Monday, December 15, 2008

Letter Home 09-15-1944

Friday 1700

Hello Darling,

Well my shopping has improved a bit. I’ve been wandering around for days trying to find something for you, and haven’t had any luck. Today I found a pair of opals that are fairly well ?, so I bought them. They don’t do any settings here though, so you will have to have settings made for them. I think they should make a nice pair of earrings. Now all I’ve got to do is get them mailed.
While I was in the shop, I got the guy to wrap them, and put the little chain bracelet in with the opals. Quite a difference in values there. Anyway he fixed them up, but when I took them to the APO to get them mailed I tried to insure them. They said I couldn’t, and that the package was too small. He told me to take it to one of the department stores in town, and have it wrapped in a larger box. Then he would register it for me. I can not get it insured. They pay no attention to insurance over here. I sure hope you get them after all this.
I also did something yesterday that I’ve been meaning to do for a long time. I had my picture taken. I only saw the proofs today. The final product won’t be ready for 2 or 3 weeks. So I left you address for it to be mailed to you. I can’t get a frame for it. They are too heavy to mail. Seems like everything I am trying to send you for your birthday has to be finished by you. I hope you don’t mind too much darling. I don’t like it this way, but there just anything I can do about it. They just don’t have things here to fix things up. According to the lady in the photography studio it will take about 6 or 7 weeks to get to you. I hope it hits close to your birthday. I won’t be in a position to send anything then. Not from some little forgotten island in the Pacific.
I guess I will knock off for now honey. How do you like my new stationary by the way. I got 12 pads to take back with me, so I will be able to write to you every day as I would like to all the time.
Honey I must tell you something very important. (To me at least) It is, I love you very much. More every day I am away from you. I hope we get back together soon! I love you.



Friday, November 28, 2008

Lack of Posts Explained

Sorry to any regulars out there; I have been moving and it has seriously curtailed my progress. Hopefully this will not last for long and I will be back to regular updates soon.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Letter Home 04-04-1945

Wednesday 2100

Hello Darling:

I almost decided not to write to you tonight, but since I missed last night I thought I’d better. The reason I was not in the mood to write was because I was sick as a dog last night, and although I feel quite a bit better today I am still not up to far.
Stangel & I took a trip to Manila yesterday. It was a sight to see, but I’ll not do it again the way we did – all in one day. We were riding that jeep for about 12 hrs out of the 15 we were gone. We past 230 mile on it. If I ever go again it will be a 2 or 3 day affair.
The city really is beaten up. All of the big (and most of the smaller ones) buildings are nothing but piles of rubbish. It will take a long time to rebuild it, and a lot of labor & materials. I had seen it from the air of course, but it was nothing like seeing it close up.
Part of the roads there are concrete, and in fairly good shape. I got a kick out of seeing gas stations again with their “Flying Red Horse” signs, Texaco ect. None of them in operation however. I understand the Japs took all the pumps to send to Japan for the metal in them. There are a few civilian cars running around, but I guess it is hard to get gas. It is mostly bootleg stuff. What the Japs left behind I think.
We ate in two different restaurants on the trip. One a Chinese & one a Filipino. They really soak for their food too! Three dollars for a quarter of a chicken, 30 cents for a cup of very weak coffee are a couple of samples.
Evidently something I ate did not agree with me, because by the time we got back here at 9 last night I was really sick. First I had such chills that I shook the bed. I climbed into bed as soon as I got here. I only waited long enough to drink a slug of whiskey. Then I started to run a fever, so Munfell & Craig decided they had better call Dr. Weddle. Our own Doc was gone yesterday. He took my temperature, and it was 102. It had all the ear marks of malaria, so this morning he took a blood smear on me, but it turned out negative.
Today I’ve had a headache, stomach cramps, and a case of G.I.s. The Doc has been working on me all day. I feel better, as I said, but not the best yet.
That should be plenty of my troubles for you for one evening. I am a little tired to. I haven’t had much pep today. I think I’ll say so long for now. Don’t worry about me – I am practically well now.
I love you sweetheart – always & al ways – take good care of you for me won’t you? I love you.



Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Letter Home 03-24-1945

Saturday 2200

Hello Darling,

The date on this may be a little off, but I know for sure it is Saturday. I often wonder if you get mad because I can’t remember, or keep the days & dates straight. I hope you don’t, because I will no doubt continue to do it every time I write. I just can’t ever seem to get things straight on that.
I’ve got three letters from you to answer, but I won’t attempt it tonight. There are a lot of the boys in the tent, and a lot has happened today to put my mind in a bit of a whirl. Perhaps tomorrow I will be a trifle calmer, and can write an intelligible letter. At any rate I will try.
You see today, or rather yesterday afternoon I lost my new job as Operations Officer. I was in office, you might call it, for two days. They were certainly hectic days! We had missions til they just wouldn’t quit, a couple of accidents ect. All in all it was a rat race.
However I did what I think was a half way decent job, even though a lot has happened. It was not any of my fault. That was not why I lost my job.
I’ve been thinking of ways and means to tell you this, but I guess the only & best way is to come out point blank & say it. It is going to be an awful shock though, and I would like to have you sit back in a chair – relax – don’t let it get you down ect. It is just as hard for me to believe as it will be for you.
Well – here goes – I am now the C.O. of the 341st Fighter Sqdn. Can you imagine such a thing happening to me? You had better say a few extra prayers for me to do a good job. I guess I will just learn by making mistakes, and I have already started out by making one of the biggest in the history of the Sqdn. I can’t explain, because it is too involved, but you can rest assured I did it. It was a good lesson though, and I don’t think I will ever do anything like it again. Before I make any statement like I did this time without knowing all the small details, I will go into it more thoroughly & then decide.
For a while it almost looked like we would have a revolution among the men. However we have a very good Adjutant, and he got me out of this one. Perhaps he will eventually be able to make a C.O. out of me. I hope I can learn to do a good job at any rate.
This happened rather unexpectedly, because Captains Exull & Fredenburgh left yesterday, and all on a moments notice, Major Zeine was told to pack up also. He is just going home to a gunnery school though, and should be back in about 3 months. In the meantime some one has to run this outfit and being the oldest ranking officer left I got it.
It makes me kind of prod that they picked me, because even if it is just temporary, the job of Commanding officer of a Sqdn. is rather large, and important. There is a lot of responsibility involved to have nearly 300 men’s affairs under one’s control. Capt. Craig (the Adjutant I just spoke of) tried to impress on me yesterday just how much power I have over these guys. My word is practically law. So you see why I’d like a few extra prayers that I can use that power properly. I’d sure like to make a good job of it.
Honey if my mail is rather erratic during the next week or so you will understand & forgive me won’t you. I’ve got so many things to do, places to see, and so darned much to learn!
It won’t be neglect because I want it to be. I love you much too much for that. Having this drop in my lap with no real preparation is going to push me quite a bit.
I will do my best, and I have a lot to write about, but if I slip a bit while trying to get in the swing of this please excuse eh?
I love you darling – and I need you in more ways than I can say. I love you – Good night.



Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Letter Home 10-01-1944

Here is the first of many letters home my grandfather sent to my grandmother. At first, these will be basically in the order that I pull them out of the box and transcribe them. after a while I will collect them on a new site in order.

Sunday 1800

Hello Darling,

Last night I could not write, because we had no lights. Something went wrong with the generator. I hope it is fixed by now. We will know in a half hour or so when it gets dark. They don’t start it up till then. Just in case though I am going to write at least a little before it is too dark.
Harry got back from leave today. He arrived while I was a way on a mission. We were dive bombing a strip of the Japs. To me the place looked deserted, but we all laid our eggs anyway. Hope we did some good.
Harry got some bad news when he opened his mail. He had about 20 letters, and the first one he opened informed him that his brother had been killed over in France. He feels pretty bad about it. He evidently thought quite a bit of him.
He brought back one qt. of gin, and one bottle of beer, so we just drank the beer. It sure tasted good. He is going to contribute the gin to the party tonight. It is almost sure there will be a party, because Capt. Blair (our C.O.) was made Major today. No doubt he will want to celebrate.
I also got about 10 letters from you too. Junior had picked them up, and put them in Harry’s foot locker, but he never told us about it. We were pleasantly surprised when he opened the foot locker. Then in the mail today I got a deck of cards from you, and a package of flat fifties cigarettes. Thank you darling very much.
I keep forgetting to do this, but one of your letters reminded me today. Would you send me a mixed box honey? You can forget about film now too by the way, since my camera was stolen.
I wish I could do something to cheer Harry up, but in a case like that there isn’t anything can be done I guess. Just let time be the healer. He did not eat anything at supper. Loaded his plate, and when he started to eat he simply lost his appetite, and just drank some coffee.
Hey – we have lights! They just came on. Kind looks, or feels rather, as if this pen is running dry. We don’t have any ink either. The only tent I know of that has some is Nixon’s. I guess I will soon have to visit him. Right now in fact!
There we are a little better now. It looks like I was right about the party. Word is just going around that it is starting, and Harry is saying lets go. Twould not surprise me if he felt like getting tight tonight.
I love you sweetheart. Always & all ways. Take good care of you for me won’t you? I love you.



Friday, September 19, 2008

Camp Livingston Photos

These photos were taken at Camp Livingston in Louisiana.

Company Street - Livingston. See what I mean about walking into trees.
Full equipment. ready to travel to L.A. Calif.
L to R Ellenberger, LaFontaine, Britton
Ellenburger at Livingston

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Foster Field Graduation Program

I figured that it would be easier to scan in the images of this graduation program than it would be to transcribe all of the names. This was Class 42-1 and the graduation was held October 9, 1942.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Foster Field Post Card 1

Award Letter

The following letter was sent to my grandmother in early 1945. It tells her of the awarding of the Air Medal to my grandfather, George M. Barnes.

Allied Air Forces
Southwest Pacific Area
Office of the Commander
March 29, 1945
Drear Mrs. Barnes:
Recently your husband, Lieutenant George M. Barnes, was decorated with the Air Medal. It was an award made in recognition of courageous service to his combat organization, his fellow American airmen, his country, his home and you.
Your husband was cited for meritorious achievement while participating in sustained operational flight mission in the Southwest Pacific area from July 5, 1944 to December 14, 1944, during which hostile contact was probable and expected. These operations included escorting bombers and transport aircraft, interception and attack missions, and patrol and reconnaissance flights. In the course of these operations, strafing and bombing attacks were made from dangerously low altitudes, destroying and damaging enemy installations and equipment.
Almost every hour of every day your husband, and the husbands of other American women, are doing just such things as that here in the Southwest Pacific.
Theirs is a very real and very tangible contribution to victory and to peace.
I would like to tell you how genuinely proud I am to have men such as your husband in my command, and how gratified I am to know that young Americans with such courage and resourcefulness are fighting our country's battle against the aggressor nations.
You, Mrs. Barnes, have every reason to share that pride and gratification.
Lieutenant General, U.S.A.,
Mrs George M. Barnes,
1307 Clifford Street,
Flint, Michigan

Friday, September 12, 2008

Photo Collection 1

Here are a few pictures that seem to come from the same roll of film. They all appear to have been taken at some point during pilot training in Texas. Mostly they are of my grandfather but a couple have other men in them; luckily, they are identified on the back.

The caption on this one reads, "Something was wrong with that ammunition on Matagorda. I seldom hit anything with it."

This one reads, "How did that happen? I couldn't have stood still that long with all those mosquitos around. It must be a fake" This one reads, "J.A. Adams, Ben Blair & some dodo. They must have just heard there was a war or sumpin."
This one reads, "C.B. Anderson ready to cut loose. I wonder how he likes Missouri?"

341st Fighter Squadron Group Photo

The caption on the photo reads: "Air Force - George Barnes in 1st row 3rd person from right"

News Clipping 3

The Flint Journal - Date Unknown:

Capt. George M. Barnes, 1307 Clifford, has been awarded the second Oak Leaf cluster to his Air Medal. He is also authorized to wear three service stars on his Asiatic Pacific theater campaign ribbon and one service star on his Philippine Liberation campaign ribbon awarded by the Philippine Commonwealth government.
Capt. Barnes is the commanding officer of a P-51 unit in the 5th Air Force Fighter command’s 348th group. He has flown more than 100 combat missions and has accumulated more than 266 combat hours.
He attended Catholic Central high school and was employed by S.S. Kresge Company here prior to entering the Army Air Force in August, 1944.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

News Clipping 2

The Flint Journal - April 24, 1945

“Sgt. D.L. Hursh, Lt. G.M. Barnes, Gunner and Pilot, Decorated”

Two Flint men have been decorated with Air Medals for “meritorious achievement” in aerial operations over enemy territory, their families have been notified. They are:

Staff Sgt. David L. Hursh, 20, engineer gunner aboard a Flying Fortress based in Italy.

First Lt. George M. Barnes, 29, a P-51 Mustang fighter pilot.

Sgt. Hursh, son of Mr. and Mrs. Cecil L. Hursh, 1153 Reynolds Ave., was awarded the Air Medal with three clusters and a Presidential Citation. Veteran of 50 missions completed March 26, when he participated in a raid over Weiner Neustadt, Austria, the airman has informed his parents that he is en route home. He is a Beecher High school graduate, was employed at Buick when he enlisted in September, 1943, and began his combat career in August when his group attacked Vienna. He recently took part in the longest raid ever flown in the Fifteenth Air Force to Berlin.

Lt. Barnes, whose wife, Edith, lives at 1307 Clifford St., received his award for missions completed in the Southwest Pacific area. He is a former S.S. Kresge Co. employee, was inducted in August 1941, and received his commission in October, 1942. He was promoted to his present rank shortly before going overseas a year ago.

Friday, September 5, 2008

News Clipping 1

The following news clipping is from the Detriot News. It is an announcement of Detroit area men who completed pilot training. Unfortunatly, the clipping is incomplete, only having the first row of pictures. However, there are still five men who are named in the clipping that I have, and I am trying to track down a complete version of the article.

The Detroit News – October 9, 1942

“36 More Pilots From Detroit Area Win Silver Wings”

The Army Air Forces’ seven advanced flying schools of the Gulf Coast Training center, with headquarters at Randolph Field, Tex., today graduated their ninth group of pilots since Pearl Harbor. One hundred and three fliers from Michigan, including 36 from the Detroit area (show below), received their silver wings and commissions as second Lieutenants. The names in parentheses are those of the fields from which they were graduated. The men from Foster, Moore and Lake Charles are fighter pilots; the others pilot bombers.

Lloyd R. Armstrong – 13983 Robson – (Ellington)

George M. Barnes – 17140 Prairie – (Foster)

George S. Butler – 14591 Penrod – (Moore)

James A. Cummins – 581 W. Hollywood – (Foster)

Thomas J. Forkin – 714 Drexel – (Lake Charles)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Press Release

Folded together with the letter of appreciation in my last post was this copy of a press release which describes some of the events mentioned in the letter.

The following is a press release issued by Fifth Air Force to all correspondents:

“Fifth Air Force, Philippines…..For the first time in this war a fighter group has dropped a greater tonnage of bombs during a single month than any single heavy bomb group.

The record shattering outfit is the Fifth Air Force Fighter Command’s 348th Fighter Group. During the past month (April, 1945), P-51 Mustangs of this Jap blasting fighter group dropped 2,091 tons of bombs, of which 2,068 tons were checked off as direct hits on pin-point targets.

The 348th, which during one period shot down 231 Jap aircraft for a combat loss of one pilot, has been credited by ground forces intelligence with the destruction of 10,000 Japanese by bombing and strafing during the past month.

Doing their bombing “on the deck” in close support of infantry digging the Japs out of Luzon, the 348th’s pilots did such outstanding work, often as close as 50 yards in front of American lines, that the group has been officially commended by the commanding generals of the 38th Infantry Division and 112th Cavalry.

Flying as many as 200 sorties a day, the Mustang’s pilots fired nearly 2,000,000 rounds of fifty caliber ammunition during the past month. They struck every conceivable type of target – caves, entrenchments, gun emplacements, troops, vehicles, factories, warehouses, barges, shipping and anything else that was Jap. They did the job with the loss of a single plane, and the pilot of that one was rescued.

The 348th first established its reputation as a “Go down and blast ‘em” scourge of Jap shipping. It ran up a record total during the Leyte campaign and, during one three week period this year, its pilots sank one tenth of the Jap shipping credited to the entire Fifth Air force.”

Rec’d 341st Fighter Squadron 1 June 1945

Letter of Appreciation

The following letter was sent to my grandfather by the commander of the 348th Fighter Group in May of 1945.

Headquarters 348th Fighter Group
Office of the Group Commander
APO 74

23 May 1945

Subject: Letter of Appreciation.

To: Captain George M. Barnes, 341st Fighter Squadron, APO 74

It is my desire to express my sincere appreciation for the splendid cooperation and willing support you have given me since you assumed command of the 341st Fighter Squadron.

During this time you lost many of your experienced pilots for various reasons, and in consequence, was confronted with the difficult problem of training inexperienced replacements, who were assigned to your unit with only a few hours of overseas flying time. Most of these pilots had never flown the airplane used by our group. The measure of success you attained in the task of qualifying these pilots to fill the vacancies in your unit is easily seen. With your able assistance, these young pilots, only a few months out of flying school, have developed into dependable combat pilots and have taken their positions in your unit without decreasing the efficiency of the missions flown in any manner.

In addition to the necessity of maintaining a system for training newly assigned pilots, your squadron was given the difficult task of making the transition from the P-47 to the P-51 type airplane. For proof of the outstanding work you did in making this transition, it would only be necessary to mention some of the favorable comments received from higher headquarters. However, concrete evidence of the success of the transition is available at this time. During the month of April this group established a world’s record for tonnage of bombs dropped by a fighter group. Had you not fully acquainted your men with the P-51 airplane, this would not have been possible.

The splendid results you have attained in the execution of the problems mentioned above, and all others that have come about during your tour of duty as Squadron Commander, definitely establishes the fact that you possess every qualification of initiative and leadership. I highly commend you for your outstanding performance of duty and am proud to have had the opportunity of serving with you.

Robert R. Rowland,
Colonel, Air Corps,

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

To the 341st Fighter Squadron

The following poem was found among my grandfather's papers from his time in the service. I don't have a date for it, but I assume it was from one of the reunions his fighter group had years after World War Two.

"To the 341st Fighter Squadron"

In nineteen hundred and forty-two
The allied forces had all they could do.
A young man from Texas stood straight and tall.
He would be as good a soldier,
As any country could ever call.

He organized a fighter group -
And put himself in control.
Never dreaming of the number of islands,
In the South Pacific that we would patrol.

He picked a few good pilots.
And said, "We'll carry the fight to them."
They all readily agreed that they
Would gallantly follow him.

It also took some good engineers
To keep the planes in the air.
But there was no use sending them up
Unless the armories made the guns fire.

It also took suppliers, truckers, communications,
And specialists that couldn't be beat,
But we wouldn't have got very far
If the cooks hadn't fixed us something to eat.

He used a conglomerate of men
From every walk of life.
They had left behind home,
Loved ones, children, and wives.

We commemorate the ones
Who fell in that race.
Their absence among us,
Leaves a huge, vacant place.

We think of names such as Lt. Leighton,
Lt. Jacoby, Lt. Stroud, Lt. McAfee
Lt. Thomas, Lt. Morris, Maj. Moore,
Cpls. Maurello and Soua, Col. Kearby and others too.
They made Japan pay dearly
Before they bade them adieu.

Now we dedicate this plaque and plant this tree
Hoping that it grows straight and tall.
Then it will resemble the 341st, the 348th,
The 5th Air Force - you, me, one and all.

Now as we return to our homes,
To continue life's race.
We will all share a fond memory
Of this very special place.

The presumed author of this poem is Leland McCutchen whose name is hand written at the bottom.

The "young man from Texas" mentioned in the first stanza is most likely Colonel Neel Kearby, Medal of Honor Winner, and commander of the 348th Fighter Group of which the 341st Fighter Squadron was a part.

Monday, August 25, 2008

A Box of Letters

Several months ago, the basement at my mother’s house flooded. As we cleaned up after the water receded, we found several boxes that had not been opened in many years. In these boxes were letters sent by my grandfather during World War Two.

He was a pilot assigned to the 341st Fighter Squadron in the Pacific Campaign and over the course of his service sent several hundred letters home to my grandmother. These letters span the time from his flight training to his trip back to the States at the end of the war.

I have recently begun sorting and transcribing these letters so that they can be preserved for my family and for anyone else that my have an interest in how World War Two looked to one American pilot. As I work my way through these letter I will be posting them here along with the many pictures my grandfather took throughout the war.