1942 to 1947: Sandpoint (U.S. Navy) to Boeing (Air Force) and back to working for the Navy…

War Service Certificate 1946 given by U.S. Navy

War Service Certificate 1946 given by the U.S. Navy

Once war was declared in December of 1941 things got really difficult for workers like my father, Keith.  The war effort was in full force and production was key in getting airplanes ready for defense of the country and winning the war.

Keith had been working at the U.S. Naval Air Station and on 21 February, 1942 he asked for a release from the Commanding Officer at the U.S. Naval Air Station. What follows is a summary of the letter he wrote.

942 – 19th North, Seattle, Wn. Feb. 21, 1942

To: Commanding Officer, U.S. Naval Air Station, Sandpoint, Seattle, Wn.

Via – Commanding Officer, Assembly & Repair Dept.

Subject: Release, request for.

Quote: Executive Order No. 8760 – “refuse examination to — any person employed in the government service — unless written assent of the department or office in which he is — employed to taking such examination.” Applications from government employees will be given no consideration by the Board until they submit either the required assent, or an official statement to the effect that they hold a temporary appointment.”   http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/executive-orders/1941.html

Reason for: Request for a release is to submit an application to the Civil Service Board for the position of Senior Inspector, Engineering Materials….

Explanation:  On Monday Feb. 16, 1942 at 4:45 pm he asked for release and was refused. It was further stated that if he could afford to be laid off for 90 days he’d automatically have a release.  

He writes:  It is know that there are vacancies for the position of material inspector and appointments are being made. It is also know that there is a shortage of qualified men to fill these vacancies…he feels he can qualify.  He goes on to state his current work conditions are unsatisfactory for him to perform his duties and asks for a Labor Board interview.

On February 26, 1942 they responded by refusing his request.

In view of the present emergency and lack of qualified personnel in your trade, this Command will not assent to your participation in Civil Service examinations for employment in other Federal Agencies.  Then they go on to tell him he can resign and wait 90 days.  

However, on 10 June 1942 he was transferred from Assembly & Repair Officer at Sandpoint to Assistant Inspection & Survey Officer

Subject: Transfer of MacDonald, K.B. to this Inspection & Survey Department Request for:

1. It is requested that MacDonald, K.B., now employed in the Assembly and Repair Department as an Aircraft Mechanic General, Maximum be transferred to the Inspection and Survey Department as an Associate Inspector of Engineering Materials….

2.  Date of entry into this position is requested for Tuesday, June 16, 1942. Signed by J. Wade Flaherty, Ensign, USNR, Assistant Inspection & Survey Officer.

On 1st October, 1942 he is again promoted from Associate Inspector of Engineering Materials to Senior Inspector of Engineering Materials at the U.S. Naval Air Station.

The work involved the assembly and repair of naval aircraft.  He writes that there were 5-10 inspectors and it was 40% of production.  His supervisor was Lt. Hornsby.

His duties: Senior Inspector Eng. Math Aero were: inspection of final delivery, pre-flight, final assembly, fuselage, wing, tail, landing gear, fabric, doping, engine build up and installation, run up, flotation, Co2, small parts. This period I inspected the overhaul, repair of aircraft from the time it was received, dismantled, repaired, assembled, test hopped and delivered. Wrote up the inspection forms and procedures and instructed production personnel. 

Reason for leaving this job was not good: physical and mental exhaustion from overwork caused by lack of organization of production.  

Somehow Keith ended up back at Boeing and worked there from June 1943 to October 31, 1944 as a Procurement Inspector.

In February of 1944 he gets a raise and the form reads: “Continuously employed in War Department since 6/7/43, War Service Appointment (Reg. IX).”  No change in the job title he is still a Procurement Inspector.  The form is on War Department stationery, Army Air Forces out of the Material Command, Western Procurement District in Los Angeles, CA.  Job duties are:

Inspector, Flight & Aerodynamics B29, B8. Renton. Final Assembly, Night Supervisor, Fabrication, receiving inspection, inspection of incoming materials, assistant, inspection of rework, electrical, parts mfg – B17 sub assy. B29 sub assy, Night Supervisor of body, wing structure, installation, power plant buildup and installation. Major assembly of entire aircraft. 1st fun test, pre-flight to Seattle. Salvage board work, about 10 persons on shift. Helping fabrication as necessary. B8 inspection of B-29 – Entire Aircraft. Inspection general duties – watch dog. 

Another version of his work duties:  Specific duties: receiving inspection – incoming AN standards GFE, FI, Raw materials. Final Assembly, Salvage Board – Body – wing – structures & installations.  Assy of components to major assemblies. Power Plant. Buildup – installation & run up – B-8 – Inspector of B-29s – covered entire ship. 

War Department Army Air Forces, Change in Status, effective 2 February 1944.  Procurement Inspector at Boeing.  

In August of 1944 he relieved of duties:

Effective 21 August, 1944, A.A.F. Inspector Keith MacDonald is hereby relieved from inspectional duties on B-29 production airplanes, and reassigned to inspectional duties under Supervision of A.A.F. Inspector T. King, Experimental Flight Test Inspection.  Dated 16 August, 1944 on Army Air Force Boeing Aircraft Company Inter-Office Memorandum.

On September 9, 1944 he is in receipt of another Inter-office Memo (form letter) Assignment of Duties by Boeing Aircraft Company and his title is AAF Inspector in the Pre-Flight and Ground Operations Area.

A couple of months later on November 1, 1944, Keith receives a United States Navy personnel form with nature of action:  Appointment by Transfer (War Department) from Head Procurement Inspector Army Air Forces Material Command at Boeing Field to Inspector of Engineering Materials (Aero), Administration Department (Inspection and Survey), U.S. Naval Air Station, Seattle, WA.

He scribbled on the back of one of the forms – Last day in October 31, 1944 with Army AAF Inspection and back to Sandpoint and 9 years of hell. 

Based on notes written on his forms years later he writes about cracked turbo shrouds and missing bolts.  He said it upset them learning of these problems.  They then changed the AFF Inspector job responsibilities so he stalled and proceeded to get out, although he apparently regretted leaving Boeing.

Brother Gordon and Keith with a very big fish circa 1941 to 1945

Brother Gordon and Keith with a very big fish circa 1941 to 1946

So it was back to Sandpoint.  In January, 1945 he received another personnel form with the subject: Transfer and Demotion (War Services).  He was demoted from Inspector of Engineering Materials (Aero) to Aircraft Mechanic General at the U.S. Naval Air Station in Seattle.  Interesting for it was not yet the end of the war.

So here are his duties as an Air Mechanic Leadingman from Jan 1945 to 1946: Emergency Repair – Minor repair to F6F – FM2 Fighters, Modification of SB2C – F4F – Privateers & Miscellaneous type of Naval Aircraft, including engine and aircraft repairs. Pre-flight (Similar to U.S. Aero Repair) PBY & JRF Reconditioning. Final Assembly – completion of overhaul program on PBY. JRF Aircraft. Preparation for fly away. Routine Supervision and duties. Production planning – shop – work order & inspection record handling, troubleshooting – instruction of mechanics. 70 to 30 mechanics. Reason for leaving: Deactivation of Assembly and Repair. 

In October of 1946, Keith became involved with the U.S. Navy Preservation Project at Renton. It involved the Flying Boat Preservation of PBM & PBY.  His duties were a Transfer and Change to a Lower Grade effective on 28 October, 1946. He went from Aircraft Mechanic General Leadingman to Aircraft Mechanic General Maximum from Assembly & Repair.

Here is an article about the PBM Mariner at uboat.com


This website shows the PBY aircraft.


So Keith was an Air Mechanical General and he continues to work at this position into 1947.  His duties were as follows and if being in salvage was what was happening then I understand why he was not happy.

Preservation of Ordinance material – Shop Supervisor – Material Handled – Martin PBM Turrets – M-2-50 Ca & 30 CA) Machine & Guns. Bomb Racks, waist gun mounts, mooring equipment. Ammo CANS & Shutes, Loose equipment – Operations – cleaning Examine – Stop Corrosion – Assemble preserve – screening sort and store. 

Wow! It appears that working during the war and after was very complicated for Keith. He was working for Boeing, then left and went to work at the U.S. Naval Air Station, then he left that job and returned to Boeing and something bad happened and he ended up back at the U.S. Naval Air Station.  Things would not get any easier, the Naval Air Station was scheduled to close by 1950.  The Korean war added three more years before it actually happened.

The war was over at the end of 1945, however, something called the Cold War which included the arms race was about to begin.


Another factor that would change things for Keith, was the next big step in aircraft design. It had started during World War II.  It would take over and Keith was going to have to learn about jet engines in order to keep up with the ever-changing world of aircraft.


The “turbojet”, was invented in the 1930s, independently by Frank Whittle and later Hans von Ohain. The first turbojet aircraft to fly was the Heinkel He 178 prototype of the German Air Force, the Luftwaffe, on August 27, 1939 in Rostock (Germany).

Hans von Ohain of Germany was the designer of the first operational jet engine, though credit for the invention of the jet engine went to Great Britain’s Frank Whittle. Whittle, who registered a patent for the turbojet engine in 1930, received that recognition but did not perform a flight test until 1941.

The jet engine would ultimately revolutionize the airline industry, shrinking air travel time in half by enabling planes to climb faster and fly higher. History Channel.

About BJ MacDonald

Interested in travel, really into genealogy and researching my family history, classic novels and movies, fantasy and science fiction, photography, history and more... Here is a tip. Make sure you are commenting on the blog you were visiting and the post you were interested in. My blogs are listed by hovering over my pictures and clicking. Clicking one of them will take you back to the correct blog. You can try me here: bjmcdonell@gmail.com
This entry was posted in Boeing Aircraft Company, Keith B. MacDonald, King County, Naval Air Station at Sandpoint in Seattle, Seattle, Washington State and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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