By Jennifer Martin - email
JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - 19 year old Alex Epperson enlisted in the Army Air Corps when he was in pilot school at Hinds Jr. College. It was 1942.
"I was a liaison pilot, that's a recon plane. We did all recon."
He traveled around the US... training, perfecting his skills, doing recon and hauling supplies. He was in Brownsville, Texas, when he got an assignment that would change the course of his career.
"I came in off a mission they were waiting for me. And they told me I had to go see a major. And I thought 'My Lord, what have i done now?' And it was for an interview for OSS, Office of Strategic Service. Of course, he questioned me for half hour, two hours. I don't know how long it was and finally he said 'you're one of those hot heads' and I said 'yes sir I am'. And the next thing I knew, I was on the way to Washington, DC.
Then we went in seclusion in what was a country club. And we couldn't go in or out. We were almost like prisoners in there. And the neighbors were told we all had brain damage or something so they wouldn't bother us. And we had some real training there on if you're captured how to keep from talking and strictly undercover work, all the way through."
After the training, they loaded on a ship, headed to India. Then flew to Burma.
"As liaison pilot, I was attached to the OSS all the way through. And till the end of the war, I was flying combat recon. Now over there, they didn't have war like they had in Europe. We was down in the middle of Burma. And the Japanese were north of us, south of us, east of us, west of us. And all we did was harass them. Keep their attentions where they couldn't get going and slowly pushed them on south.
Got to Rangoon. And this was in 1945 then and I was being sent from there to Thailand. And we got caught in a monsoon and rain and we had to bail out of our planes. I parachuted out. It was the first time in my life. Of course, i had just used a parachute just to sit on to keep from getting shot in the rear end.
It was just dark as pitch. I got out of my parachute and started walking. Didn't know where I was or where I was going. I walked a little ways, I'd find land. I started walking on it and I'd fall in the water. Come to find out, I was in the rice patties.
All of a sudden, I saw a flash of light. I started looking to see what it was. It turned out it was some Thais. So I got interned. But right after that, the war ended. They eventually sent me on home."
Epperson stayed in the reserves until 1950 and decided he was better suited for civilian life.
"I dropped everything I ever had to do with the army. I wouldn't touch it again. I had enough, boy I tell you."
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