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Mystery Solved

July 28, 2015

My father in law, B B Boon, told me lots of stories from 1944, when he was an Army Air Corps pilot stationed at Ladd Field, Fairbanks, Alaska.  He flew lots of different types of airplanes – ferrying P-39 Aircobra fighters to the Russians, cargo in C-47 and C-46 transports, and sometimes in B-24 and B-25 bombers.  They flew all over Alaska and Canada; he even flew into Hudson Bay a few times.  They navigated with pilotage, dead reckoning, automatic direction finding and radio range systems.  Because the magnetic north pole is so close, navigation with a magnetic compass is tricky.  The fact that he always got to his destination in that environment, good weather and bad, was a testament to his skill as a pilot.

Having run out of Jade Helm 15 conspiracy stories to entertain myself with (see my personal Facebook page), I looked again into a story my father-in-law B B Boon told me about twenty years ago. He was an Army Air Corps pilot at Ladd Field in Fairbanks, Alaska for a while during WWII.  One of the most interesting stories he told me was about a couple of missions from Great Falls, Montana, to Fairbanks with the usual stops for fuel in Alberta, British Columbia, and the Yukon Territory.  He used to list the towns where they stopped, as they flew this route often and knew it well.  I can’t remember them all now, but they included Calgary, Dawson, and Whitehorse.  It was a long trip. On a couple of those trips in a C-47 a heavy footlocker with armed guards was brought on board in Missoula and ultimately delivered to Fairbanks to a Russian officer with armed guards who never let it out of their sight. He had no idea what was in the heavy chests, but assumed they were very valuable.

I did some internet research 15 or 20 years ago and found a story by another Army pilot of the time who had been stationed in Great Falls, and participated in these missions as well.  He thought it might have been fissionable material for the Russians to develop a nuclear bomb, which would have been illegal, but at the time we were very concerned that the Russians wouldn’t help us defeat Japan.  In fact, the Russians didn’t declare war on Japan until the war was a couple of weeks from being over.

Then I found this story on a history website (albeit one run by a conspiracy theory promoter):

“In 1944, Harry Hopkins was Roosevelt’s chief diplomatic adviser and troubleshooter and was a key policy maker in the $50 billion lend-lease program that sent aid to the Russians.  Hopkins dealt with “priorities, production. political problems with allies, strategy—in short, with anything that might concern the president.  Henry Morgenthau (Secretary of the Treasury), Averell Harriman (U.S. Ambassador to Russia), and Harry Dexter White (Assistant Secretary of Treasury), supplied the material needed for Russia to print [German] occupation currency. Printing plates, colored inks, varnish, tint blocks, and paper were sent from Great Falls, Montana, in two shipments of five C-47’s each, which had been loaded at the National Airport near Washington, DC.”

This sounded pretty realistic.  Printing plates for currency would have been valuable; and heavy.

There you have it.

B B was one of the most amazing people I have ever known.  He was one hell of a pilot, a businessman, and friend.

From → Writing Fiction

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