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Texas | Features | World War II

Seguin, Texas

Two Pilots, Three Air Forces,
One Hometown

Lt. Col. Alvin Mueller
B-17 Bomber Pilot
Pacific Theater

Lieutenant Dick Campbell
RCAF RAF and US Army Air Corps
Spitfire and P-38 Pilot
European and Pacific Theaters

by John Troesser
Miller Bridge, Seguin
"He flew between the Miller Bridge and the Guadalupe River just to see if he could "
TE Postcard Archives

Lt. Col. Alvin Mueller
B-17 Bomber Pilot
Pacific Theater

If you visit the lobby of the former Plaza Hotel, you will see a photo of a uniformed man sitting in a convertible in the 1940s. He looks quite casual, as if he was waiting for some event to start. A parade perhaps.

The crowd was an estimated 10,000 people that day and they all came to see the casual man.

He was Captain Alvin Mueller (pronounced Miller) a pilot who had crashed planes all around Sequin while learning to fly. His outrageous stunts like landing on roads, racetracks and flowerbeds - were good training when WWII started. He even flew between the Miller Bridge and the Guadalupe River just to see if he could. One forced landing on a racetrack threw him out of the cockpit and knocked him unconscious.

After his numerous near-death experiences in Seguin, flight training was a piece of cake. In a letter home to his sister from his bomber training school, he told her that the rumors were true. A bomber could actually do barrel rolls! It is not recorded if his crew shared his enthusiastic style of flying.

Mueller was assigned to the 90th Bomber Group stationed in Clark Field in the Phillipines. He flew evacuation flights from the Philippines to Australia, survived an attack of 10 Japanese planes and had a forced landing on a beach.

Modesty was in fashion in the 40s and noticeably absent from his uniform the day of his parade was his Distinguished Flying Cross, Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star and Purple Heart.

Captain Mueller survived the war and eventually reached the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

Lieutenant Dick Campbell
RCAF RAF and US Army Air Corps
Spitfire and P-38 Pilot
European and Pacific Theaters

We spoke with Sherry Nefford at the Seguin Chamber of Commerce who suggested that Virginia Woods might have some information on Alvin Mueller. Mrs. Woods recalled the Mueller family had relatives in Moulton, but she suggested that we call Dick Campbell who had also been a pilot in WWII.

Mr. Campbell took our call and was able to fill us in on several points of the Alvin Mueller story that we were unclear about. He was also able to give us an insight into what it was like flying a Spitfire over the English Channel before the U.S. got involved.

Alvin Mueller was married with a couple of children when Dick Campbell was still in High School. Mueller had joined the Army Air Corps and was in the reserves when they were called up in 1940 for regular duty.

Campbell had had two years of classes at Texas A & M University when he decided to participate in the war that was already going on in Europe. The fastest way to accomplish this was to enlist in the Royal Canadian Air Force, so he stuck out his thumb and hitchhiked to Windsor, Ontario and signed up.

Dick went through flight training with 10 or 12 Americans that shared his impatience. But not all of the Americans were there to hasten the end of the war - one of Dick's fellow trainees was an Arkansan who had shot a deputy sheriff and left the state thinking the deputy had died.

They trained on twin engine DeHaviland Ensigns that had already seen service in France as bombers and had been retired to flight school duty. Dick got used to having two engines, and so it took a little getting used to when he started flying Spitfires in England. This was the Summer of '41.

Dick said that the British made no distinction between Canadians and Americans - they only knew that neither spoke correctly. He said that he was convinced that the RAF was the most inept, confused and incompetent force to ever fly. That was until he was assigned back to the U.S. Army Air Corp. The bureaucracy was bad but dealing with Penguins was worse. Penguin was the term for non-flying officers. His return to U.S. Forces was the summer of '43.

During his service in England he changed bases many times, but was mostly in the Midlands. All the officers had bicycles so they could bike to the pubs around the airfields. Of course they could also bike through the villages and country lanes, but they usually biked to the pubs for some reason.

Their missions were occasionally to escort bombers, but most of their assignments were "rhubarbs" which meant strafing runs on railroads and targets of opportunity. Spitfires were a defensive aircraft and had only a four hour range so sorties across the channel were mostly over France and Belgium. We asked how often he saw the enemy. "How about everyday?" was his reply.

Altitudes were sometimes 25,000 feet and the temperature 60 below zero. Three sets of gloves were required - the first were silk with a gauntlet, the second wool with the fingertips cut off, and the third were leather that would extend to the elbow. He admitted that this made switch, knob and trigger pulling sometimes difficult.

Besides dodging bullets - another problem pilots had was knowing whether to pull up or go down when a German plane was heading straight for you. A tactic they often used. If both planes chose the same direction - both would go down. Decisions were made fast, considering both were moving at an air speed in excess of 300mph.

In the Fall of '44 Lt. Campbell was back flying a twin engine plane - this time a P-38 in the Pacific. He was en route to San Francisco when the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. He was back in Seguin when the Japanese officially surrendered. He was then assigned to Randolph Field until his discharge in 1946.

Mr. Campbell was able to give us the monthly rate at the Plaza Hotel (see TE's Room with a Past series) in 1946. It was $25.00 per month for a room with private bath.

John Troesser
October 2000

Our thanks to Mr. Campbell who took the time to answer our questions about Seguin, Alvin Mueller and his experiences in World War II.

An Authentic History of Guadalupe County by Willie Mae Weinert
Seguin, Texas by Father L.J. FitzSimon 1938
Under the Live Oak Tree: A History of Seguin by E. John Gesick Jr. 1995
Telephone Interview with (Lt.) Dick Campbell, RCAF, RAF, and US Army Air Corps

More World War II
See Seguin, Texas

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