There was an officer's club in Port Morseby. It had the most beautiful curved bowling alley type wood bar with a huge curve going to the right. It was dead quiet by day when I was at a camp for casuals awaiting to be assigned to Squadons. The most amazing thing I saw was natives ( someone called them "Fuzzy Wuzzy's " ) take a large upright piano heist onto their shoulders and climb a steep log runged ladder about six feet up and hustle that piano balancing on their shoulders using their hands to hold onto the ladder. It was a breath taking scurry amid loud mumbo jumbo they used among themselves. I thought the whole bunch would end up in a heap, but they hustled that piano up there and into the building.
If you want to read a great heart warming story "THE SCHOOL THAT FELL OUT OF THE SKY" by Fred Hargesheimer of the 8th Photo Recon Sq. ( evacuated from the Philippines with MacArthur) who was shot down over New Britain and wandered in the jungle for 31days until found by friendly natives. It took another 5 months of dodging japs for Fred to get out .Don't want to wreck the story for you but Years later Fred and family and donors built a school house, "Airman Memorial School"  for the natives.One Grad of the  school is  a PhD at the University of Port Morseby. Sadly Fred at 92 died recently, however he and I exchanged books. Yorkie Doodle Dandy & The School That Fell Out Of The Sky

The 8th PRS was a sister squadron to our 26th Photo Recon sq. and Jim Chastain  36th PRS under 6th PR Group, 91 PR Wing. A buddy of Fred's was later Lt Col. Guerry who was a CO for 6th Gr.  Fred even  met the Japanese pilot who shot him down.
Bill Wynne


I originally posted a question about the Robert R. Fitch on the tombstone below. I received the photo of Fitch's Bitch from Jack Heyn & Chrly Hinton as well as information from Dick Walker, who was 13th BS C.O. from August 1944 until March 1945.                                                                                 

There were two Fitches in the 13th Squadron. One was Ted Fitch who was the Squadron Commander for a short time and the other one was the Squadron Supply officer I believe. Not sure on that and I don't recall his first name. Any way there has been some confusion in the past about which was which. I once had a tough time convincing the daughter of the Supply Fitch that her father was not the Squadron Commander

Dick Walker

I also asked Dick about the B-25s the Group were using prior to the A-20s.

We had pilot's names on most of  the aircraft, but that was purely cosmetic. If your turn to go came up and your airplane was scheduled to fly you probably flew it otherwise you got whatever aircraft was in rotation and that was pretty often. We could not afford the luxury of dedicating the service of one aircraft to one individual. We flew in rotation. Every airplane in its turn. When I arrived in the 13th, we still had medium level bombers. But after the success of the B25 as a low level attack weapon during the Bismark Sea battle, all the B25s were converted to straifers. Shortly after that we converted to A20's. It was a speedy nimble airplane and perfect for low level attack. In the course of my time with the 13th just like every one else, I had a couple of aircraft with my name on it but I flew others as well.

Dick Walker



 I thoroughly enjoyed that pictorial trip down Houston's historical lane. Much of Ellington's beginning happened exactly a year before I was hatched.

Ellington's beginning was much like some of the AAF fields several years later at the beginning of WW II.

I saw Hunter mushroom from a pine forest, Also at Peterson, where there were only Jackrabbits rattle snakes and sagebrush. At Hunter we lived in pyramidal tents with sibbley stoves. The rich pine we had to burn would clog the smoke screens which caused considerable loss of sleep at 300 AM when we had to beat on the smoke pipes to knock off the soot to allow smoke to escape. I don't know why Farmers didn't come from miles around to smoke their meats in out tents. 

At Peterson, we had to go to town to take bathes in the City auditorium where they had set up an early USO.

One day I took my dog, Photopopulas who was also Squadron mascot to have a shower with me.

Unknown to me, Sally Rand the feather dancer, was to put on a show for us GI's and was rehearsing in our auditorium. Her girls were practicing in their bare feet and their routine took them from the stage down a ramp to the floor where I was returning from the shower which we GI's had been using. Sally's troops had taken over our shower and I had to cross in front of that stage and ramp. There, I felt a tug on OLE Photo's leash, looking back I saw he had laid a couple of brown pooch eggs just where those girls were headed. To prevent some of them from receiving quite an unpleasant surprise, I rushed to a smaller restroom to get some cleaning paper to remove my dog's indiscretion.

There, Sally's troop had also taken over and someone had taken the doors from each stall to prevent further damage. When I rushed in, there was a rather large lady screaming from one of those stalls, which caused me to make a hasty retreat. 

One of Sally's porters handed me a rag and I proceeded to do my duty. Just as I swiped that rag to pick up OLE Photo's poop. The House lights came on and there I was with a rag full of dog Ship High In Transit in front of Sally's girls and a house full of GI's. Unfortunately, many were also my bunk mates, who with other Peterson and Camp Carson's onlookers gave me a rather rowdy standing ovation.

Nuf said,

Jimbo Chastain


My photo class graduated in March and I was newly assigned to the 5th photo section of the 6th Air Base Squadron at Barksdale when this picture was made. It was shot by M/Sgt Dusty Rhodes, our Lab. Chief and annotated by Cpl. John Terry.

As I remember Dusty and his wife had an old Bull Dog that had to have its teeth pulled. I am not sure that it was the same dentist, who in 1938, pulled one of my teeth without any anesthesia. The story was told, that a dentist friend made a set of false teeth for Dusty's dog.

Some time during that period, Dusty, using a Fairchild K-3B camera took a several aerial shots of a 90th formation from a B-10 on a very rough day. Anyhow, Dusty, a rather large man, got a bit stoved up from that mission.  I can't remember which organization that B-10 belonged too. 

I think I sent Charlie Hinton that aerial shot and perhaps this one too.

Thanks for the memories.

Jimbo Chastain


Click Image

Video from the Lady Bird Johnson Home Movie Collection.

Down Under '42 - been there, done that. Never did do any flying, and never met Gen. Royce, so wouldn't recognize him. It would be my guess they were shot early in '42, and taken in the Darwin area. Looks like some plumes of smoke in the distance, probably bomb blasts.  Darwin area was subject to jap air raids early on. The vintage B-17 with the abbreviated tail had to be one that came out of the Philipines.  The P-40s were pretty much phased out with arrival of the P-38s. The guys eating out of ration cans, obviously were no enjoying Sunday Dinner. 

The shaky quality of the circa '42 8mm camera leaves a lot to be desired, compared to todays video cameras, but it is recorded history. Thank heaven we have it.

Jack Heyn




Volume 2  2002

THE NEW WING DING  36th PRS Newsletter 

By CWO James M. Chastain  USAF (Ret.)

In several recent messages with Jim Chastain, Bill Wynne & Chuck Varney regarding the designation of reconnaissance aircraft, I received this tale from Jimbo. The original inquiry was about the F-3/A-20, F-4 & F-5/P-38s & F-7/B-24s and their reconnaissance designations.

Being an educated donkey and for what it is worth, I can go further back than the F-3, for there were also the F-1 & F- 2 aircraft.

The F-1 was a Fairchild high winged, single engine version assigned to Photo sections in the 30's. In the 5th Photo Section of the 6th Air Base Squadron we had an F-1 at Barksdale. There was also an F-2 which was a photo modified C-45 Beechcraft. A camera port and brackets to accommodate the A-8 Mount were placed in the floor, also a removable hatch was installed in the door to accommodate oblique photography. I missed the pleasure of flying in that C-1, but trained in the F-2 at Lowrey. I later went on a classified mission in one to photograph the White Sands area in late 1942. 

What I remember of this flight was, upon our return, the pilot and his copilot flew down to just above the deck placing that F-2 on auto pilot heading directly toward a small peak. Both took their hands from the controls and held their hands in the air and played "Chicken". They waited until a crash was almost eminent, when the chicken disengaged the auto pilot and manually pulled the controls back just in time.

In the rear, there was a fearful and helpless photographer who had given his heart to God and the rest to those pilots. 

Not recently familiar to his lips, he also mumbled a few prayers which must have been heard.

The film taken on this mission was not locally processed, but hastily sent directly to Washington. If only those Jocks knew what possible information we were carrying.

Jimbo Chastain





In a recent message from Bob Mosely, I learned more about the A-26s in the photos above, which were being tested by the 13th & 90th Squadrons of the 3rd BG in approximately August 1944.

First, thanks for splattering the picture of my A-20  (Rapid Robert) again, to your vast audience. At 88 I need all the PRESS I can get.  ODDLY enough, my log book shows I flew a combat mission in RR the day after the picture was taken. She does not look all that eager to go in the picture, but it has always amazed me how sad a plane can look when it is parked outside and it is raining, but when you get inside and get all those wheels turning, what a transformation takes place.--- For example, the year I spent In Thailand/ Viet Nam flying the Airborne Command and Control Center in 1970 about every 4th day for a year, over Laos on 13 hour flights, I would have to get up at 3 AM. I would get dressed, eat breakfast, then go to the plane, with it raining (it rained 6 months of the year over there) and with my Nomex flying suit soaking up water as I did my walk around inspection, in the dark. I felt about as lively as a wet noodle and the plane looked a little like a forloined hound dog . I would say to myself (aloud to help wake up), " C'mon Bob get with it. You have about 30 people on board that are counting on you and failure is not an option (from Gene Kranz's Apollo 13 Famous line)".   --- Soon everyone was in their place, wheels were turning, the flying suit was drying out and off you would go, making an instrument takeoff in the dark with an airplane 7,000 pounds over max gross take off weight ( how do you think we kept a C-130 Airborne 13 to 14 hours----  EXTRA GAS). Then when you got to your orbiting altitude, above the clouds, and the sun came up and the adrenalin pooped out--- Whoa Nelly---- Only 12 hours to go!!! 

Also I found the picture of the A-26 with the black (no doubt 13th Squadron red tail tip) dated 1945 very interesting (and a little confusing) and I have one point to make, lest anyone who cares, should be thinking the 3rd Attack group had that airplane in 1945. The point being that that plane ( in my mind ) was indeed one of those that were sent to the 3rd for testing in 1944.----- I got to Hollandia in about August of 1944 and as I recall it I saw them down on the flight line, but they were gone shortly thereafter (I never even got a chance to go up to one and look at it closely). BUT, in my opinion for  what ever it is worth, the picture of the A-26 shown was indeed one of those TEST PLANES--- because if you look closely at the picture you will see  the plane has a lower turret, as well as the upper turret, is a flat top  (no raised canopy) and does not have 8 guns in the nose---- it has gun packs under the wings. But IF the picture was indeed taken in 1945 then it could not have been taken while  the 3rd was testing them in Hollandia, because they were out of there long before 1945.

So WHERE was the picture taken IN 1945?---- The only thing I can come up with is that when those test planes departed Hollandia they had to go someplace (they certainly did not fly them back to the states) so they had to still be over there someplace but no where near the 3rd (I do not recognize the background scenery but, in my opinion, is certainly was not at Hollandia or Mindoro---- notice it is parked on a large PSP ramp. We never had any ramp like that at Hollandia or Mindoro that I remember).  BUT MY MAIN POINT IS THAT NONE OF THEM REMAINED WITH THE 3rd---- EVER--- as I think maybe is in the minds of some people. ----The subject of A-26s was rarely even brought up (not by us  "peons" anyhow) and the 3rd never owned another one after the testing, nor did I ever even see  another one, until that morning in June 1945,  at Mindoro in the Philippines, when 25 of them came roaring in---- painted olive drab, with the raised canopy, lower turret removed, and 8 guns in the nose and 3 in each wing ( just what had been recommended by the 3rd testing).


SO, after the testing, the 3rd Attack did not have an A-26 again until  those 25 arrived at Mindoro. -------- I do not recall that we lost A ONE of them in combat during the remainder of the war, which is amazing when you consider we were hitting those large cities in Japan low level, every day---- they had radar, they knew we were coming and where we were and they had time to scramble every fighter in Southern Japan and alert all of their anti aircraft batteries (ABSOLUTELY AMAZING THAT I AM SITTING HERE PLAYING WITH MY COMPUTER AND THEY "AIN'T" GOING TO GET ME). In all 3 wars I worried more about getting captured than killed.  ----- Harvey Truesdale did get my plane ( The Big E ) shot up one day when I was not flying it and could not get the gear down and had to belly it in at Bolo on Okinawa but someone sent me a picture of it being repaired so I would assume all of  those 25 A-26s we got in June, eventually ended up in Japan when the 3rd moved there after the war was over.  


Bob Mosley


Bill Rupert & the A-26


 Just finished reading Bob Mosley's recollections of the two A-26s that arrived at Hollandia in summer 1944 and thought I would pass on my rememberance.

To lay a little groundwork I must tell you about the rudder pedals on the A-20.  They were mounted at an angle with the top being further towards the nose than the bottom.  The brakes were applied by pressing on the top of the pedals.  Over a period of time I had got into the habit of sliding my feet up high on the pedals while on the approach so that I was ready to use the brakes immediately if necessary.  It became such a habit that I would not even be conscious of it.

Then I got my check ride in the A-26.  Takeoff was fine and the handling in the air was ok except that that I didn't like those engines restricting my view and the aircraft just had a, for want of a better word, heavy feel.  My vote was for the A-20.

Anyhow, on the approach I unconsciously slide my feet up high on the rudder pedals.  It did not register that these pedals were in a vertical position so that when I touched down I had the brakes on.  Immediately blew both main gear tires and by the time I got it stopped, had ruined the wheels.  Well, naturally, since no idiot was ever expected to ruin wheels, there were no spares.  I don't know how they did it but the mechanics modified a couple of B-25 wheels to use and it continued flying.  I don't think I need tell you that I was not invited to take any more A-26 rides.

I do know that they continued to accompany the A-20s on missions and the pilots I remember talking to did not particularly like them.

Bill Rupert


Runs in my mind that your interest in the 3rd Bomb Group stems from an encounter with a B-25 called "Fat Kat".  I expect you know that after it was retired from combat it became our "chow" plane, along with "Steak and Eggs".  The Group had a chow  fund - every man in the outfit contributed a half pound (Aussie) to the fund every month - which was used to provide fresh food.  On regular runs to Brisbane it brought back fresh beef, potatos, etc.  On one trip it brought back a load of fresh milk.  Due to refrigeration problems it had to be used up pretty fast.  So we had an abundance of milk for a meal or two - and more than one sick stomach from over indulgence.  .

But there was one trip that was a bit different, it brought back a load of quart bottles of Aussie Beer.  Enough for every man in the outfit to receive two bottles.  That Aussie beer was not like our 3.2 or even 6% beer, it was 12% alchohol content.  You might say that would be like drinking 2 quart bottles of wine.  Needless to say the Group had a rip-roaring good time that nite.  Lots of firearms fired into the air - and numerous hangovers the next morning.

My German heritage had not kicked in, I still was not imbibing alchoholic beverages.  So my two bottles were given away and I'm sure contributed to the rip-roaring good time.
Jack Heyn


Hollandia – Leyte - Mindoro

The Christmas Convoy 1944


In mid October, 1944 , we once again loaded up some LSTs and headed for the P.I.  About 3 days later we landed on Leyte beach and there we sat for 6 weeks spinning our wheels.  There were no air strips available for out Aircraft.  During that time we sat out a typhoon with 90 mph winds that flattened every tent in the area - except ours and 3 others, which had been framed.  We sweated out a jap paratroop landing on an airstrip a mile inland from our camp.  Nobody got any sleep that night, but the Infantry made short work of them come daylight.  I spent about a week in the hospital with my second bout of Dengue Fever, and shed another 15 lbs.  For Christmas dinner we had canned turkey.  Oh yes, during those 6 weeks we got our first issue of BEER.  I guess after 3 years they figured we had earned a free beer.  

On Dec. 28 an LST pulled up to the beach, and once again we loaded up.  About 10:30 the next morning 4 of us were playing cards topside.  3 small planes came flying in low over an Island on our right.  One flew right over our ship and dove into a Liberty Ship one lane over and 2 ships back.  Ammunition ship - went straight up and mushroomed out, like the A-bomb photos - no survivors.  We had come face to face with the "divine wind", Kamakazis.

I dashed down stairs, grabbed the Speed Graphic, and camped out under a twin 40mm turret.  There I sat for the next 48 hours with a Mae West on, and we were under attract both night and day.  I went down stairs only to go to the pot, and grab a bite.  There were some that wouldn't  come up, didn't want to see what was going on.  I wasn't about to be below deck if we got hit - I was going over the side. 

During the next 48 hours they sank 8 ships out of our convoy.  But none of them (except that first) were with in site of our ship.  The Navy Gunners, bless their hearts, did shoot 25 of them out of the air, 3 close enough for me to photograph hitting the water. 

We made landfall about mid morning Dec. 31.  By night fall we had all of our equipment out to our camp site, and prepared to spend the night on the ground under a shelter half.  I expect that was one of the best New Years Eves about 1200 men ever had - just damned happy to be alive. 

When we arrived at a new camp area it was customary to scrounge around the area looking for things to make our living quarters a little better.  After we had every thing out to the camp area Col. Ellis, Group C.O., called a Group meeting.  The only thing I remember was one statement he made.  He didn't care what we stole from other outfits; but if he caught anybody stealing from another of our Squadrons - he'd Court Martial them. 

12 days later I received my Rotation Orders.  On March 8, 1945, 3 years, 1 month and 8 days later, I sailed back under that Golden Gate Bridge.


Jack Heyn


Leyte to Mindoro


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 inroute 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