History of the 475th Fighter Group
On 15 May 1944, the 475th Moved from Nadzab, up to Hollandia, which was still in the process of being cleared of Japanese snipers. Operations from the new base were begun on the following day, when the 432nd escorted B-25’s in a strike against Bosnek Airdrome on Biak Island, and the 433rd escorted B-24’s to Camera Drome, Noemfoor Island. Later in the month the Group patrolled the skies above Biak, where our ground forces had landed on the 27th. In June, the unit centered its attacks on enemy airfields on the Vogelkep Peninsula of New Guinea. The month was highlighted by the units first dive-bombing mission, which was conducted against Kamiri Airdrome, Noemfoor, on the 30th.
When our forces landed on Noemfoor on 2 July, the Group covered the landing operations. Later in the month, it covered the landings made at Cape Sansaport on the Vogelkop Peninsula. By that time, the enemy resistance in New Guinea was feeble. The Japanese Air Force was reduced to making infrequent "nuisance" raids at night.
On 10 July, the 475th moved to Barekoe strip on the island of Biak, where it joined the 49th Fighter Group. After beginning operations from its new field on 14 July, the group escorted bombers and completed fighter sweeps to Japanese airfields on the Vogelkop Peninsula and in the Halamahara Islands.
Missions of that type continued throughout August, September, and October 1944, during which period the Group also flew missions to Mindanao in the Philippine Islands, Celebes, and Balikpapan, Borneo. On its Missions to Mindanao, which was 925 miles from Biak, the group staged through Middleburg Island off Sansapor, New Guinea.
The over-all picture of the war in the Pacific in the fall of 1944 was very bright for the Allies. On 15 September the Allies landed at Morotai, just 30 miles from the Philippines. On the same day, Central Pacific Forces fought their way ashore at Peleliu, and later troops landed at Angaur in the Palau Group, 620 miles southeast of the Philippines. Then on 20 October the long awaited day arrived- our ground forces stormed ashore at Leyte.
Four days after the landings the group's ground echelon, which had left earlier in the month, arrived at Leyte. Meanwhile, the air echelon, virtually out of the war back at Biak, was anxiously awaiting orders to move up to Leyte. However, the 8th and the 49th Fighter groups were the first to be ordered north, and the 475th transferred some of it’s aircraft to these organizations in order to bring them up to full strength. On 1 November, pilots of the 431st ferried P-38’s to the 39th Group at Tacloban, Leyte. When they approached the field, the controller ordered them to stay up and patrol the area. While on patrol, Major Thomas McGuire shot down his 25th enemy aircraft. On 2 November, the Group's air echelon moved to Leyte, and before long it was conducting missions from the strip at Dulag.
During the Next two months the 475th, while flying escort and intercept missions, encountered heavy enemy opposition. Consequently, the units' pilots added victory after victory to the Groups' score. On Christmas Day, the 475th joined a select circle of fighter groups which had destroyed 500 or more enemy planes in aerial combat in World War II. Only one group in the Pacific, the 49th, led the 475th in that department. By the end of December the Group had destroyed 169 enemy planes (99 in December) in the Philippines.
One of the Group's greatest losses occurred on 7 January 1945, when Major Thomas B. McGuire was lost while leading a fighter sweep over Los Negros Island. During that mission Major McGuire went to the response of a fellow pilot who was being attacked by a Japanese fighter. In doing so, Major McGuire attempted a hazardous maneuver at low altitude. As a result, he apparently lost control of his plane and crashed. Major McGuire, who was the second ranking "Ace" in the Army Air Forces with 38 victories, was awarded posthumously the Congressional Medal of Honor.
In February 1945, the 475th moved to Mindoro, and from there began to support ground operations on Luzon. In March, the Group moved to Clark Field, Luzon, and in April to Linguyen, Luzon. During the remaining months of the war the Group supported the ground operations on Luzon, and on several occasions flew escort missions to China, French-Indo China, and Formosa. The unit ceased operations on 21 July and prepared for movement to Ie Shima, in the Ryukyu Islands. The ground echelon arrived on Ie Shima on 13 August, but before the movement of the air echelon could get under way, the war came to an end.
During World War II, the 475th Fighter Group, in combat for approximately two years, completed 3042 missions, (21,701 Sorties) and shot down 551 Japanese aircraft. On the other hand, the Group lost only 56 Planes to the Japanese. During the war, the Group took part in seven campaigns, and was awarded three Distinguished Unit Citations for outstanding performance of duty in action. In addition to Major McGuire, the unit boasted such "Aces" of the Pacific War as Col. Charles MacDonald (27), Capt. Daniel T. Roberts (14), Lt. Francis J. Lent (11), Lt. Col. John S. Loisel (11), and Capt. Elliot Summer (10), plus many more.* (SEE THE ACES PAGE OF THIS SITE)
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