This is what the 500th Bomb Squadron was doing in Sept., some 75 years ago:



5-6 September, 1943: The 500th, along with other 345th Group squadrons and 5th Air Force units, began to soften up the enemy for a planned assault to take Nadzab, New Guinea.

17 September, 1943: On a routine leaflet dropping mission, 1/Lt. Charles W. Howard, piloting SATURDAY NITE,  suddenly came under attack by four Japanese fighters As a "Zeke" dove directly on the aircraft out of the sun, turret gunner, Sgt Charles W. Brown made enough good hits to put it down. The attacker's wingman then made a pass shattering the turret plexiglass, knocking Brown unconscious, Sgt Brown received credit for the 345th Group's first aerial kill in combat and was awarded the Air Medal and the Purple Heart for that mission.

27 September, 1943: The 500th joined the other 345th Group squadrons, along with strafers of the 3rd and 38th Bomb Groups, in an assault on the Wewak, New Guinea area. Capt. Michael F. Hochella, flyingBOOM BOOM led a formation of aircraft bombing and strafing Boram Airfield in line abreast formation. A Betty and two fighters were destroyed, but flak and intense machine gun fire from the ground inflicted considerable damage to our aircraft. On one of the  other B-25s in the formation, MARY JO, T/Sgt Francis J. Catenacci was critically wounded when a shell exploded in the radio compartment nearly severing his legs. "Cat" died before his plane returned to base.

29 September,1943: During a routine training fight; 1/Lt. Cecil 0. Jones, flying AXISFATE, completed a bombing/strafing run on the "Moresby Wreck" then crashed into the bay, killing Jones and six others, including two passengers along for the ride. This was the 500th's third major aircraft accident with casualties since arriving in New Guinea in June 1943. They were starting to be called the "bad luck squadron."

2 September, 1944: On a mission led by Capt. Max Mortensen, the 500th, headed toward Lambeh (Celebes), where they found the minelayer, ITSUKUSHIMA, sitting at anchor and laying down a heavy flak barrage. The 500th made a hurried pass over Lambeh Town through ground fire and intense ack-ack, which severely damaged the aircraft of Mortensen's two wingmen. When the formation reformed, Mortensen noticed that two B25s of the second flight had disappeared.

Meanwhile, one of the 500th's missing planes, MEXICAN SPITFIRE, piloted by 2/Lt. Lloyd B. Bardwell Jr., had also been hit by flak from the minelayer. It gradually lost altitude and made a water landing about seven miles southeast of Lambeh Island. The pilot of HELL'S FIRE, 2/Lt Allan W. Lay, had seen that his comrade was in trouble and flew top cover while he ditched. Three Japanese "Zekes" then approached and attacked MEXICAN SPITFIRE, as well as the crewmen beginning to emerge from the floating B-25. Two Japanese fighters then harried HELL'S FIRE to its end, causing it to crash at the base of Mount Tongkoko, Northeast Celebes.

The planes of Capt. Mortensen's two wingmen had been so badly damaged that they crash landed at Middleburg. THE WOLF (PACK) was subsequently scrapped, but the AVOCA AVENGER was later returned to service. No trace was ever found of Lt. Bardwell's crew.

3 September, 1944: In an attack launched against the Philippines, all but one aircraft turned back due to weather or mechanical problems. Only 1/Lt. Robert H. Whitsell of the 500th pressed on, earning him the honor of conducting the first B-25 attack against the Philippines. He reached Davao Harbor at the southern end of Mindanao, then raced in fast and low to attack a small freighter of about 500 tons with three 500-pound bombs. Unfortunately, the best he could claim were near misses.

6 September, 1944: The 500th (and 499th) staged through Middleburg island to Mack Buayan Airdrome on Mindanao. Capt. Max Mortensen led the 500th, which was supposed to attack a large motor pool of trucks and vehicles west of Buayan Airdrome. Because of bad targeting information, the 500th was unable to find the motor pool, but did flatten several buildings, a truck and what looked like a barracks.

14 September, 1944:  A 500th, mission set out for the southwest coast of Morotai to prep the area for invasion the following morning, but the planes couldn't get through the bad weather. This aborted mission was number 100 for the 500th's T/Sgt Neal H. Ryan, the first man in the Group to reach that number. Ryan, known affectionately as 'little iron man," went on to reach the rank of first lieutenant and flew a total of 113 missions, the most of any crew member of the 345th Group "AIR APACHES,"

16 September, 1944: The 345th Group, led by the 498th  squadron, dealt a devastating blow to the Japanese supply warehouses at Gorontalo (Northeast Celebes). The 500th , led by 1/Lt. Frederick W. Dick flying TONDELAYO, followed the 498th over the target area, starting large fires among the tightly packed warehouse buildings. There was no enemy opposition and all planes returned safely to base.

19 September, 1944:   The leading crew of the 500th finally dropped the "kitchen sink", of "everything but the kitchen sink" fame, on the Japanese. The "sink project" was the idea of T/Sgt Guetgeman of the 500th's Intelligence Section. Cpl. Clarence F. Duval constructed it out of sheet metal and Sgt. George Brasko pointed it. On this date, after sitting around for some time awaiting a suitable target, the now Squadron Commander, Capt. Max Mortensen, and his crew finally dropped the sink on Sidate Airdrome in the Northeast Celebes.

23 September, 1944: The 500th, together with other 345th squadrons flew one more mission in September once again to Sidate, before bad weather shut down combat flying for the rest of the month.  For the rest of the month, the 500th concentrated on training the new aircrews, as well as checking out in the now B-25Js, which were billed as "the heaviest armored planes in the world."

September 1945:   This was a very good month for the 500th (and the rest of  the 345th Group), since they were packing up to return Stateside at last. We had come a long way since Columbia, SC in November 1942.


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