New WWII-Era Military Comic Acquisition Holds Mysteries

[This blog post comes from Matthew Peek, Military Collection Archivist for the State Archives of North Carolina.]

Part of a four-page comic book story called, “Lesson Learned,” about WWII U.S. Army Air Force aviator Maj. Paul Johnson of Smithfield, North Carolina

Part of a four-page comic book story called, “Lesson Learned,” about WWII U.S. Army Air Force aviator Maj. Paul Johnson of Smithfield, North Carolina.

The Military Collection at the State Archives of North Carolina recently acquired, through a private donation, a four-page comic book story called, “Lesson Learned,” about WWII U.S. Army Air Force aviator Maj. Paul Johnson of Smithfield, North Carolina. The story’s introduction notes: “In A.A.F. language, a ‘buzzer’ is a pilot who can’t resist zooming his plane low over a field. Here is the hilarious story of Major Paul Johnson—Reformed Buzzer.” The story relates the exploits of Johnson buzzing his hometown of Smithfield, and subsequently getting in trouble with his commanding officer. Later, we find Johnson in the Southwest Pacific with the 5th Air Force, involved in bombing missions against Japanese locations. On one buzzing attempt of a Japanese airfield, Johnson’s B-24 Liberator bomber is shot and damaged by Japanese anti-aircraft artillery, and he has to find a way to land his plane. His fellow servicemen all think he is trying to buzz the American airfield, when he is actually trying to get assistance for a potential crash landing. The story concludes with a moral lesson to be passed on to future pilots.

We need the public’s assistance in identifying information about the comic. Was this a regular comic book series, a World War II-era U.S. military comic for service individuals, or a post-World War II comic? When was it published? Was Major Paul Johnson real, and did this event happen as described in the comic? If you or someone you know might be able to help identify information about this comic and its story content, or if you have military materials such as letters, photographs, training manuals, military ephemera, or other archival materials connected with North Carolina’s military heritage, please contact the Military Collection at (919) 807-7314, or e-mail at matthew.peek@ncdcr.gov. After the comic is researched, identified, and preserved, it will be made available for research in the Search Room of the State Archives in Raleigh, N.C.

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