James Marich oral history interview



James Marich oral history interview


Born-digital video recording of an oral history with James "Jim" Marich and interviewer Steve Ellis, recorded as part of The Museum of Flight Oral History Program, July 18, 2017.


World War II veteran James “Jim” Marich is interviewed about his service as a flight engineer aboard the Boeing B-29 Superfortress. He discusses his wartime experiences with the 869th Bombardment Squadron of the 497th Bombardment Group, U.S. Army Air Forces, while stationed in Saipan (Northern Mariana Islands) during 1944 and 1945. He also touches briefly on his post-war engineering career with the Sundstrand Corporation (Illinois). Topics discussed include his training and service history, his aerial bombing and resupply missions, his post-war activities, and his reflections on his military service.

The accounts presented in this oral history are unverified and, in some cases, contradict other records of the interviewee’s lived experiences, particularly in regards to his military service. Please note this when using this content for research or other historical purposes.

Table Of Contents

Introduction and personal background -- Early aviation memories -- Cadet Corps training and becoming a flight engineer -- Forming a crew -- Deployment to the Pacific and the significance of radar-equipped aircraft -- Briefing and logistics for first mission -- Flight engineer responsibilities and first bomb run -- Change in bombing strategy -- Mission logistics -- Ditching a Boeing B-29 Superfortress over the Pacific -- Nighttime bombing missions -- Encounters with enemy fighter aircraft -- Fuel usage tags -- Resupply missions for prison camps -- Other service details while stationed in Saipan -- Thoughts on the Wright R-3350 engine -- Atomic bombings and experiences with Japanese Betty bombers -- Post-war career in engineering -- Reflections on military service -- Antiaircraft damage -- Closing thoughts




1 recording (1 hr., 7 min., 10 sec.) : digital



Bibliographic Citation

The Museum of Flight Oral History Collection/The Museum of Flight





Biographical Text

James “Jim” Marich is a World War II veteran who served in the Pacific Theater as a flight engineer aboard Boeing B-29 Superfortresses. He was born on October 17, 1925 in Chicago, Illinois, the oldest of six children. His father worked as the chief maintenance manager for a smelting and refinery company in Chicago.

Marich graduated from Tilden Technical High School (Chicago, Illinois) in 1943 and, with his parents’ permission, joined the U.S. Army Air Corps at 17 years of age. He completed basic training at Basic Training Center No. 10 (BTC #10) in Greensboro, North Carolina and started pilot training at George Field (Illinois). Shortly afterward, the Air Corps decided to re-balance their training programs and reclassified Marich’s class as flight crew rather than pilots. Marich transferred to Amarillo Army Air Force Base (Texas), where he underwent flight engineering training for the Boeing B-29 Superfortress.

In the fall of 1944, Marich was deployed to Saipan in the Northern Marianas Islands. He served with the 869th Bombardment Squadron of the 497th Bombardment Group, flying aerial bombing missions against the Japanese home islands. He flew a total of 38 missions during his approximately eight months in the Pacific Theater, including both bombing missions and resupply missions to drop supplies to prisoners of war.

At the conclusion of his combat tour, Marich returned to Illinois and resumed his pre-service job at Johnson & Johnson Surgical Dressings. While there, he met his future wife, who was working in the company’s chemical laboratory. After receiving his degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Illinois, Marich was hired by the Sundstrand Corporation (Rockford, Illinois). He spent 40 years with the company in project engineering, marketing, and product line management and eventually settled in Washington State to work for their electronics division.

After his retirement, Marich joined The Museum of Flight Docent Corps. He is still an active volunteer as of 2017.

Biographical information derived from interview and additional information provided by interviewee.