Liz, Mechanic (AU,CC,Teen) complete 6/7/2013

Finished stories that feature the characters from the show, but there are no aliens. All fics completed on the main AU without Aliens board will eventually be moved here.

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Liz, Mechanic (AU,CC,Teen) complete 6/7/2013

Post by thumper1942 » Fri Jun 07, 2013 9:22 am

AU to say the least. Kudos to Jason Katims for creating Roswell. Just wish he had done a better job of looking after his creation. I got the idea for this story from this picture: ... mostpop#13

Elizabeth Parker, known to her friends as Liz, wiped down the table and looked around the small diner. She relaxed when she saw that the only two booths with people in them were being taken care of by her best friend and coworker Maria.

It was near the end of her shift and she was ready for that. On busy days like today a waitress could get run off her feet. Liz was only 16 and while she had been a waitress since she was 13 she had only been full time for a little over a year.

Roswell was a fairly small town but now growing with an Army Air Force base being built nearby. Military and construction workers were beginning to swarm the area, which really helped out with the economy. Like most places in the US, Roswell had suffered during the great depression. Liz was old enough to remember times when she heard her mother and father talking about whether they would be able to keep the diner, called the Event, open. Since they lived above the diner, losing it would have meant losing their home.

Liz now knew that things had been tougher then her younger self had believed. Luckily the buildup of the military that had started the previous year had spread to Roswell and the town was finally starting to boom. Liz had plans to go to college and thus needed every penny of her tips to make that possible. She dreamed of becoming a scientist like her hero, Madame Curie.

“Chica, am I glad this day is over!”

Liz just had to smile. Maria was a drama queen but still her best friend. Her mother Amy worked part time as a secretary for a local lawyer and the rest of the time baked goods for the Event. Her pies were well known and truly lusted after locally.

She followed her friend to the back to the changing room where they got out of the waitress uniforms and into regular clothes. Maria chattering away.

“I swear if that soldier tries to pinch me one more time I am going to break a plate over his head.”

Liz held back a grin; Maria’s running feud with that soldier was really good entertainment. Liz had an idea that Michael had figured out how to get under Maria’s skin and was working that angle for all he was worth.

Liz then quietly sighed; at least Maria had someone to show interest. Liz realized that as slight and small as she was the odds of someone putting in real effort towards her were pretty long. One could hope though.

That evening Liz sat and read the local newspaper. It did not make comfortable reading.

The German army was deep into Russia and very close to Moscow. And there did not seem like any hope the Russians would be able to stop them. Liz shivered. Unlike many of her generation, Liz was very aware of world events. She had always been interested in things beyond Roswell. And not just movie or sports stars. Known as a bookworm, she read everything she could get her hands on. And she had no doubts that it was just a matter of time before the US was at war.

With the Japanese looking threatening in the Pacific and Hitler dominating Europe and about to take down Russia, the US could not stand by forever. Liz had a dim view of the America First movement- narrow minded, oblivious to reality and frankly not that smart. She had spent some hard earned money to get a used copy of Mein Kampf in English. So far Hitler was doing everything he had said he would do in his book. And that clearly showed he was bent on world domination; and that meant sooner or later Germany and the US would be at war.

And the Japanese; she had not been able to get as much on that country but she had been able to find a little bit about their culture and particularly the Bushido belief; and that pretty much proclaimed that Japan was destined to rule all the Pacific and most of Asia. And that meant Japan and the US would be at war sooner or later as well.

Liz looked at the calendar; her 17th birthday was only a week away on August 4. She wondered what things would be like a year from now. Looking back to her 16th birthday and the year that had come since then, so much had changed.

In August of 1940, the Battle of Britain had just begun. France had fallen with such speed as to shock the entire world. No one had thought England would hold; but they had. Liz had a great deal of admiration for Winston Churchill; truly an example of a real British Bulldog.

Buried on page 4 was a notice that the US Government was intending to keep building a huge Navy along with a massive Army and Army Air Corps. Supposedly for defense but Liz knew otherwise; common sense told her that what could be used for defense could also be used for attack. And she had seen little notice of forts being built along the coasts; or fortifications. If they were only defending the US a lot of effort would be going there. But it was not.

So Liz had a very good and clear view of the world that was coming. She just had no idea how she would fit in.

In Washington DC the War Department was working the numbers. The Secretary of War, Stimson, looked at the Army Chief of Staff.

“What are the odds that the Russians hold, General Marshall?”

General Marshall, Army Chief of Staff and principal Military advisor to the Secretary of Defense and the President, never spoke hastily. He always measured his words. So it was a minute or so before he answered.

“At this time Mr. Secretary, the odds are not good. The Russians are in full retreat; and in many areas it is a rout. But it is a long way from Germany to Moscow; distance alone is a huge barrier; and the Russians have been able to, especially in the last month, destroy most of the bridges, roads and rail roads the German army needs to keep it supplied. Despite the propaganda films, the German army is not as mechanized as they would have you believe. Most of their Artillery is still horse drawn; and they have whole battalions mounted on bicycles. They have little natural oil; Ploesti is their main source for that and it is steadily decreasing in production. They do have coal gasification plants and other sources of synthetic oil but not in great quantities. One of the reasons they have shown interest in the Middle East is oil. Russia has a large quantity as well. The bottom line, sir, is that distance is a force multiplier for the Russians if they can regroup and dig in. If they can hold out until winter, then nothing much can be done until spring and they have that much more time to rebuild their forces.”

The Secretary thought on that for a moment. “Would you say the odds are 50-50 or worse?”

“Slightly worse at the moment sir.”

He sighed and nodded. “Your contingency planning if Russia falls?”

“Sir, at that point the original Victory Plan will become our primary.”

Later that day the President was pensive as he listened to his Secretary of War.
“If we have to go to 250 divisions for the army, that will entail great social changes. Much greater than currently forecast.”

Harry Hopkins sighed. “Double the numbers of women and blacks in both the work force and in the military then if we keep the Army at 100 divisions.”

Sergeant Max Evans shook his head. Michael was a real serious pain in the butt sometimes.
“You know that waitress will kick your butt if you keep it up; sooner or later.”

Michael grinned. “Getting under her skin, am I?”

“You do know the mosquito that buzzes too loud is the one that gets slapped right?”

“Come on; tell me you don’t want to make a move on that little brunette.”

Max sighed. “We are way too busy to spend time on girls when we ought to be resting up; considering the deadline we have to get the air field operational.”

“I can rest when I am dead.”

“Keep this up and that will not be an issue at all.”

Liz had all she could do to hide her grin as Maria ripped the soldier boy a new one.

Max took a deep breath and advanced to the counter.
“I apologize for my corporal. He really is not house trained yet.”

Liz smiled for real this time. The Sergeant was cute. “Maria would just ignore him if she was not interested. Besides this beats the Saturday night dance for entertainment and it happens almost every day.”

She sure was cute; and when she smiled she was lovely. Max managed to mumble something acceptable and headed back to his booth and a smirking Michael.

“Shut up.”

“I did not say a thing.”

Liz loved any kind of science; chemical, biological, geological, anything. And machinery if it was complicated also fascinated her. So when the Air Base finally started getting in aircraft she was able to get in due to Maria and Michael’s feud. As an apology Sergeant Evans invited both of them to the first landings. It came on Sunday, September 7. The first plane to land was an old Stearman. Then followed by more modern aircraft. Including a DC-3- or in the parlance of the Military, a C-47. While not a truly new plane, since it had been flying for years, it was still the biggest one Liz had ever seen. And she was eager to get a look at it.

The pilot was an old timer; and proud of his plane. Finding a cute young girl who was really interested and smart enough to ask good questions was a treat for him. So he was quite happy to expound a great deal. And Liz soaked it up like a sponge.

Max blinked; he had an idea that Liz was pretty smart but now he knew she was REALLY smart. Some of the questions she was asking were really detailed and needed a serious explanation.

From that point on Liz made it a serious priority to visit the air base as much as possible. Max was on the ground crew and as a senior sergeant (he said that with a serious face when Liz cocked an eye at him- as fast as the Army Air Corps was expanding he was indeed now considered such) he had a fair amount of pull and was able to get her in fairly often. Then the cafeteria at the air base started up and Liz decided to apply for one of the waitress jobs there.

“Chica! why in the world do you want to go there?”

“Because that is the most interesting place around Maria. I am getting bored doing the same old thing in the same old place.”

“School is starting.”

“I can work some evenings and Saturdays. Just like I do here. And they are open on Sundays so I can work there in the afternoons as well.”

Liz was the only one not surprised when Maria ended up coming along. She knew she had been getting bored as well; and Max and Michael would now be eating at the base instead of in town.

As it turned out, Liz and Maria had to help the new people figure things out in the cafeteria. Everyone hired was fresh out of the box and had no experience at all. The first day or so Liz actually did more cooking then serving. But the newbies learned fast and in a couple of weeks were doing OK.

There was a good bus service run by the Army between Roswell and the Air Field since so many still had to live in town until the base got all the housing finished. Building the air field and its facilities were the first priorities; everything else came afterwards. That worked out well for Maria and Liz.

Meanwhile Liz and Max got closer as did Maria and Michael. Liz found ways to spend a lot of time on the flight line. Her fascination with the aircraft increased. With Liz how things worked was where her real interest was; the flights Max cadged for her were great fun and very exciting; but how the planes actually flew; how the engines and controls and everything else worked was what fascinated Liz.

In early October a pair of P-43’s flew in. They were pretty small monoplane fighters, at least when compared with the P-40’s and P-39s.

Those particular planes had problems with their Oil lines. The design had not been well thought out and they were constantly leaking. The main problem was where they came from the oil pump to the cylinder heads and lubricated the valves. The lines were very fragile and constantly broke. And where they were – it was a mechanics nightmare. It was very cramped and you needed very small hands to get anything done. Not something found in air craft mechanics.

Max shook his head as the head mechanic threw his rag on the ground in disgust.
“I just cannot fix it; there is no way I can get my hand in there. None of my mechanics have small enough hands.”

Liz was near Max as usual and cocked her head. “Max. Let me try; I bet my hands are smaller than anyone else’s.”

Max blinked and looked at the mechanic who blinked as well then shrugged.
“Why not give it a try? Right now both of these birds are dead lined.”

Minutes later clad in mechanics overalls Liz was stretched, hanging inside the cowling of one of the P-43’s. Max was holding her legs and she was working on the line. Liz was small but years of lugging around heavy plates had made her stronger than many believed; and her fingers were actually quite strong.

In less than five minutes she had the old line out; the mechanic handed up the new line and in about three minutes it was in place.

In less than half an hour both planes were now ready for a test flight.

Captain Rawlings looked at his line chief.

“Yes sir. Liz had both lines changed out in less than half an hour. Those little hands of hers worked wonders in those birds.”

“I am glad those P-43’s are gone; they were a pain in the butt.”

“Come on. You liked having that cute little brunette working around you.”

“Well of course. Great scenery and Liz is a sweet kid. But those birds were still a pain.”

Liz had been regretting seeing them go as well; her excuse to be there went with them. Then when getting home that night, October 24, 1941, she found her parents listening to the radio.
“The War Department has as yet not made an official announcement; but the information we are getting says that the Germans have broken through the defenses around Moscow and have surrounded it. If Moscow falls many military experts think that will be the end of serious Russian resistance if not that war.”

Liz shivered. This was very bad.

Jeff shook his head. ”Wow.”

Nancy was puzzled. “Is taking Moscow that important?”

Liz sat down and nodded. “I was looking at a map the other day. The Russians have most of their rail connections and many of their main road junctions either running through Moscow or near it. If Moscow is taken their whole transportation system is in serious trouble. As close to being beaten as they are, that could be the final straw.”

The Radio had been going on about something else then had this.
“Rumors are that the Army will be expanded greatly if the Soviet Union is defeated. As long as most of the German army was tied up there the US could field a smaller army. But if the German army is freed; then the thought is that the US army needs to expand greatly. As many as 250 divisions have been mentioned; right now the Army is supposedly limited to 100.”

Liz took a deep breath. “That would be incredible.”

Jeff sighed. “I am lucky; I am probably just a little too old to be drafted; but I am betting they will drop it to 18 and raise it to 40 and really cut exemptions and deferments.”

Nancy looked at him in shock. He nodded.

Liz shook her head. “Mom, each division has around 15,000 men. BUT you also need troops to support it; like transportation and supply and so on. So for each division you add you probably add about as many other troops so in the end make that 30,000. 150 more divisions means another 4-5 million men needed then they currently are looking at.”

“Where are they going to get that many and keep industry and everything else going?”

“Well women are going to have to work; and I bet they are going to be looking at having more blacks working as well. Also more women in the military doing support jobs along with a lot more blacks.”

In Washington another high level meeting took place in the Pentagon.

“Our best information is that Moscow was surrounded as of this morning.”


“No information on where he is.”

“The secretary will want a briefing first thing in the morning. What is the consensus of the Intelligence section?”

“Sir, we think it is about over. We see no indication that the Russians are going to be able to regroup and retake or even relieve Moscow. With the problems that leaves them as regards their transportation system, their ability to do much of anything will be greatly reduced.”

“The reinforcements they are bringing in from the Far East?”

“Our info is that they have only started to bring them in; the treaty with Japan delayed things; which of course was what the Japanese wanted. As long as they were making threatening moves Stalin was reluctant to move anyone West. Which was stupid since the West is so much more important. Those 30 divisions would have made a difference a month ago; but I think too late now.”

The Secretary listened to General Marshal’s report and sighed.
“Implement the Victory Program.”

“In an announcement widely expected since the fall of Moscow, the War Department today formally put into operation the plan to expand the US Army massively to 250 divisions. It will in the end have almost 10 million men; not counting the Army Air corps.”

“What does that mean for us, captain?”

“Actually for us not a whole lot, at least not at first. The Army Air Corps is expanding hugely as it is. But down the road I can see us having a lot of support personnel who are either black or female.”

“That could get kind of ugly.”

“Which is why the Army did not want to go that way; but with Russia pretty much collapsing they really have little choice. In the end I think we all know we are going to war; and we are going to need a huge army.”

“Chica. Look at this.”

Liz looked at the small newspaper that was published on the Air Base. It was good for official announcements and such. Which this one was.

“Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps. The US Army is looking for young women aged 18 to 30 to join. You will be freeing up men for combat duties. Drive trucks; become mechanics; all duties currently requiring men.”

“Well Chica, you already have some experience as an aircraft mechanic.”

Liz looked thoughtful. Maria felt her jaw drop. “Liz, you are not thinking of this are you?”

“Maria, we need to free up a lot of men for the front lines.”

The Base Commander looked at his Maintenance Chief.
“Captain Rawlings, this is a little out of the ordinary.”

“Sir. We are going to be doubling in size in less than a year; probably 6 months. BUT we are not going to be getting any trained personnel such as mechanics. More planes and more work but not more men to do that work. If we hire locally, going with civilians, we can pick and choose and better yet train them our way.”

“My problem is paying those salaries. Servicemen are taken care of.”

“Sir, we will get people faster and probably better this way.”

“Well I can send it upstairs.”

As it turned out, upstairs had been looking at the same problems.

“Captain Rawlings, we have been given permission to start. We will be a test case.”

Max was thoughtful when Captain Rawlings let him and the other senior NCO’s know about it.
“I think Liz would jump right on this. She loves aircraft and I know she really had a blast working on those P-43’s.”

“She was one of those I had in mind, sergeant. If what I hear is true about some of the new aircraft coming, we will have others where small hands are going to be very valuable.”

Maria laughed. “Chica, you really got lucky. Going to be doing what you want and get paid for it; and you do not have to wear a uniform and salute.”

Liz had a huge grin. Max had let her know that morning and she had wasted no time. Technically she was not yet 18 but that could be fudged. She was not joining up she was just taking another job.

On November 17, 1941 Elizabeth Parker accepted a position as aircraft mechanic, trainee. And went right to work.

“So Sarge how is the kid doing?”

“Wish I had ten like her Captain. Works hard; is smart and no back talk. And she has the touch; she understands mechanical systems. That ain’t exactly common and comes in real handy when the problem ain’t easy to see.”

Liz had that Sunday off; she alternated. They were pretty free as regards how much they could work; one of the perks of the system. Liz was actually saving more now than she was working as a waitress. She had an idea she would have to wait to go to college if the war coming started soon. But that would give her more time to save up.

She was listening with her father to the radio when it came on.

“This is a special news bulletin. Japanese forces have attacked the Navy base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. Details are still coming in but great damage was done with terrible loss of life.”

They looked at each other in shock. What was there to say?

Max was with the other sergeants at their Club that had just opened; they were listening to the same broadcast. The senior sergeant on the base, a grizzled old timer and veteran of the great war, finally shut it off and looked around.
“All right you snot nosed kids. We got us a war right now. Unless I miss my guess, we are going to be on alert pretty soon. Kind of dumb considering where we are but that is the brass. Get going.”

Liz had been working every night, every Saturday and alternating Sundays. Because she was a senior in High School she was allowed to work odd hours. After sitting and thinking, she looked at her Father.
“Dad, I can graduate in this month if I want. That way I can work at the base full time. Things are going to get crazy and they will need everybody they can get.”

Jeff sighed and nodded.

Liz wasted no time and let the Captain know first thing that Monday morning. He nodded.
“Good to hear Liz. We are going to need you. They are talking of starting up a school here for mechanics. You are a natural teacher and once we get you certified that is where you are going.”

Liz was not sure she wanted to be a teacher but if that was where she was needed so be it.

As expected the Base was on alert, but two days later the Commander backed things off since there really was no good reason for it in Roswell. Now security would be increased to watch out for sabotage and espionage but that was all.

In two weeks Liz had taken and passed her finals and had gotten her diploma. Right after New Year’s she started working full time at the base.

At first being at war changed things very little; but hints of huge changes were in the air.

Max sighed and shook his head. “Michael there are so many rumors running around they need to be numbered.”

“Any that you think are more than rumors?”

“Well the mechanic’s school is probably one that will happen. And I think there is a good chance we get expanded and more units are sent here for training. Where we are located makes us a good choice for that.”

The Spring of 1942 was in many ways the darkest of days. The Japanese rampaged through the Pacific at a speed that made the German destruction of France and Russia pale in comparison. Defeat after defeat hit the allies.

In Europe Hitler was master of the continent. Only England stood in its way and it was desperately trying to survive the UBoat offensive. More ships were being sunk then could be built or repaired.

“What will be Hitler’s next move?”

“No one is really sure sir. Indications are that he is celebrating his Russian victory still. He accomplished something that his great hero, Napoleon, failed to do. So far he has ordered the disbandment of 50 divisions to reduce tensions on the home front. We think he is going to make another try at the Middle East; not sure why he would feel the need. He will get plenty of oil from the Russian fields in the Caucasus. We do know that he has ordered the complete mechanization of the German Army. That will take some time. Do not think he is going to try and take down England; the UBoats are doing a pretty good job of that right now with only a minimal amount of effort.”

“As regards the Middle East?”

“The British are reinforcing their new commander, Montgomery, as much as possible. Once again logistics is the major factor there and as long as the British keep Malta and Gibraltar they can get more in faster than the Germans can. With only that one rail line and one road going down the coast there is a limit to how much force the Germans can supply. With the large supply warehouses in Egypt and the ability to reinforce using the Suez Canal I do not think that even Rommel can take Alexandria.”

“Winston’s list of needs?”

“Are being met with the current convoy. I am a little reluctant to send most of our newest tanks but since our own need is small for the time being it can be done.”

The President took a deep breath. “The Uboats.”

Admiral King, just recently appointed CNO, was a hard officer. But sometimes that does not matter.
“Mr. President, we do not have the ships or planes to do more than we are doing right now. This battle will be won or lost with what is at hand.”

“Your evaluation?”

“I believe we will prevail, sir, but it will be costly.”

The President nodded then went to the other side of the world.
“The Pacific.”

Once again King took the lead.
“Singapore will fall. The Philippine’s will fall. No major reinforcements can reach either and any more forces used there will be lost for no good reason. As terrible as it sounds we must write them off. I recommend we pull all forces east to Hawaii and south to Australia and make our fight there.”

“Abandon ABDAFLOAT?”

“Mr. President with all due respect that was a political decision to establish that command. There is neither the resources nor the infrastructure to make a fight of it there.”

The President looked at Marshal. “General?”

“I must reluctantly agree with Admiral King. We do not have the resources to lose and lose them we will if we try and fight there.”

For a long moment the President was quiet. Then he nodded. “I will have Harry make a quick visit to Winston. We need to cut our losses there.”

There was one last decision to be made.
“I want your honest opinions on this. Should I order McArthur out of the Philippines?”

General Marshal knew this was his call.
“Sir the propaganda the Japanese would get from capturing McArthur would be huge. Though frankly I doubt he would let that happen. BUT sir only a direct order from you would make him leave; he would consider it abandoning his command.”

Roswell Army Air Base was expanding almost daily. Tents were everywhere as more men showed up then the expanding base housing could accommodate.

Liz looked around and shook her head.
“You can’t turn around without stumbling over some newbie.”

Sergeant Gaunt, her direct supervisor, grunted.
“Kick them out of the way then. Not like anyone would care.”

Liz grinned. She liked the crusty old sergeant. She had learned a lot from him in just the short time she had been working there.
“Luckily I am quick enough to avoid them usually. Sarge, I heard we are getting in even more units.”

“Heard the same thing. Probably going to double in size this year alone.”

“What is the latest on the Mechanics School?”

“Supposed to start up in May.”

Liz nodded. And sighed. “I would rather work on the birds but Captain Rawlings pretty much told me I was going to be a teacher right after I get my certificate.”

“You are a natural teacher, Liz. As good a mechanic as you are now and will become, you can have more of an impact that way then fixing planes.”

Since she knew what was coming, as was typical with her she began to work on a plan. Working on all aircraft despite the size and number of engines there were some things that were useful for all of them. She decided to concentrate on coming up with a lesson plan for them; and then start looking at making up one for each type of Aircraft. She was hoping to get certified on at least half a dozen before she got snatched up by the coming school. She was almost there with the P-40. She was getting some time in on the P-39. She was hoping to scrounge some more on the C-47. Rumor had it they were getting some bomber units in for training; she would LOVE to get typed on the B-17. The Army bombers currently in service were the B-25, B-17 and just starting the B-24. The B-26 was rumored to be coming sometime in the next year. One aircraft that fascinated her was the P-38; but it was in high demand and probably none would show up there.

The defeats and losses kept coming through the spring of 1942. Singapore fell on Feb 28; most of the Dutch East Indies soon after as the allies pulled out. Bataan fell in early May, leaving the fortress of Corregidor as the last allied hold out in that part of the world. Pulling everyone back to either Hawaii or Australia the allies prepared to hold.

In a daring move General McArthur was pulled out of the Philippines and sent to Australia to take command of the fight there. Showing his grasp of the strategic situation; and his hard earned knowledge of how the Japanese went about things, he decided to make the fight for Australia in New Guinea. And there the Japanese advance slowly ground to a halt.

In the East, the allies got very lucky. Due to Commander Rochefort and his merry band of code breakers, they figured out what the Japanese were going to do next and the US Navy ambushed the Imperial Japanese Fleet at Midway, sinking four of their biggest carriers and destroying the veteran air groups that had been contained in them.

That for all intents and purposes ended the Japanese as an offensive threat. They could replace the carriers in time; but the pilots and aircrews they could not.

Herein lay one of the great weaknesses of how the Japanese went about things.

Their Imperial Naval Air crews were the finest trained pilots and crews in the world. It took a full year and a half for a crew to make it through the school; it was incredibly difficult and the washout rate was nearly 90%. Those that made it were the best in the world. The great fault of that system is that it was incapable of graduating enough to replace the inevitable losses. With the Midway defeat, more than 60% of the veteran crews were gone from those that sailed to Pearl Harbor just 6 months earlier. Another class was not due to graduate until early the next year. There had been no expansion of the school; and no diminishment of the curriculum which was ridiculously hard. The remaining carriers were fully manned; but the two large cruise liner conversions that would be commissioned late that year had no pilots or crews available.

The US Navy had a good idea of the situation; and Admiral Nimitz, Pacific Fleet Commander, let Washington know that they no longer need to fear any serious Japanese offensives.

That took a lot of pressure off of the War Department. Public sentiment considered the Pacific THEIR war and wanted more resources sent that way. But the senior leadership of the Pentagon and indeed the Administration all agreed that Hitler and Germany was the main threat and had to take the first priority.

“One problem with living in a democracy during war, Harry, is that sometimes political decisions trump military reality. I must be seen to be putting enough into the Pacific.”

“Mr. President, Admiral King has an idea that with relatively little resource investment we can get enough attention to take care of that problem.”

“Really. What is his idea?”

“The operation is called Watchtower. The seizure of the Island of Guadalcanal; our first offensive of the war?”

“Never heard of it. Where is it and why is it important?”

That question would be asked again and again over the coming months.

Liz was very proud; in only 8 months she was now type certified as a mechanic on the P-39, P-40, DC-3 and was close on the B-25. The B-17 was so big and complicated she would need more time then she probably had before the coming school scooped her up.

The school had its own building that was in the process of being completed. Now as regards a faculty at the moment it was empty. Which had Captain Rawlings talking to the Base Commander.

“Sir, any word on when we will start getting people for the school?”

“Not a peep. Which is beginning to worry me. I have a nasty suspicion that in the end we will be told to man it ourselves.”

“How in the world will we do that and maintain operations?”

“We can’t. Not if they want it to open in August as supposedly they intend.”

The Base Commander had sent that up the ladder but he had a hunch that would be ignored. Being told to do more with less was a great slogan but a lousy way to get things done.

Rawlings brought in his senior sergeant, and a couple of others the old curmudgeon had suggested.

“Sergeant Evans, Miss Parker. I guess the Sergeant wanted you here for fresh ideas.”

“Sir, Liz has got a few. She is a planner and has been working on a course curriculum for mechanics for months since she had been told she would be teaching there.”

“Well Miss Parker let’s have a look.”

Captain Rawlings shook his head. “Damn. That is a very good plan. See any real holes in it Sergeant?”

“None that matter sir. She cut out a fair amount of what I would consider useless from the current manuals. She starts with the basics and then once that is established moves right into types. I think that is the way to go sir. If they want them trained as fast as I have heard.”

“You heard right. 90 days.”

The old sergeant winced. In his time it was a year from start to finish.
“Then her way is the only way we can hope to get even close, sir.”

“90 DAYS!”

“I know Liz that is not enough.”

“Sarge that is NUTS!”

“Preaching to the choir here kid. But orders are orders.”

Liz thought furiously. “We are going to have to work them 7 days a week 8 to 10 hours a day. Even then it’s going to be hard and we will be washing out a big number.”
“Yep. No other way.”

“And we get no help?”

“Well we can hire janitors and secretaries.”

“And we still have to keep the field up and running and all the aircraft going as well.”

“Got it in one.”

Max was just as pissed about it as everyone else was; but understood that moaning and complaining about it accomplished nothing. So he shut that down right away.
“Can the bellyaching. Not going to do any good and I am already tired of it.”

The first group of trainees were due in on the 21st of August. Captain Rawlings, Sergeant Axle, and Liz were working hard to figure out how to start their training while still getting things done at the airbase.

Liz sighed and sat back. “No other way for it. A small number of us have to take care of the trainees first weeks and then start feeding them into the flight crews to learn types there. We have to spread it out to have any chance of it working at all.”

Sergeant Axle nodded. “Liz, you are best suited to start things out. You are still fresh enough to know what it was like; and since none of these kids know squat about airplanes they will be just like you. The Basics just like you put in your course outline; and get them ramped up as fast as you can. Sergeant Evans and a couple others will be your only help.”

Liz was wearing her Mechanics Overalls when she faced the 87 fresh faced kids.
“My name is Liz Parker. Less than a year ago I was just like you guys; knew squat about airplanes except that they made noise and flew. I am here to get you started on the basics.”

She spent the first few days in the classroom and then took them out to the hanger she had staked out. In it were half a dozen aircraft in pieces. There she showed the trainees what the aircraft looked like that way. And then started to put them back together again. Using the trainees. Partialling them out a dozen or so to each bird, she needed Max and his crew to keep them from doing stupid things while she moved from one to another making sure they did things right.

In the hanger were 2 P-40’s; 2 P-39’s; A Piper Cub; and a C-47. It had crash landed and cracked its frame and was a washout. So she had grabbed it to use as a teaching tool. She moved each group from plane to plane.

In two weeks she had to wash out almost 20% of them; she hated it but knew they could not afford to waste time on real slow candidates.

Luckily after that things settled down and the newbies learned fast.

In 6 weeks they were ready to type; and she and the sergeant poured over each man’s record trying to match up what they did best with the right type of bird.

Then they were sent out to crews working that type to be integrated in as fast as possible.

Which was good since the next class showed up the week after that.

“So out of 87 we graduated 56?”

“Yes sir. A little high compared to most other schools but we are confident that we have made the right decisions.”

“Well you got them out in 90 days and if anyone squawks about the failure rate I will turn it on them and say the only way that drops if you give us more time.”

By the end of the year Liz was worn out. The First class had gone out and the second class had only a couple of weeks to go. She put her feet up in the small office she had now. Max came in and grinned at her.
“How goes it Teach?”

“Max, stick it where the sun don’t shine.”

The Base commander was smiling. Captain Rawlings was wary of that.
“You are going to need these.” And handed him golden oak leaves.

“Thank You sir.”

“You earned them. Early word on your first class is that they are really doing well. The speed you got them out of there and the fact that they seem to be good means a lot.”

“Now tell me the bad news sir.”

“Good to see you are learning. We are going to be getting in 90 more trainees every 60 days for the foreseeable future.”

Needless to say that went over real well with the school’s ‘Faculty’ who still had to mostly double as the Air Bases Maintenance and Repair cadre.

“Honey, you need to take some time off. You are working so hard.”

“Time off? Seems like I once heard about that.”


“Mom, it is almost impossible. We are getting in 90 each 60 days and on top of that we still have to keep the aircraft going. So far we have been able to mix them in with our crews so that they learn on the job but that still makes it tough.”

Liz not had her own office but a title now
“Chief Instructor, General Aviation Mechanics”

“Liz that title is longer then you are tall.”

“Ha Ha Maria.”

“Chica, I hardly ever see you.”

“I know Maria, but this job gives me so little time outside.”

Early in 1943, the Base Commander was promoted and his replacement was sent in.

He took a look at what was going on and shook his head. Then called in his XO.
“How in the HELL do they keep this place going and still get those mechanics trained?”

“Sir, we kind of don’t ask much as regards details.”

“Major, that does not sound good.”

“Sir, we cannot go by the book and get things done here.”

“I am beginning to see that. BUT I want to know how it is done.”

Liz was able to relax for a while; the latest group was now out with the crews and the new group was not due in until the next week. She blinked as her office door opened and in walked the new Base Commander.


“Miss Parker. After asking some hard questions everyone seems to point in your direction for the answers.”

She took a deep breath. “Do you really want to know sir?”

“I keep hearing that. Does not give me the warm fuzzies.”

“Very well sir. Here is how we do it.”

“Major Rawlings. I just got briefed in by Miss Parker.”

“Well sir that is the source. Our entire plan was pretty much put together by her.”

“That is what I hear. How in the world does a young woman not even 20 years old end up being responsible for our training program?”

“Sir it just kind of happened that way. When we were told to establish this school less than a year ago we were also told no extra personnel would be sent. That the entire school had to be manned by what we already had. We had to cut corners; and double up. So far it does seem to be working.”

“That is what amazes me. What is going on here is radically different than any other school I have heard of.”

“Necessity is the mother of invention; or in this case desperate times call for desperate measures. Miss Parker came up with a plan and we went with it as we had nothing else that looked even remotely like it would work. And her way of organizing the courses have worked very well. She teaches them the basics then they are slipped into our flight crews and worked into day to day maintenance of the aircraft here. She has a hanger with half a dozen different aircraft that are kept in pieces; she has them put the aircraft back together. That forces them to think and figure things out instead of trying to just follow a manual. Our washout rate is a little high but I think we teach them better.”

“Well that so far seems to be the case. Our Trainees are very much prized; now I can see why. Well I live by the saying if it ain’t broke don’t fix it so carry on.”

“Yes sir.”

Liz still managed to keep her hand in doing regular maintenance and working like a real mechanic now and then. She believed that was necessary so as to not forget some of the basic tenants that a good mechanic lived by.

So one Sunday late in 1943 she was the Chief Mechanic on duty, watching over a crew over hauling a B-25. She looked up as a B-17 came in. Her eyes narrowed as it did not sound right. She squinted and realized that the #4 engine was feathered. She looked around.
“OK, guys. Drop everything. I think we might have a problem.”

The B-17 landed safely and taxied in to the main hanger area. Liz gathered the available crew and alerted the supply sergeant on duty to scrounge up B-17 engine parts. She just had a hunch this could get hairy.

The Captain who was acting Duty officer hurried up and got to the aircraft just as the crew started to come out. He stiffened up as a general officer dropped out of the lower belly hatch.

“Captain. We have a bad #4. I am due in to Washington in the morning. Get if fixed.”

“Yes sir.”

Liz observed this and sighed. Grabbing her crew she ordered the maintenance ladders in and had the cowling off in 15 minutes.

“Damn. What did they do to this poor engine?” She shook her head.
“OK. This one is toast. What have we got?”

“Maam, we do not have a spare engine right now.”

Liz thought hard. “What about the boneyard?”

“None there either.”

“I remember one of them had something left. Get a jeep.”

Liz and one of the younger mechanics sped over to the boneyard at the other end of the base. That is where aircraft that were written off were piled. And occasionally scavenged for parts. There were only 2 B-17’s there and at first glance there were no engines at all. Liz got close to one and took a hard look at the starboard inner.
“OK we have a block here. Let’s take a look. Get a ladder fast guys.”

In half an hour Liz was crawling inside; sometimes it was a good thing to be small.
“This engine block looks good. Grab it. We will need to see what we can piece together.”

They worked through the night but by salvaging what they could from the blown engine and what they were able to find by emptying the parts bins and basically turning them upside down to see what fell out they by dawn got the engine running. Just in time.

Liz looked around at her very tired crew. “OK guys take off and get some sleep. I will talk to the Sergeant and get you excused for the day. You all earned it.”

Liz fell asleep as Max drove her home. He ended up carrying her up to her room.

The Base Commander blinked as he read the message.
“Tell Major Rawlings I need to see him.”


“Got this from General Brereton. That two star that came in Sunday with the blown engine. Who by the way is about to get his third star. He sent a thank you to us. Someone told him that we really had to scavenge to fix his plane and he wanted to let us know he appreciated that. Wants to know the name of the mechanic so he can send a personal thank you.”

“Sir, Liz was Chief Mechanic that day. And she was the one that figured out how to fix it; she scavenged a block from the boneyard and from what I have heard turned the place upside down to get the rest. Got it done by working all night; just as the General showed up they finished.”

General Brereton was scheduled soon after he got his third star to move to Europe as Ira Eakers deputy as commander of the 8th Air Force. While being in the combat zone was certainly better then stuck in an office in the Pentagon, he still would have preferred his own command. But what will be will be.

At this stage of the Air Campaign German fighter opposition was formidable. Loss rates were very close to the unacceptable range. Just as bad was the operational rate which was much too low. Now he knew that a lot of that was due to inexperienced mechanics and crews; they had not yet had time to really gel and learn what was needed. But his chief aid, a very bright young captain, had been digging deeper and what he had found out was disquieting.

“You seem pretty sure of this.”

“General, the responses I have been getting are very consistent.”

“You think that the basic structure of the mechanics training is flawed.”

“Yes sir. I think that it was mostly unavoidable considering nothing like this has ever been done before. Building an organization from the ground up into something as massive as it will be by this time next year. The pressure to get mechanics out of school and onto the flight lines was going to force short cuts and compromises no matter what.”

“But you think there is a better way.”

“Sir one thing that I have also found out consistently is that those that graduated from the Roswell school are better in many ways; and are able to think outside the box.”

The General thought on that. Going by the manual worked fairly well when you had a large and well supplied organization. But that was certainly not very true. There were small air bases all over the world; and advanced bases for instance in the pacific were often bare bones. And even in the big bases in England when the pressure was on and it was all hitting the fan you needed to be able to adapt and overcome. If all you knew was the manual that did not happen.
“Very well. Take a trip to Roswell and find out what they do differently.”

“Yes sir.”

“We are getting a visit from Captain James Wilkinson, who is the aid to General Brereton. He specifically wants details on our training methods here at Roswell.”

Sergeant Axle and Liz looked at each other and then at Major Rawlings. He nodded.
“Our reputation is spreading. So he is coming to find out why.”

Captain Wilkinson had figured they were doing something very differently at Roswell but had not expected this. A young girl not even 21 who appeared to be the primary reason.

As he looked over the very detailed lesson plan; and then watched as it was put in practice; he realized he was looking at something very unique. And that it would take some very high quality instructors to duplicate elsewhere.

The General looked over the report then at his captain.
“You do not seem very optimistic about being able to make this program universal.”

“General, the reason it works is because of not only how it was set up but because of the top quality personnel involved. Not something you are going to be able to get everywhere.”

“Miss Parker certainly put together a detailed plan.”

“Yes sir. But even more important is her ability to not only teach but inspire. That is what we will find very hard to duplicate.”

“I noted in your report that while Roswell graduates only about 2% of our Mechanics, fully 10% of chief Mechanics now in the Air Corps come from Roswell. That is astounding.”

“Yes sir. Just further emphasizing how good they are. Their washout rate is the highest in training command; but then they have the quality graduates to make it worthwhile.”

General ‘Hap’ Arnold was Chief of the Army Air Corps. Technically part of the US Army, for a long time it had been considered a separate entity in every way that mattered. Already plans were in the works to make it a formal separate service soon after the war was over. He read the report from General Brereton and sat back. And thought hard. Just how could they make this work? Looking at the latest reports from England, it was very clear that maintenance was one of the areas that badly needed improvement. He ordered his staff to find a way.

Major Rawlings had a hunch things were percolating far above their heads. The attention a brand new 3 Star was giving them was just the most obvious sign. So when told a group that consisted of several members of General Arnold’s staff was on its way he was not really surprised.

November 10, 1943 a C-47 with a fair number of very influential officers landed in Roswell. The Base Commander welcomed them of course and ushered them into the recently completed Head Quarters building and it’s Conference Room.

Lt Colonel Thomas Wilding was the senior officer and he got right down to it.
“We have been ordered by General Arnold to find a way to implement the current training program here at Roswell at all schools training mechanics. So we are here to find a way.”

The first thing they did was go and observe how it was done. They spent the next three days taking copious notes and asking lots of questions.

Needless to say Liz got a lot of that attention. She described in detail how she graded candidates and above all how she came to her decisions on whether to pass them or fail them.
“I make them think on their feet; hit them with unexpected situations and see how they respond. IF they cannot they fail.”

Later that day Colonel Wilding looked at the others.
“Miss Parker is the key here.” They all nodded.

One week later the Base Commander summoned Major Rawlings.
“To start with put these on” and gave him his silver Oak Leaves.

“Sir I remember the last time this happened.”

“Same thing this time. You are being detached as Head of the School here; turn it over to your deputy. You and Miss Parker are going to be implementing that new training program. Basically you are going to train the trainers.”

Liz shook her head. “How are we going to do this?”

“First we have to hand pick the people we will be training. Current Chief mechanics who have shown an ability to figure things out. Arnold’s staff is already going through the candidates and will be sending as a list next week.”

Liz sighed and thought. “We need to have one for each school; so that means we need 50 candidates.”

Rawlings knew the reason he was involved was to make sure no one was dumb enough to give Liz a hard time about training them. Those coming in would not be newbies; in every case each one of them would be years older than Liz was with many years of experience. They would NOT like being told they were going to have to change their ways of doing things.

So three weeks later, on the 2nd anniversary of Pearl Harbor, 58 senior sergeants were gathered in the main class room. Rawlings started things off.

“I want to make one thing perfectly clear. Miss Parker is your instructor. There is a reason you were gathered from all over the world for this. Her program has been approved by General Arnold for full implementation across the Army Air Corps. You will learn from her; and anyone that causes any trouble will find themselves in Leavenworth. Do I make myself CLEAR?”

Liz walked in; inwardly shaking outwardly calm.
“To start with get over the fact I am a young woman. Get over yourselves. Take your personal beefs and stick them where the sun does NOT shine. Now follow me.”

She led them to the hanger where a B-17 was in pieces. She then assigned them in teams of 4 to start reassembling it. And then harassed them and questioned them every step of the way for the next 5 days until it was assembled. And then flown.

Then she had them do the same thing to a P-40, P-51, and then a P-38.

This took another 2 weeks. They had a day off for Christmas and then went at it again.

She kept doing it until the end of January. Then 50 of the 56 were passed and sent out to reorganize each school.

Hap Arnold smiled as he read the report dated 25 May 1944. The Luftwaffe Fighter Corps had been decimated. The Allies now had not only control of the air, but Air Superiority. They could do pretty much as they wanted. He leafed through it and noted that operational status had risen in the last 4 months from 54% to 77%. Despite the severe air battles involved. They were now isolating the French coast by systematically destroying bridges and rail roads. That was critical to the coming Invasion; the German army had 50 Divisions waiting in France to face the oncoming Allied army. More than 3 Million men were sitting in England ready to start things off. It was up to the Allied air to delay any German reinforcement to the beaches long enough for a lodgment to be gained.

The steadily growing rebellions in what was the old Soviet Union was tying down increasing numbers of the German Army. Added to that the Balkans and Italy it was thought they had drawn enough of the German army away from France for the invasion to succeed.

He was one of the very few that knew how close D-Day was. And now they had the necessary edge in the air to make sure it was a success.

Liz was sitting back with Max and just smiling; also grinning like a loon at the engagement ring on her finger. Then Michael came running in.
“It’s on the Radio! We have landed in France!”

Liz noted with some satisfaction one account from a reporter that said not a single German aircraft had been seen over Utah beach all that day. Colonel Rawlings had been transferred to Washington and was now on General Arnold’s staff as one of the experts on training programs. Max was a little resentful that she was not getting the credit due to her for all of this but Liz could care less.

As it turned out General Arnold was making sure Liz would indeed get credit.

“Today, Elizabeth Claudia Parker became the first woman to receive the Medal of Merit, the United States highest award for a Civilian, in a ceremony held at the Pentagon. Miss Parker, who is only 21, is credited by General Henry Arnold, Chief of the Army Air Corps, with creating a training program for mechanics that has been instrumental in the success of the air wars around the world. Miss Parker received this award from Secretary of War Henry Stimson.”

Max was to have a lot of fun with that over the years as a very stunned looking Liz received the award.