This is a little quote from a letter I sent to my wingman after he went home. He trained me so I would survive in combat. - FP ---------------------------------------------------------------- 20 August, 1945 APO 245, c/o PM, SF 418th Night Fighter Sqrd Ie Shima, The Ryukyus Dear Bill: Yesterday there was quite a to-do. The Japanese planes, with the surrendering Japanese, came in and were escorted for the last 200 miles by our squadron. They were picked up off Kyushu by a squadron from the 49th, and the 35th hovered over the field. The planes were Bettys painted white with green crosses. When I got down to the runway, only the pilots and crew were left near the planes. One [pilot] seemed very warm and kept wiping the perspiration from his face with a handkerchief. Maybe he figured we'd do to him what his pals do to our pilots. He looked almost human. Considering! Those Generals and Admirals are due back tonight to return to Japan during the early morning, they tell us. They are telling "dugout Doug" where all Jap fighting units are located so the surrender will be effective. Our group of 'Widows' will only watch by radar, so they won't know we are out there. Their Bettys are poorly equipped with virtually no navigational aids. After the news a week ago Saturday that Japan was asking for peace, provided the Emperor's prerogatives were not injured, the end came quietly here on the morning of the 15th when President Truman's announcement was received. A mission had been planned for that morning . . . but had been cancelled at 0430 just after the OD had made his rounds. We rolled over. Two days before, our last day of the war, there had been a couple of Catalina missions to the lnland Sea. We led out the flight of six. At 13,000 ft., as we were letting down from 17,000 ft., six "Franks," in loose trail, came in from behind. One element broke to the right and, as the Franks overshot, he reversed his turn and met head-on one of the Franks who had banked around for another pass. They both shot, missed, and turned into each other again. Then "R" shot him down. That "R" is a natural pilot, isn't he? "H", the odd man flying on "R's" left, broke to the left and turned into the #4 Frank, far behind the leader. "H" met him head-on and shot him down. A little later, "S", "R"'s wingman, saw a Frank below him coming out of a loop, so he nosed down and raked the Frank until it rolled over and went in. Those guys will never learn about losing speed in combat airspace, will they? There was then some dog fighting, diving attacks, and evasive maneuvers. Capt. "M" chased a Nip, followed him up into a stall, and shot him down just as he winged over. I was on "H"'s wing and shot up a Frank and his canopy almost seem to explode, but he went into clouds, so no one saw him go in. I had raked him from left wing root to canopy before anything seemed to happen. In the combat, our fifth pilot's right engine was shot out by an enemy chance snap shot and the pilot was lost. The others chased and severely damaged this Frank. We got five out of the six, but we are missing a good man. That brought our destructions over Okinawa to 130... My wingman and I flew through the clouds and over the water for quite a while looking for evidence of my little battle, but no confirmation means, no score. We are now using a squad tent, just for Intelligence, for the office and mapboards range down one of the long sides. The maps and the photographs for a mission we never flew now look fatigued and dated... The P-38s still look as slim and born for the air as ever, and the silhouette of a B-24 when the skyline and the edge of a revetment are one, is yet the symbol of force at rest. Someday I know I shall be lonesome for the sound of many planes and I shall miss the excitement. Remember those three group raids on Japan with hundreds of B-29's? Those still make my heart leap with pride at our forces overcoming theirs. But we are all grateful for the end of alerts and raids, the sweating out of missions has ended, and all has been accomplished. I still jump under the messhall table when some smart guy beats up the runway. You know, I still feel lucky as all get out with only eight months of combat, to have two kills and one probable and up to two more maybe's and still be alive. I once told you that while in Cadets, they told us to pay attention because we were going up against enemy pilots who had fought the war and gotten lots more experience and flight time than we did. Yet, most Jap pilots I met were less well trained than I and apparently had fewer hours in a fighter than I did. I only had 680 hours when I arrived in the Philippines and from what Intelligence told us, we were facing pilots with less than a hundred hours in all aircraft! You guys killed all the experienced enemy pilots and they didn't know that in training, or didn't want us to know. Have a good time and hoist a few for those who now and then are thirsty. Will you still be in Ontario training new pilots? All good luck, "D" ---------------------------------------------------------------- I arrived in the Philippines in January, 1945 and flew 395 hours of combat in the Philippines, over Siam, Borneo, Okinawa and Japan. I remained in Okinawa - flying P-61 night fighters, until the fall of 1949 and then returned to the U.S. and out of the service. My original letter was returned to me by my wingman's widow with the idea of keeping some information of historical value. So, this was it.