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Smither, James (Interviewer)

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Van Dyke, Orley

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Orley Van Dyke was born on December 30th, 1924 in Holland, Michigan. After graduating high school in 1942, he worked in printing for the newspaper for a few months. Right when he turned 18, he enlisted in the Army. He began basic training and flash and sound training for artillery in Fort Sill, Oklahoma. There he passed a test for the Air Force and changed to that military branch. He was sent to Sheppard Field, Texas for three months before beginning college at Kansas State College in Manhattan, Kansas after which he would be classified as a bombardier. He then attended pre-flight training in Santa Ana, California before being sent to Kirtland Field in Albuquerque, New Mexico for bombardier school. After a short leave, he went to Lincoln, Nebraska to be assigned to a crew. He then went to combat crew training in Alamogordo, New Mexico. After that he went to Kearney, Nebraska to pick up a new airplane and married his girlfriend there before preparing for deployment. He flew first to Sacramento, California, then to Hawaii for about a week, then to Kwajalein, and finally to Guam, where he flew to Japan for his first bombing mission. He flew a total of 24 missions. Right before the end of the war, he was involved in an in-air collision where he lost the tail and two engines from his plane. He was able to fly the plane to Iwo to be repaired. After World War II ended, he was flown home and discharged in January 1946. He returned to work at the newspaper until 1977 when he helped his wife run their furniture store until 1983. He spent the next ten years working for the city in the summer and visiting Florida in the winter. Van Dyke values his time in the military and the discipline it taught him.

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Veterans History Project collection, (RHC-27)