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Collection Kenneth W. Geishirt
WVM ID Number OH 109
Object Name Oral History
Title Oral History Interview with Kenneth W. Geishirt
Date 2001
Event World War II
Narrator's Name Kenneth W. Geishirt
Interviewer's Name James McIntosh
Description In this oral history interview, Kenneth Geishirt, a Madison native, talks about his time as a mechanic and B-17 gunner in the Pacific Theater of WWII.

He remembers that he joined the U.S. Army Air Force in 1939 and was sent to Chanute field where he learned how to be an aircraft mechanic. Geishirt recalls how he arrived in Honolulu on December 23, 1941 and his first duty was picking up shrapnel from the Attack on Pearl Harbor off of a runway. Geishirt recalls how he volunteered for combat duty after assisting in maintaining B-17s for a short period of time, despite never attending gunnery school. Geishirt states that "My gunnery school was Guadalcanal. You learn fast." Geishirt recalls that he was assigned to the 42nd Bombardment Squadron of the 11th Bombardment Group. Geishirt states that he was assigned to Kualoa where he flew sea patrols that were about 1,100 miles round trip and lasted all day. He recalls that he missed the Battle of Midway due to technical difficulties with his aircraft and in November 1942 how his squadron went to New Caledonia but he operated out of Espiritu Santo. Geishirt talks about how he worked as an aerial engineer and tail gunner and how he bombed Guadalcanal, Munda, and Tulagi. He recalls how his squadron operated in flights of three planes and that they mostly dropped 300 pound bombs.

Geishirt describes how he engaged an enemy fighter with his tail gun and shot him down and in the same flight a Japanese fighter rammed a friendly B-17 and destroyed it. He talks about how he was grounded shortly after this incident because he was so shook up that he couldn't stop his hands from shaking. Geishirt recalls how he was knocked unconscious after his B-17 was hit on a different mission and there was a hole in the wing large enough that a person's head and shoulders could fit through. He remembers that after his plane was hit his plane was grounded from flying combat missions and instead they flew officers around. Geishirt states that the people in his B-17 were given a month's leave in Australia as well after being hit. He describes his R&R in Australia and mentions that he and his fellow airmen spend most of their time drinking. Geishirt talks about the medication he was given to help with his combat stress. He states that his unit was given new B-24s and that he was made a technical supply sergeant and worked in Funi Futi, Hawaii, and Guam. Geishirt recalls that he went back to Hawaii and then to Fort Sheridan where he was discharged.
Extent and Medium of Description Analog video recording: 1 VHS tape (approx. 57 minutes)
Transcript: 27 pgs.
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Biographical Record Geishirt, Kenneth W.