World War II: Blasting the enemy out of the skies

World War II: Blasting the enemy out of the skies
"The Beam," a kind of "Facebook"/"Yearbook? for the trainees stationed at Truax Field in Madison, WI

Truax Field, Madison, Wisconsin, was a training ground for radio operators and mechanics in World War II's Army Air Corps. The Beam, a kind of "year book" for the soldiers at Truax, offers this introduction at the start of this book about all aspects of the  Truax Life:

"Thousands and thousands of Radio Operators and Mechanics have left this post well founded in the fundamentals of communication systems, and after advanced training, are taking their places with pilots navigators, bombardiers and air mechanics in forming plane crews which are blasting the enemy out of the skies in all parts of the world."

With each letter I post during Frank's training at Truax, I'll include photos and copy from The Beam, which presents a vivid overall picture of life at the field.

This is Frank's first letter to his mother from  Truax Field, describing his inauspicious arrival.

Truax Field


Truax arrival
"New Arrivals have first roll call in their squadron attachment at Truax Field. Allocation to Barracks is next."

Dear Mom,

That was close but now I’m 15 minutes late for bed check so I ran most of the way back to the barracks and caught the Sgt. Taking the names of the fellows not in their bunks so I was all right after giving him a sob story of how the bus was late and handed him a chicken sandwich which fixed everything swell.I got here with a little trouble but everything will work out OK.

The bus got into Madison at 10:25 and I grabbed a cab and got to camp about 10:40 where my trouble started. I handed the M.P. My pass and started to walk away when he called me back with the familiar, “Hey Soldier.” Right then and there my heart was tangled with my shoe strings. He beefed about being 40 Minutes late and how would I like to be on the front out of ammunition for 40 minutes––and then said, “Pass.”  Phew!

It’s a good thing you gave me too much to eat. Those nuts were good and I haven’t had too many. I had a good night’s sleep and woke up this morning feeling like a millions dollars. The bus I came back on was a barn on wheels, but I had a good time because the driver was quite a comedian and was kidding 2 girls who sat in back of him. 

Well, I’m going to quit now as I’m in class and I had better do a little work—so till I write again I remain, 

Your Loving Son, 


Comments always welcome! Scroll all the way to the bottom of page to comment.

Original letter below.

Ebner LTRs 1943-04-27 to Mom-1 - Version 2


Ebner LTRs 1943-04-27 to Mom 2-2 - Version 2

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    Linda Gartz

    I was born and raised on Chicago's West Side, where the Gartz family lived and worked for most of the 20th century. After my mom died in 1994, my brothers and I poked around the the attic of my parents' home and discovered a trove of letters, diaries, documents, and photos that had been saved for almost a century. Taken as a whole, they focus a lens on the history of our city and life in another era, as seen through the eyes of regular folks. Go to where you'll find my blog, Family Archaeologist (a clickable link is on the "About Letters of a World War II Airman" page). There you can explore this historical treasure trove that illuminates history and our shared humanity. I started my blog, "Letters of a World War II Airman," on the 70th anniversary of the date my uncle, Frank Ebner Gartz, was drafted into World War II military service. You can see that first post and the first three months of 1943 letters at my website, All future letters will be posted on this blog. I'm an author, archivist and television producer. Please visit my website,, to see my published articles and an overview of my television productions.

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