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Paul H. Poberezny

 

Into the War


"I still couldn't believe it! I was serving my country. I was being paid to fly!"

When the United States entered World War II after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Paul applied for the War Training Service program. With more than 200 hours of flight time already logged he was promptly accepted. Paul changed roles several times during the war years but primarily served his nation as a flight instructor. Paul has the distinction of being the only person to earn all seven types of the pilot wings offered by the armed services at the time.

  Paul in World War II
  Paul checks outs the cockpit of an L-1 liaison airplane in 1942.

Paul was 21 years old and found himself teaching military officers four or five years his senior to fly. "I was assigned my first class of five aviation cadets. To say I was nervous would be an understatement. How was I to teach these men who seemed so old to me? I calmed down after a while. Everything was happening so fast. I still couldn't believe it! I was serving my country. I was being paid to fly!

"As an instructor, I accepted some 'washed-out' (failed) students from other flight instructors," Paul said. "Good instructors develop exceptional qualities, they maintain a high level of personal skills, and they retain the respect of their students by caring for them. I am proud to say that during my flight instruction days, all my students graduated from Basic and Advanced flying - including the former wash-outs! I learned that if you were sincere, took the time - and had patience - you could teach almost anyone to fly. I also learned that some instructors intentionally washed-out some of their students to lighten their workload. This was certainly not in the best interest of the young men who dreamed and desired to fly - nor the country!"

Soon Paul was transferred to Helena, Arkansas, as a primary flight instructor. The unique benefit to this assignment was that every two or three months, between classes, he could catch a train to Milwaukee to visit Audrey. Lillian, Audrey's mom, was aware of the burgeoning fondness between the two of them and set a high bar. Lillian told the couple they could not get married until they had saved $3,300, a very significant amount of money at the time. Paul began sending Audrey money every week. Eventually, they had saved the required amount. Paul received Lillian's blessing, and Audrey raced off to Arkansas where they married on May 28, 1944.

Paul was reassigned to the 3rd Ferry Group out of Detroit. This gave him the opportunity to become acquainted with what would become his lifelong favorite airplane, the C-47, the military version of the famous Douglas DC-3. The greatest benefit being assigned to a ferry squadron was that Paul was able to fly a much larger variety of aircraft than most pilots. "I had many wonderful experiences ferrying aircraft and flying all the liaison models, the basic and advanced trainers (both singles and twins)." Being a ferry pilot also offered Paul the unique opportunity to slightly deviate from course and stop off in Milwaukee to see Audrey.

On September 2, 1945, World War II officially came to an end. Paul would be able to return home to his wife. "Although I enjoyed the flying, I was glad the war was over. I wanted to settle down and be with Audrey." The last line in Paul's World War II pilot logbook reads: "SO ENDS MY ARMY FLYING. DAMN IT."

Paul's Early Years < Back Next > Setting the Stage for History
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