SSgt Kenneth E. Cameron, Grandpa “Smokey”
Born in Coeur d'Alene Idaho on April 17, 1916, and raised in the Pacific Northwest, mainly North Idaho/Eastern Washington.
Kenneth joined the US Army Air Corps in 1942. Prior to this, he had been a member of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) a voluntary public work relief program that began in 1933 ending in 1942 after the US entered WWII.
The idea was to provide a program for unemployed, unmarried men a chance to start. When the program began it was mainly for young men ages 18–25, the Government extended the program to 17–28 years. The CCC was a critical component of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's robust workmen’s program to provide manual labor jobs, that would concentrate on the conservation and development of natural resources The young men were issued US Army style uniforms and trained in military environments, as well as lived in barracks living.
In 1942, members of the CCC were transferred over to the US armed forces, many of them ending up in the USAAF and Army. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, the Roosevelt administration directed all federal programs to emphasize the war effort. Most CCC work, except for wildland firefighting, was shifted onto U.S. military bases to help with construction.
With the end of the CCC program, the government closed the camps and transferred the CCC personnel and property to the War and Navy Departments. Kenneth was one of the 300,000 members of the over 9-year program that would find him in the armed forces now defending the country.
He was transferred over to the US Army Air Corps, and found himself in South Texas near the town of Laredo at Laredo Army Airfield, under the US Army Air Forces Command. This was the Flexible Gunnery Schools, where they trained pilots to shot from various aircraft and turrets. The school also utilized maintenance men to maintain aircraft and sight the guns for accuracy. The school was fairly new, beginning 12 August 1943, founded by Col. William Kennedy. Grandpa Cameron was in the Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, fixing various aircraft and weapons systems.
His service record is pretty vague as he never spoke about where he went and was stationed. It is known he went overseas and was injured in some way. His old buddies called him “Pedo" when they came around to visit after the war, they would call and ask for “Pedo” and grandma would tell them you have the wrong number, then ask the hell is “Pedo”? Few of his militaria was saved and split between my brother and me; ongoing research in order to find more details. Upon finding a napkin signed "To My Peto" in his photo album, from someone named Shirley, there may be an answer to that mystery.
The AT-6 Texan, built by North American, sporting a Pratt & Whitney R-1340-49 Wasp, pushing out 600Hp.
Jane Russell drops by for an autograph of herself for the boys.
Some of my Grandfather's WWII belongings; the MK-1A1 1941practice grenade was a favorite object that he always had on the window seal at the house. I'd take it out and toss it around taking out enemies attacking from around the neighborhood.
To My Peto - Love Shirley...