Today we honor all Veterans from all branches and eras. This year holds extra significance as it marks the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II and the 7 November 1945 inactivation of the 35th Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron. Six months later, on 24 May 1946, the 35th was renamed the 123rd Fighter Squadron and allotted (or in this case, returned) to the Oregon National Guard.

Since that time, the squadron has transitioned between guard status and active service, undergone several designation changes and consistently accomplished impactful missions. Through it all, it remains relevant, ready and mission capable. Charter member of the squadron M/Sgt Roy Wolford, NCO in Charge of the 123rd Photo Section and with the squadron throughout its World War II service, captured many interesting photos of the 123rd Observation Squadron and the 35th Photo Recon Squadron circa 1941-1945. The photos shown here were provided by Roy Wolford, Fred Hill and John Brasko and are in the 142nd Wing History Archive. (Adapted from 11 November 2020 post on the 142nd Wing Facebook page)

Men of the 123rd Observation Squadron in bivouac conditions at Gray Field/Fort Lewis WA circa 1941-42. Note the variety in uniform configurations and use of metal mess kits and canteen cups. (Roy Wolford Collection, 142nd Wing History Archive)
Airmen of the 35th Photo Recon Squadron enjoy the sun at their snowy China base in the Winter of 1944-1945. Per a partial roster identification on the back of the original print, from left to right are Sgt. Douglas G. Graham, either T/Sgt Eugene D. Kelley OR Sgt. Wesley A. Kelley, Cpl Harold D. Dody, Sgt. Kenneth E. Loyd, Sgt. William H. Guy, Jr. and Lt. Glenn V. Embree. Unidentified T/Sgt kneeling with mascot may be then T/Sgt (later M/Sgt) Roy Wolford. Note at least two men, including the kneeling T/Sgt, have the 35th PRS Redhawk emblem on the left breast of their jackets. (Roy Wolford Collection, 142nd Wing History Archive)
Major G. Robert Dodson, Commanding Officer of the 123rd at its beginning. He went on to command at group level and also served overseas in the China-Burma-India theater of operations. Here he poses with the123rd’s first aircraft, a North American BC-1A, received in the spring of 1941. (Fred Hill Collection, circa 1941, 142nd Wing History Archives)
S/Sgt Roy Wolford, NCO in Charge of the 123rd Photo Section, posing in fleece-lined leather, high altitude attire., holding a Fairchild K3-b aerial camera here equipment with a regular 8×10 sheet film holder for single shots. Photo taken at Gray Field adjacent to Fort Lewis, Washington, circa 1941-1942. (Fred Hill Collection, 142nd Wing History Archives)
Routine (just something to do) cleaning of small parts – the big trunk are K3-b camera cases. L to R. Hugo Busocki, Chuck Estes, Fred Hill, circa 1942. (Fred Hill Collection, 142nd Wing History Archives)
A row of 123rd Observation Squadron North American O-47 airplanes at Moon Island (Hoquiam area, Washington State) in 1942. The squadron conducted Submarine Patrol from Grays Harbor to Columbia River and also flew other missions, such as routine checks on the effectiveness of the camouflage of US Army Coast Artillery gun emplacements such as those at Fort Columbia and Fort Canby in Washington and Fort Stevens in Oregon. (Fred Hill Collection, 142nd Wing History Archives)
A 35th Photo Recon Squadron Lockheed F-5E-2-LO Photo Lightning aircraft receives engine maintenance in field conditions at a forward airfield in China. This is possibly an aircraft of “G” Flight, at Yunnan-ni Airfield in late 1944. Note the tally of 17 photo missions and a mountain symbol for the flight of the aircraft from India into China over “The Hump” (the famous Himalayas) depicted on the nose of the aircraft, and the three-digit squadron number on the tail, 815. The tail and squadron number (818) for another aircraft can be seen at the lower left of the picture. (John Brasko Collection, 142nd Wing History Archive)

Portland’s KATU TV Channel 2 interviewed 123rd Fighter Squadron Redhawk pilot Lt Col Steve “B.C.” Beauchamp who scrambled from Portland ANG Base on 9/11 for a real-world intercept over the Pacific Ocean of an approaching airliner with comm problems. 

See their report posted on the 10th anniversary of that chaotic day:

Remember!  The youngest members of the 123rd Fighter Squadron, the Redhawks, designated as the 35th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron during World War II,  were born after 9/11/2001. They may know about it in general but not be familiar with how the squadron responded on that day and in the period after.  

Oregon Air National Guard F-15 Eagles of the 142nd Fighter Wing’s 123rd Fighter Squadron prepare for take off. On September 11, 2001, it wasn’t long before the Western Air Defense Sector (WADS) at McChord AFB, Wash., called on the Oregon Air National Guard to provide air defense for the Pacific Northwest. Lt. Col. Steve Beauchamp (pictured) and other Oregon Air National Guard pilots began to sit alert in the cockpit of their jets in anticipation of WADS tasking in a very dynamic and unpredictable threat environment. (U.S. Air Force Stock photograph by Tech. Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs) (RELEASED)

Nor is the squadron’s response on that day necessarily familiar to anyone with connection to the 35th PRS. 

Oregon Air National Guard F-15 Eagles from the 142nd Fighter Wing, Portland Air National Guard Base, Portland, Ore., diligently maintain their watchful Aerospace Control Alert (ACA) vigil; ready to respond any day or night in defense of Oregon and the Pacific Northwest. (U.S. Air Force Stock Photograph by Tech. Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs) (RELEASED)

So if you wonder, the story of how the squadron responded that day is at:

As we approach the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II with the end of the war in the Pacific, we remember that the 35th Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron (redesignated as the 123rd Fighter Squadron in 1946) was there. Emperor Hirohito announced the surrender of Imperial Japan on August 15, 1945 and the surrender was formally signed aboard the battleship USS Missouri on September 2. September 2 is the official commemoration of Victory over Japan Day (VJ-Day) in the United States.

Bobbitt and Nelso with 291

This picture shows two members of the squadron, possibly Flight Officer Bobbitt (left) being congratulated by Lt. Robert C. Nelson (right) beside Lockheed F-5E-2-LO Photo Lighting serial number 43-28291 after Bobbitt’s first mission. The mission symbols on the F-5 show how hard the unit worked to achieve victory. The first symbol, a mountain, represents the aircraft’s deployment into China from India over the Himalayan Mountains in September, 1944. Following are 63 camera symbols for photo recon missions completed. The last mission symbol represents what may have been the squadron’s only combat mission with weapons, a bomb symbol with flames depicting a napalm strike on Japanese forces. This aircraft survived the war and was reportedly eventually transferred to the Republic of China (ROC) Air Force.

The photo was taken in 1945 at Chihkiang Airfield (Zhijiang today) in Hunan Province of south central China, where the squadron’s forward-based Flight “E” was stationed. It was at Chihkiang Airfield that Imperial Japanese forces in China surrendered on August 21, 1945, an event that Flight “E” members witnessed. (Chester Krejci Collection, 142nd Fighter Wing Archives)  NOTE:  Post from 142d Wing Facebook page.

On this Monday, May 26, 2020 we remember those in uniform who gave the ultimate sacrifice for the people of the United States of America.  Not to be confused with Armed Forces Day (to honor those serving currently) or Veterans Day (to honor those who served), Memorial Day is a solemn occasion to remember those fallen in service to the nation.  “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13).

A presidential proclamation has been released as we honor our fallen, taking note that 2020 marks 75 years since the end of World War II and victory over Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan that cost us more than 400,000 American service men and women to ensure:

It may be forgotten by some amidst long weekend barbecues and such, but there is ample reason because of our freedom to remember those who made it possible.  All one has to do is make an effort.  Some ways to remember on Memorial Day are:

  1. Remember a family member or friend who was lost in the service. Speak their name.  Share a memory about them.


  1. Look around you at your family, friends and community, and appreciate all of what they mean to you, that you are able to do that because someone else laid their life on the line to defend it.


  1. Visit a veteran’s cemetery and read the names, units and dates on the headstones. Find some for a unit you served in or a conflict you fought in.


  1. In the future, non-COVID-19 time, participate in a Memorial Day ceremony or event in your community, or create one of your own today.
  2. Pray for the fallen, their families and loved ones.


  1. Fly Old Glory in their honor.


  1. Take an active role as a citizen of the country and in your community, and express yourself to your elected representatives – perhaps too many of these are not working for the best interest of people and country but for partisan and self-interest. They are elected and even re-elected all too often.  Citizens shouldn’t be silent or indolent lest they lose what freedom and liberty we enjoy.  For freedom isn’t free, as we all should remember, on Memorial Day.


In the case of the 35th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron, there are men to remember from non-combat and combat operations, in World War II and since then as the 123rd Fighter Squadron, from 1944 to 2007.  Whether in war or peace, they were in uniform as they gave the ultimate sacrifice and are worthy of remembrance.

Eight F-5E reconnaissance pilots were lost in World War II, three on recon missions, four in flying accidents and another from illness.


Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in the Philippines, where three F-5 Photo Lightning pilots of the 35th PRS are remembered on the Tablets of the Missing (Wikipedia)

Of the original charter members of the 123rd Observation Squadron who transferred to other units, four were killed in the war, including three aboard the transport S.S. Paul Hamilton:


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)

…and one more charter member who left the 123rd Observation Squadron to become an A-20 Havoc pilot who was killed in action in Europe though he saved his crew:

This makes a dozen men of the squadron lost in World War II to remember, with 11 of the 12 names (add Thad C. Williams)  listed at:

To that number we should add an estimated 15 of the 18 Oregon Air National Guardsmen who were members of the 123rd Fighter Squadron lost in service since World War II.  They are remembered at the Oregon ANG Memorial Park on Portland ANG Base: on Memorial Day:


The Oregon ANG Memorial Park featuring 18 names of Oregon Airmen. (Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs)

And if one expands the definition to include a former squadron member killed while serving in another unit, one can include a 35th Photo Recon Squadron F-5E pilot who survived his combat tour in WWII, Edward B. Burdett, Jr., went on to command the 388th Tactical Fighter Wing during the Vietnam War.  He was shot down on a combat mission over North Vietnam in his F-105D Thunderchief, captured and died the same day, 18 August 1967:

With an adjusted total of 12 in WWII, 15 post-war and one former squadron member there are 28 men of the squadron who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom and liberty, of which three are still missing in Asia.  They are buried or remembered far and wide across the world, overseas and in the United States, in national cemeteries and private plots.  We owe them and their families a debt of gratitude for their service and sacrifice for our land and people.  Let’s remember them on this Memorial Day.


Today is Armed Forces Day here in the United States, an annual observance which honors the men and women currently serving in the six branches of the armed services.

A presidential proclamation for the day has been issued, which you can view at:

To the men and women of today’s 123d Fighter Squadron, designated as the 35th Photo Recon Squadron during World War II, Portland ANG Base, Oregon, and all those serving in our armed forces, a hand salute!

night flying training this Monday through Thursday, 16-19 March

A 123d Fighter Squadron F-15C Eagle ambles up the ramp at Portland ANG Base, Oregon during night training in March, 2020 (USAF Photo by 142FW/PA)

Last month KATU Channel 2 Portland reporter Ms. Jackie Labrecque did a story featuring the 123rd Fighter Squadron, showcasing the Redhawks who are the air defenders of the greater Pacific Northwest.  It’s good for the civil-military bond in our country for the media to help tell the story of our Citizen Airmen on duty 24/7 defending our country.  You can ready her report and view her video at the link below.  Thank you KATU News!

Local Portland TV station KOIN TV Channel 6 visited the 142nd Fighter Wing of the Oregon Air National Guard at Portland ANG Base last week, and on Monday, 29 January ran the following story about the unit.  The 123rd Fighter Squadron belongs to the 142nd Fighter Wing and views of the squadron’s pilots and aircraft can be seen in this local news story, at:

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:

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:

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.”


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.

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:

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.


A Lightning-themed Christmas stocking (Courtesy

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!

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: