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Joseph W. Noah « North Carolina's WWII ExperienceNorth Carolina's WWII Experience

Joseph W. Noah

Hometown: Greensboro, NC
Branch of Service: Marines
Location of Service: Pacific

Having competed one year in college on borrowed money, and having been discharged from the USMS, my father said that I either had to go to work or join a service; he could not pay for me to continue my education. At the time, I didn’t know he had borrowed the money for my first year.

I decided to join the Marines because I could enlist for two years; the Navy required four. All I wanted was the GI Bill, and two years would give me all the GI Bill I would need. So I enlisted in the USMC in August 1946 making me a WW II veteran. In short, I got in the Marines late enough to miss the fighting, but early enough to get the GI Bill of Rights!

I completed boot camp at Parris Island, SC and was told to prepare to go to China after my boot leave! So I went home to Greensboro and spent all the money I had saved while in boot camp. Instead of being shipped to China as I was led to expect, I was shipped to the Charleston Naval Shipyard where I remained for only three months. Then I was transferred to the Charlotte Naval Ammunition Depot, NC. I was discharged from Camp LeJeune as a corporal in August 1948 and re-entered NC State where I graduated in 1951 thanks to the GI Bill.

To supplement my income while at NC State, I joined the Air Force ROTC program. It paid $30 per month, a significant addition to the $90(as I recall) paid by the GI Bill. Much to my surprise, when I graduated in 1951, all ROTC graduates were required to serve (because of the Korean War)whether they were veterans or not. I didn’t count on that when I signed up for the extra $30 per month. Graduating as one of eight Distinguished Military Graduates, I was told that I could join the Reserves and serve 21 months, or I could take a regular commission and resign after 12 months. I believed the sergeant whose CO really wanted all eight of us to accept regular commissions. I accepted a regular commission, was sent to my first duty station at Donaldson Air Force Base in Greenville, SC, where I served as Engineering Officer of the 57th Troop Carrier Squadron (flying the C-82) for a year. My resignation was rejected and I was sent to Ashiya, Japan to serve as the Engineering Officer of the 61st Troop Carrier Squadron flying the C-119. In addition to flying to Korea many times, we also flew to Haiphong where we loaned several C-119s to the French who were fighting the Battle of Dien Bien Phu. Our Air Force pilots were not allowed to fly the drop missions to Dien Bien Phu, but two American civilians, one of whom had been in the 61st, were killed on May 7, 1954, the day before the French capitulated: James McGovern & Wally Buford.

When I returned to the ZI, I elected to take the Air Force up on their offer to send me to Stanford University for a Masters Degree. In return for their generosity, I had to agree to serve 3 years after graduation. My last 3 years were spent in Rome, NY at the Rome Air Force Depot in Procurement; I resigned in June 1958. My one year turned into seven!