PROFILE OF A MUSEUM
Warren W. Hills was born on January 14, 1923 in Fresno, California. He graduated from Fresno High January 30, 1942 and immediately enlisted in the USMC, reporting for boot camp in San Diego on February 16, 1942. Upon completion of basic training, he was sent to Aviation Ordinance School at the US Naval Air Station in Jacksonville, Florida. After AO, he was sent to Hollywood, Florida for Naval Aerial Gunnery School and then assigned to US Naval Air Station Miramar in San Diego. Warren joined the VMTB-143 Torpedo Bomber Squadron where he received extensive training. His outfit was then packed up and shipped to the South Pacific area on the USS LuraLine, which required no escorts as the ship had an excellent cruising speed.
Arriving in New Caladonia Island, his outfit was transferred to the Cargo , USS Hunter Liggett, which was headed in a convoy to New Hebrides Island where their home base would be established on the island of Efate. From Efate, Warren’s outfit flew submarine patrols and was far enough away from the Solomon Islands the enemy fighters did not harass their planes, but enemy night bombers always remained a concern. Around Thanksgiving Day 1943, his outfit moved to Henderson Field on Guadalcanal and joined two fighter and two dive bomber squadrons. On the very first night, all hell broke loose, as the Japanese began bombing and shelling Guadalcanal. Warren’s outfit had 18 planes on the ground at dark, but the next morning, only 14 remained flyable. The other squadrons also suffered the same damage predicament. Warren flew 49 missions that included Glide Bombing and strafing of airstrips in the Solomon Island chain. They laid magnetic mines at Kahili Harbor at Bougainville and hit shipping lanes. The US Navy had some malfunctioning torpedoes that forced US planes to Glide Bomb enemy ships. During this campaign, Warren received an R&R trip to Sydney, Australia that he remembers having enjoyed immensely. Later, while on a mission to dive bomb an airstrip on Munda Island, Warren’s aircraft was hit by enemy fire in the oil line and was forced to ditch about 2 miles off shore. Fortunately, a US Navy PBY-Black Cat that happened to be nearby picked up his crew of three within 10 minutes.
After a December, 1943 leave to the states, Warren reported to the El Toro Marine Air Station, joining the VMSB-234 Dive Bombing Squadron. On November 7, 1944 he was sent to the Philippines as a replacement gunner, joining the VMSB-133 Dive Bombing Squadron at Mangalan Airbase on Luzon. He arrived during the third day of the invasion of Luzon and flew close air support for the US Army’s 41st Infantry. Warren had 38 missions over Luzon and Mindinao. When Warren left for the states ,the Japanese Air Power had weakened to the point it had lost most of its effectiveness.
In December 1945, after a Christmas leave, Warren reported to Cherry Point, NC Marine Air Station and finished his 4 years enlistment as a Staff Sergeant on February 16, 1946. During his military career Warren received 3 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 10 Air Medals, Asiatic Pacific Medal with 5 stars, The Philippine Liberation Medal with 1 Star, American Theatre Medal, Victory Medal and the Good Conduct Medal.
While attending a semester at Fresno State , Warren met his future wife Georgine Booth. They were married on August 3, 1946 and have 3 children, Robert, Sandra and John. They now have 3 grandsons, Sean, Jonathan and Jason and 2 granddaughters, Natalie and Casey, and 1 great grand daughter Briana. After working for the US Post Office for 5 years, Warren was recalled for the Korean Conflict, but on November 9, 1950 was released on a dependency discharge. Warren worked in San Francisco for 13 years before returning to Fresno in September 1971, forming his own business, Hills Appliance Repair, which he ran until retiring in December 1991. Warren is active in the Masons, Scottish Rite, Sciots, Hi Twelve and is Past President of the Fresno Optimist Club. He became a docent at the Legion of Valor Museum in October 1998 and thoroughly enjoys his position.