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0409-W2M-06/2008
Maurice E. Alston, Sr.
Lt Col
U. S. Army Air Corps
WWII US Military
Navigator, 433rd Troop Carrier Group
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Maurice was born in Mena, Arkansas, as one of three children of Overton Bettis Alston, a farmer, and Alice Pearl Williams, a schoolteacher. As a boy, he worked on his father's sixty-acre farm where he earned his first money picking cotton. "I worked all day and made forty-two cents," he recalls. Maurice arose early, milked cows, slopped hogs, and fed the mule teams. "Then you went and ate breakfast," he says. "When you got through eating you're ready to go to work and you worked on until whatever you could stand, I guess--whatever daylight would allow." He remembers his boyhood home as having a porch spanning the front, with three bedrooms, a dining room, a kitchen, and no electricity. His mother cooked on a wood stove. She prepared vegetables from their garden as well as chickens they raised and pork preserved with salt and smoke. The family drew water from a well, and washed clothes, usually on Monday, in the yard in large black pots. They drove to town in their wagon to sell cream, butter, and eggs, and buy a few goods. They "made do" with many items. Maurice's wardrobe consisted of underwear made of flour sacks and two pairs of overalls--one for work and the other for church. Maurice graduated from Hatfield High School in 1938, worked on the farm for a year, then joined Battery D, 142nd Field Artillery of the Arkansas National Guard. On December 2, 1942 he married Jo Marie Vaught. (They would have six children, six grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.) Soon after he accompanied his guard unit to the Louisiana Maneuvers he departed for flight training and was sent to navigation training at Selman Field in Monroe, Louisiana, where he graduated in January of 1945. He recalls arriving in New Guinea on the day he learned President Franklin D. Roosevelt had died. Maurice went to a LORAN School at Nadzab, then was assigned to the 70th Troop Carrier Squadron, based in the Philippine Islands, where he started flying aboard a C-46 Commando, a transport plane. The aircraft hauled troops, supplies, and equipment. He was sleeping one night in the cargo deck when a Japanese kamikaze plane dived into parked American planes. "He just got the right aileron on our wing and piled up under the plane; didn't have enough gas left to burn," he recalls. After VJ Day Maurice's C-46 was sent with other cargo planes to Iwo Jima. "The chow lines were blocks long," he says. "We were just all of us there, waiting until we get the word to start the occupation." Among his other assignments in Japan Maurice flew out prisoners of war. Maurice returned home in December of 1945 on the USS Leonard Wood (APA-12). And was released from Camp Chaffee, Arkansas, to a reserve unit as a second lieutenant. Wanting to be a veterinarian, he entered University of Arkansas in 1948, then transferred to the University of Georgia where he joined an Air Force Reserve unit. Called to active duty in March of 1951, he was sent to MacDill Air Force Base near Tampa, Florida, then to Ramey Air Force Base in Puerto Rico. By then he was serving as navigator on a KV-29M, an air refueling tanker. Later, as part of the 98th Air Refueling Squadron he was sent to Lincoln Air Force Base near Lincoln, Nebraska, in February of 1954, where he stayed until May of 1958. He then began flying on KC-135s out of Castle Air Force Base near Atwater, California until 1967. He was working in Wing Headquarters at Altus Air Force Base in Altus, Oklahoma, where he retired as a lieutenant colonel in August of 1970. In all, Maurice chalked up 3,500 hours of flight. Divorced, he came to Shreveport where he married Zelma Burnette on August 26, 1976. She passed away December 13, 2005. Maurice volunteers at his Methodist church and as well as in health facilities at Barksdale Air Force Base in Bossier City.