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March 1944


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9FS Unit History

February 1944


Tokyo Rose broadcast an ominous threat that "The boys at Gusap don't know what a real bombing is like - yet!", and the 9th waited. After 3 days of routine patrols the squadron finally got a possible chance to see action, being assigned the job of escorting heavy bombers to Wewak on 4 February. It was disappointing to the boys that the enemy decided to let the bombing go by default, and no enemy planes were seen airborne.

The Officer's Club was officially opened on 3 February, and everyone behaved as they should - at an official opening without women!

Routine valley patrols were our fare for the next five days with one fighter sweep to Nubia which bore no fruit. The long anticipated excitement arrived early on the morn of 10 February, and was of a surprising nature. Whether the threats of radio Tokyo were taken seriously or our spotters suffered hallucinations was unknown, but simultaneously with a red alert being sounded, the entire squadron was deployed around the campsite to repel enemy paratroopers. A long night vigil was maintained, but paratroopers were conspicuous by their absence. We considered ourselves lucky that nobody was shot in the inky darkness, as quite a few of the men were trigger-happy! In the morning a bunch of tired pilots went on a fighter sweep to Wewak, but couldn't drum up any business.

The valley was faithfully patrolled for the next few days, and on Valentine's Day the boys again went to Wewak to mail a few valentines. The post office was closed, so our boys returned with another blank.

Uneventful fighter sweeps to Wewak and routine valley patrols were our lot until the 18th, when we escorted bombers to Hansa Bay without incident. Lt. T. Jackson had the misfortune to crash on takeoff, and suffered burns getting out when his plane caught fire. On the 19th Group had a party at our Officer's Club, and a half hour red alert failed to dampen spirits which were fairly wet by that time, anyway. Many were unaware that the lights went out!

Two days were spent in an unsuccessful attempt to escort bombers to christen a new airstrip the Nips had hidden at Buriu, about 75 miles southwest of Wewak. The weather did what the Nips tried to do, and stopped us. Lts. G. Fanning and J. Harris III "reluctantly" left for the States today, manfully accepting their fate and almost trampling others trying to board the homebound plane. Lt. Fanning has 9 Jap planes to his credit and Harris missed by one being an Ace, getting 4 during his stay in New Guinea. Lt. C. Planck, who crash landed near Rabaul New Britain on 2 November '43, paid a visit to the camp, having been rescued after 4 months in the jungles. Needless to say his presence was like a return from the grave, and he was the only one able to cross his name off the squadron scoreboard which also listed the deceased pilots.

The 9th paid several calls on Wewak during the next few days, as escorts for heavy bombers. The bombers were quite unmolested, and no enemy planes were seen airborne. To relieve the tedium, one flight strafed several buildings near Wolen. On 25 February, seven of our boys escorted bombers to Alexishafen. Not seeing any Nips in the sky, 3 of our planes dove down and strafed and burned a Sally on one of the strips. In the afternoon the entire squadron went to Wewak with the bombers, but again saw nothing in the air. Six of our planes dropped down and put a couple of gun pits out of action at Bunabun Harbor to try and break the exasperating habit the Nips had of cutting loose on our boys innocently returning from missions. This added a few new names to the honorable shrines in Nippon.

On the 28th the valley saw a strange sight in this virgin (white) territory when Hollywood star John Wayne and two starlets in his USO troupe arrived on base. The entertainers appeared at our Officers' Club before their show and many of the boys had an opportunity to smirk into the camera with these celebrities. An attempted striptease by the young ladies during the show that night gave our M.P.s an opportunity to add to their popularity by stopping the act. Strangely enough, no cheers arose from the audience!

The last day of the month the squadron was on alert awaiting a chance to aid in the landing on Admiralty Isle by going to Wewak, but the month ended on a sour note as our boys never had the occasion to get off the ground.



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