Toward the end of World War II, Navy plane mechanic Bob Ernst was stationed at Kaneohe Bay near Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, helping assemble Lockheed PV-1 Venturas that had been shipped in parts from the U.S. mainland for use in the Pacific.
Before arriving there, Ernst already had about three years of service, mostly at the Navy’s flight training base in Lake City, where he kept a specific PV-1 in working order for Navy and Marine pilot trainees. But Uncle Sam finally pulled him out to sea and away from his wife and two young daughters.
There on the island of Oahu, the 22-year-old made friends with a few of the other “older” guys — or ones who chose to participate in more wholesome activities, like mountain climbing and shell collecting.
“Six of us that were married men didn’t want to go into town and get drunk, that type of thing,” the now 95-year-old remembered from his Gainesville home near Newnans Lake, the same one he has lived in since 1962. “It was play time — work, but play time.”