Today is National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day on this, the 75th anniversary of the Fall of Bataan in the Philippines, 1942.  President Donald J. Trump issued a proclamation for this day, which is viewable at:

https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/04/07/president-donald-j-trump-proclaims-april-9-2017-national-former-prisoner

Although the 35th PRS did not have any assigned members knowingly captured, at least one former member was captured and died in captivity.  And there is yet the unresolved status of three Lockheed F-5E Photo Lightning pilots yet Missing in Action, though there is no indication this writer is aware of that they were ever a prisoner of the Empire of Japan.

But we should remember a postwar member of the ANG squadron in its 123rd Fighter Squadron designation, Orval H. Tandy, who went on active duty to fly combat in the F-51D Mustang in Korea with the 39th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron of the 18th Fighter-Bomber Wing.  On his 57th combat mission 1st Lt. Tandy was shot down over North Korea on 5 September 1951 and captured.  He was one of over 4,600 U.S. servicemen held captive and was detained in the Pyok-Dong prison camp with over 1,1100 other POW’s.  He was held until 10 September 1953 when he was released after the armistice was signed as part of Operation Big Switch.

Of note, a South African Air Force pilot of the Flying Cheetahs of No. 2 Squadron, 1st Lt. Willem van den Bos, nearly became a cellmate of Tandy’s when his Mustang was also shot down by anti-aircraft fire some 75 miles west of Wonsan, North Korea, while providing rescue combat air patrol (RESCAP) over Tandy in an effort to extract the downed American pilot.  Fortunately a Navy HO3S helicopter was able to reach the South African pilot and rescue him in a hair-raising mission which helped justify requirements for all-weather instrumentation on helicopters.  Unfortunately Tandy was captured, but not without some significant effort by friendly forces to get him out.

For more information on Lt. Tandy’s captivity and the experience of other Oregon ANG fighter pilots in the Korean War, see:  http://www.142fw.ang.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/438188/remembering-redhawk-fighter-pilots-who-sacrificed-during-the-forgotten-korean-w/

We should also remember at least one former 35th PRS pilot who was shot down and captured during the Vietnam War.  Known as “Shifty” in his 35tth PRS service, Edward E. Burdett completed his tour of duty in China by May of 1945 and returned home.  He made a career of the Air Force, and in 1968 he was a Colonel and became the Commander of the 388th Tactical Fighter Wing at Korat Royal Thai AFB, Thailand, on 1 August 1967.  On 18 November 1967 he was shot down in his Republic F-105 Thunderchief over North Vietnam in an attack against a target near Phuc Yen Airfield.  Captured immediately, he died of his injuries later the same day,  He was posthumously promoted to the rank of Brigadier General and awarded the Silver Star for his final combat mission, the citation of which reads:

“Colonel Edward B. Burdett distinguished himself by gallantry in connection with military operations against an opposing armed force over North Vietnam on 30 September 1967. On that date, Colonel Burdett led a twenty ship strike force to a successful attack against a high priority military target. The destruction of this bridge seriously restricts the flow of military supplies to the hostile forces in South Vietnam. By his gallantry and devotion to duty, Colonel Burdett has reflected great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.”

Source:   http://www.veterantributes.org/TributeDetail.php?recordID=127

So on this National Former POW Recognition Day, 2017, let us render a hand salute to those who served and sacrificed as a POW for our country.  These former captives deserve our recognition and appreciation.

P.S.  Regrets to all readers for the absence of new material in recent months.  A sudden family health crisis required priority attention and still does, so updates will likely be slow for the foreseeable future.  But if you have found this web log, please do look through all the material posted already and you will surely find something else that is interesting.

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The Squadron’s first Christmas was in the uncertain days after the Imperial Japanese attack on Hawaii. Only moved up on from Portland, Oregon to Gray Army Airfield at Fort Lewis Washington in September, 1941, in less than three months of active duty service the 123rd Observation Squadron was at war.

Portly O-47 observation aircraft began coastal patrols, looking out for Japanese submarines or other activity. Although perhaps a bit dull, these coastal patrols were important missions.

123d Obs Sqn O47

A North American O-47 observation aircraft flown by the 123rd Observation Squadron is seen in tranquil skies over the Pacific Northwest, circa 1942.  (Courtesy 142FW History Archives)

The day before Christmas, one of the squadron’s patrols spotted an enemy submarine lurking off the mouth of the Columbia River between the states of Washington and Oregon, as recapped in this 142FW historical article at: http://www.142fw.ang.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123233837

When Christmas Day, 1941, came, the men assembled to share a meal. Mess Sergeant Cliff Shaffer and his cooks put together quite a spread, according to the menu for the meal shown below. For many members of the squadron, it would be the first and last Christmas with the squadron, as many men were to be reassigned to other air units in the ever-growing US Army Air Forces of the Second World War.

123rd Christmas menu 1941

The menu for the Christmas Dinner, 1941, of the 123rd Observation Squadron, then stationed at Gray Army Air Field at Fort Lewis, Washington State.  (Courtesy, 142FW History Archives, Les Donis Collection)

Fast forward three years, beyond the Squadron’s 1943 redesignation as the 35th Photo Recon Squadron and time found that the Army Air Forces sent the Squadron overseas, where it spent Christmas of 1944 in China. On Christmas Eve, Imperial Japanese forces gave a “Christmas greeting” of sorts to elements of the 35th at bases around China in the form of air raids. It was very thoughtful of them.

A pilot of George Flight, Capt. Dent, was on his way back from India to the forward deployed flights base at Beiting Field, adjacent to Yunnanyi Airfield, was on the ground at Kunming with his speedy F-5 Photo Lightning when the Japanese made their air raid.

35th PRS F-5 Yunanni China_02

A 35PRS F-5E Photo Lightning rests at Yunnanyi Airfield in China, circa late 1944 – early 1945 (Courtesy John Brasko, Jr.)

Also at Kunming were the members of the 35th Photogrammetry Section, which was kept in Kunming when the squadron first arrived in China in 1944, and after the 35th moved up to Chanyi. The section was later made a part of the 4th Photo Technical Unit at Kunming.

Americans in the armed forces ashore, afloat around the world celebrated Christmas as they could, and Kunming was no exception. Sgt. H. Allen Larsen of the Photogrammetry Section had a ticket to a Redhawk Christmas party, and remembered that despite Japanese bombing, “the party went on!”

35PRS Christmas Party 1944 Ticket

Sgt. H. Allen Larsen of the 35th Photogrammetry Section had a ticket to the squadron Christmas party of 1944 and despite a Japanese air raid was able to use it.  (Courtesy Mr. H. Allen Larsen)

Back at “G” Flight’s Beiting base, on the night of 23 December, according to Lt. Arthur W. Clark’s journal, fires which formed an arrow were observed in the distance, apparently intended to aid Japanese raiders find the airfield from the night sky, apparently set by fifth columnists.

Fortunately the Japanese didn’t have enough aircraft to take advantage of these “Christmas lights,” couldn’t find the field, or for some other reason did not bomb Yunnanyi. “No jing bao here,” as Lt. Clark recorded in his journal.

On Christmas Day, Capt. Dent returned to “G” Flight at Yunnanyi in a role akin to Santa, “…with presents for the flight and vivid tales of his Christmas Eve under bombardment in Kunming.” For the 46 men and 11 officers of “G” Flight with their two remaining aircraft after recent losses, it was a happy day.

ww2_vintage_p_38_lightning_fighter_planes_small_christmas_stocking-r6461570ecfd546899411ce02e2774b09_z6c4e_324

A Lightning-themed Christmas stocking (Courtesy Zazzle.com)

One wonders what a Chinese Christmas in 1944 was like, for example, whether the Chinese at U.S. bases knew, or the G.I.’s taught them, any Christmas carols.  For an example of a Chinese Christmas song, try Emma’s (the Emma of “Learn Chinese with Emma”) version of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” at:

And so the men of the Redhawk Squadron celebrated Christmas during World War II from vantage points Stateside and Overseas, with about a dozen of them having been present for the first and still with the squadron at the last. Through their service and sacrifice at home and abroad, most if not all gained a new appreciation for Christmas, this most special of American holidays.

From the Redhawks to the readers of this web log, a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
References

123rd Observation Squadron and 35th Photo Recon Squadron official histories, 1941-1944

Clark, Arthur W., Eyes of the Tiger: China 1944 – 1945, Self-published, Chapel Hill, NC 2015

Lightning Christmas stocking, at:  http://www.zazzle.com/military+christmas+stockings

No doubt the Redhawks, original and wartime, enjoyed their first postwar Thanksgiving 70 years ago and the many since then. And well they should, having served the nation so well in the Second World War.

F-5 China or India 44-45

A 35PRS Lockheed F-5E Photo Lightning makes a low-level pass over a building in Asia, circa 1944. (Courtesy John Brasko, Jr.)

They could probably reflect that theirs was not the first, nor would it be the last, generation of servicemen and women to celebrate a Thanksgiving, in peace or at war. And they probably did well to remember that through it all in their wartime experience, the training, deployment, combat, the heat, the cold, even loss, or return, to “…give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
On this Thanksgiving Day, 2015, take a look back at how America’s servicemen and women have celebrated Thanksgiving, courtesy of John Clark at the Task & Purpose web log, in his posting “Thanksgiving Through The Years And Wars,” at: http://taskandpurpose.com/thanksgiving-through-the-years-and-wars/
To all who served with the Redhawks of the 123rd Observation Squadron / 35th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron, assigned, or attached, family and friends, a wish for a Happy Thanksgiving! We have much to be grateful for.

Veterans-Day1To the men of the 123rd Observation Squadron / 35th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron, for your service and sacrifice to our country.

35PRS Patch

The emblem of the USAAF’s 35th Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron

And to your progeny in the 123rd Fighter Squadron who have served since World War II and even now, on alert, 24/7, the Guardians of the Pacific Northwest.  A Hand Salute!  And may God bless you, one and all!

It ended on a Wednesday, 7 November 1945, at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey.

Camp Kilmer, New Jersey (Wikipedia)

Camp Kilmer, New Jersey (Wikipedia)

After arriving at Camp Kilmer on 5 November 1945, the Army wasted little time in demobilizing the troops returning home. On 7 November 1945 the 35th Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron, the 35th PRS Redhawks, inactivated.

As a term of reference for a military unit, to inactivate means “To withdraw all personnel from an active unit and place the unit on the inactive list.” And so, the 35th PRS left the active roster and became a paper organization on the inactive roster.

Personnel withdrawn from the squadron went in all directions. They went back to civilian life, or were reassigned to another unit. Some may have opted to stay in the military and make a career of it. But as a unit, the 35th PRS had completed its wartime service in the greatest conflict known to man called World War II.

What thoughts went through the minds of squadron members on that day? For those serving in the unit since it started, what reflections on the war years did they have?

Redhawk Reflections

The 35th PRS was originally designated as the 123rd Observation Squadron and allotted to the National Guard on 30 July 1940. The National Guard then passed this numerical designator to the Oregon National Guard. Congress provided funds to activate the unit, and the 123rd came into existence on 18 April 1941 on a Friday evening at the Portland Armory in Portland, Oregon. In lineage terms, Activate means “To place a constituted unit on the active list and bring it into physical existence by assignment of personnel.”

A view of the Oregon National Guard Armory in 1953.  The Armory occupied an entire city block.  This view looks northwest at NW 10th at Couch.  (Courtesy Vintageportland.wordpress.com)

A view of the Oregon National Guard Armory in 1953. The Armory occupied an entire city block. This view looks northwest at NW 10th at Couch. (Courtesy Vintageportland.wordpress.com)

From that activation, the unit moved to Swan Island Municipal Airport in Portland and began to train. Little time passed by, however, before the call to duty came, and on 15 September 1941 the unit was ordered to active duty.

Officers and men of of Oregon's 123rd Observation Squadron assemble for a squadron photo at Swan island Municipal Airport, circa the time of their federalization, September, 1941.  The unit's first two aircraft are seen here, a BC-1A (left) and an O-46.  (Courtesy John L. Donis, via 142FW History Archives)

Officers and men of of Oregon’s 123rd Observation Squadron assemble for a squadron photo at Swan island Municipal Airport, circa the time of their federalization, September, 1941. The unit’s first two aircraft are seen here, a BC-1A (left) and an O-46. (Courtesy John L. Donis, via 142FW History Archives)

Ten days later, on 25 September, the unit left Oregon for Gray Field, at Fort Lewis, Washington, on what would be the first step on the torturous path to war. Along with the men came a BC-1A training aircraft and an O-46 observation plane. The squadron was soon introduced to the portly O-47 observation aircraft.

With the attack on Hawaii, the squadron was quickly pressed into operational service, conducting antisubmarine patrols off the Pacific Northwest coast from 8 December to 10 August 1942 in O-47 and O-49 (L-1) observation aircraft. It operated a detachment for this mission at Moon Island Airport, Hoquiam, Washington from 15 March 1942 into August 1942. The squadron received campaign credit for participation in the Antisubmarine, American Theater.

123d Observation squadron O-47s at Moon Island Airport, Hoquiam, Washington, in early 1942.  (Courtesy Oregon ANG)

123d Observation squadron O-47s at Moon Island Airport, Hoquiam, Washington, in early 1942. (Courtesy Oregon ANG)

During its time at Gray Field, the squadron was redesignated as the 123rd Observation Squadron (Light) on 13 January 1942. On 4 July 1942 the original designation was resumed. Perhaps the Army was changing aircraft so often during wartime that the light designation lost its meaning.

In 1943, the squadron’s mission changed. First, it moved to Ontario Army Airfield, California, on 16 March 1943. There it was redesignated as the 123rd Reconnaissance Squadron (Bombardment), and received B-25 and A-20/DB-7 twin engine bombers. This was probably a reflection of lessons painfully learned in the North Africa campaign when observation and reconnaissance aircraft faced opposition. The prewar observation type of aircraft and tactics were not effective or survivable on the modern battlefield that had developed.

But even this plan changed, as the USAAF determined it had other needs. After sending the squadron to Redmond Army Airfield, Oregon, on 20 August 1943 to participate in the Oregon Maneuver, the largest military exercises ever held in the Pacific Northwest, the Army belatedly informed the squadron of a new mission and designation as the 35th Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron, effective as of 11 August 1943.

Then unit participated in the Oregon maneuver, then embarked by train for its new station, Will Rogers Field, Oklahoma, by way of detour to Gainesville Army Airfield, Texas, where it arrived on 10 November 1943. There at Gainseville the unit began reorganization into a PRS and preparations for overseas service. The heavy aircraft were traded for fighter-type aircraft, including the P-39 Airacobra, perhaps for familiarization with liquid-cooled engine and fighter type aircraft operations. The unit retained use of one B-25 for a bit longer, and also apparently operated the Avro Anson twin-engine multi-role aircraft, designated as the AT-20 in USAAF service.

Officers and Men of the 35th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron pose for a unit picture at Will Rogers Field, Oklahoma in the spring of 1944, shortly before the unit began movement for service overseas.  (Courtesy of Mr. H. Allen Larsen. via Ms. Aileen Garra-Lim)

Officers and Men of the 35th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron pose for a unit picture at Will Rogers Field, Oklahoma in the spring of 1944, shortly before the unit began movement for service overseas. (Courtesy of Mr. H. Allen Larsen. via Ms. Aileen Garra-Lim)

The preparations for overseas movement continued at Will Rogers beginning on arrival there on 5 February 1944. Will Rogers was busy with training on the Lockheed Lighting, the photo recon variant of which the squadron was slated to operate. Operations at Will Rogers continued as well, until 10 April 1944 when the unit left for overseas service.

This web log writer will not recount the China service of the 35th PRS, documented in many posts on this web log. Suffice it to say that the unit performed combat operations with photo reconnaissance F-5 Lightning aircraft from 12 September 1944 into August, 1945. A B-25 Mitchell medium bomber was briefly used in the summer of 1945, and the squadron also had a C-45 in that timeframe. The 35th earned credit for participation in six more campaigns, including India-Burma; China Defensive; New Guinea; Western pacific; Central Burma and China Offensive.

A 35PRS F-5E Photo Lightning rests at Yunnanyi Airfield in China, circa late 1944 - early 1945 (Courtesy John Brasko, Jr.)

A 35PRS F-5E Photo Lightning rests at Yunnanyi Airfield in China, circa late 1944 – early 1945 (Courtesy John Brasko, Jr.)

The service was not without cost. During the war, three former members of the original 123rd Observation Squadron cadre were assigned to the 32nd Photo Recon Squadron, and subsequently lost when their ship, enroute to Italy, was sunk in the Mediterranean on 20 April 1944 by German aircraft.

The tragic loss of the Paul Hamilton and all souls aboard happened in a matter of seconds when the explosives and troop-laden vessel was struck by a German aerial torpedo on the evening of 20 April 1944 off the coast of North Africa.  (Source:  “SS Paul Hamilton” entry on Wikipedia)

The tragic loss of the Paul Hamilton and all souls aboard happened in a matter of seconds when the explosives and troop-laden vessel was struck by a German aerial torpedo on the evening of 20 April 1944 off the coast of North Africa. (Source: “SS Paul Hamilton” entry on Wikipedia)

In China operations, another five men were lost, all pilots of F-5 aircraft, including three on combat photo recon missions.

A 35th PRS F-5E Photo Lightning, squadron number 801, burns after a takeoff mishap at Chanyi Airfield on 9 November 1944. Capt. James K. Kerr blew a tire on the takeoff roll, swerved off the strip and his ship caught fire.  He survived but incurred second degree burns that required hospitalization.  (Courtesy 142FW History Archives)

A 35th PRS F-5E Photo Lightning, squadron number 801, burns after a takeoff mishap at Chanyi Airfield on 9 November 1944. Capt. James K. Kerr blew a tire on the takeoff roll, swerved off the strip and his ship caught fire. He survived but incurred second degree burns that required hospitalization. (Courtesy 142FW History Archives)

Even the early postwar period came with cost, as aircraft accidents cost the lives of two more pilots, while another one passed away aboard ship on the way home.

From its humble start as a National Guard observation squadron, the Redhawks were shaped into a photo recon combat unit that proudly became part of General Chennault’s 14th Air Force Flying Tigers in China in the last year of the war, earning many accolades for their outstanding photo recon work.

Into the Next Era

These achievements might have been forgotten, but on 24 May 1946, a little more than six months after inactivation, the 35th PRS was given a new mission. The 35th PRS was redesignated as the 123rd Fighter Squadron and allotted again to the National Guard, which returned it to Oregon. It carried with it the lineage and honors earned by the 123rd/35th in the Second World War.  It was joined in Portland by the former 371st Fighter Group, a P-47 unit that fought in Europe during WWII, now redesignated as the 142nd Fighter Group and allotted to Oregon at the same time to serve as the 123rd’s parent group.  With plans for a larger reserve component to avoid the mobilization difficulties and shortages of combat units experienced early in World War II, the National Guard’s air component, soon to become the Air National Guard, was being built up, and Oregon was part of the plan.

Three North American F-51D Mustang fighters rest beside an Oregon example of the type in this post-1948 view at Portland Air Base. The trio of Mustangs could be either replacement aircraft for the OreANG or transients enroute to another destination. The Mustang was the 142nd Fighter Group’s primary aircraft assigned after World War II and on into the Korean War era, found in squadron-level strength in the 123rd Fighter Squadron. The group also had a small utility flight composed of other support aircraft types in small numbers. The Caretaker role was essential to keeping all of the OreANG’s aircraft operational as well as handling transient aircraft. (Courtesy 142nd Fighter Wing History Archives)

Three North American F-51D Mustang fighters rest beside an Oregon example of the type in this post-1948 view at Portland Air Base. The trio of Mustangs could be either replacement aircraft for the OreANG or transients enroute to another destination. The Mustang was the 142nd Fighter Group’s primary aircraft assigned after World War II and on into the Korean War era, found in squadron-level strength in the 123rd Fighter Squadron. The group also had a small utility flight composed of other support aircraft types in small numbers. (Courtesy 142nd Fighter Wing History Archives)

Good thing it was then, as the 123rd Fighter Squadron still flies today, providing the only dedicated air defense and airspace control alert fighter planes for the greater Pacific Northwest with the F-15 Eagle fighter jet, as well as expeditionary air superiority as seen in a recent deployment to Europe. In this uncertain and chaotic world, the Redhawks have a purposeful mission in a key part of the United States, also supporting our Canadian friends to the north. So on this 70th anniversary of the squadron’s WWII-era activation, we render a hand salute to the Redhawks of the Oregon Air National Guard! Keep ‘em flying!

Col. Richard W. Wedan, 142nd Fighter Wing commander, takes off on his 'Fini Flight' from the Portland Air National Guard Base, Ore., in his F-15 Eagle, Feb. 7, 2015. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs/Released)

Col. Richard W. Wedan, 142nd Fighter Wing commander, takes off on his ‘Fini Flight’ from the Portland Air National Guard Base, Ore., in his F-15 Eagle, Feb. 7, 2015. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs/Released)

References

Maurer, Maurer, editor. World War II Combat Squadrons of the United States Air Force (aka Combat Squadrons of the Air Force, World War II), USAF Historical Division, Department of the Air Force, Smithmark Publishers/Platimum Press edition, Woodbury, NY, 1992.

123rd Observation Squadron/35th Photo Recon Squadron official histories

Camp Kilmer, Wikipedia entry, and picture, at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camp_Kilmer

Old Portland Armory, picture, at:  https://vintageportland.wordpress.com/2012/10/15/oregon-national-guard-armory-1953/

For several years now, the identification of the ship that returned the 35th Photo Recon Squadron has eluded this web log writer. It wasn’t recorded in 35th PRS historical documents available to this web log writer or other information found so far. But no More!

On this 70th anniversary of the 35th PRS returning to the States, 5 November 1945, the ship’s name is confirmed, the USS General C. C. Ballou, AP-157.

USS General C. C. Ballou, AP-157, was the transport ship that brought the 35PRS home from Calcutta, India to new York, New York, in 1945. (Courtesy Russ Padden)

USS General C. C. Ballou, AP-157, was the transport ship that brought the 35PRS home from Calcutta, India to new York, New York, in 1945. (Courtesy Mr. Russ Padden)

Identification of the 35th PRS returning on this vessel is carried in newspaper reports of that time, such as the Associated Press story featured in The Kingston Daily Freeman, Kingston New York, Monday evening, 5 November 1945. The report led off with news of 14 ships returning to New York that day, then listed them by name, some with identification of the units carried aboard – among them was the 35PRS transport back from Asia:

(General Ballou from Calcutta) 2,990 troops including 118th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron; 35th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron; 36th Fighter Control Squadron; 1377th Signal Company; 843rd Aircraft Warning Battalion; 666th A.A.A. Battalion; 19th Veterinary Evacuation Hospital; 40th Portable Surgical Hospital; 3172nd Ordnance Company; 4th Photo Technical Unit; 3340th Signal Service Company and miscellaneous personnel.

Picture taken aboard the USS General C. C. Ballou during its voage from Calcutta to New York, October-November 1945. Not the estimated arrival date of 6 November posted on the bulkhead at left center. (Courtesy Mr. Russ Padden)

Picture taken aboard the USS General C. C. Ballou during its voyage from Calcutta to New York, October-November 1945. Not the estimated arrival date of 6 November posted on the bulkhead at left upper. (Courtesy Mr. Russ Padden)

The USS General C. C. Ballou, named after a veteran of the Philippine Insurrection, Philippine service and World War I Commander of the 92nd Infantry Division in France, was a General G. O. Squire Class transport ship with the following physical characteristics:

Displacement 9,950 tons (light) 17,250 tons(full)
Length 522′ 10″
Beam 71′ 6″
Draft 26′ 6″
Speed 16.5 knots
Complement 356 sailors
Troop Capacity 3,823 personnel
Armament four single 5″/38 dual purpose gun mounts, four twin 1.1″ gun AA gun mounts (replaced by four twin 40mm gun mounts), sixteen single 20mm AA gun mounts
Propulsion geared turbine, single shaft, 8,500shp

The Gen. Ballou was built at the Kaiser Shipyard in Richmond, California, and commissioned into US Navy service on 30 June 1945. She sailed for France on 29 July 1945 on her first wartime voyage. She then undertook two round trip voyages from New York to India and back, and completed service with a 1946 voyage from New York to Calcutta, India; Manila, Philippines and other ports before reaching San Francisco, then returning to New York.

According to the War Diary of the Gen. Ballou, she arrived in the Calcutta area on 7 October 1945, anchoring in the Hooghly River. At 1745 hours on 8 October, she tied up on her starboard side at the Princepts Ghat Pier in Calcutta. She remained there two days, departing at 1721 hours on 10 October 1945, bound for New York.

Aboard the ship were 110 members of the 35th PRS. The number is much less than the squadron went overseas with. This was due to several factors.

1. In India, the squadron’s Table of Organization and Equipment was modified. For planning purposes the squadron was informed that messing would be provided by the Chinese and thus this section did not go with the squadron into China. So the mess unit and part of the squadron’s transportation section did not move on to China. (Clark, page 29)

2. In China, the diversion of the 35th Photogrammetry Section at Kunming, China. When the squadron arrived in China this section, which used aerial photographs taken by trimetrogon-configured cameras to derive maps, was retained at Kunming. (See posting “Trimet” of 21 Feb 2014 on this web log) On 6 February 1945, the 40 enlisted men comprising the section “…were transferred to the 4th Photo Tech Squadron upon activation of that unit.” Many of these men found their way eventually to become part of the 4th Photo Technical Unit, which was also on the Ballou for the return Stateside.

Members of the Redhawks, in the 35th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron’s Photogrammetry Section, pose for a photo at Kunming, China, in October of 1944, shortly after arriving in-country. H. Allen Larsen is seen at left in the very back row.

Members of the Redhawks, in the 35th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron’s Photogrammetry Section, pose for a photo at Kunming, China, in October of 1944, shortly after arriving in-country. H. Allen Larsen is seen at left in the very back row.

3. Transfer. At the beginning of September, 1945, the squadron then in China had 46 officers and 185 enlisted men on the roster. By 15 September, after “…transfers of essential personnel and fillers from other units…” the 35PRS had but 32 officers and 78 enlisted men – 110 men left to return together.

4. Personnel retained in theater after the war. This might be considered in the transfer department, but maybe not. At least several officers were kept in China (Clark, page 157), and appear to have included Capt. William L. Maher, 1st Lt. Arthur W. Clark, 1st Lt. Glenn V. Embree, 1st Lt. Thomas H. Klausmeyer, 1st Lt. Casimir J. Ostrowski, and 1st Lt. Jay M. Shields, who were placed on the roster of the Redhawk’s sister squadron, the 21st PRS, for accountability purposes.

The personnel retained after the war (including some members of the former 35th PRS Photogrammetry Section, like H. Allen Larsen) were put to work in China moving and disposing of equipment in various locations. These personnel returned to the States by ship in late 1945,The USS General H. L. Scott, AP-136, was a vessel that took at least some of them, if not all, back to the States, sailing from Shanghai on 15 December 1945 and reaching Seattle on 29 December 1945.

USS General H. L. Scott, AP-136, was the transport ship some "late-staying" members of the 35PRS took home from Shanghai to Seattle in December, 1945. (Courtesy NavSource)

USS General H. L. Scott, AP-136, was the transport ship some “late-staying” members of the 35PRS took home from Shanghai to Seattle in December, 1945. (Courtesy NavSource)

But aboard the Gen. Ballou, according to the squadron manifest kindly furnished by Mr. Chris Davis of the 118th Tac Recon Squadron Association, of the 110 Redhawks there were at least four of the original 1941 members of the squadron (18 April 1941) still with the unit after four and a half years: Major Harvey E. Lounsbury, Jr., 1st Sergeant Lorne W. Restau, T/Sgt Harry A. Bachman and T/Sgt John W. Buckner, all of whom can be seen in the 1944 in China picture below.

Pictured here are ten of the 13 Oregon National Guard aviation pioneers who reached China in September 1944, in a photo taken at the 35th PRS base at Chanyi Airfield. In the front row, kneeling, from left to right are First Sergeant John Flavin, John Buckner, Kenneth Miller and Jack Shaylor. Standing behind them, from left to right, are Harry Bachman, Roy Wolford, Charles Estes, Harvey Lounsbury, Lorne Restau and Cyrus Dolph. Note the distinctive Redhawk emblem on the jackets of four of the men standing, which was continued in use after the war when the squadron was redesignated as the 123rd Fighter Squadron. (142FW Archives)

Pictured here are ten of the 13 Oregon National Guard aviation pioneers who reached China in September 1944, in a photo taken at the 35th PRS base at Chanyi Airfield. In the front row, kneeling, from left to right are First Sergeant John Flavin, John Buckner, Kenneth Miller and Jack Shaylor. Standing behind them, from left to right, are Harry Bachman, Roy Wolford, Charles Estes, Harvey Lounsbury, Lorne Restau and Cyrus Dolph. Note the distinctive Redhawk emblem on the jackets of four of the men standing, which was continued in use after the war when the squadron was redesignated as the 123rd Fighter Squadron. (142FW Archives)

On the evening of 14 October, the Gen. Ballou arrived at Columbo Harbor, Ceylon and anchored there until the next morning, when she departed westward for Port Said, Egypt. On 23 October she transited the Suez Canal, and moored in Berth 3-E at Port Said. On the morning of the 24th, she departed for New York, New York.

For a look at pictures of shipboard life taken on this October-November voyage home of the Gen. Ballou, please see Russ Padden’s wonderful collection of images, shared at: and http://www.rpadden.com/157/AP157.htm

It was when passing south of Sicily on 26 October that the Redhawks lost Flight Officer Stanley C. Price, reportedly to diphtheria. (Described in detail in 26 October 2015 posting, “The Last Redhawk Lost in World War II”).

As indicated above, the USS General C. C. Ballou arrived in New York on 5 November 1945. Details of the squadron’s passage from ship to shore are not available, but official USAAF histories indicate the 35th PRS was present at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey on 5 November 1945, thus completing the squadron’s long journey back to the States from the sky roads of China. Redhawk Mission Complete!
References

The Kingston Daily Freeman, Kingston New York, Monday evening, 5 November 1945, Page Eighteen, at: http://fultonhistory.com/newspaper%2010/Kingston%20NY%20Daily%20Freeman/Kingston%20NY%20Daily%20Freeman%201945%20Grayscale/Kingston%20NY%20Daily%20Freeman%201945%20c%20Grayscale%20-%200258.pdf

War Diary of the USS General C. C. Ballou, AP-157, October 1945, on Fold3 subscription website

Clark, Arthur W., Eyes of the Tiger – China 1944 – 1945, self-published, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 2015 (available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Eyes-Tiger-1944-1945-Arthur-Clark/dp/0692446206

USS General C. C. Ballou, images from http://www.rpadden.com/157/index.html

USS General H. L. Scott, AP-136, image from NavSource, at: http://www.navsource.org/archives/09/22/22136.htm

35th Photo Recon Squadron official histories, 1944, 1945

Image of original 123rd Observation squadron members in China, 1944, in article “The Oregon Air National Guard and Victory over Japan Day (VJ-Day),” posted at:   http://www.142fw.ang.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123457558

Flight Officer Stanley C. Price was one of the pilots assigned to the 35th Photo Recon Squadron during World War II, flying the Lockheed F-5E Photo Lightning in combat in the China-Burma-India Theater.

Flight Officer Stanley C. Price flew in the 35th Photo Recon Squadron late during World War II.  (Courtesy Find a Grave)

Flight Officer Stanley C. Price flew in the 35th Photo Recon Squadron late during World War II. (Courtesy Find a Grave)

Review of squadron historical records indicates he was a late-war replacement pilot and flew with Flight “E” of the squadron at Chihkiang Airfield, one of the forward deployed detachments of the unit. His earliest mission that is recorded is an unusual night photo recon as co-pilot in a B-25 Mitchell medium bomber (# 826) flown to reconnoiter the Siang River area between Chang Sha and Yochow, and the highway between the two points. It was a successful five and a half hour mission.

Records indicate he flew four more recon missions in July, including one on 18 July to cover airfields in the Canton-Hong Kong area with F-5E # 808. He flew F-5E # 823 on a two and a half hour mission to Lingling on 22 July. On 26 July 1945 he flew a photo recon in F-5E # 802 of the railroad running from Kiukiang to Nanchang he accomplished between 0900 and 1300 that day. The last mission he flew in July was a four hour flight on 28 July in F-5E # 823 to Wucheng.

Two unidentified pilots of the 35PRS shake hands during the war by a Redhawk squadron F-5E Photo Lightning.  The original caption indicated the pilot on the left just flew his first mission.  Given the number of mission symbols on the aircraft (possibly F-5E-2-LO 43-28291, squadron # 802, which flew with “E” Flight at Chihkiang), this is probably a late war picture.  The man on the left appears to be wearing Flight Officer insignia on his short collar – could he be F/O Stanley C. Price?  (Courtesy Chester Krejci family)

Two unidentified pilots of the 35PRS shake hands during the war by a Redhawk squadron F-5E Photo Lightning. The original caption indicated the pilot on the left just flew his first mission. Given the number of mission symbols on the aircraft (possibly F-5E-2-LO 43-28291, squadron # 802, which flew with “E” Flight at Chihkiang), this is probably a late war picture. The man on the left appears to be wearing Flight Officer insignia on his short collar – could he be F/O Stanley C. Price? (Courtesy Chester Krejci Family)

Mission records for August 1945 are not available to this web log writer, so it is not known how many more combat missions Price may have flown in the last weeks of the war. But another source indicates Price was involved in a post-war landing accident while flying F-5E serial number 44-24914 (squadron # 819) at the squadron headquarters base at Chanyi Airfield on 8 September 1945. The aircraft was apparently destroyed.

On 18 September the squadron left Chanyi by truck for the staging area at Luliang, China, and processing in preparation for return to the US. On 24 September, three C-54 Skymaster transport aircraft flew the unit from China to Barrackpore, India, just north of Calcutta.

From there the squadron moved by truck north to nearby Replacement Depot #3, US Forces India-Burma Theater, at Camp Kanchrapara. The squadron had transited this camp after arriving in India in 1944, and it was here they waited about two weeks for transport from Calcutta by ship home to the east coast of the USA.

F/O Price survived his operational flying in the war but not the environment of the immediate post-war period. One source indicates that he died on 26 October 1945 aboard ship seven days out of Calcutta without listing a cause. Another source (Find a Grave) indicates he died from Diptheria in India.

It is unknown to this web log writer the exact circumstances of F/O Price’s death, but it could be he died on the way home aboard ship from Diptheria which he contracted somewhere in the CBI.

According to the Mayo Clinic, “Diphtheria (dif-THEER-e-uh) is a serious bacterial infection usually affecting the mucous membranes of your nose and throat. Diphtheria typically causes a sore throat, fever, swollen glands and weakness. But the hallmark sign is a sheet of thick, gray material covering the back of your throat, which can block your airway, causing you to struggle for breath.

Diphtheria is extremely rare in the United States and other developed countries, thanks to widespread vaccination against the disease.

Medications are available to treat diphtheria. However, in advanced stages, diphtheria can damage your heart, kidneys and nervous system. Even with treatment, diphtheria can be deadly — up to 3 percent of people who get diphtheria die of it. The rate is higher for children under 15.”

In World War II, the US Army recorded 5,700 cases of this disease between January, 1942, and December, 1945 – it did not reach an epidemic level of infection in any theater of war. But there were 125 deaths from these cases and it could very well be that F/O Price was one of these.

Seventy years ago, F/O Stanley C. Price became the last member of the 35th Photo Recon Squadron to die in World War II. A total of eight 35PRS men died in the war, and another three former members of the squadron did too after reassignment to the 32PRS. Price’s body was subsequently returned to the United States and he is buried at the Lakeside Cemetery in Muskegon, Michigan, at Plot 76-2.

No one likes to be forgotten, although all too often people do forget, for many different reasons.  But on this day, we remember Stanley C. Price for his service and sacrifice for our nation during World War II.

Grave of Flight Officer Stanley C. Price at Lakeside Cemetery (Courtesy Find a Grave)

Grave of Flight Officer Stanley C. Price at Lakeside Cemetery (Courtesy Find a Grave)

References:

35 PRS official histories

Aviation Archaeological Investigation & Research (AAIR) website, Overseas Accidents Database results for September, 1945, at: http://www.aviationarchaeology.com/src/AARmonthly/Sep1945O.htm

“Another Interlude, at Camp Kanchrapara,” 35 PRS web log, at:
https://35prs.wordpress.com/2014/06/11/another-interlude-at-camp-kanchrapara/

Stanley C. Price, Find a Grave Memorial, at: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=72328710

Diptheria description from Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diphtheria/basics/definition/con-20022303

McGuinness, Aims C., M. D., Diseases Caused by Bacteria, CHAPTER X, Diphtheria, at: http://history.amedd.army.mil/booksdocs/wwii/PM4/CH10.Diphtheria.htm

“Memorial Day 2014 and the 35th Photo Recon Squadron,” 35PRS web log, at: https://35prs.wordpress.com/2014/05/24/memorial-day-2014-and-the-35th-photo-recon-squadron/comment-page-1/

While it is awesome to view a P-38 Lightning in flight, and imagine the view of a 35th PRS F-5E being put through its paces – after all, an F-5E was made from a P-38J! It is also of interest to have a view of what goes on in the cockpit as this Lockheed thoroughbred “runs” in the skies.

Lockheed P-38J Lightning fighter plane of the Planes of Fame Museum, Chino, CA, in the markings of WWII ace pilot Capt. Perry J. Dahl.  (Courtesy Planes of Fame)

Lockheed P-38J Lightning fighter plane of the Planes of Fame Museum, Chino, CA, in the markings of WWII ace pilot Capt. Perry J. Dahl. (Courtesy Planes of Fame)

Witness the cockpit views interspersed with external views of the P-38J “23 Skidoo” taken at the Planes of Fame 2015 Air Show in Chino, California. The aircraft is painted up in the markings of the aircraft flown by 475th Fighter Group/432nd Fighter Squadron ace pilot Captain Perry J. Dahl, who flew in the Southwest Pacific from New Guinea westward to the Philippines and is credited with nine aerial victories.

World War II picture of Capt. P.J. Dahl with his P-38J Lightning "23 Skidoo."  (Courtesy 475FG Historical Assn.)

World War II picture of Capt. P.J. Dahl with his P-38J Lightning “23 Skidoo.” (Courtesy 475FG Historical Assn.)

Expert pilot Chris Fahey flew the Planes of Fame P-38J at the 2015 show which resulted in this incredible recording lasting three minutes and 45 seconds:

An Epic Ride: Fantastic P-38 Lightning Interior/Exterior Footage
http://worldwarwings.com/an-epic-ride-fantastic-p-38-lightning-interiorexterior-footage

It’s important in looking at historical events to consider perspectives on what happened from an objective and/or an outside point of view. But it is also useful and recommended to make an effort to understand what is going on inside with the participants involved and their points of view.

Hopefully this web log is building useful perspectives in the examination of the World War II history of the 35th Photo Recon Squadron.
References

Lockheed P-38J Lightning info sheet, Planes of Fame webpage, at: http://planesoffame.org/index.php?mact=staircraft,cntnt01,default,0&cntnt01what=stplanes&cntnt01alias=P-38J&cntnt01returnid=128

Col. Perry J. “PJ” Dahl , biography on 475th Fighter Group Historical Association website, at: http://www.475th.org/aces/perry-j-dahl

Perry J. Dahl, Veteran Tributes page, at: http://veterantributes.org/TributeDetail.php?recordID=653

The Lockheed Lighting that is!

For your listening enjoyment, the startup sounds from YouTube of a pair of turbo-charged Allison V-1710 12-cylinder liquid-cooled engines powering a Lockheed P-38J Lightning fighter, the same powerplants of the Lockheed F-5E Photo Lightning aircraft flown by the 35th Photo Recon Squadron. Each engine produced 1,425hp.

Startup

Moving then to a takeoff sequence from YouTube with another P-38:

Takeoff

And lastly, for the YouTube-posted sound of a P-38 “beating up the field:”

Low Pass

These sounds were commonplace among the airfields in China which the 35th PRS operated at with its several detached flights.

Sometimes you just need to pitch up and out...  A gathering of Lockheed P-38 Lightning fighter planes at Sacramento, California.  (Courtesy P-38 National Association)

Sometimes you just need to pitch up and out… A gathering of Lockheed P-38 Lightning fighter planes at Sacramento, California. (Courtesy P-38 National Association)

Rather a different sound from an air-cooled radial engine such as on a P-47 Thunderbolt or an F4U Corsair, but sweet to those who appreciate the Lockheed Lightning!
References

Lockheed P-38J, Planes of Fame Air Museum Info, at: http://planesoffame.org/index.php?mact=staircraft,cntnt01,default,0&cntnt01what=stplanes&cntnt01alias=P-38J&cntnt01returnid=128

“The Original China Tail Numbers,” posted at: https://35prs.wordpress.com/2014/09/28/the-original-china-tail-numbers/

Friday, 18 September 2015. National POW/MIA Recognition Day in the United States.

pow_mia_poster_2015From the Defense POW MIA Accounting Agency, this information on the observance:

“Observances of National POW/MIA Recognition Day are held across the country on military installations, ships at sea, state capitols, schools and veterans’ facilities. It is traditionally observed on the third Friday in September each year. This observance is one of six days throughout the year that Congress has mandated the flying of the National League of Families’ POW/MIA flag. The others are Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day and Veterans Day.

The flag is to be flown at major military installations, national cemeteries, all post offices, VA medical facilities, the World War II Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the official offices of the secretaries of state, defense and veterans affairs, the director of the selective service system and the White House.”

For the 35th Photo reconnaissance Squadron, it is a day to remember. Although the squadron has no known POW’s, it does still have personnel Missing in Action after all these years.

 
Three original enlisted members of the 123r d Observation Squadron, which became the 35th Photo Recon squadron in 1943, went missing on 20 April 1944 aboard the Liberty ship SS Paul Hamilton. At that time they had been reassigned to the 32nd Photo Recon Squadron and were in the Mediterranean Sea en route to duty in Italy. German aircraft torpedoed their ship and all hands were lost. The men are listed alphabetically:

Master Sergeant Bruce C. Green, 32d PRS (formerly assigned to the 123d Obs Sqn). MIA 20 Apr 44 aboard SS Paul Hamilton in Mediterranean Sea off Algeria. He is remembered on the Tablets of the Missing at the North Africa American Cemetery in Carthage, Tunisia. He was awarded the Purple Heart.

S/Sgt Leonard W. Mayer, 32d PRS (former 123d Obs Sqn). MIA 20 Apr 44 aboard SS Paul Hamilton in Mediterranean Sea off Algeria. He is remembered on the Tablets of the Missing at the North Africa American Cemetery in Carthage, Tunisia. He was awarded the Purple Heart.

T/Sgt Albert R. Miller, 32d PRS (former 123d Obs Sqn). MIA 20 Apr 44 aboard SS Paul Hamilton in Mediterranean Sea off Algeria. He is remembered on the Tablets of the Missing at the North Africa American Cemetery in Carthage, Tunisia. He was awarded the Purple Heart.

Three pilots of the 35th Photo Recon Squadron went missing during the squadron’s time in China, and their names are listed alphabetically:

First Lieutenant (1st Lt.) Merroll J. “Jack” Berringer, 35th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron, went MIA on 21 November 1944 during a photo recon mission flying F-5E-2 serial number 44-23237 from Flight “H” at Suichuan, China (MACR 10095). He is remembered on the Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery, Manila, Philippines. He was awarded the Purple Heart.

1st Lt. Phillip L. French, 35th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron, went missing on 31 August 1945; reported missing during an administrative flight flying F-5E-2 serial number 43-28397 between Chanyi and Chihkiang (MACR 14836). He is remembered on the Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery, Manila, Philippines. He was awarded the Air Medal.

1st Lt. Franklin H. McKinney, 35th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron, went MIA November 5, 1944, on a photo mission from Flight “G” at Yunnan-yi, China, while flying F-5E-2 serial number 43-28615 (MACR 10057). He is remembered on the Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery, Manila, Philippines – there is a undated report found in Thailand circa 2012 that McKinney’s remains may have been found at an aircraft crash site near Chiang Mai, Thailand. No update since then but his status has not changed in the American Battle Monuments Commission database as of this posting. He was awarded the Purple Heart.

On this National POW/MIA Recognition Day, we remember these brave airmen, who gave their lives in service to our country.  There is hope that at least some of these lost may yet be found.  Hand salute!

150917-D-TE668-005

Reference

National POW/MIA Recognition Day, poster, at: http://www.dpaa.mil/Families/Posters.aspx

ABMC Database entry for Franklin McKinney, at:  https://www.abmc.gov/search-abmc-burials-and-memorializations/detail/WWII_122104#.VfzVSJdOS70