After graduation at Cimarron, Pilot training completed in Lubbock, Texas and Russell received his full pilot’s certification on August 8, a day after his 24th birthday. Also, he married Winifred Hoffman whom he had met in college.

His training concluded, Russell was assigned to the 307th Bomb Group as the co-pilot on a B24D . The group assembled in Ephrata, WA and Russell’s wife stayed there with him while he continued to prepare for combat.  

In early 1942, Russell began his career as a pilot.  Initial flight training was at Cimarron Field – present day Clarence E. Page Municipal Airport.  Most likely, the craft he trained in was the Fairchild PT-19.   The photo below shows a flight training class from 1944 - some time after Russell's training
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