Cleared for takeoff |

Cleared for takeoff

Ken Beaton
Marian Shores Furnari is ‘firing’ the 50 caliber nose machine gun in Executive Sweet, a B-25J “Mitchell” medium bomber, before takeoff on Sept. 11.
Courtesy |

When Terrell Doe Shores was born on Wednesday, Jan. 21, 1920, his parents didn’t possess the ability to predict the future. Who knew he would join 16,000,000 citizen soldiers fighting to preserve our freedoms.

Terry was a dedicated student who graduated from Palo Alto High School a year earlier than his classmates in 1937. He attended San Mateo Junior College for two years and UCLA for one year.

In the late 1930s the United States Army Air Corps began testing to identify accomplished male students and recruit them for pilot training. Terry began his flying cadet instruction classes on April 15, 1941. On May 3, 1941 he began his flight training at Moffett Field in Sunnyvale, Calif. Dec. 12, 1941 Terry completed his advanced flying and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant at the West Coast Air Corps Training Center in Phoenix, Ariz.

He was the flight engineer on a B-24 “Liberator” in the 9th Squadron in the 7th Heavy Bomb Group in the Tenth Air Force which was assigned to Karachi India on June 10, 1942 (the China, Burma India Campaign). When the 7th Heavy Bomb Group arrived in Delhi, India Terry became a 1st Lieutenant. They were assigned to Pandaveswar, India in February 1943 where he became a pilot and received his Captain’s bars on August 13, 1943. He completed 22 combat missions in Burma and was assigned to Alamogordo, N.M., in February 1944. By April 1944 he was assigned to Briggs Field, Texas. From April 1945 to July 22, 1945 he was a B-24 instructor training new pilots in the 489th (Heavy) Bombardment Group at Davis-Montban Air Force Base in Tucson, Ariz.

Whenever bachelor service men had liberty or a 48 hour pass, there was only one thought on their mind, “Women!” Terry met Sylva Swenson at a College of Mines sorority dance in El Paso, Texas. He smiled and asked, “May I have this dance?” As soon as he held her right hand in his left with his right hand in the middle of her back, there was magic on the dance floor or should I say romance.

During the War, romances developed faster than the speed of sound. With so much uncertainty, relationship rules were set aside. Terry and Sylva eloped to Las Cruces, N.M. The couple exchanged their vows a second time in June 1945 officiated by Sylva’s Uncle Axel Anderson, Pastor at the Lutheran Church in Norway Grove, Wisc. Their first child, Sara, was born on Dec. 11, 1945 in Jackson Heights, N.Y. Susan (1948), Sally (1953), Terrell (1954) and Marian (1956) were all born in Palo Alto, Calif.

With the Allies’ victory within their grasps, Terry received a letter from Pan American Airways, Inc. offering him a second officer position upon his honorable discharge from the USAAF. He was honorably discharged on July 22, 1945. As a flight engineer and pilot in the USAAF, Terry was an expert star navigator. His four daughters and son were amazed as he identified stars and constellations he used to navigate his night flights during the War and as a Pan Am pilot.

In 1971 Terry, Sylva, Sally and Marian visited Sylva’s brother, Ed Swenson, sister-in-law, Pat and cousins Kristin and Erik living in Fairbanks, Alaska. While Ed was giving the grand tour of Fairbanks Terry recognized the refurbished bowling alley building as the old Fairbanks air terminal. Fairbanks was one of the cities on Pan Am’s Polar route. Terry retired after 35 years with Pan Am in 1980.

Everyone reaches a place in their life when they reflect, “I wish I had asked my parents more questions about their challenges and experiences.”

Marian began to wonder, “What did Dad experience when he flew a B-17 or a B-24 to Burma during the War?” On Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016 a restored World War II B-25-J medium bomber, “Executive Suite,” flown by John Garlinger took Marian and four media persons on a 40-minute flight around Eagle Valley. She experienced the cramped conditions her father and his crew did as they made bombing runs to destroy Japanese railroad tracks, bridges and trains. “I could not believe the noise from the engines and being open to the outside! Now, I can appreciate all the sacrifices Dad made. For 40 minutes I followed in his footsteps.”

Ken Beaton of Carson City contributes periodically to the Nevada Appeal.