Paul Newman served in the U.S. Navy during World War II in the Pacific theater. Initially, he enrolled in the Navy V-12 pilot training program at Yale University, but was dropped when his colorblindness was discovered. Boot camp followed, with training as a radioman and rear gunner. Qualifying in torpedo bombers in 1944, Aviation Radioman Third Class Newman was sent to Barber's Point, Hawaii. He was subsequently assigned to Pacific-based replacement squadrons VT-98, VT-99, and VT-100, responsible primarily for training replacement combat pilots and air crewman, with special emphasis on carrier landings.
Newman later flew as a turret gunner in a Grumman TBF Avenger torpedo bomber. As a radioman-gunner, he was ordered aboard the aircraft carrier USS Bunker Hill (CV-17) with a draft of replacements shortly before the Battle of Okinawa in the spring of 1945. An ear infection grounded his pilot, leaving the pair as the detail's sole survivors when the rest of their unit was wiped out in action during the campaign.
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