CAMILLE JOSEPH ROSBERT (1918 - 2007)
"Joe" or "C.J."
(CNAC 1942 - 1945)
(Captain - March 1943)
(Hump Flights - XXX)
Young Master Rosbert - 1924
From Gene Banning's list of 8/31/00:
"... AVG, 1942; was capt 3/43; survived crash landing in Naga Hills, 4/7/43, plane 53; left in 1945 to FTL."
In the 1943-45 log book of Don McBride, Joe listed his home address as:
RT 7 Box 778
Joe Rosbert was precisely what he looked: a big easy going guy from Philadelphia. Whatever happened - and much was to happen to Rosbert - he ended the story of it with, " Just one of the vicissitudes of life".
(NOTE: I had to look up "vicissitudes" = A word used to describe all created things - meaning that all creatures are full of 'changes of circumstances'. -- I gotta find a clearer definition!)
When the AVG disbanded in July, 1942, CNAC was already recruiting pilots for the hump. Instead of returning home or joining the 14th Army Air Force, twenty-two Flying Tigers joined CNAC, among them Dick Rossi, Bill Bartling, Joe Rosbert, with his easy acceptance of life's buffetings.
The pilots were paid by the hour now, not by the month as in the AVG. Thus, unlikely as it sounds, there were times when, coming back from China, they would curse a hastening tailwind and fight it, as Rossi once said, " With gear and flaps down". There wasn't much in India to come back to, and their overtime pay, rose by a complicated scale to high as $20 an hour. This would have added up to a handsome sum for Joe Rosbert and his co-pilot Charles Hammell if they could have remained airborne. One day when they were India bound at 16,000 feet along the frontier of Tibet, a sudden howling blizzard closed in. The cockpit window froze over. The plane lost altitude rapidly as ice formed on the wings: one inch, two inches, six inches. Then head on, they crashed into a Himalayan peak. The pilots survived, miraculously, but both had suffered injuries to their legs. For almost two days, Rosbert remembers, they clung to what protection the wrecked plane afforded. While the blizzard raged, they ate emergency rations and tired to keep warm. Rescue, they knew, was an idle fantasy. When the weather cleared, Rosbert and Hammel began the long, painful descent, hobbling, sliding, crawling down the precipitous slopes. How they managed to stay alive neither fully knew, but one day they were found, nearly starved, by a tribe of primitive hill people, the Mishmi, who live along the upper Brahmaputra River. In the crude huts of these people, they slowly regained strength until word of their survival reached a distant British patrol. Forty-seven days after the crash they once again reached civilization.
(Check the following link for more details: http://cbi-theater-14.home.comcast.net/roundup/roundup060343.html)
Then, in 1945, peace came. The last skirmish in the skies over Burma was fought; the final costly crossing of the hump returned that lonely skyway to its ancient emptiness. The footprints left by Rosbert and Hammell in their trek down the Himalayan mountain had long since been obliterated. The pilots, the co-pilots, the radio operators, the squadron leaders, the wing commanders, and all the invasion antibodies gladly forsook the alien mangroves and coral, the rice paddies and uncharted peaks for the hill and plains of home. Astonishingly, over 2,000 of them thought seriously enough of starting their own air service-chiefly flying freight- to buy surplus planes and try their luck.
Prescott raising money for his burgeoning airline, phoned Joe Rosbert in Hollywood, where he was acting as technical expert on a film called "Calcutta". "Sure", said Rosbert, " I don't have any $10,000 though. Tell you what, I'll kick in $3,000 now and raise the rest". And this was the beginning of the Flying Tiger Line
Joe ready to hit the road - 1977
(click here for a higher resolution of this picture)
Click here to read that interwiew.
January 24, 2007
This is from Felix the Cat Smith
In case you need his formal name, he used C. Joseph. He died on Monday, January 8, eleven days short of his 90th birthday.
Joe's relatives applied for permission to inter Joe's ashes in Arlington Cemetery on Tuesday, May 29th the same time as his good friend, James McGovern ( Earthquake Magoon ), who was a 14th Air Force fighter pilot in W.W.II & then a CAT pilot & was shot down in pivotal Battle of Dien Bien Phu which defined the end of France and beginning of America in Vietnam. (McGovern's bones have only recently been identified)
Another reason for the above date: It's the traditional time & Place of 14th Air Force Association reunions, as you probably know. The past president of this group was one of McGovern's squadron mates. When W.W. II ended they lit up Shanghai together.
The approval has not ye been granted. I'll send Bill Maher the official scoop. If any CNAC pilots want to attend they need to get a hold of Bill Maher. They will need a pass for this one. Felix will be helping Bill Maher with the list.
Because of the groupies & wanna bees who have arrived at previous ones the relatives want the funeral by invitations.
From: Felix "The Cat" Smith by way of Peggy Maher
P.O. Box 294449
Kerrville, TX 78029
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