Aces of the 475th

We dedicate this page of our website to the “Aces” of the 475th Fighter group. These are the special men who achieved the status of fighter ace by personally destroying five or more enemy aircraft in air to air combat. The stakes in the game they entered were high, and many of the aces listed here themselves became victims. Some were killed in action, some were fortunate enough to have survived, to return and fight another day. A listing of these gallant warriors follows.

Not listed here are those who may not have become aces but whose contribution to this unit’s record of 547 air to air combat victories should not be ignored. Also, all pilots flew the very dangerous missions involving dive-bombing, low level skip-bombing and strafing. They destroyed innumerable aircraft on the ground, sunk watercraft, and performed the important role of fighter escort for bomber and transport aircraft. Bomber crews loved to look up and see twin tailed P-38s providing that protective shield against intercepting enemy fighters. It must be realized that these flyers would not have been so successful without the superb support of the ground personnel working under the most deplorable conditions. The achievements of these Non-Commissioned Officers and enlisted men were held in awe by the pilots. From the aircraft crew chiefs to the other personnel working in armament, hydraulics, communications and supply, they managed to keep the P-38 a finely tuned, lean, mean, fighting machine from engine performance to gun bore-sighting. So to all personnel of the 475th Fighter Group, America salutes you for your sacrifices, heroism and dedication in defending these United States of America during this most trying time in our history.

Featured Ace: Major Thomas B. McGuire, Jr.

Major Thomas B. McGuire, Jr.McGuire was transferred out of the 9th Fighter Squadron in June 1943. Sent to Australia to be part of the original cadre of the 431st Fighter Squadron, 475th Fighter Group, McGuire was mentored by some of the best officers in the unit. That steady leadership helped him develop into an exceptional combat leader.

On October 17, 1943, during a furious air battle over Oro Bay, New Guinea, McGuire’s squadron intercepted an incoming Japanese bombing raid. He rushed to the rescue of a fellow P-38 Lightning pilot, who was being pursued by a swarm of Mitsubishi Zero fighters. McGuire saved the pilot’s life, but nearly lost his own. He was shot down in flames, barely escaping the doomed aircraft. His parachute opened just before he impacted on the water. Severely wounded and barely conscious, he was pulled from the water by a U.S. Navy PT-boat crew.

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Aces of the 475th

Born in San Francisco, California on 17 March 1919, David Winthrop Allen attended the University of California at Berkley for three years, and then left his studies to enter the real estate business with his father. Drafted into the Army in February 1941 , he served in the infantry until the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The following day, he volunteered for pilot training and received his wings and commission as a second lieutenant with Class 42-G at Luke Field, Arizona.

Following advanced training as a fighter pilot, Lieutenant Allen was sent to the South Pacific and assigned to the 7th Fighter Squadron, 49th Fighter Group, based in New Guinea. Flying a P-40K, he scored two victories with the squadron – a pair of Lily twin-engine bombers shot down near Wau on 6 February 1943. After nine months with the 49th, Allen, now a first lieutenant was sent to Australia to form the cadre of the newly-organized 475th Fighter Group, equipped with the P-38 Lightning. Assigned to the 431st Fighter Squadron, he returned to combat in New Guinea. In five days of combat in August 1943 he became an ace, downing an Oscar and a Kate over Marilinan, New Guinea on the 16th and two Zekes and an Oscar on the 21st near Wewak. He was credited with his last victory on 16 December shooting down a Betty near Arawe, New Britain.

Allen left the service in August 1945 and returned to his real estate business in San Francisco. He subsequently expanded his enterprise to include distribution of industrial alcohol products in a multi-state area.

Tally Record:
8 Confirmed

Decorations:
Silver Star
Distinguished Flying Cross with three Oak Leaf Clusters
Air Medal with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters

Born on 19 May 1921 in Amarillo, Texas, Harry Winston Brown entered the Army Air Corps in September 1940. He was commissioned at Kelly Field, Texas on 15 August 1941 and was immediately assigned to the 47th Pursuit Group at Wheeler Field, Hawaii.

Brown was one of five pilots to score victories during the attack on Pearl Harbor, shooting down one Val and damaging another while flying a P-36. In August 1942 he was assigned to the 9th Squadron, 49th Fighter Group based in Australia flying P-40s. Brown scored his second victory, an Oscar, over Lae-Finschaven, New Guinea during the Bismarck Sea battle on 4 March 1943.

When the 475th Fighter Group “Satan’s Angels” was formed, Captain Brown was assigned to the 431st Fighter Squadron as a flight leader. Flying the P-38, Brown scored the Group’s first three victories, downing three Zekes over the Watut Balley on 16 August 1943 and later achieved his sixth victory shooting down a Zeke over Rabaul on 24 October.

Following World War II, Brown served as base commander of McGuire AFB, New Jersey prior to leaving the service in August 1948. Remaining in the Air Force Reserve, he earned undergraduate and masters degrees at the University of Denver and was subsequently promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. He served as personnel manager for the Bechtel Company in San Francisco for 10 years and commanded a Reserve air-sea rescue squadron at Lowry AFB, Colorado. He died on 7 October 1991 in Walnut Creek, California.

Tally Record:
6 Confirmed
1 Probable
1 Damaged

Decorations:
Silver Star
Distinguished Flying Cross with 1 Oak Leaf Cluster
Air Medal with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters

Born in Oneida, New York on 30 October 1918, Frederic Fay Champlin enlisted in the U.S. Army on 28 September 1940. Assigned to the 209th Coast Artillery at Camp Stewart, Georgia, after the attack on Pearl Harbor he transferred to the Aviation Cadet program. Graduating at William’s Field, Arizona on 12 April 1943, three months later he was sent to the Southwest Pacific where he joined the 431st Fighter Group in Brisbane, Australia.

Lieutenant Champlin scored his first victory on 28 September, downing a Zeke near Wewak, and on 2 November was credited with a double, Two Zekes, near Rabaul. He finished his first combat tour with the destruction of a Val on 26 December 1943 over Cape Gloucester.

Champlin, now a captain, became an ace on 12 November 1944 when he shot down a Lily bomber and one of two escorting Oscars over Leyte Gulf. He completed his scoring with two Zekes and an Oscar the following month. He returned to the United States in 1945 and was released from the service in November 1945.

In August 1950 Champlin was recalled to active duty for the Korean War. After retraining in jet aircraft he was assigned to the 7th Fighter-Bomber Squadron, 49th Fighter-Bomber Group, flying F-80s and later F-84s out of K-29 in Korea, adding 100 more combat missions to his previous 175 flown in World War II.

During the Vietnam War, Champlin commanded the 620th Tactical Control Squadron, the largest radar control unit for all Allied aircraft in Vietnam. He retired from the Air Force as a lieutenant colonel in September 1974. A victim of crippling arthritis for many years, he died in Marietta, Georgia on 7 March 1995.

Tally Record:
9 Confirmed

Decorations:
Distinguished Flying Cross with 1 Oak Leaf Cluster
Bronze Star with 1 Oak Leaf Cluster
Meritorious Service Medal
Air Medal with 11 OLCs
Joint Service Commendation Medal
Air Force Presidential Citation with 2 OLCs
Philippine Presidential Commendation Medal
Unit Citation and the Korean Presidential Unit Citation

Alabama native Henry L. Condon joined the Army Air Forces in 1942 as an aviation cadet. Graduating from pilot training as a flight officer on 13 December 1942, he was initially assigned to the 72nd Fighter Squadron, 318th Fighter Group at Hickam Field, Hawaii. On 29 June 1943 he was transferred to the 432nd Fighter Squadron, 475th Fighter Group, stationed at Dobodura, New Guinea.

Condon was credited with two aerial victories during his first combat tour, a Zeke shot down over Finschafen on 22 September 1943 and a Betty destroyed in the same area eight days later. Returning to the squadron after a rest tour, Condon, by then a first lieutenant, downed an Oscar on 3 April 1944. Promoted to captain shortly after, he assumed command of the 432nd on 4 August 1944.

Captain Condon didn’t score again until December, but on Christmas Day he became an ace in a wide-ranging air battle that involved all three squadrons of the 475th Fighter Group. On that day Fifth Air Force Liberators were sent to Luzon to bomb the Mabalacat Airdrome. The 431st and 432nd Squadrons flew high cover while the 433rd swept Dasol Bay. As the bombers approached their target, 70-80 Japanese interceptors ripped into the formation. During the ensuing 60 minute air combat, the group destroyed 26 Japanese fighters, with Condon accounting for two Zeke 52s. Eight days later he was listed as missing in action following combat north of Manila.

Tally Record:
5 Confirmed

Decorations:
Distinguished Flying Cross
Air Medal with 6 Oak Leaf Clusters

Edward John Czarnecki, born in 1922 in Wilmington, Delaware, joined the Army Air Forces for pilot training in early 1942, graduating on 30 October. On 12 March 1943 he was assigned to the 80th Fighter Squadron, 8th Fighter Group, based at Mareeba, Australia. On 1 July he was transferred as one of the initial pilots assigned to the newly-organized 431st Fighter Squadron, 475th Fighter Group. Equipped with the P-38 Lightning, the group moved to Port Moresby, New Guinea on 14 August 1943.

Four days later, as part of a 75 plane escort protecting Fifth Air Force medium and heavy bombers in route to Japanese held Wewak, Lieutenant Czarnecki scored his first victory, flaming two Zekes near Wewak. On 21 August another heavy engagement took place in the same area. Flying high cover, Czarnecki dove to the defense of B-25s being attacked by Japanese fighters and shot down a fixed-gear Nate.

By the end of August, Fifth Air Force had succeeded in neutralizing the Wewak airdromes. During September the Group supported MacArthur’s invasion of Lae and Finschafen. Moving across the Owen Stanley Mountains to Dobodura, the 475th began attacks on Japanese shipping at Rabaul. The Japanese retaliated with an attack on the American Fleet at Oro Bay on the 15th. The 431st intercepted 40 Japanese fighters and Czarnecki knocked down a Zeke and received credit for another as a probable. He became an ace two days later when he downed two more Zekes near Buna Bay.

On 23 October, on a fighter sweep near Lakunai, Czarnecki was shot down in Simpson Harbor. He managed to wade ashore, however, evading Japanese patrols and returning to Brisbane, Australia, in a submarine four months later.

Edward Czarnecki died of stomach cancer in the Fort Howard, Maryland VA hospital on July 27, 1955.

Tally Record:
6 Confirmed
1 Probable

Decorations:
Silver Star
Distinguished Flying Cross
Purple Heart

“Born 18 February 1923,  Colonel Dahl served in the 41st Infantry Division as an enlisted man in the early 1940s.  He applied for aviation cadet training shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor, was accepted and graduated as a Second Lieutenant in June 1943.”

Following transition training in the P-38 Lightning, Dahl was sent to Tumwater, Washington with the 55th Fighter Group, then on to the Pacific Theater as a replacement pilot in the 432nd Fighter Squadron, 475th Fighter Group “Satan’s Angels”. Starting in Buna, New Guinea, he fought through the Pacific, ending up at Lingayen Gulf, Philippine Islands.

Lieutenant Dahl scored his first victory on 9 November 1943, a Zeke downed near Alexishafen, and destroyed another Zeke over Wewak three days before Christmas. He was credited with a third Zeke on 23 January 1944 and became an ace on 3 April when he shot down a Zeke and an Oscar near Santani Lake. He was credited with one more Oscar on 8 June before the group moved to the Philippines.

Promoted to captain, Dahl continued to run up his score, downing a Tony on 10 November. Two weeks later he was involved in a mid-air collision and parachuted into enemy territory. He was captured by a Japanese patrol but was rescued by Filipino guerrillas. He returned to his unit thirty one days later and concluded his scoring in March 1945, credited with a Sally on the 5th and a Hamp on the 28th.

“Following World War II Dahl attended the University of Washington and Southern Colorado State University,  where he graduated with a Batchelor of Science degree.  He was employed with the Seattle Post Intelligencer when he was recalled to active duty in February, 1951.  Following recall, his duty assignments included: Test pilot, Air Force Depot; Editor Flying Safety Magazine; Student, Air Command and Staff College; Commander 734th Aircraft Warning and Control Squadron; Air Staff, Pentagon, Washington DC; Vice Commandant of Cadets, United States Air Force Academy; Deputy Chief of Staff, North American Air Defense Command and Commander, 56th Special Operations Wing. Colonel Dahl flew two combat tours in Southeast Asia. He retired from the Air Force on June 30 1978.”

Tally Record:
9 Confirmed
1 Probable

Decorations:
Congressional Gold Medal
Silver Star
Legion of Merit
Distinguished Flying Cross
16 Air Medals. Bronze Star
2 Meritorious Service Medals
2 Presidential Unit Citations
Air Force Commendation Medal
Good Conduct Medal, Purple Heart
Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm
Numerous service ribbons.

Zach Wesley Dean, born on 23 June 1918 in Altoona, Kansas, joined the Army Air Forces as an aviation cadet in early 1942. He graduated and was commissioned 30 October 1942. Initially assigned to the 80th Fighter Squadron, he was later transferred to the 432nd Fighter Squadron, 475th Fighter Group.

Lieutenant Dean was credited with his first aerial victory on 22 September 1943 when he shot down a Betty and a Zeke 25 miles off Finschafen, He followed this with a Val on 15 October and became an ace nine days later with the destruction of a Zeke and a Hamp over Rabaul. Another double victory on 22 December, two Zekes, completed his scoring.

Remaining in the Air Force following World War II, Zach Dean returned to combat in the Korean War. His tour was short lived, however; he was shot down and captured by the Chinese who kept him prisoner for over two years.

Tally Record:
7 Confirmed

Decorations:
Silver Star
Distinguished Flying Cross with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters
Air Medal with 6 OLCs

Born in Pomona, California on 11 September 1916, Vincent Thomas Elliott joined the Army Air Forces as an aviation cadet in 1942. Graduating with Class 43-D at Williams Field, Arizona on 12 April 1943, he was assigned to the 329th Fighter Group at Glendale, California for P-38 training. On 10 July he was transferred to the 475th Fighter Group, then being formed at Ipswich, Australia.

Flying with the 431st Fighter Squadron out of Dobodura, New Guinea, Lieutenant Elliott scored his first aerial victory on 13 September 1943, downing a Zeke near Wewak. He destroyed a Val over Oro Bay on 15 October and two days later was credited with a Zeke shot down near Buna Bay. He became an ace on 23 October when he downed a Zeke and a Hamp in an attack on Rabaul. He completed his scoring on 26 December with another double, a Zeke and an Oscar shot down over Cape Gloucester, New Britain while covering the first Allied invasion of that area.

After logging 118 combat missions, Elliott returned to the States. He separated from the service following the war and died in Burbank, California on 19 April 1986

Tally Record:
7 Confirmed
1 Damaged

Decorations:
Silver Star
Distinguished Flying Cross
Air Medal with 6 Oak Leaf Clusters

Jack Alan Fisk was born in 1918, and called Peoria, Illinois home when he joined the Army Air Forces for pilot training. He received his wings and commission as a second lieutenant with Class 43-D at Williams Field, Arizona on 12 April 1943. Initially assigned to the 329th Fighter Group, on 16 July 1943 he was sent to the Pacific Theater and assigned to the 433rd Fighter Squadron, 475th Fighter Group.

In August 1943 the Group moved from Australia to New Guinea and received a Distinguished Unit Citation for missions supporting B-26s attacking Wewak. They received a second DUC for intercepting and destroying many of the aircraft the Japanese sent against American shipping in Oro Bay on 15 and 17 October. On the latter date, flying a P-38H out of Dobodura, Lieutenant Fisk scored his first aerial victory, downing two Zekes east of Cape Ward Hunt. A week later he shot down another Zeke over Rabaul and on 9 November destroyed a Hamp just offshore from Alexishafen.

In October 1944 the 475th moved to the Philippines and engaged in the first stages of the Allied campaign to retake the Philippines. Promoted to captain, Fisk resumed his scoring in December, shooting down a Jack five miles south of Hagdanan Peak and 15 minutes later destroying a Zeke 552 three miles south of San Jose. He was credited with a Tojo downed near the southeast end of the No. 5 runway at Clark Field on 26 December to complete his combat tour.

Returning to the States in January 1945, Fisk died in November 1948.

Tally Record:
7 Confirmed

Decorations:
Distinguished Flying Cross with one Oak Leaf Cluster
Air Medal with 6 Oak Leaf Clusters

Born on 25 October 1919 in Gainesville, Florida, Joseph Morelle Forster enlisted in the Army Air Corps on 12 June 1940. Later accepted for pilot training, he graduated at Williams Field, Arizona on 22 June 1943. Following fighter transition training, on 26 October 1943 he was assigned to fly P-38s with the 432nd Fighter Squadron, 475th Fighter Group “Satan’s Angels”, based at Dobodura, New Guinea.

On 3 April 1944 Lieutenant Forster scored his first confirmed victories by destroying two Tony’s and an Oscar over Hollandia. A fourth victory came on 14 October 1944 while escorting B-24s from Morotai, Halmahera to Balikpapan, Borneo. Shortly after he destroyed a Zeke 52, another Zeke attacked and shot up Forster’s left engine. Diving above red-line speed and using dive flaps to pull out above the ocean waves, he eluded his attacker. With the left engine streaming smoke and the oil pressure at zero, he shut down the engine and feathered the prop. From that point, he flew alone more than 900 miles, zigzagging across the Celebes back to Morotai for a total mission time of eight hours and twenty minutes. He became an ace on 2 November when he destroyed an Oscar south of Ponson Island, and was credited with four more victories over the next six weeks, scoring his last, a Zeke, on Christmas Day.

In December 1945 Captain Forster returned to the U.S. Subsequent assignments included duty with the United Nations in Palestine; Commander 3526th Flying Training Squadron, Williams AFB; advisor to the Korean Air Force; Commander 21st Tactical Air Support Squadron in Vietnam.

Forster retired from the Air Force as a lieutenant colonel on 1 February 1971, and subsequently served 16 years with the city of Phoenix, Arizona in Building Safety and retired as Supervisor of Residential Inspections.

Tally Record:
9 Confirmed
3 Probable
1 Damaged

Decorations:
Silver Star
Distinguished Flying Cross with 2 Oak Leaf Cluster
Meritorious Service Medal
Air Medal with 10 Oak Leaf Clusters
Air Force Commendation Medal
Army Commendation Medal

Billy 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 March 1943 at Mariana, Florida. Initially assigned to the 15th Fighter Group at Bellows Field, Hawaii on 12 May 1943, two months later he transferred to the newly organized 432nd Fighter Squadron, 475th Fighter Group.

Organized in Australia and equipped with the P-38 Lightning, the Group moved to Dobodura, New Guinea on 14 August. A week later, Gresham scored his first aerial victory by downing a Japanese twin engine fighter near Dagua, New Guinea during a series of raids against Japanese held Wewak.

By the end of August, Wewak had been neutralized and the 475th operations shifted to the support of the invasion of Lae, on the southeast coast of New Guinea. On 20 September, Lieutenant Gresham shot down two Tonys over Marilinan.

On 15 October, the Japanese launched a major aerial assault on Oro Bay. In the ensuing wide-ranging battle, the 475th was credited with destroying 21 bombers and 15 fighters of which Gresham accounted for a Kate. Nine days later, the 80th Fighter Squadron joined the 475th on a B-25 escort mission to Rabaul. As they approached their target, 50 Japanese fighters attacked the American formation. Lieutenant Gresham shot down one of the Zekes to become an ace.

As the Allies gained control of New Britain, Gresham, newly promoted to first lieutenant, scored his last confirmed victory on 18 January, shooting down a Zeke over Wewak. He claimed one additional Oscar on 31 March as a probable.

On 2 October 1944, in a test flight over Biak Island, Gresham’s was forced to bail out. His parachute failed, however, and he fell to the ground.

Tally Record:
6 Confirmed
1 Probable

Decorations:
Distinguished Flying Cross with one Oak Leaf Cluster
Air Medal with 5 Oak Leaf Clusters

No details available at this time.

Born in 1920, Kenneth Franklin Hart joined the Army Reserve in 1942, listing Martinez, California as his home town of record. Accepted for pilot training, he pinned on his silver wings and the gold bar of a second lieutenant at Williams Field, Arizona on 28 July 1943.

Hart completed P-38 school later that year and was sent to the southwest Pacific, where he joined the 8th Fighter Group on 27 January 1944. Three weeks later he was transferred to the 431st Fighter Squadron, 475th Fighter Group, where he would fly the rest of his tour. His assigned aircraft was a P-38L, which he named “Peewee”.

By November the group was operating in the Philippines, where Hart was promoted to first lieutenant. On the 12th he logged his first combat when he got a bead on an Oscar fighter over Dulag Harbor and was credited with probably shooting it down. Twelve days later, in two different missions a Carigara, Leyte, he claimed a pair of Tony fighters and a Jake floatplane.

Hart scored the 431st’s only victory of 2 December when he flamed a Val dive bomber 20 miles south of Ormoc. Then during the famous “Anniversary Missions” of 7 December, he covered the U.S. landings on Ormoc Bay. American fliers claimed 50 victories throughout the day, with two Oscars falling to Hart’s Lightning during two missions that afternoon.

.On 28 March, Hart’s flight was one of four escorting B-25s against Japanese shipping at Ben Goi Bay, French Indochina. A running battle developed in which the P-38s claimed eight victories, including two Hamps by Hart.

Returned to the States, Hart was promoted to captain in April 1945. He died of unknown causes on 23 December 1946, just 26 years old.

Tally Record:
8 Confirmed
1 Probable

Decorations:
Silver Star
Distinguished Flying Cross with one Oak Leaf Cluster
Air Medal with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters

Paul Vernon Morriss was born in Buford, Georgia on 13 May 1920. He applied for Army pilot training after Pearl Harbor was attacked on 7 December 1941. His class graduated one year later, and Second Lieutenant Morriss went to the 337th Fighter Group for transition training in Florida. He was subsequently assigned to the Seventh Air Force, joining the 15th Fighter Group in Hawaii.

Though trained as a single engine pilot, on 15 July 1943 he was transferred to the Fifth Air Force’s 475th Fighter Group, flying the P-38H Lightning. Based in New Guinea, First Lieutenant Morriss flew a Lockheed named “Hold Everything” with the 431st Fighter Squadron. He logged his first Japanese plane shot down three months later, splashing a Mitsubishi Zeke fighter in Oro Bay on 15 October, one of nine victories credited to the squadron that day. That success was followed by and an Aichi Val dive bomber at Cape Gloucester on 26 December.

There ensued a five month dry spell, but on 4 June 1944, Captain Morriss encountered and destroyed a Japanese Army Oscar over Moisnneom Island. On the 16th of that month he claimed two more of the Nakajima fighters, becoming yet another ace of the “Satan’s Angels.”

Little is known of Morriss’ postwar career, but he died in Norcross, Georgia on 22 August 1980 after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage.

Tally Record:
5 Confirmed

Decorations:
Distinguished Flying Cross
Air Medal with 5 Oak Leaf Clusters

Franklin Allen Nichols was born on 18 April 1918 in Holdenville, Oklahoma. Joining the Army Air Corps as an aviation cadet on 11 September 1940, he graduated from the flying school at Kelly Field, Texas on 25 April 1941. Initially assigned to Wheeler Field, Hawaii with the 6th Pursuit Squadron, 18th Pursuit Group flying P-40Bs, he was an eye witness to the first Japanese dive bomber that dropped the first bombs on Wheeler Field on 7 December 1941.

In August 1942 Lieutenant Nichols was transferred to the 7th Pursuit Squadron, 49th Pursuit Group, joining the squadron on Townsville, Australia in route to Port Moresby, New Guinea. Flying P-40Es, he served as flight commander and operations officer of the squadron.

Credited with probably destroying a Zeke on 22 November, eight days later Nichols shot down another Zeke over Buna. On 7 December, the first anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack, he destroyed a Type 97 bomber in the same area. Promoted to captain, on February he downed two Zekes and damaged a Lily bomber north of Wau to become an ace. In June Nichols was transferred to the newly formed 475th Fighter Group in Brisbane, Australia and on 1 July was selected to command the 431st Fighter Squadron. Two months later he returned with the squadron to New Guinea, combat ready in the P-38. He scored one victory in the Lightning, an Oscar destroyed near Wewak, New Guinea on 21 August.

Ending the war as a lieutenant colonel, Nichols was promoted to colonel on 1 June 1952. He commanded the 363rd Tactical Reconnaissance Wing from 15 June to 1 September 1961 and the 31st Tactical Fighter Wing from 16 March 1964 to 30 May 1965. He retired from the Air Force as a major general in May 1970.

Tally Record:
5 Confirmed
1 Probable
1 Damaged

Decorations:
Silver Star
Legion of Merit
Distinguished Flying Cross with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters
Air Medal with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters

Born in Brooklyn New York on 4 June 1921, John “Rabbit” Pietz, Jr., graduated from Army Air Forces pilot training on 1 October 1943. Following fighter transition, in February 1944 he was sent to New Guinea and assigned to the 431st Fighter Squadron, 475th Fighter Group. On 24 March the 475th moved from Dobodura to Nadzab. They continued to Hollandia in May and to Biak in July. Operating the new “J” model P-38s with their extended range, the group flew escort missions and fighter sweeps to the southern Philippines, Celebes, Halmahera and Borneo.

Moving to Leyte in late October, the 475th participated in the Allied campaign to recover the Philippines. On 24 November, accompanying a 431st fighter sweep out of Dulag, Lieutenant Pietz downed two Oscars and a Kate.

Escorting B-24’s over Clark Field on Christmas Day, the 431st was met by 70 to 80 Japanese fighters. In a 50 minute air battle, the squadron destroyed 18 enemy aircraft, two of which were credited to Pietz.

With the fall of Clark Field, on 25 February the 475th moved to the former Japanese base. March was the last month of substantial air combat for the group, since Japanese resistance was tapering off drastically. The 28th was the group’s most eventful day, however. Escorting B-25s on an anti-shipping strike off French Indochina, the group engaged three formations of Japanese fighters, Eleven Japanese fell during the battle, with seven credited to the 431st. Pietz downed one Tojo for his final victory of the war.

Remaining in the service following the war Pietz retired from the Air Force as a colonel in January 1966. Still an athlete at age 64, he was killed when his bicycle was hit by a car in Kailua,, Hawaii in July 1985 as he was training for the Ironman.

Tally Record:
6 Confirmed

Decorations:
Distinguished Flying Cross with 1 Oak Leaf Cluster
Air Medal with 4 Oak Leaf Clusters

John Edgar “Jack” Purdy, Born in Wyandotte, Michigan on 17 June 1919, was drafted into the Army in June 1941. He served his basic training in the Calvary at Fort Riley, Kansas and was sent to Fort Snelling, Minnesota. Accepted into the Army Air Forces’ aviation cadet program in December 1941. He graduated from Luke Field, near Phoenix, Arizona, on 20 May 1943.

After extensive stateside training in P-39s, P-40s, and P-38s, Lieutenant Purdy was sent to the Southwest Pacific Theater for combat duty. Assigned to the 433rd Fighter Squadron,, 475th Fighter Group, he flew the P-38 Lightning from bases in New Guinea and the Philippine Islands. Credited with his first aerial victory on 16 May 1944, he had an exceptional 12-day combat period from 5-17 December 1944, during which time he was credited with shooting down six Japanese fighters along with two probable.

On 9 January 1945, the day of the allied landing on Luzon in the Philippines, Purdy led the Group on a bombing mission to knock out bridges between Manilla and the landing site. He was shot down by ground fire, but was able to make a crash-landing in the Cavite Province. He was picked up by guerrillas who tended to his wounds and took excellent care of him for 16 days until his rescue by an air sea rescue PBY. This had been his fifth crash landing and for all practical purposes ended his flying career after 184 combat missions.

Following the war Purdy founded and became CEO of the Dayton Showcase Company. He served on the board of trustees of the National Aviation Hall of Fame, and served on its Board of Nominations. He was president of the American Fighter Aces Foundation, and later was founder and chairman of the American Fighter Aces Museum Foundation.

Tally Record:
7 Confirmed
1 Damaged

Decorations:
Distinguished Flying Cross with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters
Purple Heart
Air Medal with 6 Oak Leaf Clusters

Stamford, Texas was the birthplace of Horace Bickley “Bo” Reeves on 16 April 1922. He grew up in Lamesa and attended the University of Texas before entering the Army Air Forces in June 1942. Following primary training at Ryan Field, California and basic at Marana, Arizona, he graduated and was commissioned at Williams Field, Arizona on 1 October 1943. He then took P-38 transition training at Salinas and North Island, California before being sent to the southwest Pacific.

Assigned to the 431st Fighter Squadron, 475th Fighter Group based at Hollandia, New Guinea, Reeves scored his first victory on 16 June 1944. The 431st Fighter Squadron was escorting B-25 staffers to Jefman Island, New Guinea when Reeves downed an Oscar just after noon. Moving up to the Philippines, he downed three Zekes, one each on 12 and 26 December, and 4 January 1945.

On 28 March, Lieutenant Reeves had his best day in combat and became an ace. Flying to Ben Goi Bay, French Indochina, Reeves downed two Hamps to become the last of the 475th’s 32 aces. During his tour, Reeves flew 137 combat missions with over 700 combat hours.

Reeves left active duty on 7 January 1946 but returned to the Air Force on 9 April 1947. Initially serving as a flight instructor, he later graduated from navigator and radar bombardier schools. He flew with the first B-47 wing, (306th) and after 4 1/2 years transferred to SAC’s reconnaissance operations, flying RB-57s and U-2s. Promoted to lieutenant colonel on 26 October 1957, he spent the last five years of his career in the SR-71 program, retiring in February 1970.

Tally Record:
6 Confirmed

Decorations:
Distinguished Flying Cross
Air Medal with 6 Oak Leaf Clusters

Daniel Tipton “Danny” Roberts was born 20 September 1918 in Tucumcari, New Mexico. Completing Army Air Forces flight training on 26 September 1941, he was initially assigned to Mitchell Field New York. Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, he was transferred to California where he departed the U.S. for the Pacific in January 1942

Arriving in New Guinea, Lieutenant Roberts was assigned to the 80th Fighter Squadron, 8th Fighter Group, where he initially flew the Bell P-400 (export version of the P-39). While the Airacobra was generally no match for the Japanese Zeke, Roberts downed two and damaged a third over Buna on 26 August 1942. He scored another double, a pair of Val dive bombers downed on 11 April 1943, before completing his first combat tour.

When the 475th Fighter Group was formed in the summer of 1943, Roberts joined its 432nd Squadron. On 21 August he became an ace by destroying two Hamps and shot down an Oscar on 9 September. Transferred to the 433 Fighter Squadron as its commander in October, he was credited with six Zekes between 17 and 29 October. His most outstanding action with the 433rd came on 2 November, when he was leading his P-38s on an escort mission to Rabaul. The P-38s dropped down to tree-top level and caught the Japanese fighters over Lakunai strip, one of which Roberts claimed as a probable in a head-on attack. Over Mautpi Island they encountered some 30-35 Japanese fighters and successfully broke up the formation to prevent their attacking U.S. bombers.

A week later Roberts was killed in action when one of the young wingmen in his formation cut his leader’s tail boom on a crossover in the excitement of sighting enemy aircraft. The 14-victory ace crashed into the jungle.

Tally Record:
14 Confirmed
1 Probable
1 Damaged

Decorations:
Silver Star
Distinguished Service Cross
Distinguished Flying Cross with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters

John Clay Smith was born in Portsmouth, Ohio on 11 February 1920. Joining the Army Air Forces as an aviation cadet in 1942, he graduated with Class 43-D at Luke Field, Arizona on 4 January 1943.

Sent initially to Will Rogers Field, Oklahoma with the 2nd Photographic Group, on 10 July Lieutenant Smith was transferred to the Southwest Pacific where he joined the 433rd Fighter Squadron, 475th Fighter Group at Amberly Field, Australia. Moving to Dobodura, New Guinea on 14 August 1943, Smith scored his first victory on 2 September when he shot down a Zeke and was credited with a Dinah as a probable..

On 15 and 17 October the 475th beat back massive attacks on Oro Bay, winning a Distinguished Unit Citation. Smith’s share of that scoring was an Oscar on the 15th and two Zekes on the 17th. Six days later he became an ace with the destruction of another Oscar over Rabaul and completed his scoring with a Zeke downed southwest of Rabaul on the 29th.

On 9 November, John Smith was killed in action when he and Danny Roberts collided while chasing a Zeke over Alexishafen. Both are buried in the Military Cemetery at Manila, in the Philippines.

Tally Record:
6 Confirmed
1 Probable

Decorations:
Distinguished Flying Cross
Purple Heart
Air Medal with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters

Meryl M. Smith joined the Army Air Corps as an aviation cadet from North East, Pennsylvania in 1940. He was rated a pilot and commissioned a second lieutenant on 7 February 1941,ensuring his seniority in the greatly expanding wartime Army Air Forces.

By early 1943 Smith was flying with the 35th Fighter Group in the Southwest Pacific, but he helped to form the new 475th Group that June, becoming operations officer. At that time he was an experienced fighter pilot with some 875 hours logged.

As a major attached to group headquarters, Smith flew most of the significant P-38 missions. He gained his first two victories, both Mitsubishi Zekes, over Wewak, New Guinea on 16 November 1943. He added a Kawasaki Tony off Cape Moen on 22 December.

Credited with destroying a Lily bomber on 3 February 1944, Smith became an ace by splashing a Val dive bomber two miles southeast of Jefman Air Station on 16 June. Promoted to lieutenant colonel at age 26, he claimed a Rufe floatplane on 1 August, then temporarily assumed command of “Satan’s Angels.”

On 14 October Smith led a long range mission to Borneo, destroying a Hamp fighter over Balikpapan. When the 475th moved to the Philippines, further combat presented itself. On the “anniversary mission” of 7 December, the group claimed 27 victories in defense of U.S. shipping. Smith shot down two Mitsubishi Jacks before being shot down himself. His P-38L was seen to fall into Ormoc Bay.

Tally Record:
9 Confirmed

Decorations:
Silver Star
Distinguished Flying Cross with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters
Air Medal with 5 Oak Leaf Clusters

Born in Providence, Rhode Island on 22 November 1919, Elliot Summer studied architecture at Columbia University before entering the Army Air Forces pilot training program. He graduated at Luke Field, Arizona on 4 January 1943 and was assigned to twin engine fighter training with the 360th and 329th Fighter Groups at Glendale, California. On 23 July he was assigned to the newly-formed 432nd Fighter Squadron, 475th Fighter Group, then training with Lockheed P-38s in Amberly, Australia.

The 475th moved to Dobodura, New Guinea on 14 August, and a week later Summer scored his initial victory, a Zeke downed over Oro Bay. Credited with two more in October, one Oscar on the 13th and another on the 24th. He achieved ace status on 21 December with a pair of Val dive bombers downed over Arawe. The next day he shot down a Zeke over Wewak.

Promoted to captain in late 1944, Summer became 432nd Squadrons’ operations officer. When the 475th moved to the Philippines that fall, hunting picked up again and Summer bagged two Zekes on 12 November, running his string to nine just ten days before his 25th birthday. The 7 December mission to Ormoc Bay resulted in his tenth and last victory.

On 2 January 1945, Summer became commander of the 432nd. Returning to the States as a major in July 1945, he had spent 24 months with the 475th Group. After the war he became a noise abatement officer for the Federal Aviation Administration.

Tally Record:
10 Confirmed
1 Damaged

Decorations:
Silver Star
Distinguished Flying Cross with 1 Oak Leaf Cluster
Air Medal with 9 Oak Leaf Clusters

Born an “Army Brat” on 30 June 1923 at the Presidio of San Francisco, California, John Alden Tilley called Mill, California his home until joining the Army Air Forces in March 1942. He completed pilot training at Douglas, Arizona, and was commissioned a second lieutenant on 6 February 1943.

Following fighter transition with the 329th Fighter Group at Glendale, California in November 1943, Tilley was sent to the Southwest Pacific and assigned as a P-38 pilot with the 431st Fighter Squadron, 475th Fighter Group at Dobodura, New Guinea. He flew his first combat mission on 15 December 1943 and scored his first victory the next day over Cape Gloucester, New Britain. He downed a Betty bomber on his third mission, damaged an Oscar on 18 January 1944, and shot down an Oscar over Noemfoor Island on 17 May. While at Dobodura, he designed the “Red Devil” insignia of the 431st Squadron.

The 475th moved to Biak in July and flew escort missions and fighter sweeps to the Southern Philippines. Moving to the Philippines in October, they strafed Japanese airfields and installations and engaged in aerial combat during the first stages of the Allied campaign to recover the Philippines.

Tilley didn’t score again until 11 December when he was credited with destroying a Zeke over north Cebu. He shot down a Jack on Christmas Day and became an ace the next day with the destruction of a Zeke 52, twenty miles northwest of Clark Field. He flew his 159th and last combat mission on 18 April 1945 from the 431st Squadron’s base at Lingayan Gulf, Luzon, Philippines.

Tilley left active duty on 28 June 1950, but remained in the Air Force Reserves until 1957 when he resigned as a major.

Tally Record:
5 Confirmed
1 Damaged

Decorations:
Distinguished Flying Cross
Air Medal with 6 Oak Leaf Clusters

Arthur Elmore Wenige, a New Yorker born on 7 July 1921, entered the Army aviation cadet program in 1941. He successfully completed flight training on 3 July 1942, graduating in Class 42-F at Spence Field, Georgia. After a brief indoctrination into fighters, he was sent to the Southwest Pacific, joining the 49th Fighter Group at Port Moresby, New Guinea on 1 October 1942. Upon entering the combat theater, he had barely logged 260 hours total flight time.

Second Lieutenant Wenige learned quickly. Flying P-40 Warhawks with the 9th Fighter Squadron, he first saw action over Dobodura the day after Christmas. In that combat he claimed one Mitsubishi Zeke shot down and another probably destroyed.

By the following summer Wenige was a first lieutenant, flying a Lockheed P-38 Lightning with the 475th Fighter Group. Ironically, “Satan’s Angels” now flew from the old Dobodura strip where Wenige had fought eight months before. On 16 August he led a flight of the 431st squadron, recording two of the unit’s 12 victories in a dogfight with Zekes over Marilinan, New Guinea.

During October and November the Fifth Air Force flew repeated missions against the Japanese naval air complex at Rabaul, New Britain. Wenige claimed a Hamp probably destroyed there on 23 October, then was credited with two Zekes on 2 November. Five days later he made his final claim with a Tony fighter near Adler Bay.

Arthur Wenige was killed in an aircraft accident near Asheville, North Carolina in May 1987.

Tally Record:
6 Confirmed
2 Probable

Decorations:
Silver Star
Distinguished Flying Cross with one Oak Leaf Cluster
Air Medal with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters

Calvin Charles “Cal” Wire, born on 15 April 1914 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, entered the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1941. After the bombing of Peal Harbor and the declaration of war by the U.S., he requested and was granted a transfer to the U.S. Army Air Forces. He graduated from flight training at Williams Field, Arizona on 6 February 1943 and trained on P-38s at Muroc and Santa Ana, California.

On 9 July 1943 Lieutenant Wire joined the newly formed 475th Fighter Group in Brisbane, Australia and was assigned to the 433rd Fighter Squadron. On 2 September he flew his first combat mission in the New Guinea area escorting B-24 bombers. Over Wewak, Wire’s Lightning was cut off from the squadron by four Zekes. In the ensuing melee, he shot down one, damaged another and was credited with a third as a probable.

Again over Wewak, on 26 September he shot down two Hamps, and on 24 October he added to his score with two Zekes over Rabaul. Promoted to major in 1944, Wire took command of the 433 Fighter Squadron at Biak, New Guinea and participated in the invasion and retaking of the Philippine Islands. He completed his scoring with the destruction of two Oscars in the Philippines on 19 November 1944 and returned to the United States in July 1945.

Leaving the service following the war, Wire joined the Los Angeles Fire Department and entered the University of California under their auspices. After three years he left the university to work with the State Fire Marshall’s Office as a fire protection engineer, remaining there until 1977. He then worked briefly with the San Francisco Fire Department before taking full retirement.

Tally Record:
7 Confirmed
1 Probable
2 Damaged

Decorations:
Distinguished Flying Cross with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters
Purple Heart
Air Medal with 6 Oak Leaf Clusters

James Childs Ince was born at Paragould, Arkansas on 28 March 1919 and grew up in Boulder, Colorado. He attended the University of Colorado, leaving to join the Army Air Forces for pilot training. Graduating at Like Field, Arizona on 9 January 1942 with Class 42-A, he was immediately sent to Hawaii, where he joined the 6th Pursuit Squadron at Wheeler Field, flying P-26s, P-36s and P-40s on patrols searching for the Japanese invasion fleet.

In July 1942, Ince joined the 8th Fighter Group’s 80th Fighter Squadron “Headhunters” in New Guinea. Initially equipped with the P-39. Early in 1943 the 80th received P-38s. Ince scored his first victory on 21 May 1943, a Hamp downed five miles west of Salamaua. Exactly one month later, he destroyed one Zero and was credited with a second as probable a few miles south of Lae.

Late in the summer of 1943, Ince joined the 475th Fighter Group. Promoted to captain, he became a flight leader in the 432nd Fighter Squadron based at Dobodura. On 22 September, while flying cover for Finschaven landing, Ince’s squadron intercepted 20 Betty bombers, escorted by 40 Zekes. Taking his P-38s straight through the Zekes down to the deck after the bombers, Ince shot down one Betty, but had his left engine shot out. As he pulled up he was attacked head-on by a Zeke. He set the Zeke on fire, barely missed being rammed, and returned home. He completed his scoring in November, downing one Zeke on the 9th and another on the 16th. He returned to the U.S. in March 1944

Ince left the service following the war, but joined the Air Force Reserves. Called back to active duty during the Korean War, he served in Korea, Japan and Taiwan from 1951 through 1955. He retired as a lieutenant colonel in September 1965.

Tally Record:
6 Confirmed
1 Probable

Decorations:
Silver Star
Distinguished Flying Cross with one Oak Leaf Cluster
Air Medal with 4 Oak Leaf Clusters

Verl Erwin Jett was born at Belle, Missouri on 25 May 1920. He moved to California at age nine, eventually attending Santa Maria Junior College. After graduating in 1940, he enlisted in the Army as an aviation cadet. Upon graduation from flight training at Kelly Field, Texas on 15 August 1941, he was sent to Wheeler Field, Hawaii to the 45th Pursuit Group. He remained there through the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor until August 1942, flying P-36s and P-40s.

In August 1942 Jett was sent to Milne Bay, New Guinea, where he was assigned to the 36th Fighter Squadron, 8th Fighter Group, flying P-39s and P-40s. He scored his first victory on 28 December 1942, downing a Sonia reconnaissance aircraft near Goodenough Island.

Promoted to captain, on 1 July 1943 Jett was transferred to the 431st Fighter Squadron, 475th Fighter Group, to fly P-38s. On 18 August he shot down two Zekes near Wewak, New Guinea and three days later destroyed a twin engine fighter in the same area. He became an ace on 13 September when he was credited with downing a Nick near Wewak.

In October Jett assumed command of the squadron. He was credited with damaging a Val dive bomber on 26 December and shot down a Zeke over Wewak on 18 January 1944. He scored his last victory, a Lily bomber, on 3 February. Returning to the States in June 1944 he was transferred to Ephrata, Washington. Assigned to the 430th Army Air Force Base Unit, he remained there until December 1944 when he was sent to Foggia, Italy to fly P-38s with the 96th Fighter Squadron, 82nd Fighter Group.

Jett returned to the States in November 1945 and was stationed at Luke Field, Arizona. Remaining in the Air Force, he retired as a colonel in August 1963.

Tally Record:
7 Confirmed
1 Probable

Decorations:
Silver Star
Distinguished Flying Cross with 3 Oak Leaf Cluster
Air Medal with 4 Oak Leaf Clusters

Marion Franklin Kirby was born in Louisville, Kentucky on 14 July 1919. Joining the Army Air Forces from Lometa, Texas, he completed flight training on 12 December 1941.

Sent to the Southwest Pacific, Lieutenant Kirby flew P-38s with the 80th Fighter Squadron, 8th Fighter Group, based in New Guinea he was credited with probably destroying an Oscar between Lae and Salamaua on 21 May 1943. On 15 July he transferred to the newly organized 431st Fighter Squadron, 475th Fighter Group, then based in Australia.

The Group moved to New Guinea in August. Operating out of Dobodura, Kirby logged his first victory with the 431st on 15 October, downing a Val dive bomber over Oro Bay, and two days later shot down a Zeke near Buna Bay. On 23 October, escorting B-24s to Rabaul, the 431st engaged 25-30 Japanese fighters diving on the bombers. In the ensuing combat, Kirby destroyed a Hamp.

Fifth Air Force’s campaign to neutralize Rabaul was capped by the 475th’s 2 November mission. Timed to support the U.S. landings on Bougainville, the 475th Fighter Group’s sweep to Rabaul was intended to keep Japanese aircraft out of Simpson Harbor. Shortly after passing the shoreline, Kirby noticed a B-25 with its right engine afire. Five or six Japanese fighters were trying to establish a gunnery pattern on the Mitchell, and Kirby dove into them, knocking down one. Turning back, he splashed another to become an ace.

Kirby left the Air Force after the war and graduated from Louisiana State University in 1948 with a bachelor’s degree in geology. He then joined the Gulf Oil Corporation and worked for them for 12 years, following which he established his own oil business. He retired to Lampasas, Texas in 1975.

Tally Record:
5 Confirmed
1 Probable

Decorations:
Silver Star
Distinguished Flying Cross
Air Medal with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters

In St. Paul Minnesota, Francis Joseph “Fran” Lent was born on 20 October 1917, and he grew up in the town of Melrose, Minnesota. After the death of his mother when he was 18, Lent bought the grocery store where he was working and remained in the business until the outbreak of the war

In 1942 Lent joined the Army Air Forces and was sent to Thunderbird Field, Arizona for primary flight training. He received his wings and commission at Luke Field, Arizona, graduating on 10 March 1943 with Class 43-C, a class that also produced fellow ace Charles E. “Chuck” Yeager.

Following graduation, Lieutenant Lent was sent to Glendale, California where he received fighter transition with the 329th Fighter Group. On 9 July 1943 he was assigned to the 431st Fighter Squadron, 475th Fighter Group, “Satan’s Angels”, in New Guinea. There he flew wing for top scoring fighter ace Lieutenant Thomas B. McGuire and began to learn the fighter trade. On 18 August 1943 he downed a Hamp near Wewak and destroyed two more Japanese fighters three days later.

Fifteen Japanese Val dive bombers, escorted by 39 Zekes, attacked Allied shipping in Oro Bay on 15 October. Scrambling to intercept the Japanese raid, the 475th claimed 36 aircraft destroyed. Lent accounted for three: two Zekes and a Val, to become an ace..

Nine days later, on the 24th Lent downed a Tony over Rabaul and on 2 November claimed one Zeke destroyed and another as a probable in the same area. Adding a Betty on 16 December, he completed his scoring on 31 March 1944 with two Zekes shot down 30 miles south of Hollandia.

On 1 December 1944, just prior to returning to Minnesota for a well earned leave and a marriage ceremony, Lieutenant Lent crashed into the ocean off Lae during a test flight of an F-6D, the photo-recon version of the P-51.

Tally Record:
11 Confirmed
1 Probable

Decorations:
Silver Star with one Oak Leaf Cluster
Distinguished Flying Cross
Air Medal with 6 Oak Leaf Clusters

Warren Russell Lewis was born in Superior, Iowa on Christmas Eve 1919. Attending Estherville Junior College when war broke out in Europe, he left his studies to join the Royal Canadian Air Force. He transferred to the U.S. Army Air Forces in May 1941 and was assigned to the 8th Fighter Group. He flew P-38s at Milne Bay, New Guinea from August 1942 to June 1943, recording no victories, but greatly enhancing his background and experience levels.

Lewis was transferred to the 431st Fighter Squadron, 475th Fighter Group, as a first lieutenant in June 1943. He flew successively from Port Moresby, Dobodura, Finschaven, Nadzab, Biak, and Hollandia. His first victory was scored on 16 August 1943, an Oscar downed three miles northeast of Tsili Tsili, followed by a Zeke shot down near Wewak on 28 September.

Reassigned to the 433rd Fighter Squadron, Lewis was promoted to captain on 16 October and destroyed two Bettys on 16 December. Promoted to major on 17 March 1944, he became an ace on 3 April with the destruction of a Zeke over Hollandia and shortly thereafter was named squadron commander of the 433rd. His last two victories came in May, an Oscar on the 16th and a Pete floatplane three days later.

Lewis rotated home in August 1944, but returned to combat in Europe in April 1945, flying with the 82nd and 31st Fighter Groups in P-38s and P-51s, respectively. By the end of the war, he had flown 591 combat missions totaling 1,174 hours.

Remaining in the Air Force following the war, Lewis was promoted to colonel on 7 April 1959 and subsequently commanded the 354th and 31st Tactical Fighter Wings. He served a combat tour in Vietnam in 1968 and retired from the Air Force in September 1971.

Tally Record:
7 Confirmed
5 Probable
3 Damaged

Decorations:
Legion of Merit with one Oak Leaf Cluster
Distinguished Flying Cross with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters
Air Medal with 26 Oak Leaf Clusters

John Simon Loisel, born on 21 May 1920 in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, entered Army Air Corps flight training on 10 March 1941, and received his wings on 31 October. In September 1942 he was assigned to 36th Fighter Squadron, 8th Fighter Group in New Guinea, where he flew 83 combat missions in P-39s.

In July 1943 Lieutenant Loisel was selected to join the cadre of the newly established 475th Fighter Group then forming at Amberley Field, Australia. Moving to Dobodura, New Guinea in August. Loisel shot down two Tonys on a bomber escort mission to Wewak on 21 August 1943, a Zeke near Finschafen on 22 September and two mote Zekes over Oro Bay on 15 October to gain ace status. Three days later he was promoted to captain. He downed two mote Zekes in December, one on the 13th and the other on the 21st.

Taking command of the 432nd Fighter Squadron on 22 January, Loisel destroyed another Zeke the next day. Over the next few weeks the 475th flew numerous strike missions against targets in New Guinea and the Halmaharas. On 3 April loisel shot down an Oscar and a Hamp on a Low level bomber escort mission against enemy airfields at Hollandia, New Guinea. He returned to the U.S. in August as a Major.

Loisel returned to the Pacific in January 1945 to become group operations officer. Flying from the Philippines on 28 March 1945, he destroyed a Frank near Tree Island, Indochina.

Promoted to lieutenant colonel on 15 May, Loisel assumed command of the 475th on 15 July and led the group to Ie Shima and on to Kimpo, Korea. He relinquished command on 18 April 1946 and returned home.

During the Korean War, Loisel commanded the 47th Fighter-Bomber Group flying ground attack missions in the F-84. He retired from the Air Force as a colonel in 1970.

Tally Record:
11 Confirmed
1 Damaged

Decorations:
Silver Star
Legion of Merit
Distinguished Flying Cross with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters
Air Medal with 9 Oak Leaf Clusters

Paul Woodrow Lucas, of Boone, Iowa, joined the Army as an aviation cadet in 1942. Upon receiving his commission and wings on 12 April 1943, he quickly passed through twin engine school and was sent to the Southwest Pacific in July.

Second Lieutenant Lucas joined the 475th Fighter Group’s 432nd Fighter Squadron at Dobodura, New Guinea, flying P-38H Lightning’s. At that time he had logged 316 flight hours, including 114 in Pursuit aircraft. He quickly proved his worth in the 475th by shooting down a Mitsubishi Zeke fighter over Dagua on 21 August.

Though the group steadily advanced through the Southwest Pacific Theater for the next 14 months, Lucas found little opportunity to increase his score. By October 1944 “Satan’s Angels” were operating from Dulag in the Philippines, and now Captain Lucas hit his stride. On 24 November, he intercepted Japanese fighters 20 miles west of Tacloban airstrip, Samar, and shot down two Kawasaki Ki-61 Tonys. He became an ace three days later, downing two Zekes near the Dulag Field.

Lucas had one combat in December credited with a probable victory over a Zeke on the 11th. He opened the new year with another Zeke destroyed over Clark Field on 1 January 1945.

Two weeks later Lucas participated in an attack on Silay Airdrome. His P-38L was hit by anti-aircraft fire and the Iowan ace was reported crash landing two miles east of the airdrome.

Tally Record:
6 Confirmed
1 Probable

Decorations:
Distinguished Flying Cross with one Oak Leaf Cluster
Air Medal with 6 Oak Leaf Clusters

Lowell Lutton, born in Clifton, Illinois in 1918, entered the Army pilot training in 1941. After receiving his silver wings with Class 42-A at Stockton Field, California on 9 January 1942 he was selected for fighter training and went to the Hawaiian Department on 12 March. There he joined the 44th Fighter Squadron, 18th Fighter Group, flying a Curtis P-40s. After nearly seven months in Hawaii, Lutton was transferred to the 49th Fighter Group’s 8th Fighter Squadron, based at Port Moresby, New Guinea. By year’s end, he had logged 502 hours flying time.

With establishment of the 475th Fighter Group in 1943, First Lieutenant Lutton joined the 431st Fighter Squadron, also at Port Moresby. After a hasty transition to P-38 Lightning’s he began flying long range combat missions in July. Lutton’s previous experience served him well, he claimed three Japanese aircraft in three days during mid-August. On the 16th Lutton fought Nakajima Ki-43 Oscars over Marilinan, New Guinea, and shot down one of 12 claimed in the squadron’s first combat. Two days later the 431st reported another dozen victories, as Lutton bagged a pair of Oscars near Wewak.

Beginning in October, the Fifth Air Force launched a series of strikes against the Japanese naval air complex at Rabaul, New Britain. The 431st was engaged near the target on 23 October, and Lutton claimed a Mitsubishi A6M Zeke. Back again on 2 November, he was seen to shoot down another Zeke but failed to return to base. It was assumed that he ran out of fuel and crashed.

Tally Record:
5 Confirmed

Decorations:
Silver Star
Distinguished Flying Cross with one Oak Leaf Cluster
Air Medal with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters

The third ranking ace in the Pacific during World War II was Charles Henry “Mac” MacDonald, was born in Dubois, Pennsylvania on 23 November 1914. He entered the Army Air Corps pilot training program following graduation from Louisiana State University in 1938. MacDonald received his wings and commission as a second lieutenant at Kelly Field, Texas on 25 May 1939. Assigned initially to the 55th Pursuit Group, he was transferred to the 18th Pursuit Group at Wheeler Field, Hawaii on 9 February 1941 and was there during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December.

MacDonald returned to the States and served briefly in the 326th Fighter Group before transfer to the 348th Fighter Group to command the 340th Pursuit Squadron at Westover Field, Maine. On 1 October 1943 MacDonald, by then a major, joined the 475th Fighter Group at Dobodura, New Guinea as group executive officer. He scored his first four victories that month, and became an ace on 9 November when he downed two Zekes near Alexishafen Airdrome. Promoted to lieutenant colonel the next day, he assumed command of the group.

Leading the group for 20 months, Colonel “Mac” flew his P-38, “PUTT PUTT MARU” with the unit number “100”. One of his most memorable missions occurred on 25 December 1944 when he destroyed three Japanese fighters over Clark Field in the Philippines. He scored his last aerial victory on 13 March 1945, bringing his total to 27.

MacDonald returned to the States in July 1945 and served in a variety of command and staff assignments, including commander of the 33rd Fighter Group and 23rd Fighter Wing. Retiring from the Air Force as a colonel in July 1961, he spent 10 years touring the Pacific and Caribbean by sailboat before retiring in Florida.

Tally Record:
27 Confirmed
2 Probable
4 1/2 Damaged

Decorations:
Distinguished Service Cross with one Oak Leaf Cluster
Silver Star with one OLC
Legion of Merit
Distinguished Flying Cross with 5 OLCs
Air Medal with 10 OLCs
Air Force Commendation Medal

On 12 June 1921 Jack Cyril Mankin was born in Kansas City, Missouri. He entered the Army Air Forces as an aviation cadet on 31 October 1941, and graduated at Stockton, California on 21 May 1942. He was sent to the 78th Fighter Group at Oakland, California, and while there was caught flying under the Golden Gate Bridge. Mankin quickly found himself in Australia, and was assigned to the 9th Fighter Squadron, 49th Fighter Group.

The 49th was shipped to New Guinea in October 1942 and in February 1943 the 9th Fighter Squadron was the first in the group to transition from the P-40 to the P-38. Mankin scored one victory with the 49th on 11 March 1943, a Zeke over Oro Bay, before he was reassigned on 15 July to the newly formed 431st Fighter Squadron, 475th Fighter Group.

Flying a transport escort mission on 16 August 1943, Mankin’s squadron was bounced over Marilinan, New Guinea by a superior force of Japanese fighters. Mankin shot down a Zeke and an Oscar before his guns jammed. On 7 November, escorting B-24s to Rabaul, he destroyed a Tony and an Oscar to become an ace.

Promoted to captain on 25 March 1944, and after 18 months of combat, Mankin was rotated home. He served as a flight instructor in a RTU, attended the Army Command and General Staff College at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas. He earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of Kansas in 1948.

At the outbreak of the Korean War, Mankin was assigned to the 8th Fighter-Bomber Group in Japan, but later served on the staff of the Commander, Seventh Fleet as an Air Force Liaison and Intelligence officer. He left the Air Force on 1 April 1952 to become a pilot for TWA, flying international routes for 30 years, retiring in 1981.

Tally Record:
5 Confirmed

Decorations:
Silver Star
Distinguished Service Cross with one Oak Leaf Cluster
Bronze Star
Air Medal with 2 OLCs

Thomas Buchanan “Tommy” McGuire, Jr., was born on 1 August 1920 in Ridgewood, New Jersey. He left the campus of Georgia Tech to join the Army Air Forces on 12 July 1941. Following graduation with pilot training Class 42-B on 2 February 1942 at Kelly Field, Texas, he was sent to the 50th Pursuit Group at Key Field, Mississippi for fighter transition.

McGuire’s first assignment was to the 54th Pursuit Group in Nome, Alaska, where he served until 16 October 1942. On 14 March 1943 he departed for the Pacific and the beginning of a brilliant combat career. Assigned initially to the 49th Fighter Group, he was transferred to the 431st Fighter Squadron, 475th Fighter Group on 20 July.

Flying a P-38H with “Pudgy” emblazoned across its nose, McGuire shot down two Zekes and a Tony near Wewak, New Guinea on 18 August. Three days later he destroyed two more Zekes and damaged a twin-engine fighter to become an ace. By the end of the month he had added four more to his score and made no secret of the fact that he wanted to surpass Dick Bong’s steadily climbing record.

Downing Japanese aircraft in multiples, McGuire himself was shot down and wounded on 17 October after downing three Zekes near Buna. Back in the saddle in December, he shot down three Vals over Cape Gloucester on the 26th .  By 17 December he had 31 to Bong’s 40. General Kenney sent Bong home and temporarily grounded McGuire. He returned to combat with a vengeance, destroying three Zekes on Christmas Day and four more on the 26th.

McGuire’s hope of forty victories was never realized. Attacking a Zeke at tree-top altitude over Negros Island on 7 January 1945, he entered a high speed stall and crashed into the jungle.

Not only was McGuire a prolific fighter pilot, he also authored the book on combat tactics in the Pacific that was adopted by the Army Air Corps. This gave the U.S. airmen the advantage needed to successfully accomplish the difficult task of defeating the Japanese with a minimal loss of American planes and lives.

Tally Record:
38 Confirmed
2 Probable
3 Damaged

Decorations:
Medal of Honor
Distinguished Service Cross
Silver Star 2 Oak Leaf Clusters
Distinguished Flying Cross 4 OLCs
Purple Heart 1 OLC
Air Medal 14 OLCs

On 14 September 1916 Joseph Thomas McKeon was born in New York City. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps from Maspeth, Long Island, and received his wings at Maxwell Field, Alabama, Class 41-H, on 31 October 1941. Assigned to the 15th Pursuit Group in Hawaii, he arrived two weeks before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Transferred to the 35th Fighter Squadron, 8th Fighter Group in the Southwest Pacific in June 1942, he scored his first victory on the anniversary of Pearl Harbor.

By the fall of 1943 McKeon was a captain flying P-38s with the 475th Fighter Group’s 433rd Squadron. He ran up four victories during September and October, becoming an ace before returning to the States in January 1944.

Following P-38 instructor duty at Santa Maria, California, McKeon began his second overseas tour in June 1944 with the 77th Fighter Squadron, 20th Fighter Group at King’s Cliffe in England, again flying P-38s. The 20th converted to P-51s in late July and it was in a Mustang that McKeon scored his sixth and last victory on 16 August.

Flying his 40th mission from England, McKeon was captured by the Germans after bailing out following a mid-air collision over Galinow on 7 October. He remained in German captivity until mid May 1945.

After the war, McKeon served in Strategic Air Command fighters from 1947 to 1954, then spent three years in France with the military assistance group. His final assignment was with the Air Defense Command from 1958 to October 1963 when he retired as a lieutenant colonel.

In civilian life, McKeon became a distinguished linguist. Gaining a Ph.D. at Georgetown University he studied at the Sarbonne in Paris, the University of Grenoble in Switzerland and eventually in Italy.

Tally Record:
6 Confirmed
2 Damaged

Decorations:
Silver Star
Distinguished Service Cross with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters
Purple Heart
Air Medal with 9 Oak Leaf Clusters

Franklin Herman Monk was born on 15 December 1915, and listed Peoria, Illinois as his hometown when he joined the Army Air Forces as an aviation cadet. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant at Roswell, New Mexico on 10 March 1943. Less than six months later he reported to the 431st Fighter Squadron, 475th Fighter Group in the Southwest Pacific, flying the P-38H Lightning in New Guinea.

Second Lieutenant Monk flew his first missions from Port Moresby that fall, and claimed his first Japanese plane over Oro Bay when he shot down a Mitsubishi A6M Zeke on 15 October. It was one of 11 victories credited to the 431st that day. He added another Zeke over Cape Gloucester the day after Christmas.

In March 1944 “Satan’s Angels” moved to Nadzab, New Guinea and Monk claimed yet another Zeke during a dogfight over Hollandia on the 31st. The 431st Squadron operated from that base itself in May, but in June the Japanese decided they wanted it. On 16 June, near Jefman, the 431st claimed nine victories, including a Nakajima Oscar destroyed by Monk. He had claimed five victories in five encounters with Japanese aircraft. Returning to the States in January 1945, Monk left the service after the war and moved to Portland, Oregon. There he worked at various jobs until his death in Portland in December 1981 at age 66.

Tally Record:
5 Confirmed

Decorations:
Distinguished Flying Cross
Air Medal with 6 Oak Leaf Clusters