For the second quarter of 2018, long-time Florence resident James Kaul will be featured in the Oral History Veteran of the Quarter program. Kaul, a Minnesota native, was one of eight children in the family, many of whom served in WWII as well as Korean War.
Growing up as an aviation enthusiast building model airplanes, his passion and interest in becoming a pilot was further influenced when his father treated he and a brother to a ride on an iconic Ford Tri-Motor as a youth. After graduating from high school, Kaul headed to California to work at Lockheed in 1941, and shortly thereafter enlisted in the US Army Air Corps to fulfill his dream of flight.
Just like many student pilots of the time, he was eager to become a fighter pilot in P-40’s or P-51’s but found himself assigned to the Air Transport Command piloting the legendary C-47 cargo planes. While not a fighter pilot, his excitement included spotting a squadron of Japanese fighters at one time while flying the un-armed cargo plane. Fortunately, they did not spot him.
A highlight of his Army aviation career was the time he flew the personal belongings of General Douglas MacArthur when his headquarters were relocated from Australia to New Guinea.
Before shipping out in 1942 he married his wife, leaving her behind in the states. He mustered out following the war in 1946 and returned to civilian life as a salesman and continued building a family. You can hear his entire story at the Museum’s Veteran of the Quarter display during open hours.
The Museum is located at 2145 Kingwood Street in Florence, Oregon, and is open Thursday through Saturday 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. For additional information call 541-902-5160.