THE RARE BREED |
Recognizing Area Veterans Of World War II
Eldon Hill Had Christmas
Dinner In Yokohama Bay
Eldon Hill at Fort Wood, 1941
Eldon Luther Hill was already in the Army Air Force when the Japs did their surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. Four years and 18 days later he was having Christmas dinner aboard ship in conquered Japan's Yokohama Bay.
Hill was born "on the river" 10 miles north of Palacios on May 13, 1918. His parents, from pioneer families of the area, were Luther and Donie Ellis Hill. He attended high school in both Collegeport and Palacios, graduating from Palacios High in 1936 and from Southwest Texas Teachers College at San Marcos in 1939.
He later went to work under future president Lyndon Baines Johnson, teaching shop to boys in the National Youth Administration (NYA) at Livingston, Texas. He was drafted into military service in March 1941, sent to Lackland Field at San Antonio for six weeks, then to the 124th Calvary at Fort Brown, near Brownwood.
"I had ridden horses, knew all about them, but I didn't think the Calvary was for me," Hill says. After eight months, his request for a discharge so he could enlist in the Army Air Force was granted.
He was first sent to Sheppard Field at Wichita Falls-- where he met his bride of the future, Mary Ann Alexander (she worked in the colonel's office).
It was then a transfer to Amarillo Air Base, where he became an instructor in electrical, fuel, oil and hydraulic systems for the B-29 Superfortresses and the 409 School Squadron. It was the B-29 that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
From Amarillo AB, and after marrying Mary Ann in her hometown of Seymour, Texas on Dec. 1, 1942, Hill was deployed to an electronic school for the B-32 aircraft at Schnute Field, Illinois; then 15 months at Bergstrom Air Base, Austin, working on C-47s and C-54s. After brief stops at Kerns, Utah and Camp Stoneham, near San Francisco, Hill shipped out to the war zone in the Pacific.
He worked on all things electronic and other systems aboard the bigger aircraft as America launched its victory drive on Japan, moving from New Guinea to The Philippines, Okinawa, Fukuoka in Japan, Tokyo and finally Yokohama.
Hill remained in Japan after the war, until that Christmas dinner time, 1945, when he was in Yokohama Bay, aboard a ship that was about to set sail for the United States.
He received his discharge in February 1946 at San Antonio, with the rank of Staff Sergeant.
Eldon and Mary Ann became the parents of a daughter, Jane Hill Cook, a teacher in Dallas. There have also been three grandchildren, the oldest of whom is a U. S. Marine.
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