The early part of March found the squadron in the process of getting
settled in their new camp area at Lingayen, Luzon. For the first time in the Philippine
battle of camps, the Ninth got a decent break insofar as they moved into an area already
partially built up by the 44th Fighter Squadron, 18th Fighter Group of the 13th Air Force.
The whole move was an unusual one in that we left all our heavy equipment, vehicles,
tents, cots, etc., at Mindoro and effected a trade with the squadron into whose area we
moved, this being the first time in our history that such a complete exchange of campsites
The camp area we moved into is situated about one-quarter of a mile from
the west end of Lingayen Strip and extends from the beach to about 600 yards inland,
bordered by a road leading to the town of Lingayen. The beach itself is a wide, clean,
sandy area, a veritable Bondi on Coney Island, and extends into the Gulf in a gradual
slope which makes it a wonderful bathing resort and is being utilized for that purpose.
The 9th Officers' Quarters, two rows of Nipa shacks, is built about fifty feet from the
water's edge and the cool sea-breeze constantly keeps the quarters comfortable. The
gray-white sand of the beach, interspersed with sparse grass, extends throughout the
entire camp area and the Filipino-built Nipa huts on that background of sand and an
occasional palm tree gives the camp a definite South Pacific "Paradise Island"
More photos of 9FS Quarters at Lingayen
Operationally the squadron got right down to work, under the control of 308th Bomb Wing
through Group, and for the first five days we flew cover for convoys, C-47's on dropping
missions, minesweepers, and started on a phase of close ground support missions under the
direction of various ground controllers. Using instantaneous bombs, our planes dive-bombed
Kato and Koshun Airdromes and the Hosan Rail Yards all on Formosa. Also Jap held areas at
Cabuyo, Dupax and San Fernando on Luzon. The ground fighting in the Luzon area has been
slow, painful work for the infantry, digging the Japs out cave by cave in the Yamshita
Line east of Manila and constantly patrolling the Baguio area, still a Japanese strong
point. Consequently the work of our planes against inaccessible Japanese positions had
been highly appreciated and the use of instantaneous demolition bombs, and the new napalm
bombs under the close direction from ground controllers has proved to be very successful.
On 9 March, a group of pilots from the 9th accompanied Captain J. Spence, Squadron
Intelligence Officer, to Clark Field where a Tactical Air Intelligence Unit was assembling
the Japanese planes that had been captured in that area and the pilots spent the day
climbing in and out of various types of planes, learning the enemy pilot's workshop.
Second Lt. H. Hammett, returning from a mission on 11 March, was forced to crash land
on Mangalden crash strip when his belly tank ripped loose and crashed into the nose wheel
door rendering it inoperative. Lt. Hammett came through with no injuries suffered.
On the 12th of March, the fighters based on Mindoro were unable to take off due to a
muddy strip and the planes of the 9th flew down in the morning to operate out of McGuire
all-weather strip for the day, returning to Lingayen that evening with the exception of
one plane that had developed mechanical trouble.
The middle of the month brought a lot of covering missions for rescue submarines and
air-sea rescue Navy Flying boats in the vicinity of Formosa. The squadron flew its first
mission in the vicinity of the China Coast, covering a rescue flying boat 40 miles east of
Swatow, China. On 15th March, Lt. Hanisch led a flight to the Swatow-Amoy area as cover
for B-25's but the pilots were disappointted when no interception materialized.
On 17 March, 1st Lt. Hook, while returning from a mission crashed in the water
one-fourth mile northeast of Lingayen strip when his engines cut out on him. He hit about
400 yards off-shore, outside the huge breakers. Lt. Hook inflated his rubber boat but was
thrown clear of it by a large wave and was left floundering in the water. Two enlisted men
of this organization, T/Sgt. Lynch and Cpl. Ralph witnessed the accident and immediately
plunged into the rough sea, with other personnel in the area, in an attempt to save the
pilot. The other rescuers were turned back by the heavy seas but these two men struggled
through the breakers, recovered the rubber boat and swam out to the pilot, pulling the
boat along. They reached the pilot and after putting him in the boat, towed him ashore.
The two enlisted men and the pilot were all exhausted to a point of collapse. The herioc
efforts by Sgt. Lynch and Cpl. Ralph, resulting in the saving of Lt. Hook's life, have
gained them each a recommendation for the Soldiers Medal.
From the 18th until the 22nd of March, the squadron divided its missions between ground
support and escort and cover for PBMs, rescue submarines, and heavy and medium bombers. On
March 21st, Captains A. Lewelling and R. Wood and H. Norton led the second China Coast
mission, covering B-25's to Amoy, with no interception. These missions were from six to
seven hours long over an endless expanse of water and would be hazardous were it not for
the excellent work of the Air-Sea Rescue organization. The knowledge that there are four
or five patrol planes or submarines in the vicinity of each strike constantly on the watch
for aircraft in distress, does much to relieve the tension of long over-water hops. In the
period between the latter part of February and the fourth of March, Air-Sea Rescue
recovered 34 flying personnel from the sea between Northern Luzon and Formosa.
On 18th March, Operations and Intelligence moved into their newly constructed Nipa
building between the Officer's and Enlisted Men's area. This is the first time in the
story of the 9th that it has been possible to locate the nerve center of operational work
so conveniently close to the living quarters of the men involved. Heretofore it has been
the policy to locate Operations and Intelligence as well as Armament and Ordinance offices
on the strip close to the airplanes, necessitating the transportation of all personnel
concerned to and from the strip each day. In addition to crew chiefs, line personnel and
pilots, food had to be transported to the strip for nearly 100 men each noon. Under the
present arrangement, with the camp located only a few minutes drive from the squadron's
planes, it is possible to minimize the number of personnel working on the line and the
transportation facilities of the squadron are released for other squadron duties. Thus, we
have many more men on the "Camp-Jockey" status than previously. The monthly
quota of enlisted men left the organization through rotation plan on 18 March to return to
Social activities in the squadron more or less began with a dance given by the Filipino
members of the school faculty of Lingayen to which the 9th was cordially invited. The
function took place in the school building, formerly our temporary mess hall but since
turned back to the Philippine authorities preceding school's reopening. The governor of
the province of Pangasinan, Luzon, in which we live, was the guest of honor and a Filipino
orchestra assisted the dancing. The party broke up fairly early but was thoroughly enjoyed
by all. Following this, many invitations to fiestas, dances and parties were extended to
members of the 9th and the squadron in turn was planning on returning this hospitality.
The enlisted men decided on the location and construction of their club, which was to be
in the permanent building at the southern end of the area which already housed the orderly
room, supply, medics, mailroom, dayroom, ordinance and armament. S/Sgt. R. Gast and
M/Sgt. A. Odgaard were elected president and secretary-treasurer respectively, and the
club is under the sponsorship of 2nd Lt. G. Wallace. A very fine meeting place which is
nearly completed and an official opening is planned for early April.
Captain J. Spence, Squadron Intelligence Officer, was forced to turn into the 107th
Station Hospital after a period of illness, later determined as the result of kidney
trouble. Major G. Rand, formerly Group Intelligence Officer, took over the duties of the
squadron Intelligence Officer while awaiting orders to return to the States.
The missions for the latter part of March included dive- bombing and strafing of enemy
troop concentrations in the Baguio area under the direction of "Bootblack"
ground controller with results reported as excellent. The bombing and strafing missions on
Balete Pass were also accomplished with favorable results. Seven new pilots were assigned
to the squadron during the month of March.
Captain Lewelling, squadron Operations Officer, left the 9th to go to the 5279th Air
Borne Fighter Control Center on detached service, presumably to assume command of a unit.
Captain H. Norton succeeded him as Operations Officer.
The month ended very pleasantly by the opening of the Group Officers' Club. The club
having been completed the day of the opening. It is located on the beach, centrally
situated with reference to all squadrons. As the fruit of the combined efforts of all
Group officer personnel, it is one of the finest clubs the 49th has ever built. It is
easily large enough to accommodate all the organization's officers and their guests, with
a smooth surfaced dance floor bordered by a large barroom, a spacious veranda overlooking
the water, and a raised bandstand. Guests of honor at the opening included Brigadier
General Smith, Commanding General, Fifth Fighter Command, Colonel Gutherie and Colonel
Walker, formerly 49th Group Commander, of 308th Bomb Wing. Nurses were invited from the
197th and 360th Station hospitals. Drinks were served in the bar and dancing was assisted
by the 38th Bomb Group orchestra. All combined to make the occasion a great success and
the suitable ushering out of another month of overseas life.