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
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
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.
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
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.