Spent the 13th resting. Wrote Bonnie a letter.
Pulled two missions on Pegun Island the Mapia group.1 Medium level the first one,2 med level second one.3 After we dropped bombs the second time, we go in the pattern with P-38s and fired 4,500 rounds of .50 caliber at Pegun Island strafing it from stem to stern. How anything can live down there I‘ll never know after three days of sustained attacks. Passed another milestone today, putting in my 40th mission.
Troops from the Normandy Invasion, specialists at that sort of thing arrived here a couple of days ago. Are scheduled for these invasions in the Pacific area evidently. Wonder where the blows will fall. Only God and the High Command know where.
Life is sometimes very interesting. At other times, it’s all too damn rigid and depressive as has been the case for the past month.
Lord, but I’m tired tonight. Can hardly see this paper, believe it or not. Now to have a helmet bath and so to bed. Pretty early, but this is certainly needed. Have several guns to clean and load tomorrow morning early. It’s a rough and quite a busy life and nothing at all in comparison to real living believe me.
How I long to be with my own sweet wife in an era of everlasting peace. More than three years of Army life is enough to last a lifetime. Having to begin life all over again at 26 seems so pitiful; but bring it on. Will meet it with all the zest in my possession. It seems so terribly long and lonesome a trail though, that one can’t help but be disheartened once in awhile.
Death is very near, believe me.4
Notes & Commentary
1 Both missions were flown on B-25 #012 with, except for the pilots, the same aircrew. 1st Lt. George P. Pitcher was the pilot for the morning mission. Col. Charles C. Kegelman flew as the pilot for the afternoon mission. The rest of the aircrew consisted of the following:, 1st Lt. Orland G. Emery; 2nd Lt. Harold L. Wagner; 2nd Lt. William O. Nussear; Cpl. Robert L. Snow; T/Sgt. Joseph A. Pasano; and S/Sgt. Wynne A. Gray
Operations Order No. 98, 14 November 1944, 100th Bombardment Squadron (M). Office of the Operations Officer, 14 November 1944, microfilm A0576, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1972, frames 1497-1500.
Col. Kegelman at the time of this mission was the deputy group commander of the 42nd Bombardment Group. Two days later, he replaced Col. Harry R Wilson as the group commander. Col. Kegelman had served in the European Theater of Operations (ETO), both in North Africa and in West Europe, prior to coming to the South Pacific. Col. Kegelman led the first formation of American aircraft to attack German held territory from England. This was a low altitude A-20 attack on Western France.
Historical Records and Histories of Organizations. 42nd Bomb Group, November 1944. Headquarters 42nd Bombardment Group (M), 9 December 1944, microfilm B0132, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1973, frames 6-7
2 From 0847 to 0853, nine B-25’s of the 100th Bombardment Squadron took off from Mar Air Field four an attack on Pegun Island. Each B 25 carried 12 100 lb general-purpose bombs plus a full load of ammunition.
Three fires with white and black smoke rising to 1,000’ were observed in the southeast part of Pegun Town after the bombing attack. During the return from the mission, one empty merchant vessel life raft was observed from 7,000’ at 133° 18’ E, 00° 22’ N.
The aircraft of the 100th Bombardment Squadron recovered at Mar Air Field from 1105 to 1111, roughly two hours and twenty minutes after takeoff.
Final Mission Report, Mission No. 158, 14 November 1944, 100th Bombardment Squadron (M). Office of the Intelligence Officer, 14 November 1944, microfilm A0576, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1972, frames 1511 – 1512.
During the morning of 14 November, 33 B 25’s (nine each from the 75th, 100th and 390th Bombardment Squadrons and six from the 70th Squadron) attacked Pegun Island. One element of the 75th Bombardment Squadron attacked at 0930 and two at 0950, both from 7,000’. B 25s from the 100th Bombardment Squadron attacked at 1004, also from 7,000’. These were followed by one element of the 70th Bombardment Squadron at 1020 and one at 1024, both from 6,000’. The attack of the 70th Bombardment Squadron was followed at 1027 by an attack at 7,200’ by the 390th Bombardment Squadron.
During the attack slight, light, in accurate fire was seen to come from machine gun positions on the island. Machine gun flashes just north of the central village were silenced during this bombing.
Consolidated Mission Report #733, 14 November 1944. Headquarters 42nd Bombardment Group (M), 14 November 1944, microfilm B0132, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1973, frames 86-87.
3 Between 1450 and 1457, nine B 25Js of the 100th Bombardment Squadron departed Mar Air Field for an attack on Pegun Island from a medium altitude. The attack was made at 1555 from a mean altitude of 6,800’. The lead plane, piloted by Col. Kegelman, made five strafing runs on Pegun Island after bombing. Approximately 3,500 rounds of .50 caliber ammunition were expanded.
Small fires were observed still burning in Pegun Town from the morning’s attacks. Photographs were taken with the K-15, K-17 and K-20 cameras. The mission aircraft recovered at Mar Air Field between 1655 and 1700. The lead plane piloted by Col. Kegelman landed at 1730.
Final Mission Report, Mission No. 160, 14 November 1944, 100th Bombardment Squadron (M). Office of the Intelligence Officer, 14 November 1944, microfilm A0576, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1972, frames 1502 – 1503.
During the afternoon of 14 November, 18 B 25s, nine each from the 75th and 100th Bombardment Squadron, attacked Pegun Island from medium altitude. The 75th Bombardment Squadron attacked at 1610 from 7,000’. This followed a 100th Bombardment Squadron attack at 1555 from 6,800’. Following the bombing attack, aircraft from each squadron made strafing runs across the island. During the strafing runs 3,500 rounds of .50 caliber ammunition was expended.
Consolidated Mission Report #734, 14 November 1944. Headquarters 42nd Bombardment Group (M), 14 November 1944, microfilm B0132, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1973, frames 89-90.
4 Wayne did not report the full extent of the damage received by his B-25 during the November 3 attack on the Lolobata River barge hideout. His aircraft, B-25 #012, suffered damage severe enough that it had to be returned to the depot of for repairs. The aircraft’s blast tubes were blown off putting small holes in the left side of the fuselage and bending one propeller blade and nicking another.
Monthly Intelligence Summary, 1 November to 30 November 1944. 100th Bombardment Squadron (M). Office of the Intelligence Officer, 1 December 1944, microfilm A0576, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1972, frame 1340.
Wayne was also learning about captivity under the Japanese. During October, the 42nd Bombardment Group was visited by a former American soldier who’d been taken prisoner on Luzon Island in the Philippines during the first days of the war. This man, Mr. Moore, escaped several times from the Japanese and had lived for several years with the Filipinos. Consequently, he was able to give the combat crews valuable information on escape procedures in the Philippines. No doubt, he also recounted his treatment and that of others while a prisoner of the Japanese.
42nd Bomb Group Historical Report for October 1944. Headquarters 42nd Bombardment Group (M), 8 November 1944, microfilm B0131, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1973, frame 2077.
Japanese treatment of missionaries, natives, and Allied troops is discussed in the National Geographic Channel documentary “Headhunters of World War II”.
“Headhunters of World War II.” National Geographic Channel. September 12, 2013. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FSvGzOHolcU : accessed 13 November 2014).