National Geographic : 1950 Nov
666 National Geographic Photographer Willard It. Culver An Ingenious New Gadget Lays a Steel Carpet to Speed Marines Across a Beach Yards of wire mesh are stowed in accordion folds on the stern of the DUKW, or amphibian truck. Waddling ashore from a landing craft, the vehicle paves the way for others following it. Mat-laying equipment, developed since World War II, here undergoes tests on the Potomac near Quantico. planes as a farmer's wife might dismember a chicken. Simulating high-altitude conditions, air plane engines roared and popped in great iceboxes kept at subzero temperatures. Through little glass peepholes we could look in at them. Then what a warehouse! It made you think of Sears Roebuck, or the storerooms of some great airplane factory, such as Douglas or Consolidated Vultee. I tested a store keeper to see if he knew where all his 200,000 odd items were stacked and labeled. He did. He had anything from a plane's door handle to a 1,200-horsepower engine. Pilots Fly with Odd Pets "It was lonesome on those long Pacific hops," said Maj. W. T. Warren, who flew us about Parris Island, Camp Lejeune, Cherry Point Air Station, and over the Carolina swamps and abandoned rice fields. "For company we carried monkeys, par rots, bears, even snakes. My monkey wore a yellow sweater with our Marine emblem on it. He'd grab the wheel and pretend to fly! "I guess another monk got homesick. Any way, one day, high over his jungle home, he looked down at the familiar green trees and jumped out an open window! "Oddest yarn was about a pet bear; he rode with the captain and copilot in a big freight transport. One day, when the copilot had dysentery and was lying down, the captain just for fun put the bear in a pilot seat and fas tened his safety belt. Then he set the plane on the automatic pilot and went back to comfort his sick buddy. "Just then," continued Warren, "a young ster in a single-seat fighter pulled along side, as they often did, to wave a friendly greeting to us. Then he saw that bear! It was scratching on the window with one paw, probably trying to get out. But the kid thought it was waving to him. "He turned tail, whizzed back to the air port, landed, and ran to the doctor. 'Listen, doc,' he said. 'They got bears flying them big planes now-I'm through!'" Of course, in the Marines' 175 years of Count of Monte Cristo exploits and adven tures, a lot of Munchausen tales can grow. General Jerome told me how, as a young pilot in North China, he and Maj. Gen. W. J. Wal lace used to shoot bustards from an open cockpit biplane.