Remembering Frisky on Veterans Day, 2015

For some months after the war in Europe ended, it was unclear what Frisky’s fate would be. Would he be sent to the Pacific to finish the war against Imperial Japan? Would he be going back Stateside and return to civilian life?  The uncertainty began to vex him.

Despite worries to the contrary, Frisky did make it home before he had the chance to add that many hashmarks to his sleeve or grow that long, non-regulation beard!  (The Story of the 371st Fighter Group in the ETO)

Despite worries to the contrary, Frisky did make it home before he had the chance to add that many hashmarks to his sleeve or grow that long, non-regulation beard! (The Story of the 371st Fighter Group in the ETO)

He was in limbo, and in wartime parlance, ”sweating it out.” Orders finally came down sending him back to the States (Hurray!) aboard the SS Stetson Victory, arriving in New York City in November, 1945, and then traveling up the Hudson River to Camp Shanks.

The unofficial emblem of the 371st Fighter Group of World War II, with the group's radio call sign of "Van Dyke."  (The Story of the 371st Fighter Group in the ETO)

The unofficial emblem of the 371st Fighter Group of World War II, with the group’s radio call sign of “Van Dyke.” (The Story of the 371st Fighter Group in the ETO)

On Frisky’s second day back on the soil of the United States following the end of World War II, on 10 November 1945, just a day before Armistice Day (called Veterans Day today), the group officially inactivated, thus concluding the World War II service of the 371st Fighter Group.

But that did not end the story of the 371st Fighter Group. Even as the former members of the group left for every point on the Compass Rose, plans were being formed in Washington, D.C. for Frisky’s revival.

This return to service, however, would be delayed, and would not occur for over six months after the group’s inactivation, long after the members had scattered hither and yonder for civilian life or other military service.

It would also entail a a redesignation, from the 371st Fighter Group to the 142nd Fighter Group. The number reflected the series of numbers of National Guard aviation units.  This is shown on page two of a memorandum from the War Department dated 5 December 1946 which recapped the redesignations of World war II combat groups with National Guard numerical designations.  Thus the 371st Fighter Group became the 142nd Fighter group, effective 24 May 1946m as shown at the link to page 2 of the document, immediately below.

War Dept memo of 5 Dec 1946, page 2

The other element of Frisky’s return to service would be a relocation, from the East Coast some 3,000 miles west to Portland, Oregon. There the unit would be organized from scratch with completely new members having no connection to the 371st Fighter Group, though many World War II veterans did join the unit and bring to it their tremendous wartime experience. In Portland the unit equipped with another fine American fighter plane, the P-51 Mustang.

A P-51D Mustang fighter of the 142nd Fighter Group, Oregon National Guard flies in Pacific Northwest skies after World War II.  (Courtesy 142FW Archives)

A P-51D Mustang fighter of the 142nd Fighter Group, Oregon National Guard flies in Pacific Northwest skies after World War II. (Courtesy 142FW Archives)

No wonder many people today might be confused when they learn that the 371st Fighter Group remains in service today. To any members of the WWII-era 371st Fighter Group, or family and friends thereof, please know that today your unit is still flying, as the 142nd Fighter Wing of the Oregon Air National Guard at Portland ANG base in Portland, Oregon.

Col. Richard W. Wedan, 142nd Fighter Wing commander, takes off on his 'Fini Flight' from the Portland Air National Guard Base, Ore., in his F-15 Eagle, Feb. 7, 2015. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs/Released)

Col. Richard W. Wedan, 142nd Fighter Wing commander, takes off on his ‘Fini Flight’ from the Portland Air National Guard Base, Ore., in his F-15 Eagle, Feb. 7, 2015. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs/Released)

There in Portland it operates the F-15 Eagle and is the principal air defense element for the nation in the greater Pacific Northwest region on alert 24/7, still proudly serving in the community, state and nation. See the 142nd Fighter Wing website, which includes a link to the unit’s Facebook page, and learn more at: http://www.142fw.ang.af.mil/

And so let’s remember our veterans of the 371st Fighter Group of World War II on this Veterans Day, 2015, as well as their successors in the 142nd Fighter Group, now the 142nd Fighter Wing. Hand salute!

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1 Response to Remembering Frisky on Veterans Day, 2015

  1. Vada Grant says:

    Remembering my father, S/Sgt Howard Peterson (1922-2010), 404th, this Veterans Day.

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