Click here to watch excerpts of the interview with George Mobbs.
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) recognized the service and sacrifice of World War II, Korean and Vietnam War veteran George Mobbs in ‘Salute to Veterans,’ a series recognizing the military service of Arkansans.
Mobbs was born on March 25, 1920 in Wooster. He was one his parent’s George and Viola’s four children. His father owned and operated a cotton gin which later expanded to include a saw mill and a grist mill. George described growing up in Wooster during the Depression as both “work and fun.”
Mobbs joined the Civilian Conservation Corps during high school. He worked in several communities around the state including Oark, Centerville and Monticello where his jobs included building roads and conservation work. While in Centerville, he completed high school. He continued his education at Arkansas A&M (now University of Arkansas at Monticello) and when his dad passed away, he returned home to be with his mom.
He was committed to pursuing higher education and the following fall began taking courses at Arkansas State Teachers College in Conway.
“One afternoon a couple of folks came by and asked me if I’d like to fly an airplane for the civil pilot training program. I said ‘yes,’” Mobbs recounted.
He learned to fly while continuing with his classes at the college. He remembers being off course during one flight. “I got lost in the Forrest City area and ended up landing in a farmer’s field to find out where I was,” Mobbs laughed.
He joined the Army Air Corps in February 1941. His first assignment was at Mitchel Field on Long Island. “I was fortunate enough to get quite a bit of flying time and went on maneuvers in North Carolina,” Mobbs said. During his training he flew a variety of aircraft including the P-39, P-40, P-36, P-38 and P-47.
On July 1, 1942 Mobbs left the U.S. on an aircraft carrier bound for North Africa. It’s a day he recalls vividly. “We took off from Mitchel Field at sunrise and flew up the Long Island Sound to Quonset Point, Rhode Island, taxied down beside the aircraft carrier. They put a sling on the airplane and put it onboard.”
Mobbs was a member of the 57th Fighter Group and was assigned to support the British Eighth Army. He flew P-40s under the operational control of the Royal Air Force “chasing Germany and Rommel’s forces” across the desert.
His first mission was flying with South African airplanes escorting bombers. It was supposed to be easy. A “milk run” as Mobbs described it, but he came under attack. “I was flying at the speed of these slow bombers and when I turned into the 109s I stalled out and spun out. I made one resolution that I would never fly that slow anymore,” Mobbs said.
The most memorable of Mobbs’s missions was over Libya. He had engaged the enemy and shot a plane down. When looking to see if the pilot landed, he realized he was in the crosshairs. “All of a sudden holes starting appearing in the wing of my airplane,” he said. “And then my guns wouldn’t work.” He crash landed on his home airfield. “My guardian angel took care of me.”
Mobbs flew missions before returning stateside. For his service he received the British Distinguished Flying Cross.
Mobbs married when he returned to the U.S. and continued his military service in Florida training replacement pilots. It wasn’t long before he experienced his first of many hurricanes and spent time moving the aircraft out of the storm’s path. He earned a letter a commendation for the evacuation mission.
Mobbs continued his military career serving in various positions around the world including commanding a squadron during the Korean War on Okinawa, working at the Pentagon and a deployment to Vietnam.
Mobbs retired from the U.S. Air Force in 1966 as a colonel. “It was a good career for me,” he said.
After military service he put the skills he gained when earning his accounting degree from the University of Arkansas to use, becoming a certified public accountant. He retired in 1988 and today lives in Little Rock.
“George Mobbs honorably served in our nation’s uniform and experienced unimaginable circumstances while defending our citizens and interests abroad. He served with honor and distinction during his military service. I’m honored to share his memories of his sacrifice for future generations,” Boozman said.
Boozman will submit Mobbs’s entire interview to the Veterans History Project, an initiative of the Library of Congress’s American Folklife Center to collect and retain the oral histories of our nation’s veterans.