CLENT BREEDLOVE
CIVILIAN PILOT TRAINING PROGRAM
PRE-FLIGHTS PROGRAM
1939-1945

Plainview PGS Article 45



Allen’s duties at Dalhart AAF included being ‘first sergeant’ of his barracks


By John W. McCullough, Graduate Student in History, Texas Tech University

This is the 45th article about Clent Breedlove’s Plainview Pre-Glider School at Finney Field.

On October 17, 2015, David A. Allen, Jr. gave an interview about his time training as a glider pilot in WWII.  He is 95 years old today and lives in Schertz, Tex.

After completing his glider pilot training at Finney Field north of Plainview, Allen completed his next phase of training at Wickenburg, Ariz.  He stayed briefly at a holding place for glider pilots in Albuquerque, New Mex., in September, 1942 before leaving for Dalhart Army Air Field in October of that year.

When asked about where he lived while stationed at Dalhart AAF, Allen replied, “Lived there on the base in the barracks.”

He went on to explain what a typical training day was like for him at Dalhart.

“Well, to start out with, I had additional duty there as First Sergeant of my outfit.  It was administration.”

“The day started out, of course, trying to get everybody out of bed, get ‘em up, get ‘em breakfast, ‘yak’, ‘yak’, ‘yak’, all that good stuff; and then you either go to ground school or the flight line.”

“I was in a squadron and we had a little office in a building there, a little tar paper shack.”

Allen said that he was in charge of his squadron, or group of men, about three or four dozen men total, and that they were all glider pilots.

“The First Sergeant’s duties didn’t have much, just details, and so forth; and in the wintertime somebody to keep the fires going (in the pot belly stove) and keep it thawed out.  A few things like that.  There wasn’t a great deal of duty to the First Sergeant’s job there.  The bulk of the paperwork and other stuff was handled by a real First Sergeant in our group.”

Allen explained that he was still actually a Staff Sergeant at this time, but that he was “First Sergeant” of his outfit and “detailed to duty”.  However, there was also another real First Sergeant over his group who handled all of the administrative type of work.  He did not remember the actual First Sergeant’s name, though, or the base commander’s name at Dalhart but did recall that the base commander was a major.

Allen thought that all of the men under him lived in the same barracks there on the air field.

As for shower and latrine facilities, Allen said that they did not exist inside his barracks but that these facilities were located inside another barracks-type building between his barracks and another barracks which was also used for quartering more men.

Even though each barracks contained a pot belly stove for heating, Allen said that it was still very cold in them:  “Absolutely!”

When asked about any dirt or dust storms, Allen did not recall any of those but said that they did have snow storms.

He recalled a mess hall but not much about it.  He did remember a base chapel but not a theater on the air field.

He did recall the names of some of his fellow glider pilots at Dalhart AAF, those who died in the glider crash of January 26, 1943.

“I recall part of the names:  Claude Bruce, Forbes, French (“Frenchie”).  I can’t remember there was a…I don’t know whether it was Italian, or Spanish or what he was, another student, and then the instructor.  I don’t remember the instructor’s name.”

Allen recalled that many of his fellow glider pilots at Plainview and Wickenburg travelled on with him to Albuquerque but after that they separated and went to different schools.  He did not recall of any his fellow glider pilots at Dalhart AAF being with him at either Plainview or Wickenburg.

When asked about his time spent in the city of Dalhart, Allen fondly recalled one particular favorite café where he enjoyed eating meals.

“Oh, yeah, we went into town.  There was one good place to eat there in town, a small café off the main drag there, run by mama and daughter and they had some of the best steaks you could ask for.  It was located one block off the main drag, the main street.”

“It cost a fortune to eat there!  It cost a dollar and a quarter for a good steak!”, he chuckled.  Allen later explained that he was just joking about the price for the steak.  He did not consider the price to be expensive at all.  It was reasonable.

When asked if he recalled the De Soto Hotel, Allen replied that he recalled the name but not the hotel.  When later asked if the café where he ate steaks was the H&H Café, the B&B Café, or the Dixie Inn, he could only recall the name of the Dixie Inn but said that it was “out west of town.”

When asked if he ever visited either the La Rita or Mission movie theaters, Allen replied that he never went to the movies while in Dalhart, nor did he ever go bowling; however, he did visit the USO in town, “just in and out”, he recalled.

He stayed in Dalhart for Christmas of 1942 instead of travelling home for the holiday.

More about David Allen’s time training as a glider pilot will be discussed in the next article.

Readers are asked to visit the Breedlove CPTP website at www.breedlove-cptp.org for more details about the glider program of WWII.

Anyone with information about the Plainview Pre-Glider School at Finney Field should contact John McCullough at (806)793-4448 or email johnmc@breedlove-cptp.org.