9FS Unit History
June 1945 - Part 2
|Lt. Col. C. Tice returned to the Group as Deputy Commander after an
extensive tour of duty in the ETO. Tice was formerly a member of the 9th at Darwin, and
joined the outfit in July 1942 as a 1st Lt. He fought with the 9th through the early days
of the New Guinea campaign and returned to the States in May 1943 from
17th Tice led the Group on an experimental bridge busting mission to Formosa, where the
three squadrons tried dive, skip, and glide bombing techniques against Soton railroad
bridge, using four to five second delay fuses on 1,000 pound demolition bombs. The 9th's
role in this coordinated attack was to knock out any possible anti-aircraft positions on
the bridge approaches with fragmentation clusters. The 9th went in on the target first
with Lt. Holladay leading the first section of two flights and Lt. Ken Clark leading the
remaining section. The approaches were well covered by the two sections, but ack ack
failed to materialize and the other squadrons completed the destruction of the bridge
unmolested. Dive bombing proved the most effective type of attack since it was dive
bombing that destroyed one span after other attacks failed.
The remainder of the month was devoted to continued ground support missions in Northern
Luzon. On the 21st, the end of organized resistance on Okinawa was announced, completing
one of the most costly and important campaigns in the Pacific. Lt. General Simon Bolivar
Buckner, CG of the U.S. 10th Army, was killed during an engagement and General Joe
Stillwell took over command. While attempting to attack surface craft and ground
installations, 4,000 enemy aircraft were destroyed, or damaged, in the Okinawa area.
Lts. Poston and Oglesby returned to the squadron in the middle of the month for their
second tour of combat with the 9th. They first joined the outfit in November 1943, just
after the Rabaul missions from Dobodura. They gave a good account of themselves up to the
middle of November 1944, taking a leading part in the early fighting over Leyte before
they returned to the U.S. for a much deserved rest. Speaking of Rabaul, the 9th received a
Distinguished Unit Citation, its third, for that action on General Orders dated 5 June,
covering the period 23 October to 7 November, 1943, when the 9th participated in what were
long considered the roughest missions in its history. The squadron got twenty-four
definites and seven probables during the period and lost seven pilots, three in weather
returning from the target, and four due to enemy action. One of the latter, Lt. Planck,
later returned to the squadron very unexpectedly.
Read the Citation
|Captain J. Spence, the S-2 officer, returned from the hospital around the 21st,
after nearly three months absence and your narrator was able to retire somewhat from the
active intelligence field and devote his time to narratives. Captain Spence's absence was
due to kidney trouble and was not the result of enemy action; unfortunate, in that he
could have used the extra five points for the Purple Heart.
The point system, of course,
was the subject of many and most conversations during the period and morale fluctuated
with each new rumor. Between points and the possible move to Okinawa, the subject of women
was almost, but not quite, forgotten. Three-day passes for enlisted men, enabling them to
visit Manila, were available, and nearly all enlisted personnel made at least one trip
down there. They were guests, during their stay, of a family of very gracious Filipino
residents who turned their home into an open house for the visiting servicemen of the 9th.
Eight long-service enlisted men went home in June. Four on rotation (Harclerode, Monte,
Vratil and Toller) and four on points (Byrnes, Wilson, Mills and Biblowitz). M/Sgt. A.
Odgaard became First Sergeant.
One other mission flown is worth special comment. On 23 June, the 9th joined other
squadrons of the Group to napalm the town of Mato, Formosa, the first napalm mission to
the enemy stronghold. The mission was entirely successful and a large portion of the town
was destroyed, once more proving the effectiveness of the excellent coverage that can be
obtained and full advantage taken of the weapon's characteristic of de-oxygenizing the
adjacent area and suffocating those that it does not actually burn to death.
The Engineering Section, as usual, performed excellent maintenance of aircraft during
the month. For two days the status board showed 100% aircraft in commission. The total
percentage of aircraft in commission for the month was 83.1%, total percentage of aircraft
grounded for maintenance was 12.4%, and the total percentage of aircraft grounded for
parts was 4.5%. The average number of aircraft assigned during the month was twenty-six,
the lowest twenty-one, and the highest thirty.
As the month drew to a close, joyful news that seven of the 9th's pilots were going
home was received. Lieuts. J. Hanisch, H. Hammett, Warren Fowler, Jack Lewis, Bryant,
Willford and Fletcher. These boys had been with the 9th from ten to twelve months and had
an average of 350 combat hours each. Jack Lewis had the DFC for downing two enemy planes
over Ormoc, "Bunky" Hammett had three Nips to his credit. All of them were
veterans of the Leyte Campaign and those like Willford and Lewis, who went home in ten
months, had served their entire tour without a leave of any kind.
So ended the month of June, on a happy note, while those left behind settled down for a
period of intensive training in preparation for whatever may befall the Flying Knights in
to July 1945
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