T/Sgt. Joseph L. Fasulo
33rd. Bomb Squadron�s Mission #: 146a4 on 25 May 1945 in B-24L-2 #44-49612 was a harassing recon strike on Tienho Airdrome, Canton, China. Aboard were: Capt. Harley Stone, pilot; Lt. Vance Skarstedt, co-pilot; Lt. Albert Kulczyk, bombardier; Lt. Richard Watters, navigator; Lt. Edward Hubschman, radar navigator; T/Sgt. James Roberts, engineer-gunner� T/Sgt. Joseph Fasulo, radio operator-gunner; T/Sgt.. Arthur Schuller, radio operator-gunner; S/Sgt. Jack Bennet, gunner; Sgt. Hugh Mclaughlin, asst. engineer-gunner; Cpl. Robert Defreitas, gunner.
This mission was to be a time-staggered four-plane night bombing (harassment) raid on the Tienho airdrome at Canton, China. Since Art Schuller and I were both radio operators, we decided he would be on radio duty enroute to target and I would take over on the way back. The radio voice code name of our ship was Dumbo II.
After midnight take-off, I found a spot in the rear of the plane and went to sleep. I had my earphones on my head so that I could be awakened when the call to stations was made by Capt. Stone. I was awakened, not by the call to stations, but by conversations going on that alerted me to the fact that we were in trouble. I heard Capt. Stone calling, "Hello Jumper, hello Jumper, this is Dumbo II, this is Dumbo II, give me a call please, over." Jumper was the radio voice code name of our emergency airfield in unoccupied China. Capt. Stone kept repeating this over and over. Jack Bennet came over and informed me that we were low on fuel and could not make it back to Clark field. It was about 5 o'clock in the morning and we were trying to find the airstrip.
After a while, a voice using the code name "Dido" responded and asked us if he could be of assistance. We informed him of our situation and he tried to raise Jumper, �Hello Jumper, this is Dido, give Dumbo II a call." We took turns trying to raise Jumper with no affect until 8 o'clock when suddenly Jumper returned our call. When Capt. Stone asked him where he'd been all night, Jumper informed us that he does not come on the air until 8 am.
There was a heavy cloud cover and our radio compass was indicating that we were over the airstrip. We later found out that we were about 150 miles to the east. Jumper informed us that they were sending up flares but we did not see any. Capt. Stone started to take the plane down under the clouds and informed Jumper that he was at six thousand feet but still could not see any flares. Jumper screamed over the radio "Get up! Get up! Everything�s 8 and 10 around here!" Capt. Stone immediately put the B-24 into an almost vertical climb. I think my heart missed several beats. Fortunately, we got above the clouds without mishap. However, that climb really used most of what fuel we had left and the order came to get ready to bail out.
I strapped on my chest chute and took my place at the camera hatch facing the rear of the plane. Sgt. Roberts took his place on the other side of the hatch facing me. Jack Bennet was on the intercom waiting for the go-ahead. When it came I looked to Roberts to go out first as per procedure, but he shook his head. Muttering under my breath, (I wanted to see how he made out), I put my head between my knees and rolled out of the hatch.
The first sensation was of the high winds blowing around me and I knew I was tumbling. Suddenly I opened up and I felt myself free falling with my back to the ground. I pulled the ripcord and, after what seemed like an eternity, the chute opened and jerked me up and down. I turned to look for the plane and other chutes and, much to my dismay, I saw it disappear into the clouds without another chute in sight!
The first thought that ran through my mind was that they had discovered a mistake on the fuel reading and could fly longer. I suddenly felt very alone. I had just got back from being married to my wife in Australia and I wondered if I would ever see her again. The words of a song ran through my mind. It was called "let�s take the long way home." The line that stood out was "through china would be not too far." Looking down I realized I better pay attention to what was going on. Below me, winding its way through the heavily forested hills, was a fast flowing river! I knew that if I fell into it, I would probably drown and so I started to pull on the shroud lines to steer away from the river. I was successful, but now I was heading into the side of a hill and into the trees.
I covered my eyes and hoped for the best. Luck was with me because I went through the tree without my feet hitting any limbs and, just before I hit the ground, my chute caught. It held for a few seconds and then let go. I was about two feet off the ground. Since I was on a steep slope, I fell backwards and slid several feet down the hill. Getting to my feet, I pulled the chute out of the tree. The next thing I did was to get out of the harness and zip open the back. To my dismay the emergency survival kit was not there. After damming the thief to burn in hell, I tried to wrap the chute into a roll so that I could carry it but to no avail. It was too voluminous and I had no space to lay it out. Therefore I jammed it between several low growing bushes hoping it could not be seen from the ground or the air.
It was obvious from what happened on the plane that I was not anywhere near "Jumper." The river was below me so I climbed up the hill. As I went over the top, I could see rice fields in the valley below. At the bottom, I came upon a road and decided to follow it taking what I thought was the direction our plane was going when last I saw it. I came upon a lean-to at the side of the road and in the field about 100 feet away was a farmer bent over working. It was a damp, cloudy day so I went into the lean-to and I thought I would wait until he saw me. After awhile he raised his head and looked in my direction. I know he saw me and I raised my hand in friendship but he went back to working and started slowly moving further away. I immediately thought that I must be in an occupied part of China and he was afraid to get involved. I decided to leave the lean-to and continue along the road. After walking the winding road about a mile, there appeared around a bend about fifty feet away, two men. They wore hats and capes made out of twigs. I raised my hand but, upon seeing me, they became very agitated and started shouting at me. As I started toward them, they turned and disappeared around the bend. I ran after with my gun drawn (to this day I don't know why I drew my 45) but I as rounded the bend they were nowhere in sight. They must have gotten off the road and were hiding.
Turning and going back around the bend, I decided to get off the road and started up the hill. It was steep and by the time I got to the top I was pretty tired. I sat on a large rock and contemplated the predicament I was in. I had no water or food and was in a strange country with a language barrier. Ten minutes later as I was about to continue, I heard some noises coming from down the hill. Looking down, I saw two Chinese farmers climbing the hill. They saw me and beckoned me to come down. Having no viable alternative, I went down the hill to meet them and followed them down the road.
After walking for 20 minutes, we came upon a farming compound and about 15 men, women and children surrounded me, all eager to touch me. I was offered food and water which I eagerly accepted. Although none of us could converse with each other, it was clear they wanted me to stay with them. As evening rolled around two well-dressed young men came in and handed me a note which read as follows, �Please come to us, we have doctor and priests." Our hosts put the two men and I in a room that had three raised mats. As I lay down on the mat I took out my 45, cocked it and laid it down beside me. The next thing I knew it was morning and the young men were awakening me. After washing up and having a bowl of rice to eat, we left with farewells, cheers and many handshakes.
We traveled most of the day until we came upon a very large compound that appeared to contain a church and a school. Again I was greeted with applause and people ran to touch me. A young lady ,whose name sounded like "Ahling" greeted me in halting English. At last I could converse with someone. She took me to a doctor who cleansed and bandaged the bruise I had gotten on my left arm when I went down through the tree. "Ahling" informed me that tomorrow I was to go to the village of Yungtai.
The next day, after breakfast, I was taken to the large courtyard where about 50 to 75 people of all ages were gathered. After an introduction by "Ahling", she asked me if I would speak to the people. I responded by saying that Japan is losing the war and soon all China and her heroic people would be free from her tyranny. I also expressed my gratitude to the wonderful people of China, especially those here, for the hospitality they have shown me. I was escorted to a sedan chair where I was seated and carried out of the courtyard to the sound of cheers and exploding fireworks! I shall never forget this scene and the feeling I exper�ienced for the rest of my life. As soon as we got out of sight, I got out of the chair and walked. The two Chinese men, however, did not go back but followed my guide and me. By early evening we entered the village of Yungtai and, to my surprise, in a crowd about a block ahead of me, I saw the rest of the crew! I said goodbye to my friends and hurried to join them. It was like old home week. We were taken to our quarters to freshen up and then were escorted to a large banquet room where we were told we were to be honored with a 25-course dinner. Besides the eleven of us, there were 7 Chinese also seated around the table. Mr. Chen-Kang Huang, the magistrate of Yungtai rose and made a speech, which translated, said that when he heard that American allies were falling from the sky, he sent out messengers to inform the local populace to come to our aid. He praised the American captain and his brave men. Then he took a cup to his lips, drank, and turned the cup over.
We all rose and did the same. I am not a drinking man and I thought my throat was burning! No sooner did we sit down the servant behind each chair filled it up again. Captain Stone stood up and spoke of his admiration for the Chinese people. He then drank and turned over his cup. I knew I was in for it! I spent the next ten minutes convincing my waiter to fill my glass with water. Luckily I succeeded for, by the time the 17th course came around, all at the table except Roberts and me were drunk. Capt. Stone rose and said, "I've had enough of this stuff, I'm going to bed." The party broke up leaving Roberts and me wondering what the last 8 courses would have been like.
The next morning, after breakfast, Jack Bennet told me that Roberts tried and changed his mind several times before he moved to the other side of the camera hatch. He then hesitated some more and finally jumped out, just as Jack was moving to push him out. That accounted for my not seeing any chutes.
The magistrate had photographs taken with us. These were quickly developed and copies given to all of us. Good-byes were said. We were taken to a dock on the Ch'l river, placed in several sampans, told to stay out of sight and sent down the river to Foochow on the coast. We stayed in Foochow a couple of days until an American officer (whose name I have forgotten) joined us and said he was our guide the rest of the way.
Boarding a cabin cruiser, we sailed up the Min-chiang River for two days until we arrived at the town of Nan-ping, where we disembarked. The hotel where we stayed had a basketball court and, for exercise, the enlisted men played the officers. No rules were followed and no holds were barred! That evening we were challenged to a game the next day by the local all star team but that rough stuff would not be tolerated. Suffice to say that on a basketball court viewed by about one hundred people, they whipped the pants off of us.
The next day we boarded a truck that took us to the "Jumper" airbase at Changting. There I inquired about "Dido" and was told it was a fighter base 100 miles to the north�west. A transport plane took us to Chikiang where we stayed overnight. The next day another plane took us to Kunming. We stayed nine days in Kunming and then were flown to Luliang where we picked up a C-54 for the 8 �-hour flight to manila. We were gone a total of 25 days.
I would like to end this adventure story with a "small world" sidelight. When I was discharged from the air corps, I returned home to Brooklyn, N.Y. and enrolled in college. On my first day of school, other students and I were in a physics lab waiting for the instructor to arrive. The talk got around to souvenirs. I remarked that I had picked up some beautiful lacquer ware in Foochow, China. One of the students (John Frampton) asked me when I was in Foochow. When I told him he said the Japanese had pulled out just two weeks before and asked why was I in Foochow. I told him my crew had bailed out over China and we were just passing through it on our way out. He said, "Were you on a B-24 from the Philippines." "Yes," I said. "Were you Dumbo II, " he exclaimed. "Yes," I replied. "Well, I was Dido"!