Oneonta Flier Finds Japanese Hard Fighters

"The Japs are hard fighters and treacherous, and despite the optimism of many it will be a tough job to defeat them within a short time." Lt. Samuel Bertuzzi, first Oneonta aviator to return from action in the Pacific area, declared yesterday.

Son of Mrs. John Bertuzzi, 3 Factory, Lt. Bertuzzi is spending a few days' leave with his mother and other members of his family before returning to a Naval base in California.  A graduate of Middlebury college, he enlisted in the Navy in 1941.

Although prevented by censorship from disclosing certain information pertaining to Naval operations, Lt. Bertuzzi did reveal that he had seen considerable action in the Solomon Islands and other parts of the Pacific war zone.

"Give the boys in the Pacific what they need and the tide will turn, but there is a long struggle ahead and it does not do any good to kid ourselves," he said.

Acquainted With Jap Tricks
"America can be proud of its fighting forces in the Pacific, and since the members of the various branches of service become acquainted with the Japanese trickery they have acquitted themselves nobly, especially in jungle fighting."

Lt. Bertuzzi said the Japs have a capable fighting ship in the Zero, mentioning that "It has speed and power to climb rapid. Its main weakness, however is lack of armor and it has fared poorly in engagements with Flying Fortresses.
He mentioned that one Zero circled a Fortress for some time without doing any damage. "The pilot of the American ship finally grew tired of the little hornet buzzing around his ship and told his gunners to move into action. One round took care of the Jap."

Attached to a carrier, name cannot be revealed, Lt. Bertuzzi had an opportunity to observe some of the action in the region of the Solomon's, although he missed getting into the biggest fight.

He praised the natives in the Pacific, claiming they "will do anything to help Americans. The Japs tried to make slaves out of the people and the cruelties they inflicted will be repaid in full before the war is over."

Lt. Bertuzzi attended a party given by a native chief and mentioned the customs of many of the tribes. An American finds it difficult to adjust himself to some of the conditions, but after a few weeks it seems as if you had always lived in the area. Due to many triangles, mail is delayed several months, he related.

He told some of the experiences of other fliers, and mentioned details in regard to life aboard a carrier. "War is grim business, but it has its lighter side," he said.

Japs Ignorant of Facts
Lt. Bertuzzi said the Japanese people are "entirely ignorant of what is going on in the Pacific. They believe everything that is broadcast by the Japanese government, which one day will describe the bombing of an American City and later relate in detail that a large portion of the American Navy has been destroyed. Aviators aboard Jap carriers are never advised when one of their companions is lost.

Americans who have encountered the Japanese find they do not care to surrender and more than one from this country has been killed by trickery. It does not pay to take your eyes off a Jap, regardless of how dead he may appear," he said. He mentioned how sailors in a torpedo boat were almost killed while trying to save two Jap aviators in a rubber raft.

Lt. Bertuzzi said Corp. Barney Ross of the Marine Corp, former welterweight boxing champion, recently cited for gallantry in the Solomon's, was on the ship that brought him to California several weeks ago.

The Oneontan enlisted as a cadet soon after receiving his degree at Middlebury college, where he was an honor student and prominent in athletics. He is served his preliminary flight training at Squantum, Mass, and was commissioned an ensign following advanced training at Pensacola, Fla. He graduated from OHS in 1936.