Bob and I were thrown into an interesting situation. In the service, I ended up flying B-29s and he ended up a navigator on B-29s. I wanted as many people and as many propellers around me that I could get, and so I opted for multi-engine. I went to Fort Sumter, New Mexico, and spent nine weeks there and graduated and got my commission and was assigned to the B-17 training base in Hobbs, New Mexico. And from there they told us that by then the war in Europe was winding down and Boeing had come out with the B-29, which was the only airplane the Army had that could take enough fuel and enough of a bomb load and go and fly for 15 hours, which was what it took to get up to the mainland of Japan and back. So we went from Hobbs to McCook, Nebraska, for B-29 training and with our new airplane flew to Hawaii then to Quadulan and then to Tinian. He was a year later. He was stationed in Guam, which is just south of Tinian. But by that time I was getting close to the end of my tour of duty and was looking forward to getting a little R&R back in the states. Thankfully we got the DFC [Distinguished Flying Cross] and we got the air medal and so on. But the air medal was primarily for number of missions completed over enemy territory and the DFC was a mission that we had that we had trouble on. I always have a fond spot in my heart for the Marine Corps that they were able to secure Iwo Jima in time for us to land there, because we’d of never made it back to Tinian.

Bob made very light of any experience he had in the service. He’d say, “Well, we almost ran out of gas last night, but we didn’t,” and things of that sort. He was always upbeat, and I say this — he was always upbeat and he died upbeat.

Tinian, Saipan and Guam, the three islands that had runways long enough to handle a B-29. It took over 10,000 feet of runway. Yes, the Enola Gay took off [from Tinian, with the atomic bomb]. When you met any one of the crew the primary statement was, “Well, we’re here to end the war. You guys haven’t done a good job, so we’re here to end the war.” And we all said, “O.K., if you say so. That’s good because then we can go home.”

John "Jake" Gaudino,
Robert Gaudino's brother