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.