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June 1945 - Part 1


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9FS Unit History

May 1945 - Part 2


The softball league broke into prominence when members of the 9th's Red Noses, leading the group league, joined with players from the other two squadrons to make up an all-star team, challenging any comers. The first challengers were from the 35th Fighter Control Squadron and all hands gathered at the ball diamond to watch the show. M/Sgt. Blackwell, Assistant Flight Chief, and first baseman for the All-Stars, hit a home run with the bases loaded in the first inning to start the game off royally. The opponents scored four runs in the following inning by a fluke play at second base, but the All-Stars forged ahead in the remaining innings while the King-Newmann combinations of pitcher and catcher held the Fighter Control boys down to four runs. Final score - 8 to 4.

On 17 May Marshall Tito announced the end of all organized resistance in Yugoslavia, where a band of fanatical Nazi bandits continued to fight even after the surrender of the German Government. This brought to a final conclusion all hostilities in Europe.

19 May brought a dive bombing mission to Formosa, the first bombing mission outside the Luzon area in some time for the squadron. The target was Giran Airdrome and ten 1,000 pounders were carted to the target and dumped unceremoniously on the air strip. One plane, piloted by 2nd Lt. J. Zeller, was holed by flack, and 1st Lt. E. Ambort augered his plane in on the strip early in the day when returning snafu from the mission due to hydraulic failure. He landed with his right landing gear still up. The plane was completely demolished but "Ernie" was unhurt.

The 21st, 22nd, 23rd and 24th of the month brought more group missions to the Ipo area, this time further to the south, since our troops had occupied the former target areas. The success of these missions prompted a similar coordinated effort in the Balete Pass area on the 25th and 26th of the month with four groups participating. This mountainous terrain was not so favorable to large operations as were the flat areas around Ipo, but the following teletype confirms similar effectiveness: Following received from Commanding General I Corps. "From personal observations and opinion expressed to me by unit commanders who witnessed the strike, the coordination and execution was perfection. The sight of mass air power with its devastating effect on the enemy made a lasting impression on the minds of all ground troops who witnesses the air effort. Signed - Swift."

Although the 9th Squadron, as part of the 49th Group received many commendations during the month of May, including letters of commendation for operations on Leyte, particularly activities over Ormoc Bay, one commendation was directed at the 9th alone. In recognition of bagging 274 Nips, top score in the Army Air Forces in the Pacific, a civilian organization presented an unusual gift for military achievement, a $500.00 rod and reel. Brigadier General Smith, Commanding General, V Fighter Command, made the presentation to Major J. Petrovich at Fighter Command Headquarters, Clark Field. As a representative of General Kenney, Commanding General, FEAF, General Smith passed on the following letter from General Kenney: "It is with a great deal of personal pride and pleasure that I present your squadron with this prize rod and reel. The Fishing Tackle Committee of the San Francisco League for Servicement donated this rare outfit, to be awarded to the highest squadron of the FEAF. Your unit has been outstanding in that you have achieved more victories in aerial combat than any other squadron under my command. Best wishes for continued success and good fishing." The bulletin boards were covered with commendations from this and that General until they looked like a belated correspondent was making up for previously unwritten notams. They were well appreciated, however, and pride in the organization rose to new heights. Captain H. Norton, Operations Officer, was put in the throes of creative endeavor in writing a thank-you note to the San Francisco League for Servicemen's Fishing Tackle Committee. The result was worthy of the gift in the mind of this narrator, even if it was a "fish story".

The point system for discharge published immediately after V-E Day, with the film "Two Down, One To Go" was being shown to all personnel two days after the surrender. Naturally the system became the main topic of conversation throughout the organization and the orderly room was busy preparing the required cards on each individual and getting them to initial same. Captain Gorham, Squadron Executive Officer, had a busy couple of days explaining why this person didn't get that campaign star and why not. When the smoke and dust had cleared the squadron had thirty enlisted men and eight officers above 85 points.

The one bad factor in the system was, as General Arnold pointed out to the boys in his moving speech, the Air Corps was number one priority for staying in, points or no points. Also there was the conjecture that rotation would cease when the system went into effect, but at this writing, higher headquarters had not committed itself as yet.

On the morn of the 29th, the 309th Bomb Wing took over immediate tactical command of the organization, relieving the 308th. The most apparent chance as a result of the new command was the scheduling of fighter sweeps to Formosa on the 30th and 31st, after a day off for maintenance on the 29th.

The fighter sweep to Formosa, first in a long time for the squadron even though group officers had been leading missions up there since the middle of the month, was quite a change from the ground support missions in Luzon, which had become tame thru repetition. The boys looked forward to hitting a lick on the enemy stronghold. Other Air Force units were to join in the fun, keeping up an all day attack of heavy and medium bombing and strafing. Major Jordan led the eight ship mission on the 30th with Lt. Holladay leading White Flight.

The weather was clear as a bell and the flights got off at 0615 hours just after the first light and hit the target inland at the river mouth just north of Tokyo. Winging along at 5,000 feet, the flights had to dodge heavy calibre anti-aircraft fire as they crossed the coast and swept inland to the foothills east of Heito Drome. The roads and railroads (primary targets) were empty of traffic to all appearances. Flying north to Kizan, the boys spotted two camouflaged trucks in a small town and attacked them, with no visible results. Swinging south again, the planes got a little too close to Heito Drome and received much attention from that area, resulting in holing the plane piloted by Lt. Cobb.

On the way home the lads pestered light ack ack positions on the southern tip of the island, knocking at least one out of commission, then buzzed off homeward arriving in time for lunch.

The next day's mission to Formosa was not so gay. Captain James Watkins, former 9th Squadron ace, now assigned to Group on his second tour of combat duty, lead the outfit with Captain W. Arthur, another 9th Squadron old timer recently reassigned, leading White Flight. The mission got off as scheduled at 0610 hours and the daily business of operating a squadron went on as usual. Then at 1030 hours, Lt. Bryant landed early as escort for his snafu wingman, and brought the unhappy news that Captain Arthur was down on Formosa. It was Captain Arthur's first mission with the Ninth since his return to combat. Lt. Bryant didn't know the full particulars. Captain Arthur was hit by a burst of ack ack and was forced to bail out.

It is always disheartening when an old pilot goes in. After a man has been in an organization a long time and flown a couple hundred combat hours, you sort of like to figure that the experience he has acquired insures his chances of completing his tour and going home. This is borne out by the fact that nearly all casualties are among the newer men, an unexplainable fact but true. Captain Arthur first joined the Flying Knights in November 1942 at Thirty-mile Strip, Port Morseby when Major J. Peaslee was commanding and the outfit was still flying P-40's. He was Operations Officer for the squadron from December 1943 until he left for the States in March 1944 after sixteen months overseas. He returned overseas in April 1945 and even though the only person in the squadron he knew personally was Captain Norton, he rapidly became well liked. He bounced around group for awhile and was assigned to the Ninth again on the 24th of May with the intention of taking over operations. It was a tragedy that he should have such poor luck on his first mission with his old outfit, and his absence is keenly felt by all the pilots. The possibility of his escape or evasion in Formosa is practically nil but we can hope a little and pray to God if he's captured he'll be treated as a Prisoner of War.

About 2145 hours the night of the 30th, the camp was surprised by the first and only "red alert" for the month. It lasted about fifteen minutes and later investigation unearthed the reason - wrong IFF code on friendly aircraft.

As the month closed, troops from the ETO were already on their way to this theatre, including some units of the 8th Air Force. The battle on Okinawa was sixty days old with American troops occupying the capital city of Naha, reduced to ashes as a result of our assault. Almost daily pounding of the Japanese homeland by carrier borne aircraft, P-51's from Okinawa, and 20th Air Force B-29's. Three hundred and seventy-eight thousand Japs had been killed in the Philippines and the remaining Nips on all fronts were devising, scheming, improvising and inventing strange, tricky, and sometimes fatal (to us) means of halting our inevitable advance. We ruled the air, the sea, and had bases in easy striking distance of Japan. We subjected them to daily, devastating air attacks and foot by foot we bombed, burned, blasted and dug the Japs from their positions. It was a slow and tedious process and we could only hate them more for each allied life given to destroy an already beaten enemy who lingered on to kill, destroy and despoil.



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