The 6th Bomb Group

Tinian Island - Life on the Island


Thanks to Gary Matcek, son of Sgt Jody Matcek and John Potenza, Jr., son of John Potenza (CFC gunner on "Trigger Mortis II")

Keeping Busy

What happens when you put thousands of motivated people on an island and give them free time? You will find that they find inventive ways to spend their free time. There was, of course, swimming on sandy beaches. But there was also a lot of exploring for souvenirs and scrounging for materials, despite the apparent risks. The more mechanically-minded built motorbikes and Tinian Maytags (wind-powered washing machines). Others learned the art of making moonshine from raisins.


Tinian was a little too big to see on foot.  If you wanted to do some sightseeing, the best way was to find someone with access to a jeep.

"Your carriage awaits"
Photo provided by John Potenza, all rights reserved


For day-to-day transportation, one popular method of conveyance was a home-made motorcycle (or "putt-putt") which combined a small frame with a small motor and tires.  Not quite like a Harley or an Indian motorcycle, but it got you around.

Tinian Maytags

Laundry facilities on the island began with washing in helmets and progressed to windmill washing machines. The machine was simple. An empty oil drum set on an old bomb rack holder with the windmill on a stand beside it. The windmill drove a plunger which beat up and down on the soapy clothes in the drum. Later improvements added putt-putt motors to drive the plunger. ["Pirate's Log", p. 67]

Designs ranged from simple 4 blade designs (left) to the more complex 6 blade design (right).
From Smith, "9th Bombardment Group (VH) History", p. 34c.

The Swimming Hole

This is similar to the place where the 6th Bomb Group personnel did most of their swimming. One difference was that there were no ladders, which required them to climb down a 30 foot cliff. There were caves to explore.

Photo from collection of Maj. Henry Luna of 40th Bomb Group

Waiting in Line

Waiting in line was part of Army life.  You would wait in line for food, for mail, and for shots. This appears to be a picture of the men waiting in line for the former. Note the "old-fashioned" telephone pole on the right - just like the ones we trip over today.

Photo courtesy of Gary Matcek, son of Sgt Jody Matcek.

Recreational Activities

The base offered many learning and recreational activities for the men.

Sgt Jody Matcek checks out the activities available at the recreational center.
Photo courtesy of Gary Matcek, son of Sgt Jody Matcek.