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Paul Newman - TBF Avenger Gunner

Newman was sent to the Navy V-12 program at Yale, with hopes of being accepted for pilot training. But this plan was foiled when a flight physical revealed him to be color-blind. So he was sent instead to boot camp and then on to further training as a radioman and gunner.

Qualifying as a rear-seat radioman and gunner in torpedo bombers, in 1944 Aviation Radioman Third Class Newman was sent to Barber's Point, Hawaii, and subsequently assigned to Pacific-based replacement torpedo squadrons (VT-98, VT-99, and VT-100). These torpedo squadrons were responsible primarily for training replacement pilots and combat aircrewmen, placing particular importance on carrier landings.

During his two years in the Pacific the Newman luck held, especially on one occasion when his pilot fell ill and their aircraft was grounded. The rest of the squadron was transferred to an aircraft carrier operating off the coast of Japan, where a kamikaze hit the carrier, inflicting heavy casualties on the men and aircraft of Newman's squadron.

While he was with VT-99, training personnel in TBM-1Cs, TBM-3s, and TBF-1cs, the squadron moved to Eniwetok, then to Guam, and in January 1945 on to Saipan. This remained its base of operations until its decommissioning nine months later. A VT-99 contingent including Newman was aboard the aircraft carrier Hollandia (CVE-97), which was operating about five hundred miles off Japan when the Enola Gay dropped its atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

Finally, Paul Newman served with Carrier Aircraft Service Unit 7, one of many shore-based carrier air-group support units. CASUs operated the facilities, serviced and rearmed, made repairs, and handled routine upkeep and administrative duties. Newman's CASU was based in Seattle, conveniently located for his discharge at Bremerton, Washington State, on 21 January 1946. He was decorated with the American Area Campaign Medal, the Good Conduct Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal.




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