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June 1944


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9FS Unit History

May 1944 - Part 2


The air echelon had continued their operations at Gusap with a minimum amount of personnel and equipment. From the 1st to the 19th, our pilots uneventfully flew several escorts to Tadji, some weather and shipping patrols, a search mission and 3 strafing attacks on Wewak, where for lack of better targets, they strafed a Jap occupied mission, some huts, and trucks. All missions were handicapped by weather, and 3 escort and a strafing mission were incomplete due to bad weather. We were off for maintenance and training for 6 days.

On the 12th and 13th, we loaded our equipment and personnel on transports and left for Hollandia. Wewak was being shelled by Navy destroyers as we flew by, and as we circled Hollandia, we counted several hundred wrecked Nip aircraft scattered around. Engineers were still working on Hollandia strip, so our transports landed at nearby Cyclops. Two jeeps and trailers from the first transports to land carried us up to our campsite, which was further from the strip than where the infantry was camped. We could hear .50 calibre machine guns hammering away in the vicinity. We took a 'dim view' of that, but it gave us something to brag about. We shoved some wrecked Nip aircraft out of the way and put up some tents. Each man cooked his own rations of 10 in 1, and after eating most men took a bath in the clear cold stream running past the camp and went to sleep. There was some rifle fire heard that night, but most of us slept well.

On the 13th, work started on a mess hall and grass was burned from our area. With some Jap gas and oil, eight dead Japs in the area were cremated. Hundreds of souvenirs were found around our camp including sun helmets, 2 wrist watches, personal notebooks, photographs, letters, and many articles typical to an army campsite. A Jap hospital nearby was burned to further clean things up. A latrine in the area saved us some work - we just continued to use it!

Our P-38's arrived on the 14th from Gusap, and we were ready to start operations. Two hours after landing our planes were serviced and the pilots standing alert. The 310th Bomb Wing assigned us a parking area; we set up operations and intelligence on the taxi strip. It was the 17th before we had our first mission, and meanwhile work continued as usual on the line and in camp. The mission escorting B-24's to Manokwari was completed with no enemy planes sighted.

The next day we were assigned the job of covering B-24's to Geelvink Bay, but again nothing of importance occurred. That night a lone Jap plane dropped some frag bombs causing slight damage and wounding 4 men from another outfit.

The 19th found our planes again escorting bombers to Manokwari; this time we ran into long-awaited action. About six enemy fighters rose to intercept the bombers and our planes immediately dropped belly tanks and dove to attack. When the battle was over, 4 Jap planes were downed by tail shots and the other by a 45 degree deflection shot. Major Wally Jordan, Lt. W. Treadway, Lt. W. Baxter, and Lt. Richard Kirkland each scored one apiece. Capt. D. Moore was credited with a probable.

May 20th we returned to our old routine and uneventfully escorted PT boats to Biak Island on 2 separate missions. The monotony was somewhat relieved by a plane dropping down to strafe 40 to 50 Nips on the beach who fired at the flight with rifles. A good many were no doubt casualties. The 21st and 22nd passed with only two escort missions, one to Manokwari covering B-24's and the other escorting a PBY to Japen Island.

On the 24th, the B-24's which we were scheduled to escort to Biak did not appear, so the squadron continued to Biak. Led by Capt. Ralph Wandrey, they spotted 4 barges loaded with Jap troops just off shore, headed for the Island. All four barges were strafed and no troops were seen to reach the beach, possibly due to the help of vicious barracuda in the area. An anti-aircraft battery on the island was also silenced by Wandrey and his wingman, who shot up several trucks and supplies as they departed.

The 27th was 'D' day for the Biak landing and 16 of our P-38's patrolled the Biak area for 2 hours, sighting no enemy aircraft. All appeared to be going ahead as scheduled. We all hoped that Mokmer strip would be in our hands before long because our ground echelon was packed and ready to move out.

A memorial service was held that night at Group theatre. Major White (Group Executive Officer) and Chaplain Stafford spoke. The ceremony was in memory of our killed or missing in action.

Nothing of any importance happened the last few days of this month. Bad weather again prevented our planes from completing their missions. The ground echelon left for the beach on the 30th and again the 9th was split up, hopefully for only a short time. The end of the month found the air echelon at Hollandia preparing to operate as efficiently as possible with about 60 men. The ground echelon had started to load their equipment on LST's which were due to sail shortly for Biak Island.

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