9th FS Unit History - May 1945
May was a month of historical importance the world over, an outstanding month in the history of the "Flying Knights", and one which will not soon be forgotten. The daily news from Europe was watched intently, for various signs of the crumbling German War Machine were evident in each new dispatch. The Americans and Russian Armies were closing in on the last bastions of Nazi resistance, Hitler was reported, by German radio, to have died in Berlin and Admiral Karl Doenitz declared himself official head of the German Government. The Australians landed on Borneo, and Yanks steadily pushed the Nips back on Okinawa, the ground fighting Yanks on Luzon continued their slow laborious advance, and the 9th Squadron's work-horse P-38's continued their steady pounding of enemy installations on the island. Mussolini was killed by Italian patriots in Milan, Italy; Berlin fell to the Russian Army after a twelve day siege; President Truman confirmed the death of Hitler; and on 2nd May, all German Forces in northern Italy, southern and western Austria, surrendered unconditionally to the allies. In this background of world shaking events, the "Flying Knights", operating from the shores of Lingayen Gulf, joined other units of the V Fighter Command in a relentless attack on the entrenched Japanese Army in the Balete Pass, Baguio, and Ipo Dam areas.
The summer squall season was setting in, with the first really bad rainfall and accompanying windstorm occurring 4 May and lasting only a few minutes. These infrequent cloudbursts were to continue through the entire month, accompanied by hot, sultry days and nights relieved only by the proximity of the bathing beach.
Jerry Thorp, correspondent for Daily News Foreign Service, was a guest of the 9th Enlisted Men's Club early in the month and wrote a brief story about the men in the 9th.
The surrender of German forces in Holland and Denmark was announced on the 5th, as well as the fact that Hitler's once famed hideout at Berchteagaden was in Allied hands. Captain E. Stumpf, Squadron Communications Officer and 1st Lt. Bellan flew down to Biak island to observe a demonstration of Ground Controlled Approach, a radar set-up used in the European Theatre to guide aircraft through weather to a landing at their home base. They returned the following day. Then it happened. The news the world had been waiting for, the surrender of the last German Forces. The news of the cessation of hostilities in Europe was received joyfully but with very little celebration. All men in the organization realized that a very big job still lay ahead of them and there was no relaxing in the destruction of the enemy in the Pacific. The same day, 2nd Lt. W. Koby, returned to the squadron from an eight-day sojourn with guerilla Forces after he bailed out near Santiago, North Luzon, on 27th April. He was none the worse for wear and the boys were "Damned" glad to see him.
Around 1500, 11 May, the boys were treated to a little excitement in camp when a battery-charging set-up in the Motor Pool ignited a can of gasoline nearby and the resulting conflagration burned the roof off the "garage". It was quickly extinguished, however, with no further damage. Major Petrovich and Captain Davidson, journeyed to Manila for a day or so of rest. The Enlisted Men of the outfit have been enjoying three day passes to the Manila area, about five or six going at a time. Apparently Manila is a very satisfactory rest area for all reports indicated the men have a thoroughly enjoyable time.
The softball league broke into prominence when members of the 9th's Red Noses, leading the group league, joined with players from the other two squadrons to make up an all-star team, challenging any comers. The first challengers were from the 35th Fighter Control Squadron and all hands gathered at the ball diamond to watch the show. M/Sgt. Blackwell, Assistant Flight Chief, and first baseman for the All-Stars, hit a home run with the bases loaded in the first inning to start the game off royally. The opponents scored four runs in the following inning by a fluke play at second base, but the All-Stars forged ahead in the remaining innings while the King-Newmann combinations of pitcher and catcher held the Fighter Control boys down to four runs. Final score - 8 to 4.
Although the 9th Squadron, as part of the 49th Group received many commendations during the month of May, including letters of commendation for operations on Leyte, particularly activities over Ormoc Bay, one commendation was directed at the 9th alone. In recognition of bagging 274 Nips, top score in the Army Air Forces in the Pacific, a civilian organization presented an unusual gift for military achievement, a $500.00 rod and reel. Brigadier General Smith, Commanding General, V Fighter Command, made the presentation to Major J. Petrovich at Fighter Command Headquarters, Clark Field. As a representative of General Kenney, Commanding General, FEAF, General Smith passed on the following letter from General Kenney: "It is with a great deal of personal pride and pleasure that I present your squadron with this prize rod and reel. The Fishing Tackle Committee of the San Francisco League for Servicemen donated this rare outfit, to be awarded to the highest squadron of the FEAF. Your unit has been outstanding in that you have achieved more victories in aerial combat than any other squadron under my command. Best wishes for continued success and good fishing." Captain H. Norton, Operations Officer, was put in the throes of creative endeavor in writing a thank-you note to the San Francisco League for Servicemen's Fishing Tackle Committee. The result was worthy of the gift in the mind of this narrator, even if it was a "fish story".
The point system for discharge published immediately after V-E Day, with the film "Two Down, One To Go" was being shown to all personnel two days after the surrender. Naturally the system became the main topic of conversation throughout the organization and the orderly room was busy preparing the required cards on each individual and getting them to initial same. Captain Gorham, Squadron Executive Officer, had a busy couple of days explaining why this person didn't get that campaign star and why not. When the smoke and dust had cleared the squadron had thirty enlisted men and eight officers above 85 points.
The one bad factor in the system was, as General Arnold pointed out to the boys in his moving speech, the Air Corps was number one priority for staying in, points or no points. Also there was the conjecture that rotation would cease when the system went into effect, but at this writing, higher headquarters had not committed itself as yet.
The article above taken from Ken Clark’s Unit History posted on www.flyingknights.net
- V-E Day: May 8, 1945 the Allies celebrated the defeat of Nazi Germany. The previous day, in France, the German General Alfred Jodl had signed an unconditional surrender. By this date most of Germany had already been taken by allied forces. On April 30, 1945 Hitler had committed suicide as the Soviet forces took Berlin.
- Film- "Two Down, One To Go": https://youtu.be/do1-nBjYjdY