Americans in Wartime Experience

William Eckenberg

World War II

William "Bill" Eckenberg served his country as a member of the United States Army Air Forces during World War II and again during the Korean War as a member of the United States Air Force.

Bill was recruited after one semester at the Citadel and enlisted in February 1943.   His training was at Clemson, Nashville, Decatur and Alabama, with advanced air training at Seymour, Indiana, Randolph Field in Texas, Albuquerque, and El Paso.  Bill became a flight engineer on B-29s and in 1944 was sent to Guam where he flew bombing missions over Japan (mostly oil refineries) as part of the 315th Bomb Wing flying out of the NW Airfield at Hamilton Field.

Bill was on the last bombing mission over Japan on 14 August 1945, taking  part in bombing an oil refinery at Akeeta.  At the time the mission, which would last 17 hours, war with Japan was raging on.  Upon completing the mission and returning to Guam, the crew learned that the Japanese had surrendered. Within the week, his unit flew a 24 hour mission to drop supplies to Americans in a POW camp in Manchuria.  Bill separated from the Army in 1946, and in 1951 was recalled back into service, this time with the Air Force, for the Korean War where he served stateside at SAC headquarters in Roswell, NM until discharged in 1952.

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The Americans in Wartime Experience explores the impact of war and conflict on America since WWI. It honors those who served in the military and on the home front and highlights the values they demonstrated in serving – duty, honor, and courage. It examines how periods of conflict have profoundly shaped American society. It educates visitors about the costs of war, both on a personal and social level. It challenges visitors to remember the service and sacrifices made by their fellow citizens to preserve and defend our freedoms. LEARN MORE

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