Frisky’s Thoughts of the Pacific

Although this is wandering out of Frisky’s area of operations in the European Theater of Operations a bit to mention, today, 19 July 2015, is the scheduled release date for Check Six! A Thunderbolt Pilot’s War Across the Pacific, from Casemate Publishers. To find out about the Thunderbolt’s role in the Pacific, often overshadowed by the P-47 in Europe, or perhaps learn something new about the P-47 Thunderbolt in the Pacific you didn’t know before, check it out! http://www.casematepublishers.com/title.php?isbn=9781612002996

The cover of Jim Curran’s Check Six! shows P-47 Thunderbolt pilots of the 341st Fighter Squadron assembled for a picture in 1944.  (Courtesy Casemate Publishers)

The cover of Jim Curran’s Check Six! shows P-47 Thunderbolt pilots of the 341st Fighter Squadron assembled for a picture in 1944. (Courtesy Casemate Publishers)

As for any link this new book might have with the 371st Fighter Group, it would be the words “P-47″ and “Pacific.”  In the summertime Europe of 1945 it was still anyone’s guess as to which USAAF units would be headed from Europe after VE-Day to the Pacific to join the war against Imperial Japan which still raged in the Far East.  As plans were being made in July, 1945, for the invasion of Imperial Japan, in the aftermath of the bloody Okinawa campaign, it was clear that any landings on the Japanese Home Islands would result in similar death and destruction, at perhaps far, far greater levels.

Two Marines from the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment during fighting at Wana Ridge during the Battle of Okinawa, May 1945. On the left, Davis Hargraves provides covering fire with his M1 Thompson submachinegun as Gabriel Chavarria, with a M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle, prepares to break cover to move to a different position.  (Courtesy Wikipedia)

Two Marines from the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment during fighting at Wana Ridge during the Battle of Okinawa, May 1945. On the left, Davis Hargraves provides covering fire with his M1 Thompson submachinegun as Gabriel Chavarria, with a M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle, prepares to break cover to move to a different position. (Courtesy Wikipedia)

Rumor had it in the 371st Fighter Group that the outfit would be returning to the States for a brief period and then going overseas again, and the China-Burma-India theater was specifically mentioned.  No details of such a plan including the 371st are known to the writer of this web log, but additional air units were headed for the Pacific in the summer of 1945.

Perhaps the 371st would have been re-equipped in the United States with the latest Thunderbolt, the P-47N with the greater range capability.  That certainly would have helped in the long distances often encountered in the Pacific.

Two Republic P-47N Thunderbolt fighter planes in flight. The P-47N featured an uprated engine and extra fuel contained in a redesigned, larger wing for very long range operations.  It was the last variant of the famed Thunderbolt fighter, ending production in October 1945, as thousands more on order were cancelled with the end of the war.  (U.S. Air Force photo, via Defense Media Network)

Two Republic P-47N Thunderbolt fighter planes in flight. The P-47N featured an uprated engine and extra fuel contained in a redesigned, larger wing for very long range operations. It was the last variant of the famed Thunderbolt fighter, ending production in October 1945, as thousands more on order were cancelled with the end of the war. (U.S. Air Force photo, via Defense Media Network)

Whether the 371st would have gone to China with Fourteenth Air Force is debatable, given the incredible logistics challenge of supplying the air units already there, even with the Stilwell/Ledo Road opened and operating.

Perhaps there would have been a role for Frisky with the USAAF Tenth Air Force in Southeast Asia, with planned Allied efforts to liberate Malaya (Operation Zipper) and Singapore (Operation Tiderace) in the offing.

Or would the 371st have become a part of strategic air operations with the Eighth Air Force, which had moved its headquarters to Okinawa in July, 1945 and was growing in strength for the planned invasion of Japan?

Who can say what would have happened with the 371 st Fighter Group had the war in the pacific continued?  Thank God it did not, for the sake of American military and naval personnel, of all the people in countries occupied by Imperial Japan, and for the Japanese people as well.

But wherever Frisky went, he was prepared to accomplish the mission, as demonstrated in an incredible combat record in the ETO.  As things turned out, the 371st never went to the Pacific in World War II, and the group participated in the Occupation of Germany for several months before returning to the United States in November, 1945.

References

Check Six, A Thunderbolt Pilot’s War Across the Pacific, at: http://www.casematepublishers.com/title.php?isbn=9781612002996

Battle of Okinawa, Wikipedia entry, at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Okinawa

Operation Tiderace, Wikipedia entry, at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Tiderace

P-47N image at: http://www.defensemedianetwork.com/stories/flying-the-p-47n-thunderbolt/

P-47 Thunderbolt, Wikipedia entry, at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republic_P-47_Thunderbolt

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Pence makes P-47 fighter Indiana’s official airplane

Indiana’s Governor Mike Pence has made it official today, Wednesday, 24 June 2015 – the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt is Indiana’s state aircraft:

http://www.courierpress.com/news/local-news/pence-makes-p47-fighter-indianas-official-airplane_17958831

It’s unclear at this time if the designation only applies to the Evanvsille, Indiana, factory-produced P-47’s (-RA versions), more than 6,000 built, or if this includes all Thunderbolts, including the others produced in Farmingdale, New York (-RE versions).

Republic P-47 Thunderbolt production line shows how the P-47 became the most-produced US fighter plane of World War II.  (Courtesy Mission4today.com)

Republic P-47 Thunderbolt production line shows how the P-47 became the most-produced US fighter plane of World War II. (Courtesy Mission4today.com)

The P-47 was the most-produced fighter plane of the United States during World War II, with over 15,600 built between Republic’s two production plants in New York and Indiana. The first Evansville-built P-47D rolled out in September, 1942.

References
“P-47 Thunderbolt named official state aircraft of Indiana,” at: http://www.fox19.com/story/29399467/p-47-thunderbolt-named-official-state-aircraft-of-indiana

“WWII vet wants Evansville-built P-47 named state’s official ‘warbird,'” at: http://www.courierpress.com/news/state/wwii-vet-wants-evansvillebuilt-p47-named-states-official-warbird_71044191

P-47 factory image at:  http://www.mission4today.com/index.php?name=ForumsPro&file=viewtopic&t=14428&start=105&finish=15&printertopic=1

Major P-47 Thunderbolt Variations, Serial Numbers, & Production,” at: http://www.368thfightergroup.com/P-47-2.html

Republic P-47, USAF Fact Sheet, at: http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=2213

 

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Ready to Fly!

Who knows what unknown historical treasures are yet to be discovered?  Or rediscovered, for that matter.  Here’s one you may not have seen, shared for what it is worth.

In June of 1944, the 371st Fighter Group began combat operations based on the Continent, at Advanced Landing Ground A-6 near the famed Sainte-Mère-Église.  There are some images of the group when it was based there, and even some film footage.

Note in the nine-second film clip below a P-47D Thunderbolt fighter-bomber of the 404th Fighter Squadron (squadron code 9Q) armed with 500-lb bombs  as it rolls over a slightly undulating taxiway enroute to the active runway.  A-6 was an expeditionary airfield which used square mesh track (SMT) as a surface, and as seen in this short film clip it accomplished its purpose in providing an effective surface for air operations.

Also notice at the end of the clip another P-47 with Armorers preparing it for another mission.  Some type of nose art is seen on the cowling, and seems to be a Native American Indian. A name appears to be written on the white ring on the leading edge of the cowling.  Perhaps it is “Geronimo.”

Hopefully more Frisky photos and film will emerge and be shared to help tell his story and remember those who served and sacrificed for the freedoms we still enjoy today.  With the way the world is today, one might think of the old warning that those who don’t know history are condemned to repeat it.  It would be better not to repeat another world war experience, so let us do what we can to remember…

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The (Flying) Kentuckian

A pilot of the Yearling squadron, the 406th Fighter Squadron, has written and published a memoir titled “The Kentuckian” recounting his life full of aviation.

"THe Kentuckian," written by 371 st Fighter Group P-47 pilot Harris B. "Wil" Wilhoite, published in the spring of 2015.  (Courtesy Wil Wilhoite)

“The Kentuckian,” written by 371st Fighter Group P-47 pilot Harris B. “Wil” Wilhoite, published in the spring of 2015. (Courtesy Wil Wilhoite)

The author, Harris B. “Wil” Wilhoite, joined the 406th on 17 December 1944. He describes his WWII combat experience as a member of the 371st Fighter Group in chapters 8 through 11. There are a ton of other aviation stories in the book, as Wil Wilhote also flew combat in Korea during his post-World War II Air Force service. He ultimately completed a 61-year flying career, accumulating over 25,000 flying hours in dozens of different aircraft types.

The backside of Wil Wilhoite's book succinctly captures the highlights of his over six-decade aviation career.  (Courtesy Wil Wilhoite)

The backside of Wil Wilhoite’s book succinctly captures the highlights of his over six-decade aviation career. (Courtesy Wil Wilhoite)

It is encouraging to see any 371st Fighter Group veteran make the effort to document their military experience, to share with family, friends, the public and posterity. Kudos to Wil Wilhoite for “The Kentuckian.”

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A Frisky Medic Remembers D-Day

Today is the 71st anniversary of the Allied landings in Normandy, D-Day. In past years, this web log has endeavored to share details of the role that the 371st Fighter Group played on that day of destiny. Having examined the official records, one might wonder what else is there to say about what Frisky did on that day.

Truth be told, there are still tales to be told, from the servicemen who were there. Thanks to the work last year of Washington Times reporter Meredith Somers, a little more of Frisky’s D-Day story is revealed. Her article is titled “For each man, a D-Day duty: Fearless fighters turned the tide of World War II.”

Ms. Somers interviewed several veterans for her story, including Herbert H. Wood, Jr., who was a Medic and a Corporal in the 406th Fighter Squadron of the group. Wood hailed from Port Angeles, Washington, and Ms. Somers documented the following D-Day recollection from him:

“Herb Wood knew something big was about to happen when he saw a line of low-flying planes in the English sky above him.

The 406th Fighter Squadron carried three Herberts on the roster, Herbert Wood, Herbert Slomin and Herbert Grace.  This photo, is from the 406FS section of Frisky's warbook, and is simply captioned "Little Herbie."  It is unknown if this Herbie is Herbert Wood or one of the other Herberts in the squadron.  (Source:  The Story of the 371 st Fighter group in the E.T.O.)

The 406th Fighter Squadron carried three Herberts on the roster, Cpl. Herbert Wood, 2nd Lt. Herbert A. Slamin and S/Sgt. Herbert W. Grace. This photo, is from the 406FS section of Frisky’s warbook, and is simply captioned “Little Herbie.” An enlisted man, it is unknown if this Herbie is Herbert Wood or Herbert Grace. (Source: The Story of the 371 st Fighter group in the E.T.O.)

Far from his home in Washington state, the 21-year-old had enlisted with the Army Air Corps after college and was assigned as a medic with the 371st Fighter Group, stationed in Hampshire, England.

Unbeknownst to him, hundreds of thousands of U.S., British and Canadian troops were preparing a massive incursion into Nazi-controlled France, to storm the beaches of the Normandy coast in the D-Day invasion that was a key turning point in World War II.

On June 5, 1944, Mr. Wood was working outside when he looked up and saw about 30 planes in a row.

“They turned right over me and went back right across the [English] Channel,” he told The Washington Times at his home at the Greenspring retirement community in Springfield, Virginia. “It would be impossible [for the invasion] to have been any other day but tomorrow.”

He spent hours that day painting black-and-white stripes onto the planes’ bodies and wings.

371st Fighter Group Commanding Officer, Colonel Bingham T. Kleine, is pictured here with a couple of the ground crew that kept his aircraft operational.  Note the D-Day recognition stripes beneath the P-47 wing behind them.  The stripes were a measure to help Allied soldiers, sailors and airmen quickly identify Allied/friendly aircraft in the crowded skies over Normandy.  (Courtesy John Kleine)

371st Fighter Group Commanding Officer, Colonel Bingham T. Kleine, is pictured here with a couple of the ground crew that kept his aircraft operational. Note the D-Day recognition stripes beneath the P-47 wing behind them. The stripes were a measure to help Allied soldiers, sailors and airmen quickly identify Allied/friendly aircraft in the crowded skies over Normandy. (Courtesy John Kleine)

“The reason was so that they wouldn’t be confused with German planes,” he said. “You can see in old pictures, you know when the picture was taken because the plane either has black-and-white stripes or it doesn’t.”

Early the next morning, the planes joined Allied troops as they forced their way onto the French sand.

Mr. Wood said the men at his camp made it a point to monitor the “bomb line” on the map.
“We were interested how we were doing, where was the front,” he said. “We looked at the map, the black line, every day.”

That black line showed where the allies had pushed forward. The farther east, the better they were fighting.

The invasion, Mr. Wood said, “was not only well-planned, it was planned in great detail. It’s probably a masterpiece in planning in great detail.”

“There was no other way to deal with Hitler except to get him out of Europe,” said Mr. Wood, 91. “It was an essential first step that had to be done. Everybody expected that. D-Day was not just any day.”

How many more D-Day memories are out there, waiting to be shared? It’s an imponderable question. But the search for them continues, as it does for any of Frisky’s history, that the group’s record of achievement, of sacrifice, might be preserved for future generations.

Our country has been through difficult times before, and will likely do so again, given the way the world is these days with chaos breaking out all over. The example that the men (and women) of the 371st Fighter Group team provides, of perseverance through adversity, is a source of inspiration for those who will make the effort to study it.
Read Meredith Somers’ complete article at:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/jun/5/for-each-man-a-d-day-duty-fearless-fighters-turned/?page=all

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Eliel Archilla, 405th Fighter Squadron, has Flown West

From the P-47 Thunderbolt Community Page in Facebook, news was posted on 2 June 2015 about the passing of 371st Fighter Group/405th Fighter Squadron pilot Lt Col Eliel “Arch” Archilla, at 92 years of age.

Eliel "Arch" Archilla in a wartime photo.  He flew in the 405th Fighter Squadron of the 371 st Fighter Group.  (Courtesy P-47 Thunderbolt Community Page in Facebook)

Eliel “Arch” Archilla in a wartime photo. He flew in the 405th Fighter Squadron of the 371 st Fighter Group. (Courtesy P-47 Thunderbolt Community Page in Facebook)

Source: https://www.facebook.com/p47jug

Artist Billy Tucci, who awesome artwork told the story of the “Lost Battalion of World War II in a DC Comics SGT Rock series, befriended Archilla during the project:

“During Tucci’s run on his DC Comics project Sgt. Rock: The Lost Battalion, he interviewed and befriend many of the real life heroes of the events he depicted in the story. One of those veterans was Lt. Col. Eliel “Arch” Archilla of the 405th Fighter squadron.

“During the battle for the Lost Battalion in October 1944, Colonel Archilla was a 19-year-old junior officer and one of only eight Allied pilots allowed to fly that week. Due to the un-flyable weather, they all volunteered for what turned out to be a potential suicide mission, but one that was crucial to the Lost Battalion’s survival. They saved so many of the infantrymen on their repeated re-supply and ground support missions that week,” Tucci said.”

On 18-19 July 2008, Archilla participated in a symposium discussing the Lost Battalion saga, at the Texas Military Forces Museum in Austin. French patriots kindly donated genuine historical artifacts in conjunction with the event, some of the belly tanks found in the forest at the battle site that were used to transport vital supplies to the surrounded American troops air delivered by Archilla and other pilots in the 405th Fighter Squadron.

Members of the 2008 Lost Battalion Symposium are, from left to right, Franz Steidl, Yeiichi Kelly Kuwayama, LTC Eliel "Arch" Archilla, and Lt. Erwin Blonder.  (Courtesy Japanese American Veterans Association)

Members of the 2008 Lost Battalion Symposium are, from left to right, Franz Steidl, Yeiichi Kelly Kuwayama, LTC Eliel “Arch” Archilla, and Lt. Erwin Blonder. (Courtesy Japanese American Veterans Association)

This web log remembered the epic series of mission he participated in last year, in a 2014 posting commemorating the 70th anniversary of the missions:
https://371stfightergroup.wordpress.com/2014/10/29/like-something-you-would-see-in-the-movies-371st-fighter-group-air-drops-for-the-lost-battalion/

On Lt Col Archilla’s departure westward, we render respectfully render a hand salute, and thank him for his service to our nation!  Contribute to and/or read the guestbook in his remembrance at:
http://obits.dignitymemorial.com/dignity-memorial/obituary.aspx?n=Eliel-Archilla&lc=2357&pid=174993677&mid=6467993
References

“Revisiting Billy Tucci’s A Child Is Born,” at: http://scoop.diamondgalleries.com/Home/4/1/73/1017?articleID=126054

“EXTRAORDINARY REUNION OF WWII VETERANS OF THE 36TH (TEXAS) DIVISION, 405TH FIGHTER SQUADRON AND 442ND RCT AND THE FRENCH OF THE VOSGES MOUNTAINS,” on the Japanese American Veterans Association page, at: http://javadc.org/Press%20release%2008-24-08%20Lost%20Bn%20Symposium.htm

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The Group Remembers on Memorial Day

This Memorial Day, we remember the 55 Airmen on the 371st Fighter Group’s Roll of Honor, those who were lost in service during World War II, which includes six men still missing.  In alphabetical order by last name, and with available information, they are carried here for remembrance:

Allen, Macey E., Cpl., 404th Fighter Squadron, from Huntsville, Alabama. KBEA, March 29, 1945, in a fort near Metz, France. He is buried at the Marietta National Cemetery in Marietta, Georgia, at Plot G, 8366G.

Angst, Theodore R., 2nd Lt., 405FS, from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. KIFA, April 18, 1945, near Darmstadt, Germany.

Bailey, John E., 2nd Lt., 404FS, from Whitefield, New Hampshire. KIA, July 30, 1944, over France. He is buried at the Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia, at Section 34, Site 1609. He was awarded the Purple Heart.

Bales, William T., Jr., Capt., Group HQ, from Chattanooga, Tennessee. MIA, April 13, 1945, over Germany. Postwar determined dead, he is buried at the Ardennes American Cemetery in Neupre, Belgium, at Plot D, Row 8, Grave 6. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster.

Banks, Glenn O., 1st Lt., 404FS, from Ponea, Oklahoma. KIA, July 17, 1944, near Quettou, France.

Bilstin, Leon, Capt., 405 and 406FS, from Los Angeles, California. KIA, September 28, 1944, while with the 378th Fighter Squadron of the 362nd Fighter Group. He is remembered on the Tablets of the Missing at the Lorraine Military Cemetery, in St. Avold, France. He was awarded the Purple Heart and the Air Medal with 11 Oak Leaf Clusters.

Booth, Robert A., 1st Lt., 405FS, from Oakville, Connecticut. KIA, October 27, 1944, on food drop mission to the “Lost Battalion” near St. Die, in P-47D 42-76477. He is buried at the Epinal American Cemetery, Epinal, France, at Plot B, Row 12, Grave 23. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart and the Air Medal with nine Oak Leaf Clusters.

Boyle, Charles J. Jr., Flight Officer, 404FS, Worchester, Massachusetts. KIA, February 27, 1945, near Metz, France. He is buried in the Luxembourg American Cemetery, in Luxembourg City, Luxembourg, at Plot E, Row 3, Grave 23. He was awarded the Purple Heart and the Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster.

Bridges, Doctor Samuel Boyce, Jr., 1st Lt., 406FS, from Henrietta, North Carolina. KIA, March 23, 1945, near Germersheim, Germany. He is buried at the Cliffside Cemetery, in Cliffside, North Carolina.

Bunting, Joseph A., 1st Lt., 405FS, from St. Petersburg, Florida. MIA, April 4, 1945, over Germany. His body found in 1949, he is buried in the St. Augustine National Cemetery, Saint Augustine, Florida.

Calish, Sumner J., 2nd Lt., 406FS, from Brighton, Massachusetts. KIA, August 24, 1944, over France.

Chandler, Fred T., Sgt., 404FS,from Slater, South Carolina. KBEA, March 29, 1945, in fort near Metz, France. He is buried at the Marietta National Cemetery in Marietta, Georgia, at Plot G, 8366G.

Clark, Bradley B., 2nd Lt., 406FS, from Mt. Vernon, New York. KIA, December 23, 1944, at Tantonville, France, on return from a combat mission. He is buried in the Epinal American Cemetery, at Epinal, France, at Plot B, Row 24, Grave 9. He was awarded the Purple Heart and the Air Medal.

Daley, William J., Lt. Col., Group HQ, from Amarillo, Texas. KIFA September 9, 1944, in taxing accident at Coulommiers, France. He is buried at the Epinal American Cemetery, Epinal, France, at Plot B, Row 25, Grave 65. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster, Air Medal with eight Oak Leaf Clusters, and the British Distinguished Flying Cross.

Delaney, Sanders E., Lt. Col., 406FS, from Litchfield, Illinois. KIFA, June 5, 1945, in L-5 crash near Nuremburg, Germany. He is buried at the Lorraine American Cemetery, St. Avold, France, at Plot E, Row 13, Grave 14. He was awarded the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster and the Air Medal.

Feit, Herbert E., PFC, 406FS, from New York, New York. Missing April 1, 1945, near Metz, France. He is remembered on the Tablets of the Missing at the Lorraine American Cemetery, St. Avold, France.

Fisher, Walter K., Capt., 404FS, from Westerville, Ohio. MIA April 7, 1945, over Germany. Postwar determined dead, he is buried at the Oak Grove Cemetery in Delaware, Ohio.

Fletcher, Charles R., 2nd Lt., 404FS, from Holton, Kansas. KIA, April 7, 1945, during engagement with enemy aircraft over Germany. He is buried at the Holton Cemetery, in Holton, Kansas, in Section K.

Franklin, Elkin L., Capt., 404FS, from St. Louis, Missouri. MIA, April 20, 1944, over Italy. Postwar Determined Dead. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia at Section 1, Site 602.

Goodman, George M., S/Sgt, from Richmond, Virginia. Died in line of duty, August 24, 1944, near LaCambe, France. He is buried in the Normandy American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, France, at Plot I, Row 26, Grave 11.

Gorman, William, Flight Officer, 405FS, from Brooklyn, New York. MIA, August 7, 1944, over St. Nazaire, France. He is remembered on the Tablets of the Missing at the Brittany American Cemetery in St. James, France. He was awarded the Air Medal with six Oak Leaf Clusters.

Gray, Rockford V., Maj., Group HQ, from Dallas, Texas. KIA, September 4, 1944, at St. Mere Eglise, France, while returning from a mission.

Harris, Christo G., 2nd Lt., 404FS, from Los Angeles, California. MIA, March 16, 1945, over Germany. He is buried at the Luxembourg American Cemetery, in Luxembourg City, Luxembourg, at Plot D Row 5 Grave 9. He was awarded the Purple Heart and the Air medal with five Oak Leaf Clusters.

Hayes, Edward J., Capt., 405FS, from Independence, Kentucky. KIA, November 1, 1944, over eastern France. He is buried in the Lorraine American Cemetery, in St. Avold, France, at Plot B, Row 17, Grave 54. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Purple Heart, and the Air Medal with 11 Oak Leaf Clusters.

Hess, Charles E., 2nd Lt., 405FS, from Mt. Vernon, New York. MIA, December 22, 1944, over Germany. Not in ABMC database for burials or tablets of the missing.

Hohl, Harry W., Jr., Capt., 404FS, from New Brighton, Pennsylvania. KIA, January 2, 1945, over eastern France.

Holm, Wayne L., 2nd Lt., 405FS, from Portland, Oregon. MIA January 2, 1945, over Germany – Postwar Determined Dead. He is buried in the Lorraine American Cemetery, St. Avold, France, at Plot D, Row 7, Grave 14. He was awarded the Air Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters.

Humphreys, Edwin S. Jr., Flight Officer, 404FS, from Chicago, Illinois. MIA, June 8, 1944, over France – Postwar Determined Dead. Remembered on the Tablets of the Missing at Cambridge American Cemetery, Cambridge, England. He was awarded the Purple Heart and the Air Medal.

Jorgenson, William, Jr., 2nd Lt., 405FS, from Waterloo, Iowa. KIA, August 25, 1944, near Troyes, France. He is buried at the Epinal American Cemetery, Epinal, France, at Plot A, Row 28, Grave 61. He was awarded the Air Medal with six Oak Leaf Clusters.

Lamb, William R., Capt., 404FS, from Chateaugay, New York. KIFA, January 14, 1945, near Epinal, France. He is buried at the Epinal American Cemetery, Epinal, France, at Plot B, Row 40, Grave 17. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart, and Air Medal with 12 Oak Leaf Clusters.

Leach Ernest W., 1st Lt., 405FS, from Dennisport, Massachusetts. KIA, August 9, 1944, over France. He is buried in the Brittany American Cemetery in St. James, France, at Plot D, Row 17, Grave 9. He was awarded the Purple Heart and the Air Medal with seven Oak Leaf Clusters.

Leonard, John W., Lt. Col., 405FS, from St. Petersburg, Florida. DOWRIA, January 5, 1945, over Germany. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery at Section 1, Site 304-C.

McWilliams, Jack T., 1st Lt., 405FS, from Somers, Montana. MIA, January 14, 1945, over Germany. Postwar Determined Dead. Found circa 1952. He is buried in the Veterans section of the Conrad Memorial Cemetery near Kalispell, Montana. He was awarded the Air Medal with five Oak Leaf Clusters.

Mezzetti, Robert A., 2nd Lt., 405FS, from San Antonio, Texas. KIA, August 2, 1944, over France. He is buried at the Brittany American Cemetery in St. James, France at Plot K, Row 9, Grave 9. He was awarded the Air Medal with five Oak Leaf Clusters.

Motherway, John W., 2nd Lt., 406FS, from Springfield, Massachusetts. MIA, March 1, 1945, over Germany. Postwar determined dead, he is buried in the Ardennes American Cemetery, Neupre, Belgium, at Plot B, Row 27, Grave 19. He was awarded the Purple Heart.

Mueller, William J., Capt., 404FS, from Robbinsdale, Minnesota. KIA, July 31, 1944, at Mortain, France.

Murphy, Chester M., Jr., 2nd Lt., from Landis, North Carolina. DOWNC, March 4, 1945, at Metz, France. He is buried at the Luxembourg American Cemetery, in Luxembourg City, Luxembourg, at Plot G, Row 6, Grave 1.

Murphy, John F., 2nd Lt., 404FS, from Bonita Springs, Florida. DOWNC, March 4, 1945, at Metz, France.

Nerney, Frederick W., 2nd Lt., 406FS, from Attleboro, Massachusetts. KIA, March 19, 1945, over Rhine Palatinate, Germany. He is buried in the Lorraine American Cemetery, St. Avold, France, at Plot A, Row 29, Grave 22. He was awarded the Purple Heart and the Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster.

Pieck, George D., Capt., 404FS, from Clarksdale, Mississippi. MIA, August 10, 1944, over France. He is remembered on the Tablets of the Missing at the Brittany American Cemetery, St. James, France. He was awarded the Purple Heart and the Air Medal with 13 Oak Leaf Clusters.

Pollingue, Alvin M., 2nd Lt, 405FS, from Vineland, New Jersey. KIA, July 17, 1944, while strafing a train in France. He is buried at the Brittany American Cemetery, St. James, France, at Plot J, Row 6, Grave 15. He was awarded the Purple Heart and the Air Medal with five Oak Leaf Clusters.

Rector, Gerry S., 2nd Lt., 405FS. MIA, April 4, 1945, over Germany. Postwar determined dead, he is buried at the Laredo City Cemetery, in Laredo, Texas, at BL-36 Section 3, Row 5, Space 5.
Salmi, Uno, Capt., 406FS, from Lake Charles, Louisiana. MIA, June 16, 1944, near St. Lo, France. He is remembered on the Tablets of the Missing at the Cambridge American Cemetery, Cambridge, England. He was awarded the Purple Heart and the Air Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters.

Sample, Harry M., Jr., Capt., 404FS, from Houston, Texas. KIFA, October 29, 1944, one mile SE of Le Lox, France, while on local flight in P-47D 42-76366. He is buried at the Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery, San Antonio, Texas, at Section N, Site 130.

Sanderson, Eugene E., 2nd Lt., 405FS. KIFA, April 12, 1944, while on an engineering test hop at Bisterne Airfield, England. He is buried at the Cambridge American Cemetery, Cambridge, England, at Plot F, Row 1, Grave 47.

Shepard, John H., 1st Lt., 406FS, from Buenos Aires, Argentina. KIA, June 18, 1944, near St. Saveur, France. He is buried at the Normandy American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, France, at Plot E, Row 28, Grave 38. He was awarded the Purple Heart and the Air Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters.

Sparks, Charles P., 1st Lt., 406FS, from Swayzee, Indiana. KIA, October 15, 1944, in engagement with enemy aircraft near Strasbourg, France. He is buried at the Lorraine American Cemetery, St. Avold, France, at Plot C, Row 14, Grave 32. He was awarded the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with 11 Oak Leaf Clusters.

Spicer, Harold H., 1st Lt., 405FS, from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. KIA, March 18, 1945, near Metz Airdrome, on return from mission over Germany. He is buried at the Luxembourg American Cemetery, Luxembourg City, Luxembourg, at Plot H, Row 14, Grave 67. He was awarded the Purple Heart and the Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster.

Springer, George W., III, 2nd Lt., 406FS, from Seneca, Kansas. KIA, October 17, 1944, over Germany. He is buried in St. Peter and Paul’s Cemetery in Seneca, Kansas, at Section 1, Lot 151, Space 1.

Strahlendorf, Harry W., 1st Lt, 404FS, from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. KIA, June 24, 1944, over Normandy. He is buried at the Greenmount Cemetery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was awarded the Purple Heart, the Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters, European Campaign Medal and the World War II Victory Medal.

Unruh, Victor L., 2nd Lt., 406FS, from Pawnee Rock, Kansas. MIA, June 21, 1944, while returning from escort mission to Berlin, Germany. Single source report indicates he survived shoot down but subsequently died of injuries.

Voss, John, Sgt, 406FS. KIGA, September 10, 1944, motor accident near St. Dizier, France. He is buried in the Epinal American Cemetery, Epinal, France, at Plot A, Row 20, Grave 68.

Webster, Spencer A., T/Sgt, 406FS. KIGA, September 10, 1944, motor accident near St. Dizier, France. He is buried at the Long Island National Cemetery, in Farmingdale, New York, at Plot J, 16497.

Weller, John G., 2nd Lt., 406FS, from Chicago, Illinois. KIA, August 9, 1944, over France. He is buried in the Brittany American Cemetery in St. James, France, at Plot P, Row 1, Grave 17. He was awarded the Air Medal with seven Oak Leaf Clusters.

Wieczorek, Henry, 1st Lt., 406FS, from Elyria, Ohio. KIA, January 22, 1945, in eastern France. He is buried in the Saint Mary Cemetery, in Elyria, Ohio.

Hand Salute!

And a P-47 fly by in honor of the fallen


DOWNC = Died Of Wounds, Non-Combat
DOWRIA = Died Of Wounds Received In Action
KIA = Killed In Action
KIFA = Killed In Flying Accident
KIGA = Killed In Ground Accident
MIA = Missing In Action
References

“The Story of the 371st Fighter Group in the E.T.O.,” Army & Navy Publishers, Baton Rouge, LA, 1946.

American Battle Monuments Commission Search Page, at: http://www.abmc.gov/search-abmc-burials-and-memorializations

Arlington national Cemetery, Army Burials Listing, Alphabetical, A to L, at: http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/usarmy1.htm

Find A Grave, Search Page at: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gs&

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On Memorial Day

Monday, 25 May 2015. Memorial Day. Not just a holiday, but Memorial Day. It is a time to remember those men and women of the armed forces who died while on duty in service to our nation.

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Too many people confuse it with Veterans Day and think it is for honoring all veterans. And probably vice versa too.

Far too many American citizens think Memorial Day is about a day off, or the start of summer, BBQ grilling, picnics, sales extravaganzas, etc. Those who think so shallowly of the freedom they enjoy ignorantly trample on the graves and memories of our fallen heroes. Is it too much to ask for a remembrance of those who gave their all for the rest of us?

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Do you ever wonder what people really mean when they say “Happy Memorial Day!”? Have they, have we, really thought that through? For another veteran’s perspective on that, read Jennie Heskamp’s viewpoint published in the Washington Post on 22 May 2015, at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2015/05/22/im-a-veteran-and-i-hate-happy-memorial-day-heres-why/

Memorial Day should not to be confused with any other holiday. It is to remember those who were lost in service to our country. They paid the ultimate price to help ensure the freedom and liberty which we enjoy today. And for which so many take for granted.

How can we remember such patriots? There are many ways to do so. The only thing they require is some initiative, some small effort.

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

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.

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.

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Participate in a Memorial Day ceremony or event in your community, or create one of your own.
Pray for the fallen, their families and loved ones.

Fly Old Glory in their honor.

Take an active role as a citizen of the country and your community, and express yourself to your elected representatives – too many of who have no idea of what they are doing getting us into some of the foreign messes they have. Too many of these scoundrels have been elected, and even re-elected by ignorant citizens.

There are consequences to any involvements, no matter how worthy (or not) the cause. Some of our men and women in uniform don’t walk away from them; forever more they don’t walk away.

Citizens should not be silent or indolent lest they lose what freedom and liberty they enjoy. For freedom isn’t free, as we all should remember, on Memorial Day…

Wreck of a P-47 crashed near Argentan, France, around August 15, 1944.

Wreck of a P-47 crashed near Argentan, France, around August 15, 1944.

P-47 image from:  http://franckruffino.chez.com/My-Site/Victory_26.htm

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The Air Medal

Today is the anniversary of the establishment of the Air Medal.  Many of Frisky’s P-47 pilots earned the Air Medal for their combat missions in 1944-1945.  The award itself was established on 11 May 1942,  for “any person who, while serving in any capacity in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps or Coast Guard of the United States subsequent to Sept. 8, 1939, distinguishes, or has distinguished, himself by meritorious achievement while participating in an aerial flight.” The Air Medal was amended on Sept. 11, 1942 to read “in any capacity in or with the Army”.

Air Medal. Illustrated by Virginia Reyes of the Air Force News Agency.   (Courtesy US Air Force)

Air Medal. Illustrated by Virginia Reyes of the Air Force News Agency. The medal is a bronze compass rose of sixteen points with a fleur-de-lis design on the top point. On the obverse, in the center, is an eagle, swooping downward (attacking) and clutching a lightning bolt in each talon. The reverse has a raised disk on the compass rose, left blank for the recipient’s name and rank. (Courtesy US Air Force)

It is awarded under the following criteria:  “It is awarded to U.S. military and civilian personnel for single acts of heroism or meritorious achievements while participating in aerial flight and foreign military personnel in actual combat in support of operations. Required achievement is less than that required for the Distinguished Flying Cross, but must be accomplished with distinction above and beyond that expected of professional airmen.”

Ribbon for the Air Medal.  (Courtesy US Air Force)

Ribbon for the Air Medal. The ribbon has a broad stripe of ultramarine blue in the center flanked on either side by a wide stripe of golden orange, and with a narrow stripe of ultramarine blue at the edge, the original colors of the Army Air Corps. (Courtesy US Air Force)

As it is a combat decoration, the Air Medal  “…is not awarded for peace time sustained operational activities and flights.”

Certainly the fighter pilots in the 371st Fighter Group saw a lot of combat action in the European Theater of Operations, and thus earned many deserved Air Medals, with many receiving it multiple times in the form of Air Medal oak leaf clusters made to the original award.

Reference

Air Medal Fact Sheet, at:  http://www.afpc.af.mil/library/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=7775

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Victory in Euope Day (VE-Day)

On this day, 8 May, back in 1945, the war in Europe ended.  After more than five years of fighting and bloodshed, the war which Nazi Germany started ended.

The members of the 371st Fighter Group were newly ensconced at an airfield in Bavaria not far from Nürnberg (Nuremberg).  Nuremberg was where the Nazi Party had its huge pre-war rallies before the war, the place where German Jews and other non Aryans were stripped of their citizenship and where after the war the International Military Tribunal held the trials against Nazi war criminals.

But on 8 May, Frisky could be satisfied with a job well done in helping defeat fascism, though not without cost.  To learn more about what the 371st Fighter Group accomplished during its combat tour in the European Theater of Operations, see the 142nd Fighter Wing webpage and the article titled “We Remember Victory in Europe Day (VE-Day), 1945″ at:  http://www.142fw.ang.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123447564

Reference

Nuremberg, Wikipedia entry, at:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuremberg

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