Hondo, Texas

 Navigation Trainer   Hondo, Texas



In September '44, I was sent on temporary duty from the 38th BG to the 3rd to perform the lead navigator and bombardier function. We had a number of medium altitude missions to Babo and Utarom in far west New Guinea. I continued to ride piggy back in a few adapted A-20s on low level missions all over the Phillipines and Formosa. I was never transferred back to the 38th, fortunately, and was made permanent party to the 3rd sometime in early '45. I considered my assignment to the 3rd to be the best ever. We had a fine group of pilots and suffered very few losses in my period from Sept. '44 to July 45. I finished my 52 missions with 2 thrillers in our new A-26s to Formosa. A special pleasure was having a seat, next to the pilot, on the A-26   [Which seemed a marvelous ship in a lot of ways]. The one engine performance and the great firepower [16 50 cal. guns] were reasuring to me as I sweated out my last  2 missions. At low level my navigation skills were confined to pilotage and the Norden skills were no longer called for. So that is my story in brief.
I am looking forward to future additions to the website as they evolve under your hand.
Loved that photo of the B-25 Fat Cat. Brought back memories of my training days and holing Jap runways in
Western New Guinea. I was the lead bombardier on a number of these missions-9000 ft--2 minute bomb run-no flak. On one, three of my pilot squadron mates were sent out after the mission to photograph runway bomb damage. Clouds at 9000, so they dropped down to 4000 ft. for a better photo. Suddenly flak took off 5 feet of one wing man's right wing and the flight leader's fuselage bottom was tattooed with flak holes. So this quiet little Jap air base still had some firepower in its flak guns at the lower altitude. Our boys were lucky to get home alive from this photo "milk run". "You never  knew" These strips, Utarom and Babo, figured prominently in some of the Jap air attacks on our bases as we were getting established on New Guinea earlier in the war. What was a bit of a challenge to me was I hadn't touched a Norden Bombsight for 6 months. But I got the bombs on the target .A bit of a sweat job with the pros in my cockpit and 15 or so A-20s behind us waiting to drop on my bombs leaving the bombbay. It was no time   to show rust in my Norden technique.
Just another set of incidents in our march to

Robert J. Bucholz
Lt. 90th Squadron WWII 

Watching What ? 

Click Here to find out.


I thoroughly enjoyed Jack Heyns’ remembrance of wartime Christmases past.     

In 1944, about a half dozen enlisted and myself were the last remnant of the 3rd  Attack Group to leave Leyte for the move to Mindoro. Space in the boat for the 3rd had been totally exhausted. There was no room for us, a pile of small gear and a tent or two. Somehow we got access to a Jeep and since one of the men was a professional scrounger, we were kept going with C & K rations which he obtained. We literally belonged to no one and spent four days of boredom and concern.

  We had heard that the small convey our 3rd Group members were on enroute to Mindoro had been attacked by Japanese  aircraft. Supposedly an ammunition ship was blown up taking out a neighboring vessel, but we had no idea if our 3rd Group contingent had been lost or not. We finally got word that we were going to board a ship for a destination unknown.

First we had to load on small personnel craft. We quickly discovered that the small crew had lifted some of our important personal items. I made a quick trip up to Tacloban to see the Harbor Master. He sent military police down to our craft and the lost items were summarily returned to us. Sometime later that day or evening, we loaded onto a large ship, probably an LST.

The next morning we were astounded to find ourselves in the middle of a fleet of nearly 1000 ships, accompanied by 3000 landing craft with over 200,000 men aboard these vessels. Baby aircraft carriers ringed the fleet and 40 U.S. vessels were sunk or damaged by Kamikaze suicide attacks. Enemy submarines also stalked the fleet. In a day or so, our ship had worked its way to the edge of the fleet and after a 300 mile or so trip, we were dropped on the beach at San Jose, Mindoro. The fleet we were in was the mammoth Lingayen, Luzon invasion force, which was larger than most of Eisenhower’s invasion fleets in the European theater.

So that is the saga of a remaining remnant of the 3rd Attack Group that finally made its way to Mindoro. Shortly after our arrival, our planes flew up from Hollandia making our Group whole again. We quickly had missions assigned as this was the start of the 3rd’s Philippine operations that saw us ranging all over Luzon, Panay, Cebu, Negros and Legaspi. Although the Japanese were in retreat, the Group had its share of losses as well as the other Groups in operation.

On a personal note, I finished my 52 missions in July and was on a ship in the middle of the Pacific when the A-Bombs were dropped and the Pacific war finally drew to a close. The San Francisco Bridge was a beautiful sight as we arrived at the U.S.A.  The joy was, of course, dimmed by the thoughts of friends who were lost forever.


Bob Bucholz

The Navigator

90th Squadron  3rd Attack Group



                                                                                            The Great Fire

Around mid September , 1944 the 90th Squadron was encamped at Hollandia N.G.  The Japanese were pretty well swept off the North and East coasts of the island. There were still little pockets of enemy  in odd locations. The western N.G. still had airstrips, like Babo and Utarom, in enemy hands. I had occasion to fly lead bombardier for 5 or 6 missions to these strips to disable them with our bombs. Life had slowed down to a crawl around the squadrons. It looked like the next big campaign would be somewhere in the Philippines. MacArthur had made a solemn promise that "I Shall Return.
After dinner nightly there would be a movie. About half way up the dirt road bordering our squadron areas was our movie house. It was an incline with aisles carved horizontally out of the clay dirt, much like a typical theater balcony. Near dusk we would all hike to the "cinema", carrying our stools or crude chairs made out of ammunition boxes. There seemed to be a favorite spot on the hill for everybodys' seat.

To while away the time until show start., a favorite game was to play "chase me". A flashlight spot would be directed onto the screen, alongside the road below. Immediately a number of other light spots   would be directed to the screen by others and the chase was on to catch the first spot. In its humble way it was actually fun to watch or participate in this chase.

Near dark somebody in the now full audience flipped a cigarette up over the screen and into a ditch lining the road. Suddenly there was an audible "poof" and then a flash of flame that filled the space behind the screeen. Was this was an enemy attack or what.? The cigarette had landed in the ditch which was, unbeknownst to us,  slightly filled with gasoline which of course ignited instantly with a major flash.

Instantly a mass of humanity, the attendees, scrambled UP the theater hill to escape "whatever it was." At the least it was a mighty scare.

The September 30 Third Strike group newspaper reported the incident with this commentary:

"The fire at the Gp theater uncovered at least one gentleman in the 90th. By his tactfulness, charm and coolness under fire, he completely swept a young miss off her feet and carried her to the Gp medics to have her bruises fixed. She was slightly pushed around when we "gentlemen" began to bypass everything in our hurry to survive and live to see the Phillipines. Rumors have it that a OLC has been awarded in Lieu of the 2nd Good Kid Badge to the hero.

A salute to the Group's Medic [all Sqdns] for the efficiency displayed during and following the fire".

There was no movie that night. We all found paths in the jungle  above the theater and, with lit flashlights, worked our way carefully back to our tents, the long way.We eventually found out that a leak had sprung up in a gas storage tank way up in the hills beyond the Group area and worked its way slowly down the ditch to our location. Nobody knew if the fire traveled back up the ditch to its source--there only one thought in mind, "get away fast".

So there you have it-a large share of excitement to go along with the  always present thrills of life in A-20s in the treetops.
Gerry, I hope you enjoy this yarn about another day overseas in the 90th. Maybe a few oldtimers in our organization will remember this wild night.

Bob Bucholz   90th Squadron - The Navigator

Recently you sent me an Email concerning a Bombardiers seating arrangement (solid nose).  Originally I was transferred on temporary duty to the 90th squadron from the 38 BG, to serve as lead bombardier on a series of medium altitude missions  Subsequently I continued with the 3rd since a return to the 38th BG was never initiated.

A number of A 20s did provide an additional seat behind the pilot.  Here a circular body size hole was cut into the life raft deck.  The passenger would then use an installed strip for a seat, to ride out the mission.  Miscellaneous charts, parachute packs, pencils, etc. were carried on a small shelf behind the pilot  There were good viewing windows (each side of the cockpit) and the windshield for the intelligence gathering.

I flew about 45 missions in this arrangement.  In my reading I have never seen this set up described in technical terms.  However, it did increase hazards for the extra person.

My last missions were flown in the new Douglas A-26 Invader  I used the right hand cockpit seat.  The targets were in Southern Formosa  The flights were low-level and took 8 hours to complete.  As navigator, I had no particular duties assigned. I noted sightings or interest and did perform (follow the plane) pilitage navigation.  "Just in case".

The above are my recollections in regard to your queries.  The A-26 has a long history and there is, I am sure much more information still to be pursued.

 Bob " Navigator" Bucholz

 A-20 Epilogue

By Bob Covey  90th Attack Squadron