The Diary of Paul E. Homan: stories of WWII from an American Aviation Cadet who hoped his diary would keep the heritage alive.

Paul E. Homan was born in the U.S state of Pennsylvania in 1922. His life before his enrolment into the United States Army Air Force is unknown, but from his Diary of Service During WWII (2nd Air Division Memorial Library Archive, MC 376/133, USF 7/2) we can learn amazing stories from his time in the army. His recollections of the time he spent in Norwich with the AAF Station 146, 448th Bomb Group are particularly interesting. Paul E. Homan states how he hoped that his diary would “serve to keep the heritage alive, and possibly be of some factor in helping prevent such an episode [WWII] from occurring again.’’

Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour on December 7, 1941, Homan aged just 19 was eager to enlist in the United States Army but was heavily encouraged by those around him to wait until he was called. His desire was to fly. By September 5, 1942, Homan was fully qualified as an Aviation Cadet. On January 24, 1943 Homan reported with enthusiasm for Active Duty and this began his thirty-two months of Active Duty Service in the United States Army Air Force.

His determination and strength was soon tested by basic training in Wichita Falls, Texas. Up at 4am every day, Homan endured the unpredictable Texas weather. His dream of flying finally came true. Full of excitement and praying for a good flight, Homan took his first solo ride. The thrill continued and on November 25, 1943, Homan married his long-term partner Mary Ellen.

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Paul Homan’s plane and crew in England, 1945. Standing: Homan, Hinds, St. Dennis, Schlansky. Kneeling: Pope, Garner, Snowden, Camden, Fisher, Treuting. Image courtesy of 2nd Air Division Memorial Library Archive, MC 376/133, USF 7/2

During his active service, Homan stopped off for duty in the United Kingdom. After a long seasick journey from Boston, Massachusetts, Homan anchored in the Scottish port of Greenock. Exhausted and in need of some comic relief, Homan and his companions commented on how the Scottish did not sound like the English.

On January 20, 1945 Homan was assigned to AAF Station 146, 448th Bomb Group in Seething, Norfolk and later arrived in Norwich. Homan’s perception of his Norwich base is not the most favourable, he describes it as ample and “certainly not luxurious.” With little fuel available, nights were unbearably cold. He recounts how the planes were scattered like “hardstands.”

Homan’s time in Norwich was short-lived as on February 3, 1945 he flew his first combat mission. Both anxious and excited, he flew over Magdeburg, Germany on a gruelling 6-and-a-half-hour mission flying together as “Homan’s Red Caps.”

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Paul Homan and his crew, 1945. Standing – left to right: Camden, Garner, Pope, Snowden, Fiser, Treuting. Kneeling – left to right: Hinds, Homan, St. Dennis, Schlansky. Image courtesy of 2nd Air Division Memorial Library Archive, MC 376/133, USF 7/2

With the war now over, Homan wanted nothing more than to return home. Thus, his active duty ended on October 22, 1945. Fifty-one years later in 1996, Homan’s son Steven, took his diary and composed it into its current form. On October 21, 2002, Paul E Homan passed away peacefully back in Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

Researched and compiled by Ulfet Enver, NRO Research Blogger.

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