WEIRTON, W.Va. (WTRF) – He was recently honored by the City of Weirton, so he may be a familiar face for Veterans Voices.
Paul Christian was registered for the draft during World War II, but decided to voluntarily enlist before his name was called. The then 19-year-old was just out of high school and wanted to fly planes, but his service took a different turn.
Three years, 25-days I was in the Army Air Corps.Paul Christian, Veteran
In 1943, the Air Corps was part of the Army, and that’s the branch Paul Christian hoped to join when he signed up to serve.
They gave you a battery of tests to determine what branch you were going to go in and I got to go in the Air Corps.Paul Christian, Veteran
Christian recalls that he went to basic training in North Carolina, then flight training in Pennsylvania. He wanted to fly planes, but training didn’t go as he expected.
Every time I’d get into the airplane I’d get air sick.Paul Christian, Veteran
So, he was sent to signal corps school, and learned to be a Link Trainer Operator.
It looked like an airplane. They’d put you in. A pilot had to have so many hours a month or yeah a month in the link trainer. They learned how to land at certain airplane fields and use certain techniques. It was all blind flying.Paul Christian, Veteran
That’s when Christian was sent overseas to an air base in India.
We lived in little straw huts and had mosquito nets around us and they came around every night to spray for mosquitoes. It was hot and dry.Paul Christian, Veteran
Eventually Christian did spend some time in the air. He was able to fly along on a trip to carry supplies to part of China.
As Christian explained it, supplies were usually driven to China on the Burma Road, but when Japanese forces captured part of that road, the Army Air Corps had to get supplies to the country by plane.
Knew the pilots that came in to have their training and got to go over there just to say that I was in China for three hours.Paul Christian, Veteran
After a year and a half in India the war was over, and so was Christian’s service time. He came home to West Virginia after being honorably discharged in 1946.
All my other friends were in a different service and a few of them got killed, but I was never shot at and never shot anyone else.
It was a rather pleasant time. I don’t know, I enjoyed it anyway. Got to go around the world and saw a lot of different things that I would of never seen if it wasn’t for the war.Paul Christian, Veteran
Once back at home Christian said he used his GI Bill and went to college at Alderson Broaddus. He then went for more schooling at the University of Missouri and in Chicago to become a radio operator and radio mechanic. He made a career working for RCA Service Company in Weirton installing antennae and fixing televisions.
Christian was recently recognized by Weirton with a mayor’s proclamation for his service. At 97-years-old, he is said to be the oldest living veteran in the city.
As Christian told 7News, and it’s certainly true, there are not many World War II veterans like him anymore.