From the 371st Fighter Group “Warbook,” after the group had returned to Dole from Dijon following the flooding of the Doubs River: “Thanksgiving – a day that brings back memories of home, family gatherings, and bountiful meals brought us just the meal. We were short on home and family. The cold, crisp weather was just right for going to a football game and returning to the warmth of one’s hearth. The turkey and all the trimmings would have looked better on china, and on the family dining-room table. We used mess kits and mess tents, and hoped for better luck next year.”
Certainly the pilot in this photograph had reason to be thankful. Pictured here is Capt James K. Harrison (courtesy of his son, Doug Harrison), who flew with the group’s 404th Fighter Squadron. If you look closely at the wing root you will see the battle damage he received during a combat mission while on a low-level attack against a locomotive which exploded. The explosion tossed a railroad tie skyward, striking his P-47 in the process. However, the sturdy Thunderbolt withstood this heavy blow and safely returned him to base.
We too have much to be thankful for, from the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines overseas today who defend our freedoms and way of life to the common fellow citizens working hard to take care of their families. We should be thankful for the members of the 371st Fighter Group and other veterans, as well as the citizens before us, who built and defended our great country. The words of Abraham Lincoln echo across the ages to remind us of the importance of our Thanksgiving heritage:
Life is surely challenging, sometimes disappointing and downright heartbreaking at times. But still we have much to be thankful for. Happy Thanksgiving to all you 371st Fighter Group veterans and your families – may God bless you, and may He yet bless our country!