EAST TEXAS (KLTV) - Wilson Welch was seventeen when he joined the Army Air Corp in 1942, hoping to be a pilot.
"The volunteer part of it was to fly a plane but they was busy back then training the Chinese, so they decided to send us to other schools."
The first school Welch was sent to was photography school, but he says he only took two photos with that training. It was decided that Alaska, which was a U.S. territory at the time, needed additional troops, so Welch was sent to Alaska after photography school.
"We were going to fight the Japanese or the Russians because when I was up there we were also having trouble with Russia."
Later, after Russia became a U.S. ally in the war against Nazi Germany, they were no longer a danger. However, an attack by the Japanese was expected throughout the war.
"They let us know that we were to be on guard at all times and ready to go in the battle in case it did happen."
While the Japanese never invaded the Alaskan mainland, islands bordering Alaska were attacked.
"When I was in Alaska I volunteered to be an airplane mechanic and it was on the job training to be an airplane mechanic."
Airplane mechanics were in great need since U.S. planes were flying out of Alaska constantly on bombing missions.
"You just knew it was your job to see that the planes were capable of flying and the pilots wouldn't have to worry about something going wrong."
Wilson Welch never did get to become a pilot as he had hoped, but he knows his job was important in winning the war.
"I wouldn't change it."