Alma Fornal 44-5

San Bernardino, California.  I was born on July 23, 1920 in Morgan, Texas, South of Dallas, Texas.  I was attending the University of Arkansas when I got my first chance to go up in a small aircraft.  After that I saved every penny I could to fly.  For the war effort in 1941, I decided to put my college education on hold in my 3rd year, and took a job at Keesler Field Air Force Hospital as Chief Clerk in the Registrar’s Office.  I continued my flying at a local airport with an instructor, Lloyd Catlin, who gave me lots of confidence, and I soloed after six hours.

While working one day, not busy, I read in the newspaper about the WASP.  You had to have two years of college and a private aircraft license.  I had both.  My friend and instructor, Llyod Catlin flew me to Dallas where I had an interview with Nancy Love.  I was accepted, told to report for class of 44.5.

After graduation, I was sent to Napier Field, Alabama to do test piloting on the AT-6s.  Then I was sent to Tyndall Field, Florida to towing targets with the B-26.  The Officers Club housed us in a barracks with nurses and WAC officers.  We ate at the officerís club restaurant, along with all the other bachelor men officers.  It was there I met Joe Fornal.  Gene Raymond, the movie actor, was at our base one weekend.  He came to the mess hall and all of us WASP were giving him the eye.  Later at the Officerís Club, this Office, Joe Fornal, who looked just like Gene Raymond to me, gave me a big smile.  He came over and we got acquainted.

After deactivation, I stayed on by taking a job as Link trainer instructor along with several other WASPs, as none of us were ready to let go of the life we loved.  Also I had fallen in love by that time and wasn’t ready to leave.  Joe and I were married at Tyndall Field, Florida on June 23, 1945.  He was an Air Force Captain, but not a flying officer.  We stayed there a while; Joe decided to get out of the Air Force.  We lived near my family in Gulfport, Mississippi where I worked as a control tower operator.  We didn’t like the hours I worked so we moved to Northport, Long Island.  I got a job there at the Veteran’s Hospital in the recreational department planning trips, parties, and working on a hospital newspaper for the veterans.

Joe worked for Republic Aviation on Long Island; they folded, then he worked for the Long Island Lighting Company.  After a few years he was offered a Permanent Officerís Commission in the Air Force.  He accepted and was sent to Albrook Air Force Base, Panama City, and Canal Zone.  I took a job at the Air Force Officerís Club as Chief Accountant.  We were soon blessed with our son John.  Next we were sent to Bitburg, Germany.  There we had our daughter Jean.  During that time we traveled all over to every country stating our life long hobby of traveling.  Next we were sent to the Pentagon and lived in Arlington, Virginia.  I attended George Washington University and majored in early childhood education.

When the children were in junior high, I stared teaching, mostly first and second grades.  I taught 16 years until I retired in 1982.  Joeís last transfer was Norton Air Force Base in San Bernardino and we have lived there ever since.  Joe retired from the Air Force and went to work for TRW at Norton Air Force working on the guidance system for missiles.

I resumed my interest in oil painting.  We spend four or five days a week at our condo in Carlsbad, California and the weekends in San Bernardino where we enjoy our two grandsons who live very near us.  I play tennis, paint; we go sailing.  We go on lots of cruises and enjoy polka dancing.  The WASP experience was great.

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