By Dan Newcomb, PBJ Restoration Crew
When Norman Glen Ewers turned 18, he wanted to fly but did not have any college credits. When he discovered a Navy recruitment program, which he did qualify for, he immediately enlisted. He was trained as a Naval Aviation Cadet, but was assigned as a U.S. Marine Corps pilot.
"Nuggets," at his first billet, heard the rumor that they would be flying P-38s - or, anyway, a twin-engine airplane. They were sent to Kansas City to pick up brand new North American PBJ-1D Mitchell bombers. Since Norman had two weeks seniority, he was designated aircraft commander.
He went on to a 28-year career flying in the Marine Corps - in World War II he flew PBJs at Nissan Airfield in Bouganville Province; in Korea he flew helicopters; and in Vietnam he commanded a UH-34 squadron.
In February 2014, Ewers visited the CAF Southern California Wing based in Camarillo, Calif. He wanted to visit an old friend, the PBJ.
The first thing Ewers asked was for permission to try and get into the cockpit of the PBJ. It was not easy, but with the help of several crew members, he once again sat in the pilot’s seat. The last time Ewers sat in a PBJ was 1945. He spent several minutes in the seat, clearly enjoying the reunion with the aircraft. He now has the distinction of being the first PBJ pilot to sit in that seat since the PBJ Semper Fi’s restoration.
Later in the day Ewers shared many photos and memorabilia from his service in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. As a member of the PBJ restoration crew, I felt humbled and proud to be part of this special day. I hope and pray that in the not- too-distant future we can take Ewers flying with us in the PBJ Semper Fi.
Here is a photo story of Norman Ewers' visit.
Norman Ewers arriving at the CAF SoCal Wing with his son on Feb. 12, 2015. Even though he used a walker to get around, he was able, with help, to get into the PBJ cockpit.
The CAF Media Team would like to thank Mike Greywitt , CAF SoCal Wing PIO, for the help in the composition of this article.