In the days following Pearl Harbor, the atmosphere in America is charged and paranoid: rumors fly that California will be bombed and public spaces are put under guard. The Japanese continue their invasions. The only place that takes them longer to capture is the island of Wake. The Americans who surrender there are some of the first Japanese POWs.
Louie’s training at Midland Army Flying School goes well, and he earns great test scores. He is trained in using two different bombsights, or a device used in an aircraft for aiming bombs. The more complex of the two is known as the Norden bombsight, which is expensive and high-tech. After Louie inputs various pieces of information, the sight takes over flying the plane and drops the bomb with great precision. The technology is top-secret, and Louie is taught to prioritize the bombsight’s safety above his own.
In August of 1942, Louie graduates from Midland and goes home to California to say goodbye to his family before heading off to his final round of training. Pete is a Navy officer and comes home to see Louie. The goodbyes are tearful.
Louie’s final training takes place in Ephrata, Washington at an airbase in the middle of a dry and extremely dusty lakebed. There, he meets his pilot named Russell Allen Phillips, a quiet, brave, and amiable man from Indiana. He goes by “Phillips” and is in love with a girl named Cecy from back home. Louie will nickname him Phil, and Phillips will call Louie “Zamp.” Louie meets the rest of his crew, namely Pillsbury, Mitchell, Glassman, Lambert, Brooks, Moznette, and Douglas. They are assigned to dreaded B-24 bomber planes, known to be incredibly fragile and difficult to navigate. Though hundreds of men die while just training with the planes, earning them the nickname “Flying Coffins,” Louie’s crew comes to love the plane.
In mid-October of 1942, the crew is told their training will be cut short and they are to be deployed. Before leaving, they name their plane Super Man and get it painted. Louie calls his family. That day, his mother Louise starts a war diary. Louie’s crew heads off to Oahu’s Hickam Field in Hawaii.
Oahu feels the effects of the Pearl Harbor attack. There are holes in the roads and roofs, and the men are forced to follow strict codes to avoid another attack. Though the base appears nice from the outside, the barracks are filthy on the inside and the only saving grace is the bathroom, where the walls are covered in risqué pinup posters.