It was thought that July would see the 9th once more in an active
theatre, possibly flying over the Japanese homeland, but such was not the case. The
mid-summer month was devoted to welding a tighter, smoother, fighting organization with
emphasis on formation flying, dive bombing and aerial gunnery. Combat was flown on only
seventeen days, a total of 273 sorties of all types as compared to the 514 average for the
three preceding months and the lowest number per month since October 1944.
weather during the early part of the month cut down operations considerably and sometimes
grounded planes for three days at a time. By the time the weather did break, the ground
situation on Luzon was fairly well under control of our ground forces with one sizable
pocket of resistance in the Cervantes, Bontoc, Kiangan Triangle that was the target for
most of the 9th's bombs and bullets.
All was not inactivity and leisure, however. Pilots worked along side their crew chiefs
cleaning and polishing their airplanes until they shined like new cars. Paint brushes were
plied with diligence and numerous photographs taken of personnel beside planes, beside
bombed buildings, and for lucky ones, beside Manila ruins. Eleven new pilots were assigned
during the month and had to be integrated into the team, initiated into South Pacific
On 7 July, Lt. G. Conradi crashed in the Lingayen area during a napalm mission and was
killed. He was flying number four position in Green Flight and was making his second run
on the target at low altitude when he was seen to strike a tree on the hill top and
cartwheel into the valley beyond, where the plane immediately exploded and burned.
Lt. Conradi was new in the "Flying Knights", having joined in May 1945 but
had proved to be an excellent pilot and was well liked. He played left field on the
squadron baseball team and was active in other squadron doings. The cause of the crash is
unknown but it was a shock to his fellow pilots and one of the useless tragedies of the
July 14th was a red-letter day for the "Knights". In a group ceremony on the
"parade ground" in the ball park, awards and decorations were presented to
deserving men of the 9th by Brig. Gen. Federick Smith, CG, VFC. It was a hot summer day
and the sun beat down on the little group of men standing at parade rest. The sweat ran
down their backs and soaked through their shirts, but it was a proud gathering and a
little military pomp and ceremony was reminiscent of stateside army life. Throughout the
remainder of the day intense activity took place on the group stage in the ball park and
the park itself began to fill up with chairs, benches and boxes; for that evening, USO
Camp Shows Incorporated was to present the famous musical "Oklahoma".
There must have been over 5,000 people jammed together that night to enjoy the gaily
costumed, lively show. They completely filled the grandstand, and overflowed the ball
park, but discomfort was forgotten as the cast, including sixteen really lovely girls,
progressed thru the gay dances, sang the familiar hit tunes to the music of the 6th
Infantry Orchestra, and with sincerity and enthusiasm presented one of the finest pieces
of entertainment to be witnessed by the 9th.
Following the show, members of the cast were guests at Bahay Kube and although tired
from the evening's work, the girls waltzed, rumba'd, and jitterbugged good naturedly with
their delighted hosts. Their departure around midnight ended one of the busiest days on
the 9th's social calendar.
On the 18th, Lts. T. Smith, Weigel, Trimble and F/O Copeland returned from a ferrying
trip to Kumming, China. They had left on a transport the night of the 13th, picked up new
P-38's and flew back non-stop. They had many souvenirs and stories to tell of the orient
which gained an interested audience.
A new technique in dive-bombing was introduced to the squadron and tried out on the
practice missions. Captain E. Howes first mentioned it upon returning from gunnery school
in the States, and later the entire group adopted the method. The important features of
the improved system were standardization of dive angle, aiming point, and release point.
For this purpose wing lines were painted on the aircraft on both sides from gondola to the
engine nacelle numbering 110, 70, 50, 35, and 20, the highest number being the closest to
the gondola. The numbers converted to hundreds of feet represented approximate altitudes
the wing lines could be used at, for example- 70 at 7,000 feet. This set-up a constant
dive angle for a given altitude. Sixty degrees using wing line 110 at 11,000 feet, 50
degrees using wing line 70 at 7,000 feet, etc. By sighting the target approximately half
way between the ring sight pipper and the nose of the plane, consistent accuracy has
Another new development in ground attack was the introduction of rocket firing. One
plane was equipped with rocket racks under both wings outboard of the engine nacelles,
each rack carrying five rockets. Only a few of the older flight leaders got around to
firing the rockets during the month, however. The rocket firing ship required special
wiring including a selector switch for selection of pairs to be fired and special safety
precautions had to be taken in loading and connecting the rockets.
The changing war picture had its effect on the "Flying Knight" style of
flying. Gone were the days of the two to four plane patrols over enemy territory; the days
when the group represented the entire Army Air Force in a particular sector. Seventy-five
percent of the pilots now in the squadron have never seen an enemy plane in the air.
European Theatre of Operations Techniques and Tactics began to be adopted. Group
formations and group napalm and bombing missions took the place of squadron operations. As
more and more air groups consolidated for the final strike on the Japanese homeland,
identity submerged in the larger picture.
July wound up the "Flying Knights" fifth month at Lingayen, and probably its
last one. At the close of the month, preparations were being initiated to move the ground
echelon out and once more the Knights would be on the move, with the possibility of some
more "firsts" to add to its colorful history.