Presentation Date: May 25, 2017
George E. Wilkerson, PFC, US Army Air Corps
George Wilkerson was born in April 1925 in El Monte, California, where he lived until shortly after graduating from El Monte High School. His father was an electrician at Dupont; his mother was a homemaker. On 11 August 1943 at age 18, he enlisted in the US Army Air Corps in Los Angeles and was sent to Buckley Field, near Aurora, Colorado for basic training. He was then transferred to Flexible Gunnery School at Las Vegas Army Air Field where he spent six weeks learning about and firing .50 caliber machine guns from a B-17.
Given a 10-day leave before having to report to Salt Lake City, George returned to El Monte to marry his sweetheart, Margaret Glandon. From Salt Lake City, he was ordered to report to Great Bend, Kansas, where he joined the 874th Bomb Squadron, part of the 498th Bomb Group. On 13 August 1944, his squadron left from the Port of San Pedro aboard the troop ship USS Exchange. Assigned to Isley Field on Saipan, he loaded munitions on B-29s until the war ended in August 1945. He was discharged near Sacramento on 4 January 1946.
After leaving the service, George returned to El Monte and worked for eight months as a lineman for Pacific Bell; about five years for DuPont testing detergent engine oils; some time working on automotive machines; and about eight years in building maintenance and management in San Marino. After 13 years with the City of El Monte’s street maintenance and water treatment programs, he retired in 1980.
George and Margaret lived in Paso Robles for about 20 years before moving to the Union City Masonic Home in 2005. They had one son who is now age 70. Margaret passed away in 2013.
George will talk about his time on the Island of Saipan and his duties as a “Bomb Jockey”. Among other things, PFC Wilkerson and his fellow soldiers played an important part in the successful bombing of Japanese war industries on 24 November 1944. He might even tell us what he knows about what happened to Amelia Earhart.