364th Fighter Squadron, 357th Fighter Group
May 23, 1944 - 19 year old "Hot Shot" with Wings and Gold Bars
P-40 Training at Venice, Florida
WWII Combat Missions 1945
(Most missions were high altitude escort for B-17 and B-24 Bombers. This late in the war, there was very little German fighter opposition. they were short of fuel, aircraft and pilots. The main concern was weather, engine trouble and flak)
Feb 21 5:40 hrs. Nuremburg Rail yards, 1000 bombers at 32,000 Ft. Flew Red-2 position on Capt. Murphy's wing. This mission was a "milk run" with only a little flak. Mostly I saw only the side of Capt. Murphy's plane cause I didn't want to goof up and loose him.
Feb 22 6:10 hrs. South Germany diversion then north to Bera Leipzig - Strasburg rail yards. We lost the bombers in clouds. We climbed above the weather and kept climbing up to 42,000 ft. Mushing along nose high. A break in the clouds revealed mountains! The clouds were full of rocks! (Must have been over the Alps) Heading north hunting for the bombers we got into a mess of flak. Landed back in England with 15 gals. of gas left. I flew Green-2 on Capt. "Shortie" Hatala's wing. (He was an old guy at 21)
Feb 27 5:35 hrs. Leipzig rail yards a "milk run". Flew Green-2 on "Shorties" wing.
March 2 4:50 hrs. Leipzig rail yards. Hit some Me-109s and Fw-190s south east of Magdeburg. (Lost 3 planes) Our group shot down some then did some ground strafing. I flew Green-2 on "Shorties" wing. My "reckerlection" of this melee was everybody rolling over heading down and dropping wing tanks. when all of the group was funneling down on the Krauts all the wing tanks appeared to be flying up at me. As I was dodging wing tanks I lost "Shorty" and I noticed the airspeed going past the 500mph Redline. After I got leveled out I noticed that I had not dropped my Wing Tanks! I spent the rest of the time trying to keep from getting run over by all the P-51s. I found a building to try to drop my tanks on.
Mar 3 4:50 hrs. Rail yards SE of Hannover. Lotta flak. Saw some "blow jobs" Me-262 Jets. Flew red-2 on Lt Col Storch's wing leading the sqdn.
Mar 5 4:45 hrs. Target oil depot NE of Dresden. Flying White-2 on "Shorties" wing. When we joined up with the bombers near the Rhine I noticed that my oxygen switch had been on 100% setting since takeoff using it at a high rate. I switched it off to conserve it as much as possible as we climbed. When we got on up above about 12,000 ft. I switched to auto feed. We were getting into the target area when my oxygen mask sucked in so I called "Sortie" that my oxygen was gone and I was headed down. I spites and halides down into the hazy under cast at 32,000 ft. my gyro spilled but I could keep my bearings by the sunspot shining thru the haze. I broke out under the clouds about 10,000 ft. and humbugged west with a lotto miles to go to get out of enemy territory. Later when I was feeling lonely scootin across Germany I saw a spinner (lookin like a 109) behind me - way back. Williams who was flying White-4 had been having some engine problems had left the flight to go home with me. He finally got me on the radio and asked "Ferchristsakes Foard slow down." We got back to the base about an hour before the rest of the group.
Mar 10 3:45 hrs. Rail yards in Ruhr valley, milkrun with some flak. Flew Green-2 on "Shorties" wing.
Mar 11 4:05 hrs. Submarine bases at Hamburg, milkrun with some flak. Flew Green-2 on "Shorties" wing.
Wingman Will Foard and Flight Lead "Shortie" Hatala 50+ years later!
Mar 12 5:50 hrs. Oil and docks at seaport north of Stettin. Flew White-2 on Capt. Moore's wing. Lil' flak.
Mar 14 5:00 hrs. Oil depot south of Celle, Lotsa flak! Flew Green2 on "Shorties" wing. We were told about a big flak fun installation on a hill in the area and that it twarn't healthy a'tall to go near it. Doggone if we didn't run right over it! (When you see black puffs of smoke, that ain't good. When you can hear "Boom" with the black puffs, you done "messed up" - and that ain't talkin' bout you navigation. When you also hear sounds like gravel hittin a tin roof, numerous things happen - not just to the plane!) When all that stuff exploded around us, our four planes went in every possible direction. My first reaction was to glance at the coolant temperature gauge. (It you get a leak and loose the coolant the engine will overheat and shutdown in short time.) The gage pointer was at the bottom of the scale which would mean that you would be on the ground in a few minutes. I blacked out from fright I guess - it was only seconds but seemed a long time. I realized than that the plane I was flying that day had the coolant temp. gauge and the outside temp. gauge in swapped positions, it was cold outside with snow covering the ground. When I got back to the base there was no hydraulic fluid for the flaps. I shook the wheels down till I felt them lock then waited for all the group to land on the short runway. Using the long runway landing "hot" with no flaps, I was able to slow down with the little reservoir for brakes. The hydraulic lines all alongside coolant and fuel lines had a crease cut in it!!
Mar 15 5:20 hrs. Rail yards north of Berlin, Lots of flak!! Flew Red-4 on Wasylyk's wing in Col. Dregne's flight leading the group.
Mar 17 5:50 hrs. Aircraft factory north of Leipzig. Flew Whit-4 on Weber's wing in "Shorties" flight. Bad weather.
March 18 5:30 hrs. Rail yards in Berlin. Poor weather. Flew Maj Foys wing.
Mar 22 3:15 hrs. Fighter sweep around and north of Ruhr valley. Flew Green-4 on Weber's wing in "Shorties" flight.
Mar 23 4:25 hrs. Rail yards and other installations in the Ruhr valley. "Milk run" The bombers really clobbered the targets.
Mar 24 4:20 hrs. Patrolled area NE of Ruhr valley during Rhine crossing to stop any German fighters from getting to the ground troops. We jumped about 20 Me-109s heading for the front. We wiped 'um out. "Shortie" got two and Wasylyk got one. Flew Blue-4 on Wasylyk's wing in "Shorties" flight. My 'reckolection' of the wild affair was Wasylyk and me got separated from "Shortie" right away. Wasylyk was chasing a 109 in a left turn. I was behind off to his right covering for him when another 109 came swooping down from the left heading in on Wasylyk. I called "Wasylyk, there's one on you ass!" as I pulled over to give him a "squirt". The 109 rolled off to the right and headed down overrunning Wasylyk. Wasylyk peeled off to the right behind him and got a good shot, but had to pull-up cause the ground was gettin' close (we were at full throttle). I saw the Kraut hit the ground and spatter so I was able to confirm Waslyk's kill. (I never did get around to go over to the photo shop to see if I had got any of my shots close enough to scare the Kraut! When Steger and I transferred to the 339th FG to go to the pacific I didn't go to pick up what little film I had. I remember feeling "what the' hell, hit don't make a durn bit o' difference an' I'd jes as well fergit it. Now I', curious!)
Mar 27 3:30 hrs. Escorted British RAF Lancasters to bomb rail yards at Paderhorn east of the Ruhr. Flak! Flew Blue-2 on Moore's wing.
Apr 3 4:10 hrs. Submarine pens and docks at Kiel. Flew red-4 on Weber's wing in Col. Dregne's flight leading the group. Target clobbered with little flak.
Apr 4 4:55 hrs. Patrolled around two rescue launches in the North Sea north of the Freizian islands. N 53 55' E 04 38' heading west for England. Flew Teaamwork-4 Capt. Elliot's wing.
Apr 9 5:15 hrs. Munitions depot and airfields near Munich. Bombers clobbered the target. Little flak. Flew Blue-4 on Wasylyk's wing in Fry's flight.
Apr 10 5:10 hrs. Airfield NW of Berlin, some strafing . Flew Yellow-4 on Wasylyks's wing in Fry's flight. bombers clobbered target.
Apr. 16 6:15 hrs. Rail yards SE of Munich. Flew White-4 on Fry's wing in Capt Maxwell's flight. I was flying "Buzz Buggy" and the engine was running rough. I kept running up the RPM's to clean it our for smoother running. (Was using extra fuel at high RPM's) I left the group with three other planes having problems and headed home. When we got to the North Sea we were at 10,000 feet for insurance. My engine quit (Wow! I never heard such QUIET) I turned back lookin' for some solid ground but could see only some trees stickin' otta th' water in the flooded dike area. (Dikes in Holland had been opened up to flood the land to restrict troop movement.) (It was not good to go down in the North Sea cause the cold water would "do you in" if you weren't picked up in a half hour. After gong through all the procedures I could think of, the engine sorta started running half heartedly. I headed south mushing along nose high into a thick haze just barely holding altitude. At our briefing that morning we were told with much emphasis NOT TO LANS ON ANY 9th AF BASES AND MUCK UP THEIR RUNWAYS - PUT IT DOWN IN THE DIRT. The 9th AF was making lotsa sorties in support of the ground troops. I got a steer for a repair base in Belgium and started running into the bomber stream headed home. I couldn't see in front with the nose high and the thick haze! U was seeing bombers go by above, below and on both sides. After dropping down below all that hardware I lost contact with the repair base. After some time while watching each fuel tank go empty I saw an airfield off each side of the plane. About that time the tanks went dry and the engine quit., I rolled over to glide onto the nearest field and hit the runway jest right. Buzz Buggy rolled to the middle, stopped and I climbed out feeling so proud. All of a sudden lights were flashing a jeep with a bunch of guys hanging all over it with horn blownin were bouncing across the field toward me hollering and a squadron of A-26s came roaring across the field peeling of to land on the runway where I was sitting fat dumb and happy. We pushed Buzz Buggy off the pavement just as the first plane touched down. I spent a couple of days there at Laon, France getting in the way of a couple of mechanics who were unfamiliar with the Rolls Royce Merlin engine. Never did get it to run good. I think the problem was the ignition harness on one V was shorting out so only half the engine would run. A B-24 stopped at the base so I bummed a ride back to England. The crew were very friendly since they didn't normally nave close contact with us little friends. The pilot let me sit in the left seat and steer all the way back. After we got over England a B-26 passed below us. Without any thought I racked up on the left wing and headed down to make a pass using the formation flying stick to the left of the wheel. There was a lot of noise on the intercom and the pilot came up suggesting he take over since we were getting close to his base. I got a ride back to Leiston in the back of a truck. A P-51 with a new engine was assigned to me so I got to name it for the home town folks "Swamp Fox:. Marion county is Swamp Fox country. the humor of the Swamp Fox being in England was lost. Folks are just not up on their Revolutionary War History. The British never could catch Gen. Francis Marion cause he would disappear into the swamps around the PEE Dee River. The British called him the Swamp Fox.
Apr 21 5:25 hrs. Target Airfield east of Munich. I flew just about everybody's wing half the squadron aborted and the weather was poor. The planes were getting war weary as well as everybody in the group. This was my last mission. In a way it was a letdown cause I'd just gotten a really good plane and I had the feeling that all that training hadn't accomplished anything. But looking on the bright side I was still all in one piece.
May 13 A great big fly over London by all the planes that the 8th Air Force could get in the air. It was a spectacular show.
May 29 6:25 A fantastic group mission at low altitude to Antwerp, to Strasburg, to Munich to Nurnberg, to Frankfurt, to the Ruhr Valley where we ran into a big weather front. We broke up into elements and went on instruments for an hour it seemed. It was interesting to circle the bombed out areas at low altitude without having to look over you shoulder.
Will's P-51 "Swamp Fox"
Will Foard 20 yr. old, "More Somber" " Less "Hot Shot" at Leiston, England.
Will receiving an award from Col Dregne, 357th FG Commander
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