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Captain Frederick A. Harris

Captain Frederick A. Harris

Captain Frederick A. HarrisBilly Moore Gresham was born in El Dorado, Arkansas. He entered the Army Air Forces for flight training in 1942 and was commissioned and rated a pilot on 25 Hailing from Atlanta, Georgia, Frederick A. "Square Loop" Harris was commissioned a second lieutenant and rated as a pilot on 19 May 1942. Sent to the Pacific, he joined the 8th Fighter Group in January 1943, but six months later transferred to the newly-formed 475th Fighter Group at Amberly Field, Australia. He was a valued member of "Satan's Angels", with almost 1500 hours of flight time logged.

Harris was assigned to the 432nd Fighter Squadron, flying P-38H Lightning's, and entered combat only two months after joining his new unit. Near Dagua, New Guinea on 21 August 1943, the 432nd fought only its second combat, claiming 12 Japanese planes shot down. Harris was credited with two Tony fighters destroyed and four damaged that morning.

The New Guinea theater heated up that summer and fall, with frequent engagements. On 22 September, the now Captain Harris claimed a Betty bomber and two Zeke fighters in a mid-day fight which netted the 432nd Squadron another 18 victories. "Square Loop" Harris had become the squadron's first ace. He ran his score to seven with a pair of Val dive bombers at Oro Bay on 15 October.

The 432nd tied into a gaggle of Japanese fighters over Rabaul, New Britain on 24 October and Harris downed one, with another probably destroyed. A week later he was dead. On 31 October, while test flying another pilot's Lightning just east of Cape Sudaset, Buna Bay, he was seen descending toward the water with both engines smoking. No trace of plane or pilot was found.

Tally Record:

8 Confirmed
1 Probable
4 Damaged 

Silver Star
Distinguished Flying Cross with one Oak Leaf Cluster
Air Medal with one Oak Leaf Clusters

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