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David Petroleum honors Joy, bomber pilot

Maj. Gen. Jerry Grizzle, NMMI president and superintendent, and Patriot Appreciation Dinner honoree Charles “Chuck” Joy. (Submitted Photo)

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

Eddie David has a special way to honor U.S. military veterans from Chaves and Eddy counties.

David, along with the officers and employees of his company and his friends, work for months planning a dinner and program to honor a veteran.

The most recent veteran honored was Charles “Chuck” Joy, a 100-year-old World War II bomber pilot.

A retired petroleum engineer from Artesia, Joy was the fourth veteran honored at a Patriot Appreciation Dinner. The dinner was held recently in the conference room at Lovelace Regional Hospital in Roswell.

The dinner has been sponsored by David Petroleum Corp. of Roswell since 2009.

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Joy flew 50 combat missions as a pilot with the U.S. 15th Air Force over Europe and North Africa in a B-24 Liberator bomber.

During the dinner, Joy told how he had tried to join the British Royal Air Force (RAF) or the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) before the United States entered World War II. However, the RCAF recruiter told him the U.S. government had asked Americans not be recruited, as the United States would be entering the war.

“I was attending Compton Junior College in California when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in December 1941. I went down to the recruiting center, where I passed the test for military pilot training. I was placed on inactive duty while waiting to be activated,” Joy recalled.

“On Nov. 22, 1942, the Army ordered me onto active duty. I was sent to San Antonio, Texas. While there, I attended classification and preflight schools. Then I was sent to primary flight training in Muskogee, Oklahoma,” he said. “After primary training, I was sent to basic flying school in Coffeyville, Kansas.”

His next assignment was advanced flight training at Mission, Texas, near the border with Mexico.

“Sometimes we would buzz the bullring during bullfights. These drew protests from the government of Mexico,” Joy said.

“After graduating from advanced flight training, I was assigned as a copilot on a B-24 crew at Pueblo, Colorado. The first week I was there, eight aircraft flew into Pike’s Peak,” he added.

Before deployment to the European Theater, Joy was assigned to Long Island, New York, where he was to pick up a B-24 and ferry it across the Atlantic to Italy for combat duty.

His flight took him from Long Island to Palm Beach, Florida, then to Cuba, Puerto Rico, Trinidad, Brazil, Dakar, Tunisia and eventually Italy.

Along the way, his bomber experienced engine oil loss caused by a whisky cork in the tank. Only two of the eight B-24s in his flight arrived safely in Italy.

“While stationed in Italy, I flew 50 bombing missions over France, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania and Northern Italy,” Joy recalled.

During these missions, he flew the lead aircraft for five bomber groups.

“Combat was a bad experience. Every morning you got up and didn’t know if you would return that night,” he said.

Joy remembers one mission over Munich in which the B-24 flying in front of him took a direct hit in its bomb bay.

“When the bombs exploded, the aircraft just disappeared,” he said.

Joy returned to school after the war, enrolling in Howard College in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1947. He later dropped out to work for two years, then enrolled in the University of Alabama.

“In 1954, I received my MS (master of science) in petroleum engineering, placing in the top 15 graduates in a class of 1,200 engineers. I accepted a job with Atlantic Refining Co.”

Years later, after other jobs in petroleum engineering, “I took over operations for Newmont, then the third largest oil company in New Mexico. After 10 years with Newmont, I became a consulting engineer. I worked until I was 96 years old,” Chuck said.

Over the years, the other veterans honored by David Petroleum have been Thomas J. Owen, retired Air Force lieutenant general and former commander of the Aeronautical Systems Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio; Scott Lilley, a retired Air Force staff sergeant who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, where he was injured in a bomb explosion; and Jack Swickard, a U.S. Army helicopter pilot who helped rescue South Vietnamese troops from an enemy ambush. Swickard later served as editor of the Roswell Daily Record and founded a public relations company specializing in international police consulting.

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