As a young boy living in Summerville, Georgia, G. B. Lambert, now 92, played with model airplanes. He hoped to fly the real thing one day.
In Lambert’s case, the opportunity presented itself when he joined the United States Army Air Forces during World War II at the age of 20. At the time, the education qualifications were lowered to a high school education, but Lambert was sent to complete two years at Lafayette College.
Lambert served alongside the renowned 506 Fighter Group in Squadron 458. This unit was specially trained to make long-range missions to Japan in North American P-51 Mustangs.
“I wanted to do anything but infantry,” Lambert said.
The veteran described his early training at a Miami Beach hotel in the midst of winter.
“We were in one room and we had to keep the windows open,” he said.
Training also included marches that lasted for 12 blocks and fire drills that consisted of running up and down flights of stairs. His first flight training was in a Stearman.
Many missions took place in his airplane, the Cherokee Rose, a P-51 prop fighter. Lambert put a lot of faith in her. He was grateful each day when the single-seat fighter brought him back safe.
“I was just hoping that thing stayed running,” he said laughing. “That was a good plane.”
Read the ENTIRE story in The Central Virginian’s May 28 issue on newsstands now.