High School Wall of Honor
Willard Glenn Dunn
Class of January, 1938
Died; KIA; Killed in Action
|Research done by Rick Nehrling, class of 1963 and Claradell Shedd, class of 1953.
Air Corps Fighter Squadron; 1st Fighter Group
The 71st Fighter Training Squadron was founded in December 1940 as the 71st Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor). Initial activation to the 1st Pursuit Group at Selfridge Field, Michigan on 1 January 1941 was definite evidence of America's impending direct involvement in World War II. Initial activation training was accomplished in the P-35. This was changed to the YP-43 Lancer when the squadron was redesignated as the 71st Pursuit Squadron (Fighter) on 12 March 1941. The squadron gained proficiency in the aircraft and the anti-submarine mission while training on the Great Lakes. On 9 December 1941, just two days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the squadron reported to NAS San Diego in defense of the important Southern California coast. Two months later, the 71st moved north to Los Angeles to transition to the P-38 Lightning and was renamed the 71st Fighter Squadron. June 1942 saw the 71st become the first single-seat, twin engine fighter unit to deploy to England during World War II.
The 71st became the first P-38 unit in combat. Capt John D. Eiland was credited with the squadron's first-ever combat kill after downing a German Focke-Wulf Fw-190 on 4 December 1942. The pilots were continuously at the forefront of the air battles. Seventeen Campaign Participation Credits were awarded to the 71st and they earned three Distinguished Unit Citations. The squadron claimed 102 kills and produced 5 aces, including one pilot who became an ace in one mission. The 71st Squadron flew under the "Cragmore" callsign during World War II, and its original patch included a skull with lightning bolts in the shape of 71. In June 1943, General Carl Spaatz and General James H. Doolittle traveled to their UK base to present decorations earned in combat. This award ceremony was soon followed by Distinguished Unit Citations presented on 25 August 1943 and 30 August 1943 for escort missions against Italian targets. The squadron was presented another Distinguished Unit Citation by General Nathan Twining in May 1944 for an escort of B-17s against oil installations at Ploiesti, Romania. On 10 June 1944, during an otherwise disastrous low-level bombing mission against the oil refineries by two groups of P-38s, 2nd Lt Herbert "Stub" Hatch, Jr. achieved 5 kills in one mission, all within one minute, causing the gun barrels of his P-38 to melt. Upon completion of its tour in Europe, the squadron was inactivated in Italy on 16 October 1945.
1st Fighter Group
On the date the United States entered World War II the 94th Pursuit Squadron was in El Paso, Texas, its 20 P-38s en route from Selfridge Field to March Field, California. The 27th and 71st squadrons were immediately sent with an additional 12 P-38s and 24 P-43 fighters to March Field to provide the West Coast air defense against Japanese attack.
During its brief duty at March Field the Group provided cadre for newly mobilized fighter groups, losing over half of its assigned officers and enlisted men, but still made preparations for deployment to Europe on 25 April 1942. Before its departure, however, retired captain Eddie Rickenbacker made the first of several visits to the group both at home and abroad during World War II, listened to the Groups concerns and reported them to General "Hap" Arnold. Rickenbacker also worked with Arnold to reinstate the hat-in-the ring emblem, absent since Rickenbacker himself claimed the right to it when he retired, back to the 94th Fighter Squadron.
In 1942, U.S. war policy placed first priority with the war in Europe. VIII Fighter Command Special Orders 46, dated 25 June 1942, deployed 86 aircraft and pilots of the newly designated 1st Fighter Group to England as part of Operation Bolero, with the first aircraft departing on 27 June. Flights of P-38s were led by individual B-17s from the 97th Bomb Group navigating the route between Presque Isle, Maine, Labrador, Greenland and Iceland. En route the 27th Fighter Squadron was detached at "Indigo" airfield, Reykjavík, Iceland, for air defense duty in July and August. On 15 July 1942, six fighters from the 94th FS, "Tomcat Yellow" and "Tomcat Green", and their two B-17 escorts were forced by bad weather and low fuel to land on a glacier in Greenland. The crews were all recovered safely but the aircraft were abandoned.
Group headquarters and the 71st Fighter Squadron were based at RAF Goxhill, near Kingston upon Hull, and the 94th FS at Kirton in Lindsey. The 27th flew to England on 27 August after the group had moved south to Ibsley, and was based at High Ercall. During the late summer of 1942, the 1st FG flew training, escort and fighter sweeps over German-occupied France. The group experienced its first combat loss on 2 October 1942, when a P-38F escorting B-17 Flying Fortress bombers on a mission to Méaulte, France, was shot down by a German fighter of JG 26 near Calais, and 2nd Lt. William H. Young was killed in action.
The fighter and bomber groups initially deployed to England (97th and 301st Bomb Groups, and 1st, 14th, 31st, and 52nd Fighter Groups) were reassigned to support Operation Torch and redeployed to North Africa. While in transit, two 94th FS Lightnings were forced by mechanical difficulties to land in neutral Portugal, where the aircraft were confiscated and the pilots interned. However 1st Lt. Jack Ilfrey escaped, returned to the group, and became one of its leading aces. 1st Lt. Robert N. Chenoweth was killed when his P-38, on a ferry flight from the UK to North Africa, crashed into a mountain at Ortigueira, Corunna, Spain, on 15 November 1942. By 13 November 1942, the group completed the move to Algeria, where they provided close air support and fighter protection against the Afrika Korps.
On 29 November 1942, the 94th Fighter Squadron flew the group's first combat sorties in the Mediterranean theater, strafing a German airfield and recording several aerial victories. However, as the year came to a close, the group's morale sagged. Though the move from England to the desert environment added sometimes 200300 hours to the life of the liquid-cooled Allisons, few replacement parts and virtually no replacement aircraft were available. Col. Clifford R. Silliman, in charge of Lightning maintenance and repairs for the 1st, 12th and 14th fighter groups, recalled that no hangars, machine shops or service bays were available, forcing ground crews to make repairs in the open air. Crewmen were exposed not only to attack but to virtually incessant blowing sand and dust that continually fouled filters, breathers and lubricants. The searing sun was so intense that mechanics were unable to as much as touch the aluminum surfaces of the fuselage, wings and cowlings with exposed skin, Silliman said. The grating sand found its way not only into engine components and weapons but crewmens' bedding, footwear, clothing, hair, eyes and even their teeth. Pilots recorded some kills, but the loss ratio in air-to-air combat was even at best. For nearly a year, the group moved throughout Algeria and Tunisia, flying bomber escort and providing air coverage for the ground campaign. On 23 February 1943, the group began two days of low-level strafing missions in support of hard-pressed Allied troops at Kasserine Pass, losing several aircraft.
In April 1943 the Germans made several concerted attempts to reinforce the Afrika Korps using Ju 52 transports flown at wavetop level over the Mediterranean Sea, resulting in a series of interceptions by Allied aircraft and large numbers of transports destroyed. On 5 April, pilots of the 27th FS shot down 11, plus four Ju 87 Stukas and two Me 109 escorts, losing two Lightnings. On 10 April, the 71st FS intercepted another large force escorted by 15 Macchi 200 and Fw 190 fighters, shooting down 20 transports and 8 of the escorts without loss to itself. The North African campaign ended with the capture of Tunis on 7 May 1943.
|Died: 01/22/43; KIA; Killed in Action. Tunis, Tunisia
|Music: "Wind Beneath My Wings"
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