Traveler, writer, reviewer, all-round observer. I like anything cool & fast, but occasionally sit at a cafe watching the world go by.
Like many eager men and boys in the 1940’s, Bernard Nagel joined the Navy at the young age of 17 in 1943 and continued to serve until 1946. As an Aviation Machinist’s Mate Propeller mechanic in the NATS, he worked on ‘the big boys’. “When Pearl Harbor happened, a lot of us wanted to join, but I was too young at the time. As soon as they allowed me, I started my service in Hawaii. From there, I went on to the Philippines and Guam.”
I asked him what was it like while he was serving. “We lived in tents as we went base to base. And it was hot as hell!” The types of aircraft he worked on were the Martin PBM Mariners, Douglas C-47 Skytrains, and Douglas C-54 Skymasters.
As an aviation and WWII enthusiast, I had to ask, “Which aircraft did you enjoy working on the most?” “Oh, I liked them all. But there was one aircraft I was most afraid of. The TBFs. I hated working on those ball turrets! Pretty dangerous. You can get stuck in there.” Entering service in 1942, the Grumman TBF Avenger first saw action at the Battle of Midway. With its designation as a Torpedo, Bomber, and Fighter aircraft, it saw most of its successes as a carrier-based torpedo aircraft, having seen action all over the Pacific including the Solomon Islands and Guadalcanal. Despite major losses in the beginning, it went on to serve the military until 1960.
“I didn’t see much action myself, but I do remember those hot tents, and working hard to keep those planes flying.” As we spoke, each time he heard an airplane flying by, his attention turned toward the sound of the propeller as it roared by, remembering the times he worked on them. Today, at the age of 89, he lives in a home in Hauppauge, NY. No more tents for 2nd Class Bernard Nagel.