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“It was quite shocking to see how close those mountains were to us! It seemed like the crags sticking up were just about scraping our belly.” (Video interview, 21:58)

   Kenneth Stepherson
Collection image
Kenneth Stepherson [detail from video]
War: World War, 1939-1945
Branch: Army Air Forces/Corps
Unit: 2nd Troop Carrier Squadron, 443rd Troop Carrier Group, 10th Air Force
Service Location: China-Burma-India (CBI) Theater; Tokyo, Japan; Manila, Philippines; Pacific Theater
Rank: Staff Sergeant
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Though he initially trained as a pilot, Kenneth Stepherson ended up serving in the Army Air Forces as a radioman, where he drew on his experience as a lifelong ham radio operator. Departing for the China-Burma-India Theater in 1945, he and his crew served as part of a troop carrier squadron, ferrying troops and supplies from India to China. This route meant navigating the Himalayas, infamously known as “the Hump,” which featured notoriously bad weather. As Stepherson discusses, visibility was so poor during most of his flights through the Hump that he and his crew “flew blind,” depending solely on their instruments to navigate. In his oral history interview, Stepherson offers vivid and detailed descriptions of flying the Hump, and also of his service in China following the end of the war.

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (4 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: video (51 min.)
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 Video (Interview Excerpts) (4 items)
Lengthy journey to India; receiving assignments. (03:53) Responsibilities as part of a troop carrier squadron; tactical importance of their mission and the Hump route. (02:46) Dangers of flying through the Hump; limits of visibility; risks presented by bad weather. (02:38)
Arriving home from overseas duty; readjustment to civilian life. (02:17)  

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