The Route to Tokyo – John R. ‘Jack’ Hubbard
“No cheap seats for Lt. Commander Jack Hubbard. As a naval patrol/bomber pilot in the Pacific, CDR Hubbard occupied the jump seat as a participant in some of the most momentous events of World War II and the 20th Century. From Tinian and Iwo Jima to Hiroshima, The Route to Tokyo is original history at its finest.”
– Charles W. Sasser, author of Patton’s Panthers, First SEAL, One War-Two Fronts and None Left Behind
“My highest recommendation and gratitude to LtCdr Hubbard – a pioneer in the development of tactics, techniques, and procedures to Naval Aviation. His memoirs sizzle with action-packed energy and are a quick read. As one of the Greatest Generation society has ever produced, Jack was one of the men and women who did not fight for fame or recognition but because it was the right thing to do.”
– Brad Hildreth, Colonel, Aviation, US Army Retired
“Just think of it! A true story in the W.E.B. Griffin style. I couldn’t put it down.”
– Jim Sitton, LtCdr, US Navy Reserve Retired (Naval Aviator)
It was in late May, with the issue still in doubt but with the ground combat having moved inch by bloody inch half-way down the island, that Admiral Greer wheedled an invitation from his old Annapolis classmate, Admiral John Mason Brown who was commanding a carrier task force, to visit his flagship at Okinawa, ostensibly to discuss matters of strategy but covertly to enable Greer to claim a battle star for having been present in a combat zone.
The honor of transporting the old bastard fell to none other than Buzz Lefever, who, to the disgust of Tony Jackson, asked me to go along as his co-pilot. We took off from Tinian on a wonderfully warm sunny day, and a couple of hours out Buzz, making sure the auto pilot was firmly engaged, invited the Admiral into the co-pi1ot’s seat and asked him if he’d like to take the controls. He accepted with alacrity, and not realizing the auto pilot was doing the work, he was proudly maintaining course and altitude; but the sun streaming in from the overhead on his bald head got the better of him, and pretty soon he was snoring away.
After a little while Buzz turned off the autopilot, put the plane into a shallow dive and kicked the rudder smartly, with the resulting jolt awakening the Admiral with a start, who, seeing the altimeter winding down screamed to Buzz, “You take it, you take it.” When Buzz obliged, the Admiral, now sweating profusely, excused himself and went back to his easy chair which we had provided in the radio compartment, and that was the last we saw of him up front.
When we reached Yontan and finally raised the tower, we asked for landing instructions and reported we had “scrambled eggs” aboard, to which the tower operator asked us to say again, which we did, and his reply was “Wait.”
It was strictly forbidden to mention anyone’s name and rank on the air, so we were unable to identify our passenger to the tower, hence the reference to scrambled eggs, but in Navy parlance that reference has two meanings: either a high ranking ofcer with gold braid on his cap, or bombs loose in the bomb bay.
Admiral Greer was listening to all this on his headset, and when the tower said “Wait,” I saw him shake his head with a little smile on his face thinking that the tower was making sure the red carpet was rolled out and the reception party in place. But that was the last thing Yontan, overwhelmed with the exigencies of war, was thinking about, and we circled for ten minutes before the tower raised us again.
“Do your bomb bay doors work?” was the query. That surprised us, but Buzz checked to be sure before answering in the affirmative.
Then came the denouement, “Roger your afrmative. Fly a vector of 060 for twelve minutes and jettison your scrambled eggs.”
The Admiral went crimson, and I thought he would perish from apoplexy; but in time we got everything straightened out and were permitted to land, and Admiral Brown did have an aide there to meet his thoroughly deated guest. For VPB-108, it had been lovely to behold.