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"When I went in the service, I viewed it as an adventure. I never stopped viewing it as an adventure. There were times that I was really scared and worried and everything else, but it was still an adventure." (Audio Interview, 42:53)

   Paul A. Bradley
Collection image
Paul Bradley standing in front of the B-26 on which he flew [1953]
War: Korean War, 1950-1953
Branch: Air Force
Unit: 5th Air Force, Strategic Air Command (SAC)
Service Location: Kumsan, Korea; Bangor, Maine; Lackland Air Force Base and St. Angelo, Texas; Greenville, Mississippi; Mather Field Sacramento, California; Langley Field, Virginia; Stead Air Force Base Reno, Nevada
Rank: First Lieutenant
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After he enlisted in the Air Force and washed out of cadet training, Paul Bradley went to Officer Candidate School and trained to become a navigator and then a bombardier. In Korea, he rode in the nose of a B-26, mostly at night, "looking for targets of opportunity" as an observer (navigator-bombardier). Navigating in nearly total darkness was a challenge, and finding those targets was another. Bradley was still in Korea at the time of the truce, whose terms--and the repatriation of prisoners--he has strong opinions on. After the war, he continued flying, but now it was as a navigator on refueling missions for the Strategic Air Command.

Interview (Audio)
»Interview Highlights  (8 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: audio (85 min.)
»Photo Album  (1 photo)
 Official Documents
»View List (2 items)
More like this
»Korean War
 Audio (Interview Excerpts) (8 items)
Working in a federal arsenal at 16 during World War II; recalling neighbors who went off to war and didn't come back, in particular one young man whom he was able to commemorate with a donation to an air museum in England. (02:32) First interest in aviation as a senior in high school; graduated from college in January 1950; working in a factory when Korea started; enlisting in January 1951 in the Air Force; washed out of pilot training; went to OCS, trained to be navigator and bombardier; navigation was much less sophisticated then; learning navigation and bombing on B-26; escape and evasion training; no men repatriated from missing B-26 crews in Korea; story of one repatriated POW who kept track of every prisoner he buried during his 33 months in captivity. (07:49) Most missions flown at night; difficulty of navigating in total darkness (no ground lighting at all); close call with flak; teamwork important; engineer taking over for his pilot on one mission when pilot got vertigo; another pilot asking to get out of the unit because he couldn't handle the strain; impossible to fly over time and not have "exciting experiences." (09:58)
Two Korean house girls did laundry and other chores and also stole from them; two kinds of infiltrators, the serious guerrillas and the local thieves; security around the base to keep out the first kind. (02:10) Reaction to the truce; satisfied they did their job, though disappointed in the terms; enemy jockeying for position just before the truce was signed; returning to the U.S. in December 1953; story of his pilot, whose brother-in-law was a POW and was never repatriated; feels the U.S. has walked away from accounting for all its servicemen in recent wars out of pragmatism; serving as an adventure for him; flying over to Korea instead of going on a troop ship; on the way, stopped in Hawaii, came in on same flight path the Japanese had on December 7, 1941 (06:52) No residual psychological problems; his pilot drank to relieve the stress and that concerned Bradley; he was sober and stable when flying, though. (02:06)
WWII veterans serving in Korea and beyond who likely shouldn't have been flying any more. (01:59) Only time his plane was hit by military weapons was when they dropped their bombs and they exploded prematurely; in the States on a military flight, avoiding a thunderstorm and getting lost when their instruments went out; wound up flying too close to the White House; escorted away by F-86s. (04:45) 
 Official Documents (2 items)
Commendation from the President of the Republic of Korea, Kim Dae-Jung [6/25/2000] DD-214, Report of Separation 

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  October 26, 2011
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