JACOB S. FASSETT (1913-2002)

(Hostel Manager - Dinjan)
(CNAC 1942 - 1945)

In the 1943-45 log book of Don McBride, Jake listed his home address as:

JS Fassett
944 Monroe Lane
Woodmore, New York

The CNAC Web Editor would like to thank Jake Fassett for the following information and photos.
(Jake passed away in April of 2002.)

July 3, 2000

J.S. Fassett
P.O. Box 362
West Falmouth, MA 02574

Dear Tom,

I was truly amazed to receive your June 26th letter about your work on the official CNAC Internet Web Site. At 87 my old memory can't help me with some of the assistance you have requested, but in response to your request for my biography I provide the following.

After graduating from the Cornell School of Hotel Administration in 1936 and marrying in 1937, I went to work in Boston as an assistant manager in each of the Sherrad Hotels, Somerset, Bellview, and Parker House. I worked 1 year in each.

I had two sons while living in Needham. In 1939, I purchased the 50 room Jefferson Hotel in Watkins Glen, Finger Lakes District, New York.

When the war came along, rather than wait to be drafted, I obtained a job with Pan American Airways to manage their staff house in Upper Assam, India, for the pilots flying the hump to deliver freight in Kunming, China. CNAC was a subsidiary of Pan Am.

In 1942, I was flown to the company base in Calcutta from New York on one of the C47-DC3 planes being delivered to CNAC. I recall it as a smooth and pleasant trip. A fellow Cornellian, Frank Meyers, headed the commissary and staff house operations at the Calcutta headquarters.

I was assigned to the Dinjan Upper Assam staff house. The staff house was located on a British tea plantation. Many of the sleeping quarters were located on an upper floor with wide covered porches. There was a dining room on the main floor and a cook's house out back with Indian cooks.

CNAC hostel at Dinjan, India.
Original Staff House on Balijan North Tea Plantation.
Loaned to CNAC by British Tea Planter.
Photo by G. Bull

We were very fortunate in our sources of food. Not only did the company import food supplies, but we were also able to buy supplies from the Army and local markets. The head cook spoke English and did a reasonably good job.

Mrs. Woods (Maj) wife of the head of the Dinjan operation, Captain H.L. Wood (Woody), had the job before me and was very happy to have me relieve her. Even rations of booze were available and those who wanted a drink would get tohether for one or two before dinner. The drinks were appreciated and not overdone. These quarters were rather cramped, and with more pilots to serve, a new staff house was built closer to the airport. The same cooks operated in a more spacious and better equipped kitchen. Our staff of bearers came with us.

In front of new Staff House in Dinjan.
Jake Fassett, Manager, on the left.
Visiting from the Kunming Staff House is the Manager, Ernie Chapelle, on the right.
Suklo the Head Indian Bearer is in the center with other staff.

Jake Fasset at Dinjan
(Photo Courtesy of Jim Dalby)

Suklo, from the old staff house was the head bearer, responsible for the dining room service staff, the housekeeping staff and the dobie (launderers) who did our bedding and personal clothing. We had our own well water with pure drinkable water, excellent shower facilities and transport to and from the airport in command cars. All bedrooms had ceiling fans and netting over the bed. I recall very few complaints about the food or lodging.

In front of new Staff House in Dinjan.
Jake Fassett, Manager, on the left.
Visiting from the Kunming Staff House is the Manager, Ernie Chapelle, on the right.
Suklo the Head Indian Bearer is in the center.

Periodically, one of our top mechanics, Mangun, would decide to take the day off, and with the help of a some of our cooks, would prepare an elaborate barbeque dinner which attracted Army and British guests, so we really lived very well.

In addition to an almost 24 hour food operation at the staff house, there was a mess at the field for crews that would make fast turnarounds back to Kunming. The mess also served mechanics and other staff who serviced the planes in a 24 hour operation.

As the war was ending in early 1945, it was necessary to arrange for new pilot accommodations in cities vacated by the Japanese. I was able to make a number of trips over the hump and as a former amature glider and private piper cub pilot, I often rode in the co-pilot seat.

My last and most exciting trip was from Peking to Kunming when we ran into such unexpected trubulance and icing that our pilot went back to the radio operator having handed me the controls with instructions to make a 180 degree turn back to our starting point, signifying he was resigning then and there. Fortunately, I was able to make the turn and he came back to the controls, much to my relief. Outside of that experience, all my flights were routine. I was sent back to the states later in 1945 by ship.

I was remarried in 1956 after a divorce in 1950.

My wife Mary and myself.

As I look back, I consider myself having been very fortunate to have experienced a very rewarding and exciting job and the opportunity to meet and mingle with the former Flying Tigers and all the other great guys who contributed to CNAC's record delivery of frieght to China.


Jake Fassett

If you would like to share any information about Jake Fassett
or would like to be added to the CNAC e-mail distribution list,
please let the CNAC Web Editor, Tom Moore, know.

Background music to this page can be controlled here.
At Jake's request here's
"When You're Smiling", sung by Louis Armstrong
<bgsound src="louis armstrong - when you're smiling.mp3" loop=infinite>

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