It was 1941 and Morten Joslin was working on his 1929 Ford Model A, when his father ran over to tell him that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor and the United States was at war.
Sitting on a dark green couch next to his wife at Fairwinds-Redmond, Joslin, 95, shared the story of how he became a captain and fighter pilot in the U.S. Air Force during World War II.
Joslin was only 17 when his father had told him of the attack. Living in Tacoma at the time, Joslin said he wanted to join the Canadian Air Force immediately, as they took younger enlistees but his father said no. Joslin waited a year until he turned 18 to be enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps Air Cadet program.
Joslin signed the papers in 1942 to join the army and in 1943, he took a train from King Street Station in Seattle to basic training in Santa Ana, California. During his time in training camp, Joslin remembers New York Yankees baseball player, Joe DiMaggio coming to lead an exercise class.
“That got everyone stimulated,” he said.
After training in Santa Ana, Joslin was selected to go to primary flight school in Hemet, California, where he trained for about six months. And in a 10-day leave between training and before being sent to war zone in the Pacific, Joslin returned to Wyoming to marry his high school sweetheart, Alma. The two met in their hometown in Wyoming.
Joslin flew many missions and was stationed in locations like the jungles of New Guinea, Manila, Philippines, and around the world. Joslin flew the Lockheed P-38 Lightning during the war, which was feared by German and Japanese pilots. He also flew the P-51 — better known as the Mustang — which was a single-engine fighter aircraft that could escort heavy bomber formations. Joslin said he liked flying the Mustang.
After his service, Joslin returned to Seattle and received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Washington. Joslin and his wife Alma have been married for 75 years and they have three children.
To honor veterans, Fairwinds-Redmond will be hosting a friendly game of bean-bag baseball on Veterans Day, which is Monday. Joslin will join other veterans including, Nick Nichols, another WWII Veteran. Nichols served in the war, with the Marine Corps. Nichols and his wife Phyllis have been at the retirement community for nearly two years.
The bean-bag baseball game will be followed by a Veterans Day celebration during which they will showcase memorabilia of their days in the armed forces, including medals and photographs.