Al E. Simpson
1 Lt
U. S. Army Air Forces
WWII US Military
Dates of Service: 03/20/1943 - 03/10/1946
Pilot, 1337 AAF Base Unit

The oldest of two brothers, Alfred was born in Columbia, South Carolina, to Atplen Earl Simpson and Ouida Adair Rogers Simpson. Soon after Alfred was born, his father moved the family to Louisiana, where he opened a small delicatessen across from the Kansas City Southern Railroad Depot in Lake Charles. He next opened Earl's Cafeteria in 1938 in downtown. "That's when I got my Social Security card, working for the mechanic that was installing all the cafeteria equipment," Alfred remarks. Alfred took all his meals at the delicatessen, the cafeteria, and at school. Consequently, he says, he was never hungry during the Depression. He spent summers with grandparents in Grand Cane, Louisiana, and recalls traveling along many dirt roads during the trip. Roads were paved, he says, in parishes that carried Governor Huey Long in elections. Alfred worked at a service station his father owned, as well as at the family cafeteria as the nation entered World War II. He recalls the outrage after Japanese forces bombed Pearl Harbor. Many men rushed to enter service. "Everybody who was eligible to join and was physically fit, well they wanted to go over there and show the Japs what for," he remarks. Alfred graduated from Lake Charles High School in 1942. He enrolled at McNeese State in Lake Charles, but soon entered the U.S. Army Air Forces. Upon earning his wings after completing advanced training at Frederick, Oklahoma, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant on January 7, 1944. His first assignment was at Perrin Field in Sherman, Texas in the BT-13. Assigned to Military Air Transport Command in September of 1944, he trained in the C-46 at Rosecrans Field at St. Joseph, Missouri. He was sent to the Burma-China-India Theater and to a base at Sookerating in the Upper Assam Valley in India. There he began flying missions, many lasting about four hours, over "The Hump" (the eastern end of the Himalayan Mountains) to deliver war materials and aviation fuel to four bases in China. "I had, in some of the flights that I flew, World War I bayonets, the round magazines that used to fit on top of Thompson sub machine guns, bicycles," he says. Once, he flew a load of lemon drops. Upon arrival, the Chinese gave air crews "two eggs and some brown bread," he recalls. He reports that food at his home base was so dull and routine that some considered Spam as steak. For entertainment, they played cards. On a regular basis Alfred sent his winnings home to a savings account. He estimates he made "fifty-two and a half" trips, including one in March of 1945 in which he and his crew were forced to abandon ship, bailing out over the mountains. They were soon rescued. He believes he brought "the last plane out of there after the war." When he returned to his base he says he "parked that plane and that's where it stayed." After remaining in Calcutta for several months, he sailed home on a Liberty ship, passing the Rock of Gibraltar on Christmas Day of 1945. Alfred was separated from service on March 10, 1946 (his birthday) at Camp Shelby near Hattiesburg, Mississippi. He entered LSU that September, when student enrollment shot up from 3,000 to 6,000 with returning GIs, and housing was scarce. "I was living in the bottom floor of the stadium, and it was a little shotgun room and there were six of us in there," he remembers. In September of 1949 he married Neil Garrison. Alfred financed his education with his winnings from those wartime overseas card games, along with the GI Bill. He graduated in 1950 with a degree in civil engineering, and went to work with the state highway department. He later transferred to the Public Works Department, where he became district engineer, a post he held when he retired in 1980. Neil passed away in May of 1981. He married Jette Anne Steward in January of 1986. She passed away July of 2008. He has two daughters and three step-grandchildren.