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March 1945
Tower at Lingayen


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9FS Unit History

February 1945


The 9th got off to a bad start this month when 2nd Lt. J. Forgey, returning from a routine convoy escort mission, crashed when making his approach to Hill strip. He informed his wingman by radio that he was in trouble, and a few seconds later his plane crashed and exploded; he was unable to get out prior to the crash and perished in the accident.

The first several days of February were uneventful; only local patrol missions were flown. A reconnaissance flight to Alabat Island thoroughly strafed Perez strip on the northwest tip Feb. 6th. The following day four of our planes made a fighter sweep of Cagayan Valley. When passing an enemy strip at Tuguegarao the flight spotted a Sally bomber and 2 single engine fighters on the airdrome. After about 15 strafing passes all 3 planes were left burning.

February 8th the squadron sent 13 planes on a dive bombing mission to Luzon. Targets on lower Bataan Peninsula were hit and Corregidor Island bombed with good results. On the 12th, 14 of our planes dropped 1000 lb. bombs on the same targets with excellent results.

The following day the 9th had two fighter sweeps of the Cagayan Valley. One flight strafed Tuguegarao Airdrome again, destroying 3 enemy fighters on the ground. The other flight attacked Aparri Airdrome, also destoying 3 fighters on the strip.

February 14th a rumor arose that our Group was to exchange camps with the 18th Fighter Group, 13th Air Force, located at Lingayen on Luzon. For almost a week this rumor bounced around and was denied consistently.

On 16 February cover was maintained over the beach-head at Nasugbu, Luzon, but the enemy made no appearance. On this day the news came that our Navy planes were attacking Tokyo in great strength. Needless to say, this news occasioned great elation. The squadron made a fighter sweep to Formosa on Feb. 17, but again no sign of enemy air activity was observed.

Jesselton Airdrome on Borneo was the target for the 9th the next day, a mission escorting A-20's. The bombers turned back when about half way to the target due to poor weather at their altitude. Our planes continued on and thoroughly strafed Kudet and Jesselton Airdromes, destroying several planes and trucks; they also damaged two luggers off-shore.

The 19th of February turned out to be a bad day for the squadron, which was covering the Visayan C-47 routes with two plane flights all day long. Lt. Bud Tiffany and his wingman, Lt. H. Thorson, flew over Silay runway on Negros at a low altitude, peeled up and came back over the strip. Lt. Tiffany called Lt. Thorson on the radio after the peel-up, but on the second pass he looked back and saw a P-38 burning beside the runway. Lt. Thorson was not seen after the radio conversation, and cause of the crash will probably remain unknown. Lt. N. Williams and his wingman Lt. J. Kinsman, were in the vicinity of Talisay Airdrome near Silay when Lt. Kinsman's plane developed coolant trouble while at 4,000 feet. Lt. Williams advised his wingman to bail out, and Kinsman replied he intended to do so. Unfortunately, he was unable to leave the plane until it had fallen to 100 feet from the ground. His parachute failed to open in that short distance and Lt. Kinsman landed about 100 yards behind his plane with his parachute strung out before him. He was killed instantly and his body recovered by Filipinos. No sign of enemy action was noted in either instance. Both men were new to the squadron.

The 49th Group had a mission to run a fighter sweep to Kagi on Formosa; Lt. Col. Johnson leading. The 9th did not reach the target as they covered a PBM engaged in rescuing a B-25 crew which was forced down in the water by North Island in Luzon Strait. The survivors were picked up without incident and the squadron returned to base as they were low on fuel.

The squadron was off for maintenance and training on the 21st, a most welcome breather for the engineering department which had been working long and well to keep the planes in the air. Local patrols were flown the following two days and on the 24th of February the unit was once more off to do the necessary chores preliminary to the forthcoming move to Luzon.



Early on the morning of the 25th the squadron loaded on C-46's and C-47's; before the day ended we were firmly settled in the campsite just evacuated by the 44th Fighter Squadron, 18th Group. The exchange was most profitable for the 9th, as the new camp is on the shore of Lingayen Bay, and the majority of personnel were proud possessors of bamboo constructed huts which were built off the ground - a far cry from the meadows of Mindoro. The 27th we flew routine local patrols which wrapped up the flying for February.

Lingayen A/S Tower
(Image file size: 270kb)

During the month Captain E. Howes left for the States on temporary duty, being given a temporary assignment in the States, after which it is expected he will return in a few months. Captain J. Harvey, squadron Executive Officer also left, bound for home on temporary duty in the States. After a 30-day leave it is expected he will return to the unit. First Lts. Helterline and Hamburger left for the States during the month, both having completed their tours of duty very creditably. While the unit was sorry to lose two good pilots, it was agreed that they had earned the right to go home.

Three of the pilots, Captain McElroy, 1st Lt. Norton, and 2nd Lt. Holladay, left for Hawaii on 8 February, accompanied by crew chief, T/Sgt. Harclerode, for the purpose of ferrying back new P-38's to the Southwest Pacific Area, a new idea being tried out for the first time.

Several new pilots were added to the roster during the period under review and they appear to be of the same calibre as their predecessors who have made such an enviable record for the squadron. During the month, also, several of our "old-timers" left for home on the rotation plan. On the whole, the month was one of exceptional quiet with no serial combat ensuing. The highlight of the period was the move to the most forward area in the Philippines on the 25th, where it was hoped that coming weeks would see a return to fruitful missions of former times.


9FS Quarters on Lingayen Gulf within 50' of the beach - 1945.
(c/o Ken Clark)


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