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"When I got up in the air, and the instructor was trying to tell me what to do, I wasn’t paying attention—I wanted to look around!" (Video interview, 29:02)

   Howard Bernstein
Collection image
Howard Bernstein at time of interview [2003]
War: World War, 1939-1945
Branch: Navy
Unit: Squadron VPB-135
Service Location: Attu Island (Aleutian Islands)
Rank: Lieutenant
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Like so many pilots during World War II, Navy Lieutenant Howard Bernstein began flying planes without ever having set foot in one as a civilian. Enlisting on December 7, 1942, he fought hard to fly: initially failing the eye examination for new pilots, he ate carrots and drank milk for a month, in order to improve his eyesight and pass the test on the second go. Arriving in the Aleutians, he flew bombing missions from Attu to the Kuril Islands situated northwest of Japan; at around 750 miles, these were considered extremely long flights. In his interview, he stresses the importance of remembering the casualties of World War II as well as the victories.

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (4 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: video (80 min.)
More like this
»Aleutian Islands: WWII’s Unknown Campaign
 Video (Interview Excerpts) (4 items)
Deciding to apply for the Navy pilot program; failing depth perception test; eating lots of vitamin C; interviewing with Naval officers. (05:10) Introduction to flying; going up in an airplane for the first time. (00:54) Receiving special training for flying in bad weather; purpose of bombing missions. (04:20)
Remembering the tragedies, losses and fear of the war; losing cousin at Pearl Harbor; childhood friends who died while serving. (02:27)  

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  The Library of Congress  >> American Folklife Center
  October 26, 2011
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