XVI NAGAGHULI AND MOKELBARI May 1944
XVI NAGAGHULI AND MOKELBARI May 1944
One. Organizational changes:
In the early part of the month the detachment of the Squadron which had been stationed at Sadiya, comprising some 67 enlisted men and 14 officers, was transferred to Mokelbari, the former home and headquarters of the 88th Fighter Squadron. Although Mokelbari boasts of a grass strip only about two miles south of Nagaghuli, operations of the flight station there will be carried out, at least during the monsoon season from the new metal strip at Nagaghuli. It is also hoped that facilities will become available at Nagaghuli whereby the entire Squadron personnel may ultimately be quartered at the latter base.
During the month officer strength of the squadron decreased from 54 to 50 and the enlisted strength dropped from 256 to 250. These figures reflect the transfer to group of Captain William P. Goetz, who had served faithfully and well as Squadron Adjutant from the beginning of the Squadron's operational history, and the transfer to the 14th Air Force of Lt. Frederick G. Ostland, who had acted as Assistant Communications Officer. The position as Adjutant held by Captain Goetz is now being filled by Lieutenant Roylance.
Considering the fact they were but 18 operational days during which planes were able to operate from the Nagaghuli the following table indicates that operations of the Squadron continued at the same high tempo as in the preceding months.
Operational combat missions 80.05 hours flown, 82 sorties; offensive combat hours flown 1276, 472 sorties; 94.1 tons bombs dropped; 104,440 RDS ammo expanded.
During this period only a minor number of patrol missions were flown. This type of mission which had comprised a substantial part of the total missions flown in preceding months was discontinued entirely by the middle of the month. Purely offensive combat missions reached a new high both in hours flown and number of sorties. For the most part the missions flown were in support of the ground forces operating in northern Burma, and to facilitate these operations a flight of eight planes based in Shingbwiyang, Burma on May 20, 1944. The forces operating under General Stillwell including General Merrill's Marauders, had made substantial progress during the month with the most significant and outstanding achievement being the seizure on May 7, 1944 of the main airdrome at Myitkyina. Numerous missions were flown by planes of this squadron over the Myitkyina area and targets assigned by the ground forces through the ground – air liaison officer were bombed and strafed. On certain of these missions planes of the Squadron carried for the first time a new land mine weighing approximately 1200 lbs. These were dropped with devastating effect, completely obliterating the target area. Direct hits were also scored on bridges at Kamaing and Sahmaw and in which case the bridge was knocked out. Motor transport and reported enemy troop and supply concentrations form the bulk of the other targets attacked during the period. On several missions ground and A/A fire was encountered, as a result of which minor damage was caused to our planes
During May there was an average of 24 planes assigned to the squadron. Of these 89.9% were in tactical commission during the month.
3. Combat with Enemy Aircraft.
On May 17, 1944 a flight of four planes led by Lt. Adair and including Lts. Rogers, Martinez, and T. J. O'Connor, Jr. sighted an enemy formation estimated as between 12 and 15 enemy planes (Oscars, Hamps and Zeke’s) in the vicinity of Kamaing, Burma. This flight had just completed an offensive reconnaissance in support of General Stillwell's ground forces and at the same time the enemy was sighted was just pulling up from a bombing run over the Kamaing bridge. Although the enemy had the advantage of both altitude and numbers, our planes immediately made contact and in the ensuing air battle accounted for three enemy planes (identified as Oscars) destroyed three more damaged. Credit was distributed as follows:
Lt. P. R. Adair Oscar destroyed
Lt. J. A. Martinez Oscar damaged
Lt. T. E. Rogers Oscar destroyed
Although two of our planes were riddled by enemy gunfire and Lt. O'Connor suffered a minor wound in the back from bullet fragments all of our planes returned safely to base. This was Lt. Adair's second encounter with the enemy aircraft he boosted his destroyed record to three. For the other pilots on the flight it was their first encounter. The squadron now has twenty-three destroyed enemy planes to its credit.
This contact was not only important from the point of view of enemy aircraft destroyed but it also resulted in preventing the enemy from reaching their objective which in his case was undoubtedly an attack upon the Chinese – American ground forces operating in the area. A somewhat similar attack had been successfully made by the enemy without interception or interference by Allied planes only a few days previous.
4. Awards and Decorations:-
On May 5, 1944, Brigadier General Egan, commanding general of the 5320th Air Defense Wing (prov). made a formal presentation of the medals awarded to pilots of the Squadron during the prior month, and at the same time, took the occasion to congratulate them and the other men of the Group upon their continued good work in this theater.
Additional awards were made during the month as follows:
First Oak Leaf Cluster to Distinguished Flying Cross.
Captain David R. Jones
First Oakleaf Cluster to Air Medal
Captain James H. Darden, Jr.
Captain Charles G. Whitley
1st Lt. Frank D. Parsons
1st Lt. Harold W. Robbins
1st Lt. Thomas E. Rogers
2nd Lt. Lieutenant Percy A. Marshall
Copies of the orders covering the above awards were annexed as appendixes 27 and 28
May 10, 1944 marked the anniversary of the Groups and Squadron’s first year out of the states, and it was celebrated on May 9th by a Group Field Day, sponsored by LT. Lennon, and on May 11th by a Squadron party held at the Panitola Club. Events on the field day, participated in by members of all three Squadrons of the Group, included volleyball, softball and a number of obstacle races with the award of silver cups to the winners and a large silver cup to the Squadron winning the most events. Although the 89th won both volleyball and softball game it did not fare well in individual obstacle races and top honors went to 88th squadron. Our guest of honor for the day was Major General Davidson who took that occasion to pay us an informal visit.
For the record and the benefit of those who do not recollect it clearly, the Squadron Party at the Panitola Club was a great success. Captain McMillan and his blasting Banshees furnished the music and the feminine talent recruited from throughout the valley was again led by the long-suffering and ever patient Red Cross gals. Much gaiety was had by all with special credit being to Lt. Roylance who headed up the arrangements for the affair, Sgt. Scampy and his mess personnel who kept us happy with tasty dishes and Sdt. Fritz who took care of the floral offerings for our feminine guests.
Promotions during the month were earned by 2nd Lts. Ostland, Shaeffer, Matulevicz, May, McCarty, Moller and Smith, all of whom now wear the silver bar of a first lieutenant. Five promotions were made among the enlisted men, the chief of which was that of Charles W. Smith from Tech Sergeant to Master Sergeant. M/Sgt Smith has served capably and well as Line Chief and his promotion was well deserved.
With the situation in the Imphal area better in hand the rest camp at Shillong reopened during the month and twelve of our war weary brothers are shipped off there for fun and frolic
6. In Memoriam:
The entire squadron grieved to learn of the loss of Captain Donald A. Mansen who was killed in action on May 18, 1944 when the L-5 liaison plane in which he had just taken off from Myitkyina Airdrome was shot down by enemy fighters conducting a raid upon this newly established Allied base. At the time of his death Captain Hansen was carrying out the important and hazardous assignment of the ground–air liaison officer with General Stillwell's forces. This assignment he had been executing well and with the highest credit to himself and the squadron for several prior weeks.
An appropriate letter of condolence was sent to his next of kin. It is the squadrons wish that a copy of this letter of condolence letter be appended to this history as appendix 29.