December 7, 1941, a day of infamy, found the 123rd Observation Squadron of the Oregon National Guard in federal service at Gray Field, Fort Lewis, Washington. What the squadron did on that Day of Infamy is remembered in the story “Head West!!” on the 142nd Fighter Wing website at:
http://www.142fw.ang.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123233837

Three years later, the squadron, now redesignated as the USAAF’s 35th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron, found itself a long way from Gray Field, spread out over four locations in China, across the international date line on 8 December 1944, which was 7 December 1944 in Hawaii.

At the start of December, 1944, the squadron mustered 55 Officers, 259 Enlisted Men at four operating locations:

HQ at Chanyi
“E” Flight at Chihkiang
“G” Flight at Yunnanyi
“H” Flight at Suichuan

Army Air Base, Chihkiang, Flight “E”

“E” Flight generated three photo recon missions on 8 December 1944:

On 8 Dec 1944, 1st Lt. Bob A. Howard accomplished Mission 4ME 25, flying F-5E 806 on a photo reconnaissance of the strip of railroad line from Yochow (29 23N 113 05E) to Kweiyi (28 48N 113 02E). He took off at 1030 and returned at 1310.

1st Lt. Joseph R. Sipper flew F-5E No. 802 on a Tri-met mission (4ME 26) mapping of the area NW of Chihkiang (27 28N, 10925E) to Ikiawan (27 58N 112 58E) and Shihtangchung (27 28N 113 01E) to Hwaitung (26 57N 109 35E), taking off at 1245 and landing at 1545.

At 1400, 2nd Lt. Robert C. Nelson took off in F-5E No. 806 on mission 4ME 27, photo reconnaissance of Kweiyi RR bridge (28 48N 113 02E), followed to the south 10-15 Miles. Then a second run over Kweiyi RR bridge thence to Kiaotow (28 29N 112 54E) and Changsha (28 04 112 56E). He returned to Chihkiang at 1630.

Army Air Base, Yunnanyi, Flight “G”

No missions were flown by George Flight on this day. Strength of the unit in December, 1944, was 46 Enlisted Men, 11 Officers, and two airplanes.

Army Air Base, Suichwan, Flight “H”

“H” Flight made a good effort and got a flurry of Tri-met photo mapping missions accomplished that day, all on Tri-met mapping and all but one of Area 1-A as per Operations Instruction No. 7. The weather must have been quite favorable to fly all these missions on one day in support of this operations order, and included:

Edward B. Burdett, 1st Lt., AC., flew F-5E Number 805 on Mission 4MH 11, and took off at 1045. He covered Flight line # 1 from 29 15N 121 17E to 29 55N 122 22E; Flight line # 2 from 30 4N 122 20W to 29 32N 122 10E; Flight line # 3, 30 15N 122 05W to 29 35N 121 45E. He landed at 1430, and reported observing 18 boats, landing craft type approximately 25 feet in length, in bay at Pu-to-shan Island (West of Chushan Island). No aircraft. No sea craft.

F-5E Number 819 took off at 0945 on Mission 4MH 12, flown by 1st Lt. David G. Craig, who returned at 1500. He flew Flight line # 1 from 29 20N 121 58E to 30 04N 122 25E and Flight line # 2 from 29 50N 122 25E to 29 15N 121 24E.

4MH 13, F-5E Number 814 flown by 1st Lt. Estal W. Behrens, who took off at 0945 and returned at 1510. He flew Flight line # 1 from 29 25N 121 58E to 30 04N 122 18E; Flight line # 2 from 29 55N 122 25E to 29 15N 121 15E. His right engine cut in and out above 20,000 feet unable to get above 26,000 feet due to right engine trouble over the target area.

Mission 4MH 14. Major Albert J. McChristy flew F-5E Number 803. He took off at 0945 and landed at 1440, during which time he flew Flight line #1, from 29 22N 121 20E to 29 45N 122 05E; Flight line # 2 from 29 37N 121 56E to 30 16N 122 14E and Flight line # 3 from 29 50N 121 28E to 29 22N 121 20E. He observed no shipping in harbors, and no enemy activity except for fork on a new airfield at Ning Po.

First Lieutenant Richard B. Schwyn in F-5E Number 815 on Mission 4MH 15. He took off at 1030 and landed at 1535, and flew Flight line # 1 from 29 52N 121 28E to 29 20N 121 20E; Flight line # 2 29 20N 121 40E to 29 30N 121 30E; Flight line # 3 from 29 30N 121 30E to 29 50N 122 00E; Flight line # 4 from 29 50N 122 00E to 29 20N 121 20E; Flight line # 5 from 29 25N 121 35E to 29 40N 121 40E. He note the lack of shipping on the coast, and reported sighting one small aircraft on the coast at 10,000 feet below at 1400 hours.

F-5E Number 553, flown by 1st Lt. William W. Deen, took off at 1015 on Mission Number 4 MH 16. He flew Flight line # 1 from 30 15N 122 22E to 29 30N 121 58E; Flight line # 2 from 29 30N 121 58E to 29 32N 121 35E; Flight line # 3 from 29 32N 121 35E to 29 35N 121 59E; Flight line # 4 from 29 35N 121 59E to 29 50N 121 27E. Weather was CAVU and he had no observations to report upon his return at 1515 hours.

Mission number 4MH 17 was flown by Capt. Vernon E. Black in F-5E Number 808, and also Flight line #5 from 28 51N 117 37E to 28 20N 115 50E. He took off at 1115 and returned at 1630 and accomplished Flight line # 1 from 29 55N 121 55E to 30 20N 121 59E; Flight line # 2 from 30 20N 121 59E to 29 52N 121 51E; Flight line # 3 from 29 50N 122 10E to 29 30N 121 30E; and Flight line # 4, from 29 30N 121 30E to 29 40N 120 12E.

Capt. Black noted winds from the west at altitude, visibility slight haze, low cumulus south of line from Suichwan to Taichow (n coast) opening to clear North, scattered cumulus out to sea west of Chou – Shaw Islands, and cirrus in stratus layers at 24,000 feet over Shanghai and west.  His left generator and left carb. temp. were noted as out. He observed the aerodrome at Shihchehkan (28 55N 117E) was improved.

First Lieutenant Herman R. Perry flew Mission Number 4 MH 18 in F-5C Number 567, which was a Tri-met mapping flight in “area 1-B as per operations Instructions # 7.” He took off at 1100 and flew a line from 28 00N 120 35E to 28 10N 121 35E, a second line from 28 10N 121 35E to 2821N 121 06E and then line three from 28 21N 121 06E to 27 53N 120 50E, and returned to base at Suichwan at 1530.

All in all it was quite a busy day in the 35PRS. Three years into World War II, there was still a lot of work to be done, a lot of missions to be flown, on the way to victory.

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