In the early part of the month Colonel. Ivan W. McElroy, who had taken over command of the 80th Fighter Group in July, 1943, was transferred to the 10th Air Force and command of the Group was assumed by Lt. Col. Albert L. Evans, Jr., Who had been Group Commander prior to the time Col. McElroy took command.
Within the squadron itself officer strength increased from 50 to 54. Captain R. Y. Wissler was assigned to the squadron as a medical officer and two and D space LT. W. J. Klingenberg as Assistant Intelligence Officer. Three pilots who had been attached to the squadron for several months were also assigned permanently. They were to 2nd Lts. W.H. Moeller, G. J. Seifert, J. P. Maguire, Captain David R. Jones, who had been transferred from the 51st Fighter Group, received long-awaited orders starting him on the road back to the states.
Enlisted strength rose from 252 to 256, six new men being assigned against the loss of two. T’Sgt.. Carl Liske who had been long with the squadron was one of those transferred out due to medical reasons. The squadron will miss him and it is hoped that he will find a new assignment to his liking.
Although for the whole month operations fell off from those of the previous month, two weeks of the period were the squadrons most active. Operations in the month, during which there were 21 operational days, are reflected in the following tabulation:
As indicated by the above tabulation a marked decrease took place in patrol missions while a offensive combat missions continued at the high-level of the preceding month. For the first time missions involving as many as twenty planes became almost a daily occurrence.
Reported enemy supply dumps and troop concentrations continued to be the chief bombing and striking targets and also close support was given the ground forces operating in Northern Burma. For their work in the latter connection, the 80th Fighter Group received several commendations for their accurate and superb support. Copies of these commendations are annexed as appendixes 17, 18, and 19.
The town of Myitkyina in Northern Burma and the surrounding area bore the brunt of the attacks of the squadron. The railroad yards there were bombed and strafed on several occasions and severe damage is believed to have been reflected on rolling stock including two or more locomotives.
The area was also the scene of another near combat lost to the squadron on April 20 after completion of a strafing pass over the target area the plane flown by 1st Lt. Robbins was seen to catch on fire and Lt. Robbins bailed out in the mountains approximately 10 miles north of Myitkyina. The area in which Lt. Robbins went down was not only rugged but also very close to reported Jap troop positions and concentrations. After an eight day track through the jungles and over the mountains Lt. Robbins reached a point from which he was flown out and on April 29th he returned safely to base. Although he had been injured slightly and burned about the hands he returned in excellent condition for the harrowing experiences he had endured, and needless to say his safe return was a cause for rejoicing by all.
Although it was not known at the time the cause of Lt. Robbins mishap has since been definitely established as small arms fire encountered over the target area. It was a case of a lucky hit being scored in the coolant and oil system in the plane. Similar ground fire not resulting in any serious damage, was encountered upon several other missions flown during the month.
During the latter part of the month on the work on the main runway was completed and Nagaghuli can now boast a metal strip.
3. Combat with Enemy Aircraft:-
There were no contact made with enemy aircraft during the month
During the month there were awarded to the pilots of the squadron one Silver Star, three Oak Leaf Clusters to the Air Medal, 22 Distinguished Flying Crosses and Four Air Medals. The recipients of these awards are listed below:
2nd Lt. James F. May
OAK LEAF CLUSTER TO TH AIR MEDAL
Major William S. Harrell
Captain David R. Jones
1st Lt. Robert D. Bell
DISTINGUISHED FLYING CROSS
Major William S. Harrell
Capt. James H. Darden
Capt. Linus F. Upson, Jr.
Capt. David R. Jones
Capt. Charles G. Whitley
Capt. Elbert R. McMillin
1st Lt. Philip R. Adair
1st Lt. Robert D. Bell
1st Lt. Lewis T. Chapman
1st Lt. Phillip A. Coll
lst Lt. Sherry Dare
1st Lt. Raymond B McReynolds
1st Lt. William C. Nall
lst Lt. Edward C.O’Connor
1st Lt. Raymond W. Witort
2nd Lt. Charlie B. Hardy
2nd Lt. John M. Matulevicz
2nd Lt. Robert McCarty
2nd Lt. James P. Smith
F.O Donald W. Troy
1st Lt. Austin Freeman
1st Lt. Felix H Jones,Jr.
2nd Lt. Fred S. Evans
2nd Lt. John Makar
2nd Lt. Steven R. Wheaton
Good conduct metals awarded to 50 enlisted men of the squadron during the month. There were in addition 85 such metals awarded on October 28, 1943.
Also during this month orders came through authorizing all personnel of the group had been with the group in this theater between April 2, 1942 and March 31, 1941 to wear a Bronze Star on the theater ribbon
Copies of the orders covering the above awards are annexed as appendix 20, 21, 22, 23 24, 25 and 26.
During the month the Group and Squadron were paid visits and addressed by Lord Louis Mountbatten and Major General Davidson. The latter commented upon the rotation policy or lack of it in this theater and dashed whatever hope some few might have had for an early return to the states.
A comparatively large number of officers were promoted during the month with Captain Harrell being elevated to the rank of Major 1st Lts. McMillan and Reeder to the rank of Captain in the gold being removed from the bars of 2nd Lts. Bell, Dare, Hartswick, Nall McReynolds, Rhodes and Tracy. Well deserved promotions were also accorded to four enlisted men.
The most significant contribution to Nagaghuli was the opening during the month of the enlisted men’s Day room. For comfort and attractiveness we believe it to be without equal in the valley, and to Lt. Lennon and the others who gave much of their time and effort making as such, much credit is due.