9FS Unit History
May 1945 - Part 1
|May was a month of historical importance the world over, an outstanding
month in the history of the "Flying Knights", and one which will not soon be
forgotten. The daily news from Europe was watched intently, for various signs of the
crumbling German War Machine were evident in each new dispatch. The Americans and Russian
Armies were closing in on the last bastions of Nazi resistance, Hitler was reported, by
German radio, to have died in Berlin and Admiral Karl Doenitz declared himself official
head of the German Government. The Australians landed on Borneo, and Yanks steadily pushed
the Nips back on Okinawa, the ground fighting Yanks on Luzon continued their slow
laborious advance, and the 9th Squadron's work-horse P-38's continued their steady
pounding of enemy installations on the island. Mussolini was killed by Italian patriots in
Milan, Italy; Berlin fell to the Russian Army after a twelve day seige; President Truman
confirmed the death of Hitler; and on 2nd May, all German Forces in northern Italy,
southern and western Austria, surrendered unconditionally to the allies. In this
background of world shaking events, the "Flying Knights", operating from the
shores of Lingayen Gulf, joined other units of the V Fighter Command in a relentless
attack on the entrenched Japanese Army in the Balete Pass, Baguio, and Ipo Dam areas.
of closer and closer ground support were successfully carried out, sometimes bombing and
strafing within 250 yards of friendly troops, a tribute to the confidence, displayed by
the Infantry, in the accuracy of fighter bombers. On 2 May, sixteen of the squadron's
planes accounted for three bridges, in the Bontoc area, as noted from a mission report.
Controller, Nephew #5, complimented our flights on bombing. Strike was very excellent
close support, with best results.
The summer squall season was setting in, with the first really bad rainfall and
accompanying wind storm occurring 4 May and lasting only a few minutes. These infrequent
cloudbursts were to continue through the entire month, accompanied by hot, sultry days and
nights relieved only by the proximity of the bathing beach.
Jerry Thorp, correspondent for Daily News Foreign Service, was a guest of the 9th
Enlisted Men's Club early in the month and wrote a brief story about the men in the 9th.
On 5 May, another close support mission was flown in the Cervantes area for Nephew
Controller and the following results are taken from a report of the air strike by 121st
Infantry Command Post, addressed to C.O., USAFIP: sixteen bombs dropped on enemy pill
boxes, tunnels, foxholes, camouflaged tents and gun emplacements on Langiatan Ridge,
Kiskis Hill Top, and the vicinity of Bessang with six direct hits on those installations
destroying same as well as enemy observation nests on Kiskis Hill. Believe large
casualties inflicted and general evacuation of area followed.
|The surrender of German forces in Holland and Denmark was announced on
the 5th, as well as the fact that Hitler's once famed hide-out at Berchteagaden was in
Allied hands. Captain E. Stumpf, Squadron Communications Officer and 1st Lt. Bellan flew
down to Biak island to observe a demonstration of Ground Controlled Approach, a radar
set-up used in the European Theatre to guide aircraft through weather to a landing at
their home base. They returned the following day. Then it happened. The news the world had
been waiting for, the surrender of the last German Forces. The news of the cessation of
hostilities in Europe was received joyfully but with very little celebration. All men in
the organization realized that a very big job still lay ahead of them and there was no
relaxing in the destruction of the enemy in the Pacific. The same day, 2nd Lt. W. Koby,
returned to the squadron from an eight day sojourn with guerilla Forces after he bailed
out near Santiago, North Luzon, on 27th April. He was none the worse for wear and the boys
were "Damned" glad to see him.
On May 9, 1st Lt. H. Strom left for home.
Originally assigned to the 8th Squadron, Lt. Strom transferred to the 9th at Mindoro in
January '45, and was doing a fine job as Squadron Post Exchange Officer and Element
Leader, acquiring over 200 combat hours, when he received the news in April that he was a
proud father. Less than a week later, an urgent telegram informed him that his wife was
seriously ill and his presence was imperative for her recovery. After much waiting and red
tape, he left the for the States, with a high transportation priority.
On the morning of the 8th, Major Petrovich, Captain Spence, 1st Lt. Hanisch, and 1st
Lt. Tiffany drove a jeep to the SAP Controller "Nephew" at Luna, North Luzon.
Lunch with the controller personnel was by invitation via radio on 2 May when the 9th's
planes took out the three bridges in that area. From Luna the officers proceeded north
along an excellent concrete highway to Narvacan, near Solve Bay, where they were guests of
Major O'Day, an American officer serving with the Guerrillas. Major O'Day proved to be an
interesting and unusual man, a soldier of fortune and veteran of fourteen years in the
Philippines as civil engineer and Jap nemisis. He escorted the 9th boys to forward
position where they observed first hand what the infantry is up against, the way the enemy
has dug into solid rock formations as much as thirty feet as protection against artillery
fire and bombing. Major O'Day estimated that air support has accounted for 40% of the
enemy's resistance; the other 60% must be eliminated by slow, pains-taking infantry
advances against heavily dug-in fortifications. The party was loaded down with souvenirs
of all descriptions by the Guerrilla troops - helmets, battle flags, etc., fed an
excellent meal, were guests at a fiesta in their honor, and spent the night at Camp
Spencer, south of Luna. They returned the following day with a lot of information on the
Jap's methods of warfare and an appreciation of the job the infantry must do. This was
Major Petrovich's third expedition to other units in the local theatre, having previously
visited the Navy PBM Base at Port Sual and the Submarine Base at Subic Bay.
1st Lt. R. Gorham, Squadron Executive Officer, and 1st Lt. W. Williams received
their promotions to Captain early in the month. Also, 2nd Lts. Hammett, and Easterbrook
received their promotions to 1st Lt. On the 12th, Captain Williams and 1st Lts.
Smith, Jack Lewis, and Torrey were surprised to receive the news that there were to report
to Clark Air Center in connection with a transfer to Service Squadron as Flying
Engineering Officers. They had expected only an interview at Group Headquarters on the
matter and were not entirely pleased with this rather abrupt result of their signing up
for said interview a few days previously. Fortunately, they returned to the squadron two
days later, for they would have been sorely missed as Flight Leaders.
Around 1500, 11 May, the boys were treated to a little excitement in camp when a
battery charging set-up in the Motor Pool ignited a can of gasoline nearby and the
resulting conflagration burned the roof off the "garage". It was quickly
extinguished, however, with no further damage. Major Petrovich and Captain Davidson,
journeyed to Manila for a day or so of rest. The Enlisted Men of the outfit have been
enjoying three day passes to the Manila area, about five or six going at a time.
Apparently Manila is a very satisfactory rest area for all reports indicated the men have
a thoroughly enjoyable time.
Another successful mission on the morning of the 13th in the Baguio area resulted,
according to the L-4 observer, in the wiping out of an enemy bivouac area, the destruction
of several trucks, supply dumps, and an unestimated number of Japs killed. Afternoon
mission ceased to be scheduled as a rule, due to the built-up weather over the target
Captain J. Haislip left for the States on the morning of the 14th. Captain Haislip
joined the 9th in December 1943, at Gusap, New Guinea, flying P-47's and P-38's with the
"Knights", knocking down one Nip plane over Ceram and acquiring 412 combat hours
in 153 missions. He also piloted the Group "Fat-Cat", C-47, at Leyte.
"Slip" was a typical, lanky, taciturn westerner. Older than most fighter pilots
(29), he had a wry sense of humor and was a steady, dependable officer, well liked by the
officers and men alike. After sixteen months of combat, he certainly deserved a rest, and
the good wishes of the squadron went with him. The same day, three old timers among the
enlisted men went home on rotation: F/Sgt. Malone, T/Sgt. G. Smith and S/Sgt. Serafin.
Major Wally Jordan, former 9th Squadron C.O. who left for the States in January 1945 on
Temporary duty to Command and General Staff School, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, arrived back
in the Group in the early part of the month and was made Group Operations Officer.
The 16th, 17th and 18th of May, the largest concentration of fighter bombers yet to be
assembled on one target in the Philippines made a coordinated attack against Jap
installations in the Ipo Dam area, east of Manila. On the night of the 14th, Colonel
Johnson, Group Commander, held a briefing of all flight leaders in the Group Operations-
Intelligence Office and explained the strategy. Five groups of V Fighter Command Fighters
were to participate: 49th, 8th, 475th, 35th and 58th. A total of 208 planes. The load was
to be napalm bombs. It was felt that the extreme concentration of napalm in a small area
in a short space of time would suffocate those it did not kill by using up the oxygen. The
enemy had been entrenched in this area for weeks and could not be rooted out without heavy
loss of life. Originally scheduled to start the three day session on the 15th, it was
postponed on account of weather until the 16th. For the following three days the group
flew together and distinguished itself by its formation flying, air discipline and
excellent bombing. TWXs from 308th Bomb Wing quoted: "The following radiogram was
received from the Commanding General, Sixth Army, quote: My heartfelt thanks to you and
your airmen for their splendid support of our attack on Ipo which made possible the early
capture of the vital Ipo Dam. Krueger."
Read the Radiogram
Jordan led the squadron on the first mission, Lt. Hanisch, Holladay, and Corley leading
the other three flights. Colonel Johnson led the Group.
Incidentally, this same period brought the heaviest bombing raids of the Pacific War to
the Japanese homeland as the strategic bombing of the manufacturing centers got into full
swing. Five hundred B-29's of the 20th Air Force in the Marianas attacked Nogoya, dropping
over 3,500 tons of new-type incendiary bombs on the third largest city in a daring
daylight raid on the 14th, starting a series of such strikes that would eventually reduce
the land of the rising sun to ashes.
to May 1945 - Part 2
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