissance.  I advised Charlie to go down to about 500 feet above the sea, line up the airplane so it would hit the storm with the wind coming from his right side, plow into the storm and expect all hell to beak loose. It did. The wind speed went from zero to 200
miles per hour in no time at all. The plane went into extreme lurching and twisting. Each wing with its two big engines flapped like a bird's. Charlie and his co-pilot were able to keep the plane right side up and we
got our first bit of good news, I saw the surface of the sea. When you see the sea, and if you keep your wits about you, you can determine the wind direction and the direction the plane should head. I talked to Charlie and
his co-pilot over the intercom to give them a new heading, reassure them calm and confident. With some difficulty we made our way out of the typhoon and headed for Guam. As we approached Guam it was dusk. I heard Charlie on the radio, "Agana Tower, Agana Tower, this is Roger 58, over". The radio crackled "Roger 58 this is Agana Tower. How do you read me?"  Charlie replied, "I read you loud and clear. Request permission to land and landing
instructions, over". We circled the field for several minutes. The radio crackled again, "Roger 58, by order of the Commanding Officer you are denied permission to land.  You are to proceed to Iwo Jima where you will remain
until the storm has passed  and this field is reopened to normal traffic." We saw the winds starting to tear up Guam as we passed over it in the fading light and set a course for Iwo Jima. We felt secure in  the knowledge that it was another crew's responsibility of fly the storm tomorrow. Several hours later and very tired we landed on Iwo Jima. After we had secured the airplane we got something to eat and headed for the New Year's Eve party at the small officers club. Now was the time to tell each other how great we were and to give thanks for being safely on the ground. About 10 minutes to midnight I had just "had it". I knew that I would probably be too tired the next morning to revisit that sacred ground where the marines lifted out flag on Mount Suribachi. I climbed off of my barstool and announced I was headed for bed. Much to my surprise Charlie, who seldom left the bar early, said, "I'm going with you". We were walking sound the airfield runway when we heard back at the club, "Happy New Year!"

Written by Don Leinweber, contributed by Earl Beach



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