Juniors taking the U.S. history class taught by Mr. Frank Cusimano, Jr. at St. Mary’s Dominican High School were given a personal view of WWII with a visit from WWII Veteran Captain A.P. “Jack” Emerson. In 1941, the 19-year-old Emerson graduated from Fortier High School and immediately enlisted in the Army Air Corps. The New Orleans native began flight training in Texas and later earned his wings as a second lieutenant. Assigned to Italy at a base by the Adriatic Sea, he served with the 321st Bombardment Group, flying B-25 Bombers. The North American B-25 Mitchell, an American twin-engine medium bomber, was used by many Allied air forces and in every theater of World War II.
“We always flew in a 16-plane squadron. Our crew was the pilot, co-pilot, crew chief, navigator, radio operator and tail gunner. Pilots were cross trained to handle other crew members’ positions, if needed,” Emerson told the students.
In 1946, after four years of active duty, this squadron officer returned to New Orleans. He wanted to continue flying, however, the country was flooded with 2,000 returning pilots and there was only one major airliner. He married and pursued a career in accounting. Over 70 years later, Emerson still marvels at the spirit of the country that spanned across industries, communities and generations. “The spirit was incredible. Everybody worked together.”