George McDowall Oral History
George McDowall was born on August 11, 1922 in Chicago, Illinois, to William and Grace McDowall. George grew up in Joliet, Illinois. In the summer of 1942, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps and served as a B-24 Bomber pilot during the World War II. George deployed to the Pacific Theater in 1944 and flew 44 combat missions. He was discharged from service on November 11, 1945 and remained in the reserves after the war. In 1948, George and his father, Bill, purchased a roofing company which George operated the company until he retired. McDowall was married to Mary Elizabeth Leonard on February 28, 1951 and they had eight children –Patrick, John, David, Peter, Lawrence, Paul, Mary, and Steven. George died on December 15, 2007 and buried in Assumption Cemetery in St. Cloud, Minnesota.
In an interview conducted on October 18, 1989, George McDowall described his experience as a pilot in the Army Air Corps during World War II. In October 1942, McDowall enlisted with the Army Air Corps His initial training was at Miami Beach and then to the San Antonio Aviation Cadet Center. Here it was to be determined whether he would be a pilot, navigator, or bombardier. McDowall was shipped to Illinois for primary flight school and then Winfield, Kansas for basic flight school. He soon was sent to Waco, Texas to train twin engine planes and, upon completion, McDowall went to Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth for B-24 training. After the completion of all his training, McDowall made his way to Nadzab, New Guinea. While discussing his training, he explained what training was like, cadets washing out of the program and fatal airplane accidents.
McDowall told about the first training mission from Nadzab as well as describing he should have received and the kind of pilots that were sent back to train. After Nadzab, McDowall was stationed at Morotai and remembered the conditions there compared to Nadzab. McDowall recounted different events while stationed at Morotai including the Japanese bombing the airfield and different airstrips in the Philippines. He also detailed the bomb run on the Japanese Navy at Brunei Bay in Borneo as well as the aftermath for the different bomber groups. Another event recounted the Battle of Leyte Gulf and his bomb run on the town of Ormac. McDowall detailed the intricacies of a bomb run and the use of the Norden bombsight. McDowall compared the strengths and weaknesses of the different bombers. He ended the interview regarding his positive and negative feelings from World War II and men dodging the draft during the Vietnam War.
Interview by David Overy
St. Cloud State University, "George McDowall Oral History" (1989). World War II Veterans. 34.