Paul E. Kotke

Lieutenant Paul E. Kotke, son of Mrs. Margaretta R. Kotke, 615 Wisconsin Street, is now a student officer at Bainbridge, GA Army Air Field, where he is receiving basic pilot training. Lieutenant Kotke received his commission in 1943 and served in the Infantry before transferring to the flight-training program several months ago.

Lt. Paul Kotke Arrives in Italy
15TH AAF IN ITALY--Newly arrived in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations, Second Lieutenant Paul E. Kotke, 25, of Eau Claire, was recently assigned as a co-pilot to a veteran B-24 Liberator squadron in Italy.

Commanded by Lieutenant Colonel William L. Snowden of Denver, CO, Lieutenant Kotke's new outfit has served more than 14 months in the Italian Campaign and has flown more than 200 long-range, high-altitude bombing missions in the year-long Allied air drive against German heavy industry and oil supply.

A graduate of Eau Claire Senior High School in 1936, Lieutenant Kotke entered the Air Corps on September 25, 1942. He was commissioned on June 14, 1943, upon completion of advanced pilot training. Previous to his assignment to combat duty with the 15th Air Force, he was stationed at Topeka, KS.

Wins Army Wings
Lieutenant Paul E. Kotke, son of Mrs. Ruth Kotke, 615 Wisconsin Street, was awarded silver pilot's wings in graduation exercises at the Twin-Engine Bomber School, Moody, GA on June 27. He had previously been commissioned Second Lieutenant in the Infantry.

Lieutenant Kotke entered the service in October 1942. He received his commission in the Infantry at Fort Benning, GA on June 14, 1943, after which, he was made a recruit instructor at Camp Wolters, TX. In October 1943, he was transferred to the Air Corps.

Receiving his pre-flight training at Maxwell Field, Montgomery, AL, he transferred to Ocala, FL for primary training. He received his basic training at Bainbridge, GA and his advanced training at Moody Field, where he was awarded his wings.

Lieutenant Kotke will report to Fort Myers, FL on July 9.

Describes North African Life in Letter to Mother
Lieutenant Paul E. Kotke, son of Mrs. Ruth Kotke, 605 Gray Street, has reached Italy. He is co-pilot on a B-24. His crew flew their plane across. He wrote from North Africa:

"It is so interesting to see these places I used to see in the movies or through the pictures in magazines. They are such an interesting combination of the old and the new. Some of the buildings are really beautiful. They have marble floors, but the plumbing is awful. No hot water. The furnishings, while picturesque, are far inferior to ours in the states. We changed our money here again. Most of it is more like ours in shape and texture.

"I was lucky to get in on a tour of  the "Kasbah," or native quarters of Tunis, with the Red Cross. That was quite an experience. It's hard to believe there really is such a thing. It seems like a dream now, or like something seen in the movies. Did you ever see Algiers? If you did, you may remember the Kasbah as it was shown in the movie. Well, it is no exaggeration. I used to think that it was dressed up for the picture value. I didn't think people lived like that, but they really do. Even the architecture, if you can call it, is similar. The city had 400,000 people all told and, half of them, or about 200,000, lived in the Kasbah. Just think, Eau Claire has about 38,000 and covers about 16 square miles. Here, 200,000 live in three square miles. Maybe that gives you some idea of how crowded things are.

"That's not the half of it. The crooked little passageways, running through the Kasbah, up a few steps, then down a few steps; sometimes just a slant instead of steps. Noise, confusion, filth, smell, beauty, age, modernity all crowded together and intermingled.

"Some shops consist of a box or sack with goods, a proprietor, and a place to sit.

"Others, while literally a hole in a wall, have some wonderful goods, not always for sale, but at least for display. It was at one of these shops that I bought the Chanel No. 5 perfume for you. The owner was a modern-appearing Jew. I don't think he spoke English. His assistant, by the way, looked like Charles Boyer.

"In some previous letters, which I've misplaced, I wrote quite a bit about the Kasbah and the Bey's castle. This castle was quite a place, too. There were 18-carat, gold-plated ceilings in some of the rooms that I saw. In one throne, they said he had a "small" diamond. It wasn't what I call small; about 18 carats. I still can't believe it was a real diamond.

"In the same room, he had 12 gold-plated tables and 12 gold-plated clocks. The jolt is that he, the Bey, doesn't occupy it regularly, only at certain times. I'll never be able to describe all of it. It has to be seen to be appreciated."

Second Lieutenant Paul E. Kotke, 25, Eau Claire, has been awarded the Air Medal for “meritorious achievement in aerial flight in sustained operational activities against the enemy” as co-pilot with a heavy bomber crew of the Fifteenth Army Air Force in Italy. He was graduated from Eau Claire High School in 1936, entered the Air Corps in September 1942, and was commissioned June 14, 1943.