King High Remembers World War II Veterans
Jack Farnham has 8,000 aviation hours under his belt, all in 30 different types aircraft. He attended UCLA, UCR, and Cal State Long Beach for his various levels of education. He has earned a degree in gemology and is certified to make appraisals on jewelry. He has also taught many cadets, bombardiers, and private students to fly. He has flown everything from a B-24, to a C-54, to a B-17. However, none of these accomplishments compare to the time he spent defending our country in World War II.
First Lieutenant Jack Farnham began his life in the town of Bethel, New Mexico in 1922. He moved to California, where he attended Corona High School, and graduated in 1939 at the young age of seventeen. Shortly after this, he married a young woman named Joyce, and they had four children together. In September of 1942, Farnham was sworn into the aviation cadets of the Army Air Corps. In April of 1943, he would take his first solo flight in a PT-22.
On December 7, 1941 when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Farnham was in the State National Guard. At the same time, he was also holding a job as a machine operator at the Ontario Feed and Milling Company. One day there was a note on his door that read simply, “Report Immediately.” So he went to take a pilot’s test for things such as coordination, physical fitness, and the ability to withstand eight-mile high altitudes. He took this test with a group of one hundred and ten men, but only eight actually ended up passing. He was then sent to Santa Ana pre-flight training, and graduated in May, 1942 as a Second Lieutenant and Texas 2 Engine pilot. On September 19, 1942, he began his service in World War II.
On August 1st, 1944, after training for one and a half years and becoming an instructor, he entered the Eighth Air Force under the command of General Dwight D. Eisenhower. This unit was based in Attleborough, England. Here he completed thirty-five missions. One of these being on November the nineteenth, when he was sent to bomb the believed headquarters of Hitler. (Hitler was warned in advance, and was not in the building when it was bombed.) Farnham was shot at, and his oxygen was shot out. He dove straight for the ground, and was left behind by his fellow pilots. At the last second, he pulled his plane up and headed as far towards home as he could. He was over Wiesbaden, Germany at that point, and he knew home was to the west, so he flew back as long as he could until his gas ran out, and he landed in Liege, Belgium. Here he spent the night in an abandoned castle, with no food, and no sanitary conditions. He eventually took a C-47 back to England, but he had been missing in action for five days. When he returned, the special services had already sent all of his belongings home.
On Farnham’s first mission overseas, he had a collision at fourteen thousand feet over the North Sea, in a formation called “Purple Heart Corner.” His plane’s tail elevators were completely cut off on the left side. This was a very dangerous incident because his damaged plane could have crashed. Flying back, he prayed to God the entire time, and remembered Psalm 91:10-12. “No evil shall befall you, Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; For He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways. In their hands, they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.”
In another incident, he was flying a B-24, a plane on which the gas caps had not been very well made. The caps were not properly sealed, and gas leaked all the way back over the plane. Had the plane come in any contact with fire, the entire aircraft could have ignited and exploded. One eerie experience that Farnham had happened when he was assigned to fly a mission in a B-17. He refused to board the plane after getting a bad feeling about it. He was eventually given another plane, and flew a successful mission. Upon his return, he found out that the plane he had turned down had exploded in mid-air, killing the entire crew. To this day, he thanks the lord for his safety and well-being. Somewhere among all these journeys, Farnham received six air medals, awarded for achievement in heavy bombardment. He chuckled as he recalled the multiple good conduct medals he received.
For Farnham, the worst part about the war was not being able to hear from his wife, Joyce, and his kids for months at a time. He was separated from them for a total of one and a half years. He said the hardest time was on December 25th, 1944, when there were no letters, packages, or any one to talk to on Christmas day.
While he was in the service, Farnham realized a lot about the world. On the issue of dropping the atomic bomb on Japan, he feels it was the right decision to make because he knows that it was an important aspect in finishing off the war. He felt that the Japanese could harm us very badly, because they were armed with balloons that had deadly diseases inside just waiting to be dropped on Americans. He says, “If you knew what I knew, you wouldn’t have felt bad at all.” When asked what he feels about World War II being “The Last Good War,” and his generation being “The Greatest Generation,” he says, “there is no such thing as a good war,” and that they are “The Greatest Generation,” simply because they survived. On the current situation in Iraq, he feels that we should not be the policemen of the world. He says that terrorists do the terrible things they do because of their religion, and the way that they were raised. There is no way to change their beliefs because they believe they are dying for their God.
Lt. Jack Farnham is now retired, for the most part. After being married for sixty-three years, he has four sons, twelve grandchildren, and fourteen great-grandchildren. Not only was he the California President of police training, but he also taught ground flight training and police science. He retired after thirty-four years in police work, as Corona’s Chief of Police, and then went back to school one more time. This time he graduated with a degree in gemology, and spent time making appraisals on jewelry and diamonds. When asked how many years, over all, he spent in school, Farnham replied, “Well, my whole life.” Not only did he attend various schools, for various amounts of time, receiving several degrees, but Farnham’s whole life was a lesson. He learned and accomplished so much in his lifetime, it is amazing. He never stopped, even after he supposedly “retired.” He kept going, and wanted to learn more, and try new things. Somewhere amidst all this he stopped to share his story with few very intrigued high school students, and from this you have, the biography of First Lieutenant Jack Farnham, Eighth Air Force, Forty-fifth Wing, Four-hundred and Fifty-second Bomber Group and 730 Bomb Squadron.