Yes, I remember… Pyote!
When I received this article on the cockpit of the Enola Gay,
suddenly time turned backward and I was there again…
memories flooding my mind like
the waters from a broken dam. . . .
For I was there again…
But let’s start at the beginning…
Let me introduce you to the most famous bomber
Of World War II…
The Enola Gay
Cool photography.. Lots of history in this clip!
Check this out. This gives you an HD 360 Degree view from the cockpit
of The Enola gay; the plane that dropped the 1st Atomic bomb on
Hiroshima. This plane was built at the Martin Bomber
manufacturing plant in Omaha in Building D. (now Offutt AFB)
This is pretty amazing, you can look around, but look down too and up
in the cockpit of the Enola Gay B-29 the Japanese will never forget!
It ended the war and that was its mission and intention.
You can manipulate the camera up, down and around, pretty cool. gotta
love The "horn" button.
Be sure and drag the pointer (cursor) in all directions.
(Editor's Note: the link above worked in Internet Explorer but not in Firefox for me.)
From My Box of Memories
By June Harper Hogue
And now my story begins . . .
was the Spring of 1942. I had just turned 8 and was in the second
grade, but I remember it well. We had just moved to Monahans, Texas
from Crane, Texas, a small oilfield and ranching town situated in the
middle of a wind-blown mesquite laden prairie in a rather remote area of
West Texas. To the south one could see the distant hills that beckoned
one to explore Castle Gap, a pass between the hills on the Goodnight
Trail of which many legends have been built…and much of West Texas
history has been written. We could see Castle Gap in the distance from
our yard in Crane. To the north were the seemingly endless mesquite
pastures of the Pegasus Oil Field which bordered Midland and Odessa and
to the west were more of the same endless mesquite pastures dotted with
greasewood. To a child…Crane was not an especially interesting place
to be. Though I did not understand it at the time, WWII had just been
declared and our move to Monahans meant that I was about to step into a
whole new world of exciting and interesting new adventures.
was considerably larger than Crane and not isolated from the mainstream
of life. It was on Highway 80, the major connecting highway across the
southern United States from California to Florida. It seemed there was
always traffic on that highway and the railroad ran parallel to it.
Monahans was a main watering station for trains passing through…a new
interest for me and my 3 brothers, for we had never before lived where
there were busy railroad tracks with passenger trains that passed
through! From the beginning Monahans (which was 22 miles east of the
state line of New Mexico) provided a whole new range of experiences for
the town on the east were great sand dunes (now known as Sand Hills
State Park) and they were only about a quarter of a mile from our
house! Not only that, one of the world’s largest oak forests covered a
large portion of those nearby sand hills. They were Harvard oaks which
grow only about 18 inches high and produce acorns just like other oak
trees. The desert flora fascinated me from the beginning. Dotted
throughout the dunes were occasional ponds of water (known as THE SEEPS)
which ranged in depth from 12 to 20 feet deep in places. Here the cold
crystal clear water seeped out of the sand between the dunes, , and low
willows grew on the banks around them. For reasons unknown, many of
the seeps had gold fish in them. As I grew older I learned that these
dunes extended all the way through New Mexico as far as the White Sands
proving grounds. This was a band of sand hills that few people really
knew much about, even to this day, but they proved to be very important
to the war effort during WW II.
town of Monahans seemed to bustle with activity. There was a small
airport and we enjoyed watching the small planes that flew over us and
tipped their wings as the pilot waved to the folks on the ground below.
Gradually we began to notice an increase in the airplanes flying
overhead …there were not only small private planes but we began to
notice large military planes as well. Mother and Daddy reminded us that
we were in a war and we would soon see many more planes in the sky.
We began to hear the word “Pyote” mentioned often and then…gliders and
blimps began to be seen overhead…. and over and over we heard the words:
PYOTE….PYOTE….what was it all about?
began to hear rumors about a large airbase that was being constructed
at a place called PYOTE, a small town 18 miles to the west of us.
Everything seemed to be so secretive at first, but then we began to see
soldiers in uniform about town and new words began to creep into our
vocabularies as we began to became familiar with the idea
of…war…WAR…Pearl Harbor…the Japanese…the Germans…rationing….and PYOTE! Our
parents explained what happened at Pearl Harbor and the meaning of
war…and the draft! Would our Daddy have to go to war? How long would
it last? And what was the meaning of PYOTE? Eventually we learned that
the small town of Pyote, which was 18 miles to the west of Monahans,
had been chosen by the government as the site to construct a huge and
highly secretive airbase where bombers would train.
Because of the
millions of rattlesnake dens and rattlesnakes that were found during the
construction of the base it was named RATTLESNAKE AIR BASE.
It was to
be THE base for training all bombers during the war. It also meant
that we could expect the influx of thousands of people who either worked
on the base or were families of soldiers who were to be stationed
What would this mean for Monahans? It would take a lengthy
volume to tell all about the changes that took place, but ...
THE MONAHANS I KNEW
is no way you could know the Monahans I knew. It has passed into
obscurity…a quaint little town in far West Texas that grew to be a
bustling hub of Pyote Air Base during World War II. We moved to
Monahans when I was in the 2nd grade and I loved it at once.
I loved the pastures, the mesquites, the smell of grease wood (creosote
bush) after a rain, the beautiful sunsets, the wild flowers that grew
in the pastures (Mother and I often made special trips to the sand hills
to pick a bunch of wild verbenas), the sand hills where we spend long
days just exploring, looking for arrowheads and other treasures, the
Million Barrel (a large but abandoned experimental concrete tank that
once held a million barrels of oil) where we played by the hour climbing
its steep sides and sliding down them on a piece of
cardboard....listening to the legends we heard from the old timers who
sat in front of the corner drugstore telling their tales....there is so
much I could tell you about it. I learned to love history and to try to
imagine what the country was like when the Apaches and the Comanches
rode wildly through that country terrorizing settlers and confounding
the army’s troops... and how the Comanches would raid the settlements
as a Comanche moon rose in the sky.
memories fly by like a fast moving train… I remember Pyote..and
Rattlesnake Air Base… YOU COULD TAKE A DRIVE FROM MONAHANS TO PECOS,
AND JUST AFTER YOU PASSED THROUGH PYOTE OVER A LITTLE RISE IN THE ROAD,
YOU WOULD SEE A SEA OF PLANES ON YOUR LEFT, AS FAR AS THE EYE COULD
lived through the war years there watching troop trains coming through
and stopping for water----we kids ran errands for the soldiers who could
not get off the train but wanted newspapers, magazines, candy bars, etc
which we fetched for them. We learned all about the war equipment as
hundreds of long convoys rolled through. At night we could hear the
hum of the many squadrons of blimps that trained over the sand hills
and we watched the gliders that also trained over those sand hills. On
Sundays we heeded the patriotic admonition to “Take a soldier home for
dinner!” and nearly always brought one or two soldiers home from church
for a home cooked Sunday dinner--we considered it our patriotic duty.
We lived across the street from our small county hospital which soon
became a haven for the overflow of wounded veterans from the airbase
hospital. We were involved in many activities from rolling Red Cross
bandages to helping with wounded soldiers at the hospital across the
street--the overflow of soldiers from the Pyote Air Base Hospital when
the base hospital there could not handle all the wounded arriving from
the battlefields. I had had the run of the floor at the hospital by age
8 and got to help with many tasks at the hospital….there was no age
limit on volunteers during the war and I was a welcome volunteer at the
hospital. I played the piano at the USO and helped lead the singing at
song time. Many of the soldiers wrote to us for years after the war.
From the opening of Pyote Air Base we watched the transition of our
small town of Monahans from a sleepy little oil field town to a bustling
small city as it suddenly had to open its arms to the thousands of
soldiers and their families who were based at Pyote during the war.
Families in transition could not find housing. Nearly every day we had
at least one person knock on our door seeking a room or a bed for
rent. You could have rented a pup tent in your yard if you had had one
to rent! Our small grade school could not accommodate the great influx
of children whose fathers were stationed at Pyote so one year it became
necessary to hold school in 3 different sessions each day. That year my
younger brother, Jimmy, had to be at school at 5 a.m., my shift began
at 10 a.m. and Charles did not have to be there until 3 p.m. He got out
after dark at 8 p.m. Also, there was a shortage of teachers because
when a soldier shipped out, his family left too and the turnover in
teachers was high. My fifth grade year I had 6 different teachers! How
Mother lived through this as room mother, chauffeur, Red Cross
volunteer, etc., etc., I will never know but our chant was "V stands
for Victory and we will win! We all felt deeply
patriotic. Daddy worked all over the western part of Texas and New
Mexico during that time. Often he did not get to come home more than
twice a month---gas was rationed, tires were rationed and he had a job
to do--America needed him to drill for oil! Mother was the Keeper of
the Family. And all the while, we listened for every tidbit of news
that rumors brought us from those who worked at the base at Pyote.
heard that they were preparing a special bomber for a secret
mission…but it was only rumor and rumors were cheap during the war.
Rumors of spies worried us and we were warned to “keep a zipper on
our lips” so that no rumor became fodder for spies who might be
listening! We were somewhat suspicious of all strangers who showed up
in town. But still, we felt safe because we were so close to Pyote and I
could not remember a time when some kind of military craft was not
flying overhead in those days. Germany and Japan seemed a long way off!
will never forget the day that victory in Europe was declared! Blimps
flew low over the playground of our elementary school and the crew
dropped candy and bubble gum everywhere…candy that I had not seen since
the beginning of the war (things like Jo-Boy…a favorite of mine… and
Bubble Gum…rarely seen during the war). That day school was dismissed
early and I went home with a 6-month supply of candy and bubble gum for
me and my brothers! In my heart I blessed those boys from Pyote…they
left me with memories that would last a lifetime!
the atomic bomb was dropped on Japan to end the war, we did not realize
that the Enola Gay had been stationed at Pyote and, after the war,
would be stored there until transported to the Smithsonian Museum. We
had probably watched an American Icon flying the skies over Monahans and
never knew what it was all about…but we were privileged to watch
history in the making, unaware that we were witnessing the very core of
America’s defense system in World War II. Thank you, PYOTE and
Rattlesnake Bomber Base and the brave men who flew the ENOLA GAY on the
mission that ended World War II! We will never forget you.
YES, I REMEMBER PYOTE and the name awakens all those memories of
World War II and of home…Monahans! To me, the two were an inseparable
part of my grade school years, indelibly written on my heart with love
and thanksgiving to our Creator for a victory that could not have been
won without…PYOTE’S RATTLESNAKE BOMBER BASE and THE ENOLA GAY!
Memories of the war years from June Harper Hogue
Click on June Hogue
for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.