A look at the 35PRS official history for November, 1944, indicates that it was a rough month leading up to Thanksgiving on Thursday, 23 November 1944. Highlights from the week near Thanksgiving alone indicate why this was so:

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Flight “E” at Chihkiang, China
“…On 16 November, fire destroyed an Officer’ barracks at Chihkiang, Flight “E”, four squadron officers losing their clothing and effects in the conflagration.”

The event was described in “E” Flight’s November 1944 report to squadron HQ by S-all George A. Cleeves as follows:

“Just before Democratic Thanksgiving we at the alert shack saw a big column of black smoke blossonm up from the direction of the barricks (sic). It looked as tho a catch (sic) of gasoline was lost but we were licky (sic). It was only an Officers’ Barricks (sic) with some 30 odd officers wordly goods. After all in a short time we will likely light the rest of the place ourselves to keep the Japs from using it. This one tho they beat us to and lit themselves we think. Lts Craig, Sipper, Schwyn, and Hardin have been traveling light these days. Schwyn’s “no hands” will be especially missed when he returns – he was so proud of it too. The 2 bottles of Mission Whiskey were lamented by all of us as they had arrived only the day before and hand not been opened.“

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Flight “H” at Suichuan, China
“On 19 November, Major Albert J. McChristy, commanding Officer, established Flight “H” at Suichuan to do reconnaissance and mapping of the China Coast Area. On 21 November First Lieutenant Merroll J. Berringer was reported missing on a photo mission from that Flight.”

Unfortunately, the Form 34, Weekly Status and Operations Report, which covers this period in which Berringer’s mission was flown is illegible on the CD from the AF Historical Research Agency. It appears the unit flew three Tri-Met and one alert mission that day.This is sometimes the case with the microfilm copies of unit histories which are later transferred to CD, and are likely poor on the microfilm/microfiche copies as well. For the best view of historical records, a visit to the AFHRA at Maxwell AFB, Alabama is recommended.

However, the Missing Air Crew Report Form 129 (MACR 10095) for Lt. Berringer is available on the Fold3 military records website for those with paid subscription permissions. It indicates that he departed Suichuan Airfield, China in F-5E-2-LO serial number 44-23237 on a course of (illegible two digits) degrees Out and 244 degrees Back. ENGINES: Type, Model & Series V-1710-91-89; AAF Serial Number (a) A-049857 (b) A-049520.

His recon target/intended destination was 121 – 25E & 20 – 25N, which is in the area of the Batanes Island Group, the Philippines most northern province and smallest province, in between the main island of Luzon and Formosa/Taiwan. The report says he was last sighted over Nimrod Sound by 1st Lt. Edward B. Burdett. Nimrod Sound is located at 29 degrees 30 minutes North, 121 degrees 29 minutes East, just south of Shanghai on the China coast.

This 21 November 1944 mission to the Luzon Strait at the north end of the South China Sea took place as the campaign for Leyte Island raged, and while the Japanese were still funneling forces into the Philippines in a desperate attempt to hold off the American foothold in the islands. It is possible the objective of this mission was to detect any enemy activity in the Batanes Islands related to that effort.

Unfortunately, First Lieutenant Berringer remains missing in action to this day. He is remembered on the Tablets of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery, Manila, Philippines, and received the Purple Heart for his service and sacrifice.
http://www.abmc.gov/search-abmc-burials-and-memorializations/detail/WWII_96337#.VHgHD8lFJEs

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Flight “G” APO 488, at Yunnanyi, China

Succinctly reported by flight Administrative O. 2nd Lt. Arthur W. Clark as follows:
“On the twenty-third, Capt Babcock and Lt. Barrow flew missions.”

The S-2 section of Flight “G” accomplished a Flight Intelligence Report (Likely Lt. Clark) after the missions through interrogation of the photographic pilots, and abbreviated recapitulations of these mission reports are transcribed here:

Captain Lyle B. Babcock accomplished Mission No. 4MG-39 in F-5E #805, with a takeoff at 1315 and return at 1530 hours.

Mission Identification (original difficult to read): Primary Targets: RR Yards at Lashio, Man-Pwe, Hsingpay, Myankme, Nawnghkio, Alternate Targets: Hsenwi Bridges, Nam Hkai Bridge, Mawhgluka Bridge, Burma Road Cutoff and Kutkai.

Time over Objectives and Altitudes Flown: Kuniong Ferry 24” along 270 degrees 23,500 feet ind 1410 hours. Hsengwi 6” along 285 degrees 22,500 ind 1425 hours. Lashio Bridges and RR Yards 6” and possibly 24” 240 degrees 22,500 ind 1430 hours. All other targets not covered, either because of cloud cover or because 24” camera failed to function.

Weather Conditions (Wind, Visibility and Ceiling): From base on course of 230 degrees CAVU as far as the Mekong river. From Mekong River south to Lashio and as far as could be seen, cumulous overcast, top about 13,000 ind. From Hsenwi to Wanling, cumulous clouds, 6 to 8 tenths cover, top about 13,000 ind.

Any Failures of Equipment: 24” camera failed to function. Film would not wind.
Observations: Pilot saw what appeared to be a boat crossing the Salween River at Kuniong Ferry. Boat was traveling from the North bank to the South bank. Time of observation was 1410. Pilot unable to determine size of boat but definitely saw its wake on the water from altitude of 23,500 ind.

1st Lt Sterling E. Barrow flew Mission No. 4MG-38 in F-5E #810, taking off at 1000 and landing at 1500.

Mission Identification: Chiengmai AF – Lambhun AF – Hangsat AF – Kohga AF – Lampang AF – Memoh AF – Kenghluang Bridge – Bhre AF.

Time over Objective and Altitudes Flown: Mesoht AF (18 40N – 98 33E) 24” & 6” 240 degrees 29,000 ind 1215 hours. Tak AF (16 52N – 99 08E) 24” & 6” 90 degrees 30,000 ind 1230 hours. Tak AF 24” & 6” 225 degrees 30,000 feet ind 1235 hours. Kohga AF (18 12N – 99 50E) 24” & 6” 40 degrees 28,500 ind 1250 hours. Lampang AF (18 17N – 99 30E) 24” & 6” 50 degrees 28,000 ind 1252 hours. Lampang Town and Bridges 24” & 6” 240 degrees 28,000 ind 1300 hours. Hangsat AF (18 21N – 99 25E) 24” & 6” 335 degrees 28,000 ind 1305 hours. All other targets cloud covered.

Weather Conditions (Wind, Visibility & Ceiling): From base south to approximately the 20th parallel: 5 to 6 tenths cover; cumulous clouds; top approximately 20,000 ind. Between approximately the 19 th and 21 st parallel, following a North-South line approximating the 98 th meridian, lay a row of thunderstorms which appeared to be moving East by Northeast. Clouds there were built up to 30,000 feet ind. Stratus overcast, top about 17,000 feet, covered an area which ran from approximately 40 miles Northeast of Chiengmai to approximately 100 miles Southwest of Chiengmai to about 40 miles Northwest and Southeast of Chiengmai. This overcast appears to be local weather, as it started to break up some in the hour’s time the pilot spent in that territory. The same type of overcast lay between Uttaradit and Kenghluang Bridge.

Observations: None. NOTE: Hangsat AF is the same as Lampang NW AF.

So it was with the 35PRS Redhawks in the period leading into and on Thanksgiving Day, 1944. None of the squadron historical records indicate what the unit did for the holiday, albeit a working holiday, far from home in China and over Southeast Asia on Thanksgiving Day, 1944.

On this Thanksgiving Day, many men and women of our Armed Forces, soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines, Coast Guardsmen too, active duty reserve and National Guard, are also serving far from home, loved ones and friends, serving and protecting our nation against threats. As we give thanks this day, let us also give thanks for those who stand on the ramparts of freedom, who enable us to enjoy our Thanksgiving in peace.

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