In Memory of Robert “Bob” Amburn Gourley, 462nd Fighter Squadron, 506th Fighter Group; December 14, 1924 – September 4, 2021

Robert A. Gourley was born on December 14, 1924, in Greer, South Carolina. Bob graduated from Marion High School in 1940, and entered into Davidson College in 1941 as part of the ROTC program. Like many others of his generation, his post-secondary education was put on hold during the time he served his country in World War II.

2nd Lieutenant Robert A. Gourley

Not wanting to be placed into the infantry, Bob enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps. He earned wings and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant at Luke Field in Phoenix, Arizona in 1944. In October of that year, 2nd Lieutenant Gourley was assigned to the 462nd Fighter Squadron of the 506th Fighter Group shortly after the group’s activation at Lakeland Army Air Field. At Lakeland, the 506th FG was trained specifically to fly very long range missions.

Front row, left to right: 1st Lt. Robert Gourley, 1st Lt. Frank Buzze; Back row, left to right: 1st Lt. Bernie Comfort, 1st Lt. Jack Rice, 1st Lt. Thomas McNall, and 1st Lt. Harold Stewart (via Dr. John Benbow)

When deployed to Iwo Jima, half of the squadron’s fighter pilots ferried their brand new P-51D Mustangs to San Francisco, where they were loaded on the escort carrier Kalinin Bay and set out for Tinian. The other half of the pilots, which included 2nd Lieutenant Gourley, took a troop train to Seattle, and then boarded the converted Swedish hospital ship, the Bloemfontein. They sailed from Seattle to Hawaii, Eniwetok Atoll, Tinian, and then finally to Iwo Jima.

1st Lts. Robert Gourley and Jack Rice on the nose of a P-51D Mustang (via Dr. John Benbow)

Lieutenant Gourley would fly a total of 11 VLR missions to Japan, and would be promoted to the rank of Capitan before being honorably discharged. Upon returning home, Bob re-enrolled in Davidson College and graduated in 1948 with a Bachelor of Arts in Music.

Bob was a recognized community member faithfully contributing to his community in many ways. He was a member of First Presbyterian Church and served as choir director for over three decades. He was also active in the local Kiwanis Club and the Masonic Lodge. Bob played in a community band well into into eighties, and enjoyed playing golf.

Robert A. Gourley

On September 4, 2021, we lost another member of the Greatest Generation. Bob was 96, and was the last living fighter pilot of the 462nd Fighter Squadron.

In 2014, Bob gave a video interview as part of the McDowell Legacy Program, “Reflections of the Past”. In his interview, Bob speaks of his entry into the United States Army Air Force, and missions flown from Iwo Jima to Japan. The YouTube video of Bob’s interview can be found here: https://youtu.be/P-HsME_vCKI.

Kit News: Eduard’s Next 1/48 North American P-51D Mustang Release; A P-51D-20 Weekend Edition Boxing

In this month’s edition of INFO Eduard, Eduard announced that their next release of their P-51D Mustang kit will be a Weekend Edition focusing on the Block 20 Mustang. The decal options include two European theater Mustangs and two Pacific theater Mustangs. The first Pacific theater Mustang is the widely recognizable The Flying Undertaker, flown by Major William A. Shomo of the 82nd TRS, 71st TRG. The other Pacific Mustang is the 458th FS, 506th FG Iwo Jima VLR Mustang, The Boll Weevil/A Neat Package, flown by 2nd Lt. Bennett C. Commer and 2nd Lt. Henry C. Seegers, Jr.

Eduard

All three VLR groups were initially equipped with Block 20 D models. As losses and attrition took its toll, Block 25 D models were used as replacement aircraft. The distinctive equipment used on VLR Mustangs, the SCR-695 IFF transmitter set, the AN/ARA-8 homing adapter and twin Uncle Dog antennae, were field modifications on Iwo Jima for both Block 20 and 25 models.

Eduard

Due to the fact that the 506th Fighter Group assigned two pilots to each plane, the markings on certain planes provide for interesting decal options. The Boll Weevil/A Neat Package is a nice example of this.

556 The Boll Weevil/A Neat Package (Bennett C. Commer via Dr. John Benbow)
556 The Boll Weevil/A Neat Package (Charles Barr via Dr. John Benbow)

Kudos to Eduard for providing a multitude of 1/48th scale P-51D Mustang kits which cover blocks 5 to 25 with so many decal options. Something for everyone.

Eduard’s 1/72 Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat Weekend Edition

One of Eduard’s releases for October 2021 is a new Weekend Edition boxing of their popular 1/72 Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat kit. Eduard’s 1/72 F6F-3 has been on the market since 2011, and this is the third Weekend Edition boxing that has been released by Eduard.

Eduard

This boxing includes decals for Lt. Cdr. David McCampbell‘s F6F-3 Hellcat The Minsi. Lt. Cdr. McCampbell was the CO of CAG-15 abroad the USS Essex, and flew this aircraft during the U.S Navy’s raids against Iwo Jima which began on June 14, 1944, and continued until August 5, 1944.

Eduard

Lt. Cdr McCampbell was the top U.S. Navy ace with 34 confirmed victories. While he did not score any confirmed victories in combat over Iwo Jima, Lt. Cdr. McCampbell would score 10.5 victories in The Minsi during combat over Saipan, the Philippine Sea and Guam. The Minsi was scrapped in September 1944 after suffering damage from anti-aircraft fire.

Kudos to Eduard for including decals for The Minsi in this boxing. While most modelers will prefer decals for Lt. Cdr. McCampbell’s F6F-5 Minsi III with its impressive scoreboard of kills, it is nice to have the option to build his first Hellcat.

The other decals included in this kit are: a VF-38 F6F-3, stationed on Munda Airfield, New Georgia, Solomon Islands; Lt. Alexander Vraciu’s F6F-3 “White 32”, VF-16, USS Lexington with 18 kill markings; and a VF-27 F6F-3 aboard the USS Princeton with the snarling cat mouth. Very nice decal options.

In Memory of Albert A. Sharke: 457th Fighter Squadron, 506th Fighter Group; March 13, 1921 – July 16, 2021.

Albert Arthur Sharke was born on March 13, 1921, in New York City. He entered into Columbia University as a first generation college student. Like many others of his generation, his post-secondary education was put on hold during the time he served his country in World War II.

1st Lt. Albert A. Sharke on Iwo Jima (via Dr. John Benbow)

The 457th Squadron Unit History indicates that 2nd Lt. Albert A. Sharke was assigned to the squadron on December 18, 1944, as Armament Officer, replacing 2nd Lt. McCallick who was transferred out of the squadron. 2nd Lieutenant Sharke, and the rest of the ground echelon of the 457th Fighter Squadron, took a troop train from Lakeland Army Air Field to Seattle, Washington. They arrived on Iwo Jima onboard the H.M.S Bloemfontein, a converted Swedish hospital ship. The long overseas journey started in Seattle with stops at Hawaii, Eniwetok Atoll, Tinian, and finally Iwo Jima.

Lt. Lawrence Brennan (Supply), Maj. George Flemming (457th Squadron XO), and Lt. Albert Sharke (Armament) (Mary Ellen Ramsden via Dr. John Benbow)

It appears that Lt. Sharke may have been the armorer for the P-51D Mustang flown by 1st Lieutenant Larry Grennan, although that cannot be confirmed. Squadron histories just do not go into that amount of detail, and we do not have any good photos of Lt. Grennan’s P-51D to see if Lt. Sharke’s name appears on the plane. Without either the pilot(s) or ground crew providing that information, that piece of information is lost forever.

Lt. Lawrence Brennan and Lt. Albert Sharke along side a Consolidated PB4Y-2 Privateer on Iwo Jima (Mary Ellen Ramsden via Dr. John Benbow)

Albert Sharke was promoted to 1st Lieutenant while on Iwo Jima. After being honorably discharged after the war, Albert graduated in 1947 from Columbia University with a degree in metallurgical engineering. After working briefly at Air Reduction Laboratories, he spent the duration of his career in chemical and refinery operations at Standard Oil of New Jersey.

On March 13th of this year, the Joseph McDowell Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution organized a birthday parade for Albert to celebrate his 100th birthday. A fantastic event that allowed Albert to ride around Hendersonville in a convertible and be greeted by those wishing him a happy 100th birthday. The article of the event in the BlueRidgeNow Times-News can be found here: https://www.blueridgenow.com/story/news/2021/03/15/wwii-veteran-american-hero-albert-sharke-treated-100th-birthday-parade/4712824001/.

On July 16, 2021, we lost another member of the Greatest Generation. Thanks to Mark Stevens of the 7th Fighter Command Association for bringing to our attention Albert’s passing.

In Memory of Wilhelm (Bill) Herbert Peterson; 458th Fighter Squadron, 506th Fighter Group

The 506th Fighter Group lost another pilot when 1st Lt. Bill Peterson passed away on July 3, 2021. Wilhelm (Bill) Herbert Peterson was born on June 27, 1923, in Gary, Indiana. Bill’s family moved to Sebring, Florida early in his childhood, and Bill left high school after the 11th grade and enrolled in the University of Florida. He enlisted in the United States Army Air Force Reserve and was in his last year of college when he was called up.

He started his basic flight training at Americus, Georgia, flying Boeing’s primary trainer, the PT-17 Stearman biplane, and then went to Greenwood, Mississippi, flying the Vultee BT-13 basic trainer. Bill continued his training at Dothan, Alabama, flying the North American AT-6 advanced trainer, and completed his flight training at Montgomery, Alabama, flying the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk where he received his wings and a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant.

2nd Lieutenant Wilhelm H. Peterson (via Robert Grant)

2nd Lt. Peterson was assigned to the 458th Fighter Squadron shortly after the 506th Fighter Group’s activation at Lakeland Army Air Force base in October, 1944. The 506th was trained solely for very long range missions.

Below are two pictures of 2nd Lt. Peterson during tour of duty on Iwo Jima. The first is of 2nd Lt. F.H. Wheeler (front), 2nd Lt. Robert “Andy” Anderstrom (back left), and 2nd Lt. Wilhelm Peterson (back right).

(Myndret S. Starin via Dr. John Benbow)

The second is of C Flight of the 458th Fighter Squadron. 2nd Lt. Peterson is in the back row, fifth from the left.

C Flight of the 458th FS (back row, left to right – Myndret Starin, Robert Anderstrom, F.H. Wheeler, Jack Westbrook, Wilhelm Peterson & Paul Ewalt; front row, left to right – Edward Kuhn, William Lockney, Goldie Marcott, Donald Harris & Francis Pilecki) (Ralph Coleman via Dr. John Benbow)

1st Lieutenant Myndret S. Starin and 2nd Lieutenant Wilhelm W. Peterson were assigned to fly 580 “Shirley III/Augusta Wind” a P-51D-25-NA (Serial No. 44-72890). 1st Lt. Starin named the plane Shirley III, which appeared on the port side of the nose, and 2nd Lt. Peterson named the plane Augusta Wind after his wife, Augusta, which appeared on the starboard side of the nose.

580 “Shirley III/Augusta Wind” (Myndret S. Starin via Dr. John Benbow)

Unfortunately, we do not have a picture of 580 showing the name Augusta Wind on nose. Below is the only photo of starboard side of 580. Because the cowl panels have been removed for maintenance, we are unable to see the name Augusta Wind.

580 “Shirley III/Augusta Wind” (via Dr. John Benbow)

Bill flew many VLR missions to Japan and back during his tour of duty, and was promoted to the rank of 1st Lieutenant while on Iwo Jima. Bill returned to the United States in early January of 1946, just in time to enroll for his final semester at the University of Florida.

After graduating from the University of Florida, Bill worked in the life insurance industry for 19 years, and then had a very successful practice as a certified public accountant. On July 3, 2021, we lost another member of the Greatest Generation.

On July 10, 2013, Bill gave an interview as part of the University of Central Florida Veterans’ History Project recounting his life and service to his country as part of the 506th Fighter Group. Bill’s interview can be found here: https://stars.library.ucf.edu/veteransoralhistories/172/

Decal Review: Eagle Strike Productions’ 1/32 Pacific Mustangs Pt. II (32003)

This is an older decal sheet released in 1998 which provides markings for the planes of the three top VLR aces: Major Robert W. Moore’s 67 “Stinger VII” (12 aerial victories); Major James B. Tapp’s 101 “Margaret – IV” (8 aerial victories); and Major Harry C. Crim, Jr.’s 300 “My Achin! [Ass]” (6 aerial victories).

Eagle Strike Productions

This decal sheet is no longer in production, and is difficult to acquire. It shows up every once in while on eBay, but not very often. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of 1/32nd scale decal sheets in production that feature Iwo Jima VLR Mustangs. Either you have to use what is available as far as after market decals, or learn how to create your own paint masks.

Eagle Strike Productions

The decal sheet is really good as far as accuracy of the markings, but it is not without its errors and omissions.

Eagle Strike Productions

Major Harry C. Crim, Jr. (531st FS/21st FG) – Major Crim was the 3rd highest scoring VLR ace with six confirmed victories, and the only fighter ace of the 21st FG. He joined the 21st FG in August, 1944, after serving with the 14th Fighter Group in Tunisia flying the Lockheed P-38 Lightning. Unable to score any aerials victories with 14th FG, he scored his first two victories, a Kawasaki Ki-61 “Tony” and a Kawasaki Ki-45 “Nick” on April 7, 1945, the first VLR mission flown by the 7th Fighter Command Mustangs. His last victory, a Mitsubishi A6M Zero, came on July 6, 1945 during a strike mission against Atsugi airfield. Major Crim was also credited with six ground victories.

Assistant Crew Chief Sergeant Stanley McCarro in the cockpit of Major Crim’s 300 “My Achin! [Ass]” (Harry Crim via Tom Ivie/Carl Molesworth)

44-73623 was a P-51D-25NA, and Major Crim’s second VLR Mustang. The kill markings, mission markings, and ground crews’ names appear to be very good on the decal sheet except for Asst. Crew Chief Stanley McCarro’s name being misspelled. The only other deficiency in these decals is the artwork for the donkey/ass.

Major Harry C. Crim, Jr.’s 300 “My Achin! [Ass]”

The photo above shows a portion of the canvas wheel well covers which were a standard production feature that were discarded by European Theater Mustang groups, but were maintained in place by the Iwo Jima Mustang groups as a means of keeping sand and volcanic grit out of the wheel wells.

After Major Crim rotated home, “My Achin! [Ass]” was assigned to Flight Officer Theo Gruici, who had Major Crim’s kill and mission markings and the names of the ground crew removed, and had a reclining nude painted on the fuselage. Most decal manufacturers have a nude on the left landing gear cover for Major Crim’s markings, but I have yet to see a photo confirming this. The nude on the left landing gear cover is mostly obscured by the 110 gallon drop tank in the photo below, and it raises the question whether there was a nude also on the right landing gear cover. After inquiring of others who have more extensive photo collections than I do, there does not appear to be any photos of the right side of the plane. Some questions will never be answered.

Flight Officer Theo Gruici’s 300 “My Achin! [Ass]” (7th Fighter Command Association/Mark W. Stevens)

Major Robert W. “Todd” Moore (45th FS/15th FG) – Major Moore was the highest scoring VLR ace with 11 VLR aerial victories. He had one aerial victory with the 15th FG prior to arriving on Iwo Jima. 44-63483, a P-51D-20NA, was first assigned to Major Gilmore L. “Buck” Snipes and was named “Tom Kat”.

Below are the aircraft profiles from Eduard’s 1/48 Very Long Range: Tales of Iwo Jima limited edition kit showing 67’s markings while flown by Major Snipes and by Major Moore. The profiles show the 45th Fighter Squadron’s original markings and the more simplified markings mandated by the 7th Fighter Command.

Eduard
Eduard

The three photos below provide some different marking variations for 67 “Stinger VII” during the time it was assigned to Major Moore. From these photos it appears that Major Moore was assigned to 67 during the time the squadron was transitioning from their original markings to the more simplified markings.

This is a Loomis Dean photograph which show 67 “Stinger VII” with an unpainted spinner and the diagonal wing bands still in place as evidenced by the bands wrapping over the leading edge of the wing. It also appears that rails for HVAR rockets have been installed under the wings which can be seen just above the drop tanks on the left wing. These were field modifications as rocket rails were not installed at the factory during Block 20 production.

Major Robert W. Moore with 67 “Stinger VII” (USAAF/National Archives via Fold3)

The photograph below, while not the best in quality, appears to show that the diagonal bands have been removed from the wings, but still are present on the tail surfaces. It does not appear that the spinner has been painted solid green yet. Please also note that the number 67 also appears on the main landing gear covers. This was common practice for 45th FS Mustangs. Unfortunately, the Eagle Strike decal sheet does not provide the decals for the landing gear covers.

Major Robert W. Moore’s 67 “Stinger VII”

The last photo shows 67 “Stinger VII” with the simplified markings of a solid green spinner, green wing tips, green horizontal stablizer/elevator tips, and (assuming) green tail tip.

Major Robert W. Moore’s 67 “Stinger VII” (Robert W. Moore via Tom Ivie/Carl Molesworth)

Major James B. Tapp’s (78th FS/15th FG) – Major Tapp was the second highest scoring VLR Mustang ace with 8 aerial victories. All eight victories were scored in 101 “Margaret – IV” (44-63984), a P-51D-20NA. Major Tapp scored 4 aerial victories on the first VLR mission on April 7, 1945. He scored another victory on April 12, 1945, which represents the 5 victories on the decal sheet.

Major James B. Tapp’s 101 “Margaret -IV” (7th Fighter Command Association/Mark W. Stevens)

As can be seen from the photo above and the photo below, the name “Margaret – IV” and the Bushmaster squadron emblem are on both sides of the nose. The photo below shows that there are additional markings on the right side of the fuselage below the canopy.

Major James B. Tapp’s 101 “Margaret – IV” (7th Fighter Command Association/Mark W. Stevens)

This last photo shows the markings on the right side of the fuselage which includes kill and mission markings. In addition to the name of the Crew Chief Sergeant Blanco, there is the name of another ground crew member which is undiscernable from the photo. This photo also shows that the 0 in the fuselage number is broken rather than solid.

Crew Chief Sergeant Blanco standing on the wing of Major Tapp’s 101 “Margaret – IV” with unknown crew member in cockpit (via Brian Walter)

This is a very nice decal sheet despite some errors or omissions, especially in light of the fact that it was released in 1998. A lot of new information has come to light regarding the markings on these planes since this decal sheet was released.

References:

1. Very Long Range P-51 Mustang Units of the Pacific War; Carl Molesworth; Osprey Publishing Limited 2006.

2. The Long Campaign: The History of the 15th Fighter Group in World War II; John W. Lambert; Schiffer Publishing Limited 2006

3. Very Long Range: Tales of Iwo Jima Instruction Sheet; Eduard (2020).

As a condition of the use of materials from the 7th Fighter Command Association website, the following disclaimer is included: Permission to use, copy and distribute documents delivered from this Worldwide Web server and related graphics is hereby granted, provided 1) That the use of the data will not be used for obtaining a profit of any kind, and 2) That the above disclaimer notice appear in all copies and that both that disclaimer notice and this permission notice appear. All other rights reserved. The name of “7th Fighter Command Association” may not be used in advertising or publicity pertaining to distribution of this information without specific, written prior permission. Mark Stevens and the 7th Fighter Command Association makes no representations about the suitability of this information for any purpose. It is provided “as is” without express or implied warranty. Mark Stevens and the 7th Fighter Command Association disclaim all warranties with regard to this information, including all implied warranties of merchantability and fitness. In no event shall Mark Stevens or the 7th Fighter Command Association be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of this information.

Alex Parker’s 1/32nd Tamiya North American P-51D Mustang

Alex Parker built Tamiya’s Pacific Theater 1/32 North American P-51D/K Mustang kit into the 15th Fighter Group, 47th Fighter Squadron’s “Lil Butch”.

Alex Parker

Alex’s focus for this build was on a plane involved in the first VLR escort mission to Japan on April 7, 1945. Using the narrative of that mission from Carl Molesworth’s book Very Long Range P-51Mustang Units of the Pacific War, Alex decided on the Mustang flown by Captain Robert R. Down, who along with 1st Lt. Dick Hintermeier, shot down a Kawasaki Ki-45 Toryu (Nick). This is considered the first aerial victory over the Japanese Home Islands by a 7th Fighter Command Mustang. Captain Down would later shoot down a Nakajima Ki-44 Shoki (Tojo) on the same mission.

Captain Robert R. Down of 47th FS/15th FG with ground crew (Mark Stevens/7th Fighter Command Association)

Alex used Barracuda Studios resin tires to replace those unique rubber wheels that come with the Tamiya kit, RB Productions seat belts, and the brass replacement barrels for the Zoukei Mura P-51D Mustang kit (produced by Aber) to enhance the build.

Alex Parker

In addition to adding the wiring harness’ and spark plug wires, Alex incorporated other wires and hoses to detail Tamiya’s excellent rendition of the Mustang’s Packard built Rolls Royce Merlin engine.

Alex Parker

Alex added a seat back cushion seen in wartime Mustangs, and seat belts from RB Productions. Extremely nice additions to an already nice cockpit.

Alex Parker

The picture below shows just how busy the detailed engine compartment and cockpit look after the fuselage halves have been joined.

Alex Parker

Wire was added to the wheel wells to simulate hydraulic and electrical lines.

Alex Parker

In addition to the brass barrels, wire was added to the guns bays, and Alex did a great job of painting the 50 caliber ammunition.

Alex Parker

Alex used Alclad II lacquers for the natural metal finish. All of the squadron markings, national insignias, fuselage numbers, and the serial numbers were painted on. Since there are no commercially available decals for 150 “Lil Butch” in 1/32nd scale, Alex made masks for the national insignias, fuselage numbers, serial numbers, and the plane name “Lil Butch” using a Silhouette Cameo mask cutter. Mr. Color and MRP lacquer paints were used for the markings.

Having the ability to create your own paint masks opens the door to almost unlimited possibilities as far as markings. The good folks over at Large Scale Planes have created a new website/forum for those interested in creating their own paint masks called Scale Model Paint Masks. Check it out here: https://www.scalemodelpaintmasks.com/

Alex Parker

Alex used pastels extensively in the cockpit, engine compartment, wheel wells, and on the exterior to weather the model. I like how the pastels along with clear coats do nice job in knocking down the semi-gloss appearance of markings and shine of the Alclad II natural metal finishes.

Alex Parker

Overall, an extremely nice build.

Alex Parker

Alex’s build thread on Large Scale Planes can be found here: https://forum.largescaleplanes.com/index.php?/topic/87527-p-51d-47th-fs-15th-fg-iwo-jima-1945-tam-132-done/. Alex plans on building Zoukei Mura’s 1/32 Kawasaki Ki-45 Toryu (Nick) in the markings of one of the Japanese Army Air Force units that participated in the defense of the Home Islands on April 7, 1945. Looking forward to that build.

In Memory of Jack H. Folsom; 457th Fighter Squadron, 506th Fighter Group; December 7, 1922 – January 16, 2021

The 506th Fighter Group lost another fighter pilot when Jack H. Folsom went west on January 16, 2021. Jack Folsom was born on December 7, 1922 in Des Moines, Iowa. He showed an affinity for airplanes and flying at an early age winning several awards at the Iowa State Fair for model building and distance flying as a teenager.

He graduated from Des Moines Lincoln High School in January of 1941, and enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Jack was awarded his wings and a 2nd Lieutenant’s commission at Luke Field in Phoenix, Arizona as part of Class 43-D.

2nd Lieutenant Jack H. Folsom

Like many 506th FG fighter pilots, Jack was a pilot instructor at Page Field in Fort Meyers, Florida, when he was assigned to the 457th FS shortly after the 506th FG was organized in October of 1944 at Lakeland Army Air Field. At Lakeland, the 506th FG pilots were trained specifically to fly very long range missions, and Jack flew over 10 VLR missions to Japan and back from Iwo Jima. During his tour on Iwo Jima, Jack was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Unfortunately, we do not have any pictures of Jack while he was on Iwo Jima flying VLR missions. During his return to the United States after the cessation of hostilities, the contents of Jack’s foot locker were stolen depriving us all of a glimpse of that part of his life.

Jack H. Folsom

Upon his discharge after the end of World War II, Jack enrolled in Iowa State’s Aeronautical Engineering program and graduated in three and one half years. Jack worked for Boeing for 36 years, and retired in 1985 as the Chief Engineer at Boeing’s Renton plant.

Jack Folsom with 457th TFS Captain Eric “Gator” Maurer at the 2005 506th FG Reunion in Dayton, Ohio (Dr. John Benbow)

After his retirement, Jack, and his wife Dorothy, built homes in Port Townsend, Green Valley, Arizona, and in Buhl, Idaho, where their home overlooked the Snake River and Kanaka Rapids. Jack was a very accomplished wood worker in his retirement; a craft which he shared with others.

Jack Folsom with Ed Milner at the 2006 506th FG Reunion in Fort Worth, Texas (Ed Milner via Dr. John Benbow)

Jack’s obituary stated that “[h]is life of integrity, honesty, a strong handshake, his commitment to Jesus Christ, and love for his family were his hallmarks.” On January 16, 2021, we lost another member of the Greatest Generation.

Happy 100th Birthday Burton W. Jones!

It is not often that a family gets to celebrate the 100th birthday of a loved one. Very few ever make it to that age, and that fact makes it all the more reason to celebrate that accomplishment. On February 1st, the Jones’ family and the 506th Fighter Group family get to celebrate the 100th birthday of Staff Sergeant Burton W. Jones (USAAF ret), who was a ground crew member in the 457th Fighter Squadron.

Burt was born on February 1, 1921, Whitesboro, New York, to Arthur and Mary (Briggs) Jones. He graduated from Whiteboro High School on June 26, 1939, was ordered to report on August 24, 1942, for his pre-induction physical, and then on September 8, 1942, to begin his basic training.

Private Burton W. Jones (via Priscilla Heburn & Evan Jones)

Because of a mechanical aptitude, and work experience in a garage and the Savage Arms Company, Burt was transferred to the United States Army Air Corps and began training as a armorer, and would later also be trained as an aircraft mechanic.

His first squadron assignment was the 24th Anti-Submarine Squadron working on North American B-25 Mitchells at Westover Army Air Field. From there, Burt was transferred to the 843rd Bombardment Squadron (H) working on the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress. With the 843rd, he spent time at the Kearney Army Air Base in Kearney, Nebraska, then at MacDill Army Air Field near Tampa, Florida.

843rd BG(H) Ground Crew (Burton W. Jones via Priscilla Heburn/Evan Jones)

In May, 1944, then Sergeant Jones was informed that he had been transferred to the 457th Fighter Squadron of the 506th Fighter Group which had recently been formed and was in the process of organizing at Lakeland Army Airfield. At Lakeland, he was trained on how to service and repair the North American P-51D Mustang, and its in-line, liquid cooled Packard built Rolls-Royce Merlin engine.

Sergeant Jones, and the rest of the ground echelon of the 457th Fighter Squadron took a troop train from Lakeland to Seattle, Washington. They arrived on Iwo Jima onboard the H.M.S Bloemfontein, a converted Swedish hospital ship. The long overseas journey started in Seattle with stops at Hawaii, Eniwetok Atoll, Tinian, and finally Iwo Jima.

Sergeant Burton W. Jones on Iwo Jima (via Priscilla Heburn & Evan Jones)

Burt began writing his memoirs at the age of 73. The following is what he wrote about his first night on Iwo Jima:

“Whether it was by providence or whatever, it was just our luck to hear some night fighters, Black Widow P-61 night fighting aircraft warming up on their strip. They were at the foot of Mount Suribachi on Motoyama air strip number one [South Field]. We soon got the word that the Japanese were coming in from Japan to bomb the island. You could hear the P-61s taking off. It wasn’t more than twenty minutes later when it looked like the 4th of July. Incendiary and tracer bullets were whizzing across the sky in every direction! I was going through our first of many bombing raids on Iwo Jima.”

After the war in the Pacific ended, Burt accumulated enough points to leave Iwo Jima by mid-October, 1945. He transitioned to Saipan, and during his short stint on the island, was assigned to the 882nd Bombardment Squadron (H) working on Boeing B-29s. Burt arrived back in the United States on December 3, 1945, returned home on December 13, 1945, and was honorably discharged from the United States Army Air Force on the same day.

Burton W. Jones at World War II Memorial (via Priscilla Heburn & Evan Jones)

Happy 100th Birthday Burton!

Special thanks to Burton’s daughter, Priscilla (Jones) Heburn, and his nephew, Evan Jones, for providing information and photos for this post.

In Memory of William G. Ebersole; September 30, 1924 – December 27, 2020

William Glenn Ebersole was born on September 30, 1924, in Arcadia, Florida. Upon graduation from high school, he entered the University of Florida in Gainesville, as a freshman in September, 1942. Wanting to control his entry into active service in the armed forces, he enlisted in the Air Corps Reserve on October 31, 1942, shortly after turning 18. The thought that he might have two years of college before being called up was short lived as he was ordered to report for active duty on February 24, 1943, in Miami Beach, Florida. On his way to earning his wings, Bill flew in Stearman PT-17s, BT-13s, and AT-6s. He received his wings and a 2nd Lieutenant’s commission on April 15, 1944, at Craig Field in Selma, Alabama, as part of class 44-D. During his training as a fighter pilot, Bill flew the Curtiss P-40N Warhawk, and the A, B, C and D models of the North American P-51 Mustang.

Loomis Dean/USAAF/National Archives via Fold3

Bill was assigned to the 462nd Fighter Squadron of the 506th Fighter Group in early January of 1945. When deployed to Iwo Jima, half of the squadron’s fighter pilots ferried their brand new P-51D Mustangs to San Francisco, where they were loaded on the escort carrier Kalinin Bay and set out for Tinian. The other half of the pilots, which included 2nd Lieutenant Ebersole, took a troop train to Seattle, and then boarded the converted Swedish hospital ship, the Bloemfontein. They sailed from Seattle to Hawaii, Eniwetok Atoll, Tinian, and then finally to Iwo Jima.

William G. Ebersole via Brian Walter

Bill was the youngest pilot in the 462nd Squadron at the ripe old age of 20 years while on Iwo Jima, and flew a total of 10 VLR missions, the first being on June 7, 1945 to Osaka, and the last being on August 5, 1945, to Tachikawa. He was assigned to fly 619 “Hon. Mistake”, a North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang (Serial # 44-72587) with 2nd Lt. James Bercaw. While on Iwo Jima, he was promoted to 1st Lieutenant, and was credited with destroying a twin engine bomber on the ground during a strafing mission. Bill took his last flight in a P-51D Mustang on December 4, 1945, when he led a flight of 4 planes from Guam to Isley Field on Saipan. From there, he took a ship for the long trip back to the United States.

Bill Ebersole re-enrolled at the University of Florida, and received a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. At the pinnacle of his career, he was the publisher of The Gainesville Sun.

Bill was scheduled to take a return trip to Iwo Jima with his wife Anna in March of 2020 as part of veterans’ flight, but never took that trip due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Brad McClenny/Gainesville Sun

Bill was a frequent attendee at 506th Fighter Group reunions. I first met Bill at the Iwo Jima VLR Symposium at the Planes of Fame Air Museum in 2012. Bill graciously spent several hours answering all of my questions, and I was fortunate to get to know Bill during several 506th Fighter Group reunions. His daughter, Glenda Ebersole Potts, said “I never met a man as good as my father . . . they don’t make’em like that anymore.” Anybody who knew Bill would heartily concur.

Bill Ebersole with the author during the Iwo Jima VLR Symposium at the Planes of Fame Air Museum, Chino California (July 7, 2012)

Bill passed away on December 27, 2020 at the age of 96 after a bad fall and subsequent hospitalization. The newspaper article in The Gainesville Sun regarding Bill’s passing can be found here: https://www.gainesville.com/story/obituaries/2020/12/29/arcadia-man-wwii-pilot-and-sun-publisher-bill-ebersole-dies-96/4062253001/