World War II flight cadets reunite -, Albany News, Weather, Sports

World War II flight cadets reunite

October 13, 2004

Douglas -- World War II pilots, who trained in Douglas more than 60 years ago, came back to the place where they learned to fly.

The former cadets reunited in the city Wednesday and although a lot of time has passed since their first flight lesson, for many it feels almost like yesterday.

It's been more than six decades since these World War II veterans came to an air field in Douglas to be trained to fly. For instructors like Charles Sherril the memories are still fresh.

"It was the best time in my life," says Sherril.

Sherril was one of 200 instructors stationed here in the 1940's to train the 10,000 cadets of the 63rd squadron.

For the last 40 years, a handful of these men have returned to the place where it all started.

The cadets flew cargo and transport planes, while others, like Robert Wilcox, flew bombers into active combat.

"I remember more than anything how proud we were to be here in Douglas and to be able to be selected to take this training because a lot of people wanted to but couldn't take it," says Wilcox.

"Oh Wilcox was a good student, but I think he took more time playing around with girls instead of practicing so I was hard on him,"chuckles Sherril.

Wives of these band of brothers, like Janice Carpenter know for these men the real highlight of the reunion is having the chance to go back into the air.

"He been talking about it for two months and telling everybody how he's going to get a ride in this air plane," says Carpenter recalling her husband Earl's reaction.

"The first time I was in the air by myself it was the biggest trill of my life ," says Wilcox.

And for almost all of the veterans being able to climb back into the cockpit keeps their memories of yesterday flying high.

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