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.