Closing 1944 with General Kenney

Gen. George C. Kenney

Being as the 5th Air Force, especially the 54th Troop Carrier Group, were operating so close to the 11th Airborne for so much of the war, I chose to finish up 1944 with the first-hand account from their commander….

 

General Kenney, Commander of the Fifth Air Force reported:

Sky Lancers

“Just before dark on 26 December, a Navy Reconnaissance plane sighted a Jap naval force of 1 heavy cruiser, 1 light cruiser and 6 destroyers about 85 miles NW of Mindoro {Philippines], headed toward San Jose.  We had available on out 2 strips there, 12 B-25s from the 71s Recon Squadron, the 58th Fighter Group (P-47s), the 8th Fighter Group (P-38s and the 110 Tactical Recon Squadron (P-40s).

“Every airplane that could fly took off on the attack, which continued until after midnight.  The Japs kept on coming and the planes kept shuttling back and forth, emptying their bomb racks and ammunition belts and returning for more.  In addition to the difficulty of locating and attacking the Nip vessels in the dark, the enemy made the job still harder by bombing our airdromes at intervals through the night.

“In order to see what they were bombing and strafing, some of our pilots actually turned their landing lights on the Jap naval vessels.  With neither time nor information for briefings during the operation, it was every man for himself and probably the wildest scramble the Nip or ourselves had ever been in.

“At 11:00 P.M. the enemy fleet started shelling our fields and kept it up for an hour.  Fires broke out in our gasoline dumps, airplanes were hit, the runways pitted, but the kids still kept up their attack.  The P-47s couldn’t get at their bomb dump because of the fire, so they simply loaded up with ammunition and strafed the decks of every ship in the Jap force.  They said it was “like flying over a blast furnace, with all those guns firing at us.”

“Shortly after midnight. the Jap fleet turned around and headed north. They had been hurt.  A destroyer had been sunk and a cruiser and 2 destroyers heavily damaged.

“The attack had saved our shipping at San Jose from destruction, but it had cost us something too.  Twenty-five fighter pilots and B-25 crew members missing.  We had lost 2 B-25s and 29 fighter aircraft.  During the next few days we picked up 16 of the kids who were still floating around the China Sea in their life rafts.  I got Gen. MacArthur to approve a citation for each of the units that took part in the show.

417th, Lindbergh with Col. Howard Ellmore

On the 30th, Lt.Col. Howard S. Ellmore, a likable, happy-go-lucky, little blond boy from Shreveport, LA, leading the 417th Attack Group, the “Sky Lancers” caught a Jap convoy in Lingayen Gulf, off Vigan on the west coast of Luzon.  In a whirlwind low-level attack, a destroyer, a destroyer escort, 2 large freighters and one smaller were sunk.

“It was a fitting climax to 1944, which had been an advance from Finschaven to Mindoro, a distance of 2400 miles, equal to that from Washington to San Francisco.  During that time, my kids had sunk a half million tons of Jap shipping and destroyed 3000 Jap aircraft.  Our losses of aircraft in combat during the year were 818.”

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Military Humor – 

“OKAY – You got the C-17 ON the carrier -NOW, how are you going to get it OFF?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Marvin D. Actkinson – Sudan, TX;US Army, Korea, Cpl., Co B/1/32/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin Reservoir, NK)

Hugh R. Alexander – Potters Mills, PA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Lt. Comdr., USS Oklahoma, Silver Star, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

Kenneth Barhite – Alden, IA; US Army, WWII, PTO, 2nd Lt.,158th RCT/Americal Division

Mary M. Bevan – Greenwich, CT; USMC, WWII

Louis Block – Chicago, IL; US Navy, WWII

Hubert P. Clement – Inman, SC; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Fire Controlman 1st Class # 2619359, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

Clayton L. Cope – Alton, IL; US Navy, USS Eisenhower

Donald Peterson – Auburn, CA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Lt., USS Rotanin

Tceollyar Simmons – Hacoda, AL; US Navy, WWII, Seaman 2nd Class # 3115534, USS California, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

Thomas Smith (100) – Early Branch, SC; US Navy, WWII, Radioman 1st Class

Harvey Swack – OH; US Navy, WWII, PTO, aircraft mechanic

Larry Virden – Edwardsville, IL; US Army, Iraq

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SANTA’S ON HIS WAY!!

About GP

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GP is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on December 20, 2021, in First-hand Accounts, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 80 Comments.

  1. That sounds so intense, GP. Lord, those pilots were brave. It was heartening to hear that most of them survived. I was just visiting Pearl Harbor a few months ago and this reminded me of some of the things I learned and saw there. Thanks so much for sharing.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. As I am in the UK, we don’t get much information about the battles that the Brits didn’t serve in, so it is interesting to see and hear what went on. Thanks for the Washington to San Francisco information because otherwise the sea/land mass becomes difficult to comprehend. Happy New Year GP!

    Liked by 2 people

    • You are more than welcome, Kaiti. Never be shy about asking questions here! Smitty used to tell me, “The only stupid question is the one not asked.”

      Like

  3. I have to remember many of the soldiers really were just kids, practically. My father was on the older side, born well before WWI started.

    Liked by 5 people

  4. What a brave group of guys. I enjoyed the first hand report of General Kenney

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Ho, Ho, Ho! 🎄 Merry Christmas, GP.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. Merry Christmas to you and yours, GP!
    May it be filled with love, laughter, peace, joy, good health and good memories made!
    (((HUGS)))
    🌟🔔🎉 🦌 🎅🎁🎄

    Liked by 4 people

  8. Wishing you a wonderful festive season and new year GP! )))❤️(((🔔🍮🍮

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I like the use of ‘kids’ and ‘boys’ because that’s exactly what they were: young men barely beginning their lives who far exceeded any expectations others might have had of them. Besides, ‘kid’ referred to far more than a child in those days. Remember the expression from the 1920s: “Oh, you kid!” And I well remember my dad calling my mother ‘kid’ from time to time. It wasn’t meant to denigrate her; it was a term of affection, and I’m sure the General had a good bit of affection for his troops.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Lulu: “Whoa, Santa has upgraded his sleigh something fierce! Merry Christmas!”

    Liked by 4 people

  11. Thanks for sharing General Kinney’s account of these actions. I’m glad that this Christmas we don’t have to deal with what the troops had to put up with in 1944. Happy Holidays GP!

    Liked by 4 people

  12. A fitting glorious episode to end the war.
    Happy holidays to you and yours, GP!

    Liked by 3 people

  13. Oh my heart… such a tough group

    Liked by 3 people

  14. Thank you, GP. It’s powerful reading the first-hand accounts. May their courage and determination never be forgotten. 💙

    Liked by 3 people

  15. After the time of silence, they had again to do their service. The enemies thought they could bypass them without any problems. 😉 Great to have General Kenny’s documentary. Thanks for sharing, GP! I wish you and yours, wonderful festive days. xx Michael

    Liked by 4 people

    • Out of curiosity, Michael, when you were in school – did they teach anything about the Pacific war?
      I appreciate your interest and hope the Season treats you well!!

      Like

  16. An amazing report, GP. Thank you.

    Liked by 4 people

  17. Another fine post, GP.
    Happy Holidays to you and yours.

    Liked by 4 people

  18. Merry Christmas to you and yours GP.
    Leslie

    Liked by 5 people

  19. It will be no consolation at all to the families of the Nine, but to achieve so much destruction of Japanese materiel at such a low cost was a marvellous achievement. Presumably the aircraft of ASR played their part in reducing American casualties.

    Liked by 5 people

  20. Great history this year, GP! Those were hard won battles for sure.

    Is it just me or does Sargent Carter played by actor Frank Sutton resemble Gen. Kenney a bit?

    Liked by 3 people

  21. 818 KIA….those poor families. Yet in military terms, a good result.
    It comes over that he cared for and was proud of his ‘boys’, too.

    Liked by 3 people

  22. Again, I am in awe at the magnitude of operations in WWII and the bravery of the men who served. Merry Christmas GP.

    Liked by 4 people

  23. A rather successful end to the year. Wishing you all the best for the festivities and for a considerably healthier 2022!

    Liked by 3 people

  24. What an amazing story, GP. Good to see Santa is on his way!

    Liked by 4 people

  25. Anytime you need an eagle shot GP just let me know?
    They didn’t really put a C-17 on a aircraft carrier?

    Liked by 4 people

  26. How our boys fought those Japanese was courageous! That area must be loaded with sunken ships and aircraft. It’s not too far from Batangas where I grew up.

    Liked by 3 people

  27. Love the ‘toons, GP. Was the C-17 photoshopped? I doubt the hummer has a tailhook. One Christmas Eve my husband had the duty so I had dinner on the ship. I had brought a bottle of sparkling cider, which looked like champagne if you didn’t look too closely. You should have seen the faces on the two Ensigns in the Wardroom when I asked them if they wanted a drink. They were very hesitant to say yes until they learned it was nonalcoholic.

    Liked by 3 people

  28. That battle sounds like an awful conflagration.

    Liked by 4 people

  29. I love the first hand accounts, but when you look behind the numbers, the cost of winning really becomes apparent.

    Thanks for a wonderfully informative year, GP!

    Liked by 6 people

  30. It’s interesting that the General referred to his personnel as boys rather than men. Perhaps he admired their youthful determination or maybe this was simply a habit.

    Liked by 7 people

  1. Pingback: Closing 1944 with General Kenney – Nelsapy

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