A Grateful Daughter – Remembering Lawrence “Dag” Damewood

It’s wonderful to discover family tributes to 371st Fighter Group personnel posted on the internet, as is the case for the 3 October anniversary of a 1944 dogfight in which 406th Fighter Squadron P-47 pilot 1st Lt. Lawrence D. “Dag” Damewood was shot down, and thankfully survived. His daughter Diane Damewood posted a thoughtful remembrance in Facebook, as you can see here, shared with her kind permission.

Portrait of Lawrence Damewood as an aviation cadet prior to earning his pilot wings and commission (Courtesy Diane Damewood)

“On this day, 76 years ago during WWII, our Dad was involved in a aerial dogfight against a German fighter pilot, flying his favorite plane, the P-47 “Jug”, he scored a victory. Hit by ground enemy fire Dad’s plane sustained enough damage that he had to bail out.

Tribute graphic of the crash site of Lt. Damewood’s P-47, 3 October 1944 (Courtesy Stephane Muret, via Diane Damewood)

In the Missing Air Crew Report filed after the mission (MACR 9823), fellow pilot 2nd Lt. Harry L. Bailey made the following eyewitness statement of the loss of Damewood and his aircraft, P-47D-22-RE, serial number 42-26311, no known nickname, at about 1640 hours on 3 October 1944, about three miles southwest of Gerardmer, France. At the time the 371st Fighter Group was operating out of Dole Airfield under XII TAC control, and Damewood was on a dive bombing mission when enemy aircraft intercepted his formation.:

“When the ME-109’s attacked our flight, I shot one off Major Bacon’s tail. When I pulled up again I saw a silver ship with a thin stream of black smoke trailing behind it. I thought it was Major Bacon so I figured the plane I shot down had hit him. When I got close I saw it was 4W-F which Lt. Damewood was flying. I saw he had been hit somewhere around the engine because the smoke began to come out thicker and take on a blue color. He was in the middle of the fight flying straight and level so I figured I had better stay with him and keep enemy planes from finishing him off. He finally started away from the fight and flew for about 2 minutes. The smoke got worse and thin flames started coming out under his motor cowl. When I saw he was on fire I told him to bail out because the flames were in a position he couldn’t see them.

He then jettisoned his canopy and bailed out. He made a delayed jump from about 7 or 8 thousand feet. The plane hit the ground before his chute opened. He landed on a hill top which was wooded. I could not see him after he hit the ground because I didn’t want to go real low and give his position to the Germans. I don’t know if he was injured or not. He may have purposely made the delayed jump or he may have been hurt. The plane glided, flaming into the ground and exploded on contact.” (End of Bailey statement)

Diane Damewood continues: “As he parachuted down he looked at the surroundings, once he hit the ground he shed the parachute off and buried it. He took off for a barn that he had noticed before he touched down. Inside was a huge barrel, it was filled with straw and he was able to crawl into it, covered himself up and waited. He fell asleep and sometime later he awoke to hands going thru the straw, a French farmer motioned him to stand up. When Dad did, the farmer, seeing that Dad was an American fighter pilot, tried telling him to stay where he was. The farmer pointed all around to outside of the barn saying “bouche, bouche” (slang word I believe for German, correct me please Stephane Muret, if this wrong), Dad understood enough that the farmer was telling him to stay put as German troops were all around the area.

Post-war view of the bran that Damewood hid in as he evaded capture with the help of French citizens (Courtesy Diane Damewood)

For 17 days Dad stayed in that barn, food, milk, water was brought to him by the French farmer and his wife. On the 17th day, not hearing any troops or seeing the farmer, Dad left the barn, went to the house of that farmer, looked inside and saw no one was there. He found some clothes, a hat and a blanket. He wrapped his flight suit in the blanket and started walking towards a town he had seen on his map he had. He had grown a beard, practically, and walked 20 miles.

On the way he passed German troops, the way he was dressed they didn’t notice anything different. As he got to the end of that 20 mile walk, he passed a house and noticed a soldier on the front porch, they glanced at each other and Dad kept walking. The soldier called out to Dad and motioned him to come to him, Dad kept walking. The second sound Dad heard was the click of a gun, he turned and the soldier again motioned him to come to him, but this time with a gun pointed at him. In Dad’s words “my Momma didn’t raise no dummy”, he proceeded to walk over to the soldier.

As he got closer, Dad noticed the uniform and patches on the Soldier, he was a member of the Free French Forces. The soldier spoke enough English to get Dad inside where there were other soldiers. Dad told them his story, they fed him and later on they got into a truck with Dad and drove him to where American troops were.

For 17 days, Dad’s family and a beautiful young lady named Jean Haupt, only knew that Dad had been shot down and was listed as MIA (missing in action). That beautiful young lady was our Mom that Dad married 8 months later on June 29, 1945.

Miss Jean Haupt married Lawrence Damewood after V-E Day (Courtesy Diane Damewood)

WE REMEMBER DAD, WE HONOR YOU ALWAYS AND THANK GOD THAT YOU WERE KEPT SAFE BY THE FRENCH PEOPLE. STEPHANE MURET, THANK YOU FOR THIS PHOTO YOU CREATED HONORING DAD, WITH HIS NAME, HIS FACE AND HIS BELOVED P-47.

Tribute graphic for Lawrence D. “Dag” Damewood (Courtesy Diane Damewood)

ALWAYS AND FOREVER DAD🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

OVER AND OUT

P.S. Of note, Lawrence Damewood continued on in service after World War II, and later flew another Republic product, the F-105 Thunderchief, in combat again during the Vietnam War. A quick internet search shows a Lt Col Lawrence D. Damewood as the Operations Officer of the 67th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Kadena Air Base as of 30 June 1965. The squadron history Fact Sheet for the 336th FS (4th FW, Seymour-Johnson AFB, NC) shows him as the Commander, 336th TFS, circa 1 July 1965.

https://www.afhra.af.mil/About-Us/Fact-Sheets/Display/Article/433236/336-fighter-squadron-acc/

According to fellow F-105 pilot Ed “Moose” Skowron, “Dag’s” F-105 was hit during recovery from a dive bombing pass on a Rolling Thunder combat mission early on in the campaign, which started 2 March 1965. His aircraft was hit in Route Pack 1 or 2 by a 37mm anti-aircraft shell which exploded in the belly of the F-105, knocking out his comm and navigation gear (in vicinity of the “hell hole”).

No one saw Damewood after the attack, and he couldn’t respond to any radio calls to effect a rejoin with the others. As he headed down the Vietnamese coast alone to land at the nearest friendly base, Da Nang Air Base, an RF-101 recon pilot, alone, unarmed and unafraid, spotted him as he heard radio calls looking for him and put two and two together. The RF-101 pilot replied he spotted a single F-105 headed south. So he formed up on Damewood and noted the battle damage beneath the aircraft with damaged panel latches that allowed various panels to open and close in flight. He radioed back to the other F-105 pilots that he was with Damewood and his radio was out. So the RF-101 pilot decided to accompany him back to Da Nang where Damewood landed safely.

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Local fighter pilot recounts being scrambled on 9/11

Portland’s KATU TV Channel 2 interviewed 142nd Fighter Wing, 123rd Fighter Squadron Redhawk pilot Lt Col Steve “B.C.” Beauchamp who scrambled from Portland ANG Base on 9/11 for a real-world intercept over the Pacific Ocean of an approaching airliner with comm problems. 

See their video report posted on the 10th anniversary of that chaotic day:  https://katu.com/news/local/local-fighter-pilot-recounts-being-scrambled-on-911

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The 142nd Fighter Wing Remembers 9/11

Remember!  The youngest members of the 142nd Wing, designated the 371st Fighter Group in World War II,  were born after 9/11/2001 and may know about it in general but not be familiar with how the organization responded on that day and in the period after. 

Oregon Air National Guard F-15 Eagles of the 142nd Fighter Wing prepare for take off. On September 11, 2001, it wasn’t long before the Western Air Defense Sector (WADS) at McChord AFB, Wash., called on the Oregon Air National Guard to provide air defense for the Pacific Northwest. Lt. Col. Steve Beauchamp (pictured) and other Oregon Air National Guard pilots began to sit alert in the cockpit of their jets in anticipation of WADS tasking in a very dynamic and unpredictable threat environment. (U.S. Air Force Stock photograph by Tech. Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs) (RELEASED)

Nor is the unit’s response on that day necessarily familiar to anyone with connection to the 371st Fighter Group. 

Oregon Air National Guard F-15 Eagles from the 142nd Fighter Wing, Portland Air National Guard Base, Portland, Ore., diligently maintain their watchful Aerospace Control Alert (ACA) vigil; ready to respond any day or night in defense of Oregon and the Pacific Northwest. (U.S. Air Force Stock Photograph by Tech. Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs) (RELEASED)

So if you wonder, see the story of how the unit responded that day at:  https://www.142fw.ang.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/438204/the-142nd-fighter-wing-remembers-911/

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Happy Birthday, 371st Fighter Group!

And today that’s translated as Happy Birthday 142nd Wing!   Activated on 15 July 1943 as the 371st Fighter Group, the group fought in the ETO with the P-47 Thunderbolt and was redesignated after World War II as the 142nd Fighter Group and allotted to the Oregon national Guard where it continues in service as the 142nd Wing.

But the unit’s first birthday anniversaries were held in Europe, as described in this article from the 142d Wing website, “The European Birthdays of the 142d Wing,” at:  https://www.142fw.ang.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2274632/the-european-birthdays-of-the-142d-wing/

 

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Working on the Fourth

Independence Day 1944 was the 371st Fighter Group’s first 4th of July, and it was no holiday in Normandy, although the group would give and receive fireworks in support of ground forces attacking southward from the Cherbourg Peninsula.

The group was ensconced at Advanced Landing Ground (ALG) A-6, a.k.a. Beuzzeville, La Londe and/or Sainte-Mère-Église, the latter a name made famous on D-Day with the tough battle fought there by the US 82nd Airborne Division.  Readers may remember the movie The Longest Day in which the parachute of American paratrooper John Steele (portrayed by actor Red Buttons) was caught on the steeple of the town church during the battle.

St._Mere_Eglise_1944

Ste. Mere Eglise, Normandy, in June 1944.  At the top of the picture is what appears to be Advanced Landing Ground A-6 under construction (US Army picture via Wikipedia)

As A-6 was an ALG and still being built up, the ground echelon was yet to arrive from England and the group’s personnel subsisted on K and 10-in-1 rations.

Chow at A6

Speaking of firsts — here’s the first mess hall in Normandy and naturally — the first chow hound. (Caption and image from The Story of the 371st Fighter Group in the ETO)

 

Weather the day before had precluded flight operations, but by mid-afternoon on the 4th of July, the group sent up its first mission of the day, with the 405th Fighter Squadron led by Maj. Philip E. Bacon with seven P-47s loaded with bombs and four more as top cover taking off at 1430 to perform armed reconnaissance along roads in Normandy.

Bacon

Major, later Lt Col Philip E. Bacon of the 405th Fighter Squadron led the group’s first mission on the 4th of July, 1944 (The Story of the 371st Fighter Group in the ETO)

 

The bombers carried a total of 161 M-1A1 fragmentation bombs (a configuration of 2 x 2 x 6 for seven aircraft, per the group’s Operations Report, average load of 24 bombs each), small 20-lb bombs useful against light-skinned vehicles, light structures and troops in the open.

 

Frag bomb

A cluster of six M1A1 20-lb fragmentation bombs (Aces High Bulletin Board)

For more on this ordnance, see reference at:  https://bulletpicker.com/cluster_-100-lb-frag_-an-m1a2.html

They also carried 22,000 rounds of .50-caliber ammunition, though the aircraft performed no strafing in this mission.  That works out to 2,000 rounds per aircraft and 250 rounds per gun for each of the eight .50-caliber machine guns on a P-47.

405FS at A6

P-47 Thunderbolt fighter-bombers of Discharge Squadron (the 405th Fighter Squadron) taxi along at A-6 airfield in Normandy in the Summer of 1944 (The Story of the 371st Fighter Group in the ETO)

The squadron reached the target area fifteen minutes later, but in the next hour of flying were in and out of 8/10 cumulous clouds from 1,500 feet up to 10,000 feet.  Finding no targets, the aircraft flew over the Channel and jettisoned their bombs before returning to A-6, landing at 1600.

Lt. Col. William J. Daley, the group’s Deputy Commander from May to September, 1944, led the second show of the day in a group-level effort (all three fighter squadrons) which hadn’t been done in a while.  For more on Lt Col Daley’s impressive but all too brief career, see an earlier posting at:  https://371stfightergroup.wordpress.com/2014/03/25/371st-fighter-group-hall-of-honor-lt-col-william-j-daley-jr/

Daley

371st Fighter Group Deputy Commander Lt. Col. William J. Daley, a former RAF No. 121 (Eagle) Squadron member and former commander of the USAAF’s 335th Fighter Squadron, was well regarded in the group.  Unfortunately he was killed after the Normandy Campaign in a landing accident in September 1944 when his aircraft was struck by another P-47.  (The Story of the 371st Fighter Group in the ETO)

Thirty-two P-47s, all loaded with a pair of G.P. 500-lb bombs with M-103 nose and M-101A2 tail fuses, took off at 1828 to dive bomb various railroad crossings and road segments at multiple locations.  Thirty of the 32 aircraft actually completed the mission.

The aircraft carried with them a total of 65,440 rounds of .50 caliber machine gun ammunition, though none was to be expended in the mission.

Weather was a problem though, 8/10 to 10/10 cumulous with significant vertical development in layers between 1,500 and 7,000 feet  removed the possibility of dive bombing the targets though visibility was excellent beneath the cloud deck.

Two aircraft attacked the railroad crossing and maybe got two hits on it.  Another railroad junction was attacked by three aircraft – five bombs released with two probable hits.  Ten aircraft attacked a road segment and released 19 bombs at 1,000 feet in level flight and obtaining five hits, fair results.  Ten Thunderbolts found a hole in the weather and dove from 5,000 feet at a 45-degree angle and released at 1,500 feet on a road segment obtaining 10 hits out of 20 bombs released, considered excellent results.  Five other aircraft attacked three other targets, including a road, a railroad and bridge with unobserved results.

M64-bomb-2

For more information about 500-lb general purpose bombs, see:  https://bulletpicker.com/bomb_-500-lb-gp_-an-m64a1.html

Two of the planes dropped a single 500-lb bomb each into the Channel before returning to base, presumably hung ordnance as the Oprep reported two bomb release mechanisms, broken shackles, needing to be replaced.  When machines work hard parts get worn.  And though people aren’t machines, they get worn too when worked hard.

Working below the weather didn’t really pan out well, as the 406th Fighter Squadron history noted in attempting to cut a road leading out of Periers – low-angle “skip bombing” was a no-go at low altitude given the fuzing on the 500-lb bombs carried.

In their various attacks the aircraft encountered meager but accurate flak; passing in the vicinity of St. Lo and Vire the flak was moderate and accurate.  Fortunately the Wehrmacht anti-aircraft gunners on the ground were unable to hit any of the group’s aircraft.

Bundesarchiv_Bild_164-12-6-09A_Frankreich_Vierlings-Flak_auf_Zugkraftwagen

A German self-propelled quadruple 20mm anti-aircraft gun mount (2 cm Flakvierling 38) pictured in June, 1944 (War history online.com)

So that was the experience of the 371st Fighter Group on Independence Day, 1944.  Holidays in the combat zone are surely remembered, but the press of operations allows little time to reflect on it.  Perhaps the members of the group did think of the effort they were making to liberate Europe from fascism.  But it took the group another ten months of combat to see that day in Europe, many more missions, sorties, bombs, bullets and blood.  Because freedom isn’t free, back then and today.

 

References

The Story of the 371st Fighter Group in the E.T.O.

371FG Monthly History for July, 1944

371FG Oprep for 4 July 1944

405th and 406th Fighter Squadron Monthly Histories for July 1944

20-lb bomb image from: https://bbs.hitechcreations.com/smf/index.php?topic=359095.0

500-lb bomb image from:  http://harringtonmuseum.org.uk/an-m64/

German flak image at:  https://www.warhistoryonline.com/world-war-ii/watch-this-german-propaganda-newsreel-about-battle-for-normandy-warsaw-uprising.html

 

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Eager and Ready:  Remembering the 371st Fighter Group on D-Day

Saturday, June 6th, 2020, marks the 76th anniversary of the 1944 Allied landings in Normandy, France on D-Day, and the 371st Fighter Group, designated now as the 142d Wing, was part of the operation.  The group’s 75 P-47 Thunderbolt fighters were part of an aerial armada of some 13,000 Allied aircraft which supported the air and surface landings involving over 160,000 troops on the beaches and in the interior of France.  The group’s efforts on that day helped the Western Allies to gain a foot-hold on the Continent to defeat the forces of the Third Reich and liberate millions of people in Western Europe.

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The 405th Fighter Squadron’s “Damn Yankee,” Republic P-47D-16-RE Thunderbolt serial number 42-76099, sports a hungry mouth (eye obscured by propeller blade) is pictured here awaiting fuses for 500-lb bombs beneath the wings, likely at Beuzeville (aka La Londe) (Advanced Landing Ground A-6), near Ste-Mère-Église, France sometime after D-Day in the summer of 1944.  The P-47 sports numerous missions symbols for bombing, fighter sweeps and top cover, and served on with the squadron until at least until 8 October 1944 when it was badly damaged in a taxiing accident at Dole/Tavaux Airfield (Y-7), France. (Image via both Tom Silkowski and Jon Berstein)

To give a flavor for what it was like for the unit that day, here is the pertinent entry in the 405th Fighter Squadron (today’s 190th Fighter Squadron of the Idaho ANG) monthly history for June, 1944:

“D-Day, 6 June 1944, found the pilots of the 405th eager and ready to get into the fight.  They were assembled in the Pilot’s tent on the line, listening to the late news, some standing, others playing cards.  This was the day everyone had waited for so long a time.  However, most of the day went by without the 405th participating in any mission.  Finally the order to get to the briefing room came through, and shortly after “Gremlin Joe”, “Geronimo”, “Ida No” and other planes of the squadron took off on a dive bombing mission and roared across the field to add their bit to the invasion battle raging across the channel.  Later that evening two ships returned riddled by gunfire and flak. Everyone got down safely.”

For some other previously published accounts of the 371st Fighter Group on D-Day and in the subsequent Normandy Campaign, please check out the following articles at the links below:

“The 371st Fighter Group in Operation Overlord: Remembering Normandy at 75,” published June 06, 2019, at:  https://www.142fw.ang.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/1868126/the-371st-fighter-group-in-operation-overlord-remembering-normandy-at-75/

“First Blood in the Air” (8 June 1944), published June 10, 2014, at:  https://www.142fw.ang.af.mil/News/Features/Display/Article/864380/first-blood-in-the-air/

“D-Day, June 6, 1944, The Longest Day,” published June 06, 2014 (70th anniversary), at: https://www.142fw.ang.af.mil/News/Features/Display/Article/864382/d-day-june-6-1944-the-longest-day/

“The French Farm Girl of the Flying Field: Yvette Hamel and the 371st Fighter Group,” published August 28, 2013, at: https://www.142fw.ang.af.mil/News/Features/Display/Article/864399/the-french-farm-girl-of-the-flying-field-yvette-hamel-and-the-371st-fighter-gro/

“The 371st Fighter Group on D-Day, June 6, 1944,” published June 06, 2013, at:  The 371st Fighter Group on D-Day, June 6, 1944 > 142nd Wing > Display

 

References

D-Day:  June 6, 1944 information at:  https://www.army.mil/d-day/

405th Fighter Squadron monthly history for June, 1944

“Damn Yankee” serial number information found at:  http://www.joebaugher.com/usaf_serials/1942_4.html

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371st Fighter Group – Memorial Day 2020

On this Monday, May 26, 2020 we remember those in uniform who gave the ultimate sacrifice for the people of the United States of America.  Not to be confused with Armed Forces Day (to honor those serving currently) or Veterans Day (to honor those who served), Memorial Day is a solemn occasion to remember those fallen in service to the nation.  “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13).

American_military_cemetery_2003

Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, where two P-47 pilots of the 371st Fighter Group (designated now as the 142nd Wing ) are buried.  (Wikipedia)

A presidential proclamation has been released as we honor our fallen, taking note that 2020 marks 75 years since the end of World War II and victory over Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan that cost us more than 400,000 American service men and women to ensure: https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/proclamation-prayer-peace-memorial-day-2020/

It may be forgotten by some amidst long weekend barbecues and such, but there is ample reason because of our freedom to remember those who made it possible.  All one has to do is make an effort.  Some ways to remember on Memorial Day are:

  1. Remember a family member or friend who was lost in the service. Speak their name.  Share a memory about them.

 

  1. Look around you at your family, friends and community, and appreciate all of what they mean to you, that you are able to do that because someone else laid their life on the line to defend it.

 

  1. Visit a veteran’s cemetery and read the names, units and dates on the headstones. Find some for a unit you served in or a conflict you fought in.

 

  1. In the future, non-COVID-19 time, participate in a Memorial Day ceremony or event in your community, or create one of your own today.
  2. Pray for the fallen, their families and loved ones.

 

  1. Fly Old Glory in their honor.

 

  1. Take an active role as a citizen of the country and in your community, and express yourself to your elected representatives – perhaps too many of these are not working for the best interest of people and country but for partisan and self-interest. They are elected and even re-elected all too often.  Citizens shouldn’t be silent or indolent lest they lose what freedom and liberty we enjoy.  For freedom isn’t free, as we all should remember, on Memorial Day.

 

In the case of the 371st Fighter Group, 56 men were killed in combat and in non-combat operations during World War II and the immediate aftermath.   In combat operations the group lost 44 P-47 pilots in 13 months of combat in Northwestern Europe.  Three P-47 pilots were killed in non-combat flying accidents and two more in ground accidents.  Another seven men were non-combat losses, including a case of someone in the ground echelon who just went missing and was later declared dead.  All of their names sans one are listed at:  https://371stfightergroup.wordpress.com/2015/05/25/the-group-remembers-on-memorial-day/

P47_Pres-d'Argentan_1944_V0050

Wreck of a P-47 Thunderbolt fighter crashed near Argentan, France, around August 15, 1944. (Asisbiz.com/il2/P-47D/Republic-P-47-Thunderbolt/pages)

And the one more name to add to the roll of honor, the group’s last casualty of World War II, is 1st Lt. Roger P. Trevitt of group HQ, lost on 9 July 1945:  https://371stfightergroup.wordpress.com/2015/11/30/a-frisky-mystery-the-loss-of-1st-lt-roger-p-trevitt/

But there are more names to remember.  If one adds the dead of the 142d Wing’s 123rd Fighter Squadron in World War II, then designated as the 123rd Observation Squadron and the 35th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron, there are another 11 men to remember: https://35prs.wordpress.com/2014/05/24/memorial-day-2014-and-the-35th-photo-recon-squadron/

Manila_American_Cemetery_and_Memorial

Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in the Philippines, where three F-5 Photo Lightning pilots of the 35th Photo Recon Squadron (designated as the 123rd Fighter Squadron today) are remembered on the Tablets of the Missing (Wikipedia)

…with one more to update the list, a charter member of the 123d Observation Squadron who transferred out to become an A-20 Havoc pilot killed in action in Europe, at:  https://www.142fw.ang.af.mil/News/Features/Display/Article/864337/remembering-thad-c-williams/

And there are yet more names, in peacetime since World War II ended and the 371st became the 142nd and based in Portland, Oregon in the Oregon Air National Guard, there are 18 losses from 1948 to 2007, from the P-51 Mustang era to the F-15 Eagle.  These postwar casualties are remembered by name on a tablet in the 142nd Wing’s Memorial Park on Portland ANG Base:  https://www.142fw.ang.af.mil/News/Features/Display/Article/864383/the-oregon-air-national-guard-memorial-park/

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The Oregon ANG Memorial Park featuring 18 names of Oregon Airmen. (Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs)

Another category of loss to remember would be of personnel who served in the unit and were later lost while in service with another unit.  Such is the case for former 371st Fighter Group P-47 pilot Francis T. Evans Jr. of the 95th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, lost in an F-86D flying accident 16 Jan 1953 when the engine of his aircraft failed; he stayed with it to ensure it missed a nearby elementary school and paid the ultimate sacrifice:  https://371stfightergroup.wordpress.com/2015/11/03/a-post-war-hero-the-last-flight-of-captain-francis-t-evans-jr/

And a former 35th Photo Recon Squadron (123rd Fighter Squadron today) F-5E pilot who survived his combat tour in WWII, Edward B. Burdett Jr., went on to command the 388th Tactical Fighter Wing during the Vietnam War.  He was shot down on a combat mission over North Vietnam in his F-105D Thunderchief, captured and died the same day, 18 August 1967:  http://www.veterantributes.org/TributeDetail.php?recordID=127

Of note, there are five fallen members of the 371st Fighter Group still missing in action (MIA) in Europe from World War II, as well as three men from the 35th Photo Recon Squadron missing in Asia, for a grand total of eight unit members still MIA.  May the lost yet be found:  https://www.142fw.ang.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/1963948/remembering-on-national-powmia-day-2019/

So, with all these numbers added up there are 88 men of the 371st Fighter Group/142nd Wing to remember who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom and liberty.  They are buried or remembered far and wide across the world, overseas and in the United States, in national cemeteries and private plots.  We owe them and their families a debt of gratitude for their service and sacrifice for our land and people.  Let’s remember them on this Memorial Day.

Headstones at Lorraine American Cemetery - ABMC-Warrick Page

Headstones at Lorraine American Cemetery, France, where six P-47 pilots of the 371st Fighter Group are buried and one of the group’s enlisted men is remembered on the Tablets of the Missing.   (©ABMC-Warrick Page)

 

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Armed Forces Day 2020

Today is Armed Forces Day here in the United States, an annual observance which honors the men and women currently serving in the six branches of the armed services.

A presidential proclamation for the day has been issued, which you can view at:  https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/proclamation-armed-forces-day-2020/

To the men and women of today’s 142d Wing, designated as the 371st Fighter Group during World War II, Portland ANG Base, Oregon, and all those serving in our armed forces, a hand salute!

night flying training this Monday through Thursday, 16-19 March

A 142d Fighter Wing F-15C Eagle ambles up the ramp at Portland ANG Base, Oregon during night training in March, 2020 (USAF Photo by 142FW/PA)

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Victory in Europe Day 2020

Friday, May 8th, 2020 is the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe day (V-E Day).  On the original V-E Day the 371st Fighter Group’s P-47 Thunderbolts flew their last combat missions of the war in Europe.

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A Republic P-47 Thunderbolt of the 371st Fighter Group’s 405th Fighter Squadron (squadron code 8N) flies above Europe in the spring of 1945.There were three fighter squadrons and a number of other attached units that formed the group in World War II. (The Story of the 371st Fighter Group in the ETO)

The 371st Fighter Group was there in action at the end of the war, with all three fighter squadrons, 404th, 405th and 406th flying the last wartime missions as described in this new history article posted on the 142d Wing website at:  https://www.142fw.ang.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2181178/there-at-the-finish-the-371st-fighter-group-on-victory-in-europe-day/

It may be coincidental or planned, but on this 75th anniversary of V-E Day a pair of F-15 Eagle jet fighters of the 142d Wing flew another morning patrol, an aerial salute for our medical professionals in the region, flying over many medical facilities in Oregon (38!) and at least one closer to this writer’s heart and home in Southwest Washington.  Also of coincidence (consecutive miracles?) this salute took place during National Nurse’s Week (May 6-12), in the 2020, the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, when we honor our nurses, which evoked a heartfelt emotion as well considering life in this writer’s experience.

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Northern Oregon and SW Washington Flyovers for COVID-19, America Strong (142d Wing)

https://www.142fw.ang.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2179707/oregon-air-national-guard-to-conduct-air-force-salute-flyovers-in-oregon/

The medical salute flyover was well received by the recipients and the public as can be seen in social media commentary in Facebook (FB) on the 142d Wing page and local news pages in FB (KATU-2, KOIN-6, KGW-8 and KPTV-12), and in this pair of photos from the FB page of PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver, Washington, during the 0850 overflight of their hospital.

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A pair of 142d Wing F-15 Eagles fly over PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver, WA on the morning of Friday, May 8, 2020 in salute to our community medical professionals (PHSW photo)

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Medical professionals view the May 8, 2020 flyover at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver, WA  (PHSW photo)

Members of the public mostly lauded the salute, with many asking for the jets to fly over their medical facilities and areas which weren’t on this list. (Note, there may be another salute mission on May 15, details pending).  For the few naysayers, others reminded them that the pilots train regularly and a navigational flight like this salute is a form of proficiency training that is needed and already budgeted for, and is not a frivolous expenditure of public funds.

Just as the last wartime missions were flown and uneventful by warriors serving to end a war and bring a peace, today’s medical flyover mission is also a sign of peace in a way, the peace in body, heart and mind for many that comes from medical professionals who give their all to assure the health of their communities.  These hometown heroes put their lives on the line especially these days in the COVID-19 battle.  On this V-E Day, we salute the members of the 371st Fighter Group and the 142d Wing, the same unit, flying missions of peace, 75 years apart, a great mission, both then and now.  And we salute our medical professionals who also serve, then and now.

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A squadron formation from the 371st fighter group plies the skies over Europe in World War II. On the last day of the war, all three fighter squadrons of the group conducted air patrols over western Czechoslovakia and Austria. (The Story of the 371st Fighter Group in the ETO)

 

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Twice Escaped: The POW Story of P-47 Pilot Edward R. Kirkland

Today, April 9th, is National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day in the United States. On this day we remember and honor the service and sacrifice of our military men and women held captive against their will, some 500,000+ through American history.  A presidential proclamation was issued for this day:   https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/proclamation-national-former-prisoner-war-recognition-day-2020/

The 371st Fighter Group had at least 20 pilots taken captive during World War II.  Several of these managed to escape and return to friendly lines.   A list of their names can be viewed at:  https://www.142fw.ang.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/1963948/remembering-on-national-powmia-day-2019/

371FG 406FS Kirkland

First Lieutenant Edward R. Kirkland, from Coral Gables, Florida, flew in the 406FS and had an exciting story to tell after returning to the unit following his shoot down, capture and escape. As seen here, some things are better explained by hands. (The Story of the 371st Fighter Group in the E.T.O.)

The recently redesignated 142d Fighter Wing, still the 371st Fighter Group by another name, remembered one of theirs today, in “Twice Escaped: The Story of P-47 Pilot Edward R. Kirkland,” at:  https://www.142fw.ang.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2143606/twice-escaped-the-pow-story-of-p-47-pilot-edward-r-kirkland/fbclid/IwAR19YmSgCV-cRNE3jujRfftFA8S2mkDlFjE3OgXo2BDG8SVnx2b7vPN2tu0/

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