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mardi 17 mai 2022

 Sommaire du blog

Le blog a été construit progressivement et d'une manière "très décousue".
Il contient actuellement 10 "Chapitres" ou plutôt 10 sujets différents pas toujours très accessibles.

Lorsque vous avez terminé la lecture de la page choisie: vous la quittez et vous reviendrez sur ce Sommaire.

1- THIRIMONT, Battle of the Bulge (JAN. 45)
2- THIRIMONT' Pictures. Before and after WWI
3- ST-VITH: Aspects de la seconde Guerre Mondiale
4- Karl LEMAIRE Story. (Danny S. Parker)
5- De Gré ou de Force (, Dec. 2014)
6- Francis S. CURREY
7- ALL THIRIMONT's Veterans
8- The St-Vith Battle overpasses Bastogne Legend
9- US & German Battle Reports
10- L' U.S. AIR Force dans la bataille des Ardennes

dimanche 15 mai 2022

L' US AIR FORCE dans la Bataille des Ardennes (en janvier 1945)

Un soir, plutôt que de m’endormir face à la TV, je me suis mis à rechercher sur GOOGLE une Revue TIME_LIFE dont Eric von Manstein faisait la couverture. 

     Par un très heureux hasard, je suis tombé sur un site chinois reprenant une très grande partie des numéros digitalisés de cette revue depuis ses débuts (1923) jusqu’aujourd'hui. 
     J’ai bien évidemment trouvé le numero qui m'intéressait, ensuite j'ai lu plusieurs autres numéros et finalement j'ai recherché l’édition la plus proche de janvier 1945 (en pensant à ce qui s'était passé à Thirimont). 
    Je suis arrivé au numéro daté du 15 janvier 1945 en me disant qu'il devait y avoir un certain temps entre les faits s'étant passés sur le terrain et leurs impressions dans TIME-LIFE. 
Je n'ai rien trouvé sur Thirimont mais ce que j'ai trouvé était, pour moi, si intéressant que je n'ai pu résister à créer une page supplémentaire au Blog que certains d'entre vous connaissent. 

En "persévérant" dans mes recherches Google, j'ai déniché un article daté de 2011 dans lequel l'ancien Capt. Cassady y était interviewé.

    J'ai ensuite cherché à m'informer sur le Général QUESADA et j'y ai découvert beaucoup de faits qui m'étaient inconnus dont un clip sur YouTube où il pilotait un Mustang-bi-place (!) en compagnie du Général Eisenhower et survolait le champ de bataille des Ardennes !

     J’ai d’abord transformé les pages qui m’intéressaient en fichiers pdf puis je les ai convertis en caractères exploitables via un OCR.
     J’ai ensuite tout rassemblé et relu mais il est très possible que plusieurs erreurs soient toujours présentes dans ce texte. 
     Je n'ai pas traduit ce texte qui est essentiellement écrit en anglais mais je présume que beaucoup d'entre vous sauront le lire et que les autres utiliseront Google Translate pour en traduire les morceaux qui leurs semblent intéressants. 

Si vous regardez le Blog à l'aide de votre Smartphone:
     il suffit de vous positionner sur les 3 points  (se trouvant dans le coin supérieur droit de la fenêtre) et de choisir "traduire". 
    Ensuite de choisir la langue dans laquelle vous souhaitez lire le texte (rédigé en anglais) et tout se traduit sans limite de taille.

Si vous accédez au Blog  via votre PC (ou votre Mac) vous devez choisir votre langue sur le blog (en haut à droite).
    MAIS vous remarquerez certainement que le FRANÇAIS n'est pas présent (car le Blog a été construit en français).
    Il suffit de choisir une langue  pour tromper BLOGGER (par exemple le Bulgare ou l'anglais) et de la valider. 
Ensuite vous choisissez le français (qui se trouve en 1ère position).
Vous remarquerez  que tout le blog sera traduit en français.



 Post-Mortem on the Ardennes 

 Americans have always been sure they are the very best people in the world and own all the very best things. 

     Last week, in a long, angry post-mortem on Rundstedt's breakthrough, the New York Times’s military expert, Hanson Baldwin, gave a stiff jolt to this national pride. 

One thing (said Baldwin), the Ardennes battles demonstrated the superiority of the German tanks. 
The new Hunting Panther and Royal Tiger tanks "are better all-around tanks than anything the Allies now have in the field. ...
With their new 88mm. guns, very heavy frontal armor and wide tracks, they have more armor, more hitting power and are better mud-goers. . .” 

 Baldwin, who has made this general charge before, recognised that apologists have said that the U.S. prefers lighter, nimbler tanks. 
     His answer: "But the Germans have demonstrated time and again the manoeuvrability of 45- to 72-ton tanks, and bridges and rivers have been no obstacle to them.... 
Other apologists have said that tactically we don't believe in fighting tanks with tanks. 
 To which the only possible answer an expletive.” 

     Surprise for Americans. U.S. tanks armed with 75-mm guns are too light to stop German armor, said Baldwin. "unless they get in dose-range lucky side shots. 
    Even the bazooka no longer holds its former terror for some of the German monsters."
Heavier 76-mm. and 105-mm. guns are effective "but only at relatively close range."
The German 88-mm “is as good as or better" than the U.S. 90-mm. high-velocity piece (now mounted in the U.S. M-36 tank destroyer). "
This condition is a well-known one along the fighting fronts. 

Americans at home, who take it for granted their sons are fighting with the best equipment in the world. are surprised at the German qualitative superiority." 

    But not only with tanks and guns, said Baldwin, have the Germans beaten us on and to the battle-field. They have shown us the way with rockets, robot bombs. jet-propelled planes. 
 Time to investigate. Baldwin thought he knew when the blame lay: with the War Department, hamstrung by "conservatism and traditionalism. 

    There is no lack of American inventive genius, no kick of engineering skill, no lack of devotion and energy [among designers and technicians], but there is a superfluity of red tape [among brass hats]”; there is over organisation and there is lack of clear directive vision [with the War Department]." 
    Baldwin thought it high time Congress began to find out why all this should be. "For only by getting the facts… no matter how punishing to our conceit—can we rid ourselves of the national habit of boastful self-deceit." 

 Germany's Chance 

     Last week Time's Chief Military Correspondent Charles Christian Wertenbaker cabled from Paris:

The war is not going so well for us...

 This is said not in a spirit of defeatism or alarm but because what has happened in the last three weeks can be regarded not only as a setback but as a threat. In the three weeks since Dec. 16 the enemy has lengthened the front by 225 miles and has passed to the offensive along the entire western front. The lengthening of the front is an advantage to the enemy because he has greater reserves in Europe than we have, both in manpower and materiel. We spent more than a year in building up the superior and better-equipped armies which we threw into the Battle of France. By the time they got to the Siegfried Line they were spread thin and were spending materiel almost as fast as it reached the front. Now our reserves of men, arms and transport must came thousands of miles from an America that is fighting another war in the Pacific. Germany. on the other hand has withdrawn almost to her own frontiers and can switch reserves from one front to another with comparative speed. 

 Longer War? 

     The questions of using French manpower and of manufacturing war materiel in France were undoubtedly a chief subject in the discussions between Churchill and [Field Marshal Sir Alan] Brooke and De Gaulle and Juin this week. If the concerted reaction of the French press, and also President Roosevelt's speech, are indications, France will be given the materials to build war industries in equip her own soldiers. 
 This means that we are planning for a much longer war than anybody at home—or here either —thought possible last September. 
     But Rundstedt's offensive gives every indication that Germany is not planning for it long a war. that—believe it or not— Germany's leaders think they have a good chance of winning the war in the west in the next six or eight months. 
     When the Germans threw together their Volksgrenadiere divisions, they were playing for time, the time before the removal of these men from industry would tell on the German war machine. The German leaders must have believed that before that time arrived they had a good chance of winning. if not the war at least a decisive victory. The potentialities of the present German offensive still remain. The offensive has not petered out, as some experts have blithely written. It is in a secondary stage. 
     We have reacted as the enemy must have expected US to react and he is engaged in holding and trying to beat hack our counterattacks. So far we have made little progress in closing his corridor behind him. He is keeping us busy elsewhere on the front and he doubtless made some shrewd calculations as to the reserves we could bring to bear. And if we fail to pinch off his corridor he may he expected to try-to continue his drive to the West. 

 What. For? 

     Since September, when victory seemed at hand, the Allies have shown a growing disposition to forget what they were supposed to be fighting for. We could have come to Europe as champions of the people; neither in Italy nor Greece nor Belgium nor even in France have we done so. 
     These things are symptoms of indecision and weakness. So are Anglo-American differences over Italy and Greece and the recognition of one Polish Government by Britain and the U.S. and of another by Russia. The enemy is doing everything possible to exploit this indecision and weakness. 
     Germany is cold, tired, hungry and bleeding, and Germany is fighting with every military and political weapon she has. Unless the U.S. realizes what this war is about and what it takes to win it, the U.S. might wake up some morning and find that the war has been lost. 

 The Patient Bookkeeper 

     Fog was it thick a man could hardly see ten feet. But in their foxholes north of Bastogne the paratroopers heard Germans talking in the woods ahead. They also heard snapping branches and clanking treads. The forward addle, observer sent a frantic calf to the rear: "Serenade. serenade—request all additional artillery." 
     Smart General Patton had brought plenty of artillery into the Bastogne pocket. Thirteen battalions of big held guns laid down a two-hour barrage. The paratroopers heard German wounded screaming in the woods. Of 28 attacking German tanks, 21 were knocked out by artillery, three more by U.S, tanks and tank destroyers. The other four fled. 
     On other days it was the Americans' turn to take a beating. The Nazis had nine divisions, six of them Panzer or Panzergrenadiere, on the Bastogne perimeter. They launched 17 attacks in 24 hours. Along the highway to Vielsalm, the Third Army was driven back more than a mile. Nevertheless the Bastogne wedge held while the German lines all along the south flank were shoved slowly back. The Nazi lobe south of Saint-Hubert was erased. 
     On the north, pushing slowly south on a half-dozen sectors, the First Army cut the road between Saint-Vith and Laroche—leaving only one main road out of the salient's western end. A German regimental commander, who saw his outfit hacked to pieces by the 82nd Airborne, drew his Luger and shot himself dead. Field Marshal Montgomery had deployed the British Second Army on the First Army's right flank. It was disclosed that British armour had participated in the battle of Celles which decapitated the Nazi bulge short of the Meuse (Time, Jan. 8). On the salient's western edge, the British 6th Airborne was now locked in seesaw battle. 
     Rundstedt’s salient bad shrunk to about half its maximum area. His troops in the western end were going hungry, running out of fuel, felling trees and laying mines in the path of the advancing Allies. 
     The next move was up to the German. The preliminary accounting of this battle was still plainly in his favor. Time, the patient bookkeeper, had not yet presented him with a had bill. 

 Back in Stride 
(See Cover) 

     On the third day of Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt’s surprise offensive, fog lay like a folded shroud over the wooded hills and rocky fields of southeastern Belgium. 
Near Stavelot a large German armoured task force of tanks, tank destroyers, self-propelled guns and trucks snaked northward. Its aims: to seize U.S. gasoline and supply dumps just beyond Stavelot, to cut in behind the communications and supply lines of the U.S. First and Ninth Armies. 
    At little Stavelot (pop. 5,000) the Germans would be only 22 miles from Liege, vital U.S. supply point at the end of the line from Antwerp. 
If Liege with its rich booty fell to the Germans, the U.S. First Army would to retreat from the whole Aachen-Düren area. Yet there seemed no way to meet the German force. 
In front of the advancing enemy were only pathetic detachments of U.S. service troops, supply stevedores, civil affairs officers, medics, clerks. Combat infantry to delay the attack was coming up to the Stavelot area, but U.S. tanks needed at least 40 hours to get there. 



 On the day before this crisis, slim. restless Major General Hoyt Sanford Vandenberg, commander of the U.S. Ninth Air Force, had popped into the headquarters of 40-year-old Major General Elwood Ricardo Quesada, head of one of the Ninth's chief components—the IX Tactical Air Command, whose fighter bombers were stationed back of the First Army. 
“Van" Vandenberg and "Pete" Quesada went over reports, decided that this was the real thing. 
The immediate task was to muster every fighter bomber into attacks, to impede Rundstedt's armoured spearheads. 
Generals Van and Pete faced hard facts: 
     1- at many places Mr power alone stood between the German columns and their objectives; 
     2- there was little hope that the week. long drizzle and fog would let up long enough to get a plane off the ground. 

     When, next day, Pete Quesada heard of the columns approaching Stavelot, he called for two volunteers to take a long chance: to fly their speedy Mustangs into the soup. trying to locate the enemy's forces. The names of the volunteers told something about the country they were fighting for and 2nd Lieut. Abraham Jaffe. 
     Cassady and Jaffe found they had to fly less than 100 feet above the floors of narrow valleys to get a glimpse el the roads. But eventually they spotted what they were looking for a column headed by 60 German tanks and armoured vehicles, with their attendant scores of trucks and guns. Guns blazing. the Mustangs meant down the length of the column. The Germans were so surprised that they did not fire until the Mustangs bad made three passes. 
     Cassady and Jaffe got back with the information. Vandenberg's men were ready with antitank gams that travel 400 m.p.h. 

 —P-47 Thunderbolt fighter bombers. 

For the next four hours the Thunderbolts struck in groups of four, boring in through the mist with flak-scarred wings nearly scraping the towering hills, to drop their bombs and to rake the column with rockets. One contingent found another column of comparable size on a winding road, gave it the lethal works. 
     Then darkness closed in. The pilots of General Quesada's "Hell Hawks" and "Panzer Duster" groups had counted 126 enemy tanks, armoured vehicles and trucks destroyed, 34 more damaged. The U.S. loss had been one plane. The pilots itched for more such good hunting. But next day the fog was so bad they could not even take off. 
     Only after U.S. tank forces arrived in the Stavelot area the second day after the Ninth's attack did Quesada's men learn how effectively they had stopped that Nazi thrust. The German columns were in approximately the same positions they had been when the pilots found them, and they were still disorganised. No German tank ever get far beyond Stavelot. 

 Measure of Success. 

     No airman had ever contended that air power alone could stop an offensive, even in perfect weather. But the destruction of those fog-shrouded Nazi tanks could stand as a textbook example of tactical air power soundly applied under correct air-force doctrine. What Vandenberg's Ninth had data impressively indicated what the Germans would be up against as long as capable Allied hands retained control of the skies. The Ninth had good hunting; by this week it bad counted a tremendous bag since the offensive started: 
    4,727 enemy motor transports destroyed, 13.094 damaged, 
    760 tanks and armoured vehicles destroyed, 490 damaged. 
    161 locomotives destroyed, 29 damaged. 
    1.943 freight cars destroyed, 1,514 damaged. 

 Measure of Failure. 

     In destruction aground these were totals to stagger even an air enthusiast's imagination of air power on the make. But they were also a measure of the power Rundstedt had thrown into the offensive, of the reserves he had massed to keep his drive going.
     The German power, assembled under the handicap of air inferiority, was also a measure of the failure by the Allied command and by Vandenberg's Ninth (the biggest air force on the Continent) to use air tactics to prevent such an offensive. 
     The air tactician believes that his battle should be fought in three basic phases: 

        1-beat down the enemy's air force, make it impotent to interfere with air and ground action; 
        2- isolate the battlefields by clipping the enemy's communication lines, bashing his roads and bridges, strangling his supplies; 
        3-give the ground forces direct support by attacking enemy troupe, tanks, strong poi. (see map). 

These were the fundamentals which the British and U.S. air arms had followed to their successes in Africa and Europe. There were historic examples in every Allied airman's mind. in Africa, breezy his Marshal Sir Arthur Coningham had combined the three tenets to slug the Germans out of the sky, and then pace Montgomery's march across the desert with advance air strikes. The Americans used the technique to break the stalemates below Rome. 

    D-day was the prime result of applying Principles 1 and 2 (the whittled Luftwaffe had been pushed back from the Channel, the Seine-Loire triangle had been effectively isolated days before the invasion). 
    The Allies' sweep across France was speeded by air power's application of Principle 3 in team with swift, smart ground tactics. 
     But after the Allies had got themselves enmeshed in the Westwall offensive, something seemed to happen. Weather was admittedly had for ambitious air operations. Ground commanders pressed hard for more air support of infantry to supplement their artillery. For one reason or, another, tactical air power turned largely to bombing of pillboxes, strafing of enemy gun positions. 
     There was good reason why the first task of pinning down German air strength could he let slide for a time: the Nazi it force had pulled back into Germany. Enemy airfields near the front were empty of planes most of the time; the hoarded Luftwaffe was largely hidden. 
     But there were other tasks that might have been tackled back of the 50-mile sector through which Rundstedt struck. These bridges were intact, roads were unharmed. A rail line operated from the Rhine nearly to the Allied line opposite Trier.

 Quick Change. 

     The Rundstedt assault changed the picture in a hurry. Air power got bole in tactical stride. The slighted jobs took a lot of doing in a hurry. But by this week General Vandenberg could report on Principle 1: 
        1-his Ninth had destroyed 457 German aircraft. 
        2-probably knocked out 59 more, damaged 169. 
        3-The Ninth's loss was 202 aircraft. 

     Vandenberg was willing to let the German airmen come to him ("We've been trying for months to make them came up; now we've got 'em where we want 'em"). 
     The Luftwaffe came in surprising strength. Despite its losses earlier in the offensive, it was able last week, in an early-morning attack on Vandenberg's and Coningham's airfields, to mount its biggest day in the air since D-day. Over most of the Ninth's fields the enemy took a beating. But over some of the British dromes in Belgium and The Netherlands the German strafers had a big day against parked, unprotected planes. 
The result. at best, was a slim victory for the Allies. 
The enemy, short of experienced pilots, lost 363 aircraft and about that many pilots. The Allies, rich in aircraft replacements, were only temporarily embarrassed by their sizeable (but unannounced) losses.           On Principle 2 Vandenberg could report: all rail bridges on lines leading to the bulge were down and were being kept down by repeated attacks. Only one main bridge still stood in the Belgian salient. Back of it the bombers bad created a bridgeless are extending from Cologne o the Moselle River. The German railheads were pushed steadily back by continued attack. But the bridges over the Rhine were left standing. “Ike" Eisenhower apparently still believed that the Germans would commit all they had to a battle west of the Rhine (Time, Dec. 4). 
     Now that it was on the loose, the Ninth might turn in a classic of tactical air war. But the man who had speeded it into action was no longer commander of all of it. 
The German bulge had split Hoyt Vandenberg's rule over it. Two of his three fighter-bomber components—Quesada's and Brigadier General Richard E. Nugent's—had been shifted at least temporarily from Vandenberg's to “Mary" Coningham's command. 
 The switch was a part of the realignment by which Field Marshal Montgomery had taken over command of the U.S. First and Ninth Armies, with which Quesada's and Nugent's air groups had been bracketed. Actually the shift was mainly administrative: Vandenberg could still call on Coningham to borrow planes, as Coningham had called on him before.
     Tall (6 ft.), gregarious Hoyt Vandenberg still had a big outfit and able sub-commanders. 
The XIX Tactical Air Command headed by quiet, efficient Brigadier General Otto P, ("Opis") Weyland (rhymes with island) was Vandenberg's link to the battlefields of Lieut. General George S. Patton's Third Army. Vandenberg's bomber outfit was a whopper, headed by Brigadier General Samuel E. Anderson, whose Marauders and Havocs had played a big part in pushing the German airfields back from the Atlantic in advance of D-day. 

 Mature Youthfulness. 

     At 46 (on Jan. 24), Hoyt Vandenberg is typical of many top-rank H.S. airmen. 
He combines the energy of an athlete with mature judgment. 
He is dead serious and fluent about anything having to do with aviation, reasonably interested in such lesser matters as golf (low 80s), tennis, gin rummy, Scotch highballs and good panatelas. 
Like most airmen of top rank, he has spent all his Army career learning and unlearning about air operations. 
He rates as one of the U.S. Air Forces' thinkers as well as doers, with a talent for staff work and planning, and an added gift of good looks and attractive, easy manner. 
He gets along with people—and he has got along famously with Air Forces Chief Hery. H. Arnold, General Eisenhower, Carl (“Tooey”) Spaatz, Jimmy Doolittle, many others. 
    He hit it off well with Doolittle when he was Doolittle's chief of staff in Africa, but incurred his frowns for sneaking out on combat missions without letting Doolittle know. (Doolittle had wanted to go himself.) 
Once, on a light to Gibraltar, Vandenberg manned a waist gun, helped drive off a German attacker while Doolittle took the place of the wounded copilot. 
     Vandenberg (a nephew of Michigan's U.S. Senator) gets along with his crewmen and enlistees by talking air-slanguage with the slangiest of them, playing volley ball and ping-pong with them, and usually beating them. 
A dashing figure in impeccable uniform, cap set at a rakish angle, he seems to he always in action. He usually flies his own Thunderbolt in hops to staff headquarters. 
Back at his own post, he wants a lot of his own staff around in the evening, insists on singing with a quartet although he cannot early a tune. 
     The good breaks seem to come to him, but he works hard at his jobs. 
At West Point he boned for the air service, graduated 240h in his 1923 class of 261, made the air grade by reason of his superb physical condition (he is a lithe 165- pounder), became one of the Army's crack attack pilots and instructors. 
He met his wife at a West Point hop. They have a son,16, who wants to go to the Academy, and a daughter, 19. 
     In World War II's five years he has come up from major to major general, has won a string of decorations. He has got around—as a sort of Air Forces diplomat. He got along with the Russians, helped persuade them to give the Allies bomber bases. He got along with the British as Eisenhower's deputy air commander in London (the British refer to his tactical planning as "outstanding"). He was at the Quebec, Cairo and Teheran conferences. 
     Vandenberg took over the Ninth last August, when Lieut. General Lewis H. Brereton was assigned command of the First Allied Airborne Army. Since then Vandenberg has wielded the weapon of his big air force with skill and devotion. If other top airmen had any criticism of the Ninth, it might be that its bosses had got to working too closely with ground-force commanders. The problem is a delicate one. Coordination of air and ground operations is highly important in battle, and nothing helps it more than good relations between the air and ground commanders. 
     But it is the unalterable nature of the infantry general to get all the close air support he can lay his hands on, then yell for more. Somewhere in the process of whole-hearted cooperation, the air commander may find himself being seduced into giving extra ground support at the expense of sound tactical air doctrine. Then an enemy bridge stands unmolested, while the plane that ought to he bombing it is miles away, working out on a tank or a pillbox that might better be dealt with by a self-propelled gun. But where is the invisible point at which, for the airman, cooperation becomes seduction? It is the kind of argument that could go on forever. Last week Vandenberg and his men were too busy blasting Germans to join in. 

 Diversion of file River 


French civilians streamed out of Strasbourg, back into the Vosges Mountains. There was talk of evacuating the city. The Germans might be corning back. 
     For ten days Allied reconnaissance planes had been reporting troop movements in the Palatinate (southwestern corner of the German Rhineland), so the attack could not have been another surprise. But the U.S. Seventh Army troops in that area found it hard to deal with. The deepest thrust reached 15 miles to the south before it was stopped. 
     Faced by this sudden threat to its rear, the Seventh withdrew from its two footholds in Germany. Then the Germans began shelling Haguenau, a main communications center in northern Alsace. On the west bank of the upper Rhine, they attacked the French around the Colmar pocket. And they threw tanks across the Rhine, north and south of Strasbourg. 
     German boldness in this sector was obviously due to Allied preoccupation in the Ardennes. There were no military objectives in the region worth a really major effort, even if Rundstedt could spare the reserves to make one. It seemed more probable that the German was trying to draw off more strength from the Third Army's from between the Luxembourg border and Saarbrücken. 

 * * * 

     There were other Nazi diversionary attacks on the western front last week. 
In The Netherlands, German forces crossed the Maas River at two points, established one bridgehead north of Venlo (later wiped out by British counterattack), an other near Geertruidenberg.
The Germans claimed they had recaptured a town between the Waal and the Lek rivers north-east of Nijmegen. 
These northern sectors would probably now be flaring with all-out activity if Rundstedt's Ardennes offensive had kept on rolling beyond the Meuse. 

 Monty on Top 

 To Field Marshal Sir Bernard Law Montgomery last week went Supreme Commander "Ike" Eisenhower's praises. 
 The doughty little Briton had taken over swiftly, had acted swiftly to bring the weight of the U.S. First and Ninth Armies, the British Second and Canadian First Armies to bear on Rundstedt's north flank. 
In Washington, President Roosevelt explained that the switch in command was a regular field operation, made necessary when the German thrust split Lieut. General Omar Nelson Bradley's Twelfth Army group. 
     "Monty" was in fine fettle. At his headquarters he received the press for his first conference in several months. Monty had something to say—in fact, a rambling hour's worth. 
     The enemy, Monty said, bad been "Headed off”. Then he had been “sealed off." Now he was being "written off." How had this been wrought? Said Monty: “When Rundstedt put in his hard blow and parted the American Army, it was automatic that the battle area must be untidy.
Therefore, the first thing I did was to busy myself in getting the battle area tidy—getting it sorted out, "I got reserves into the right place and got balanced—and you know what happened.... It looked to me as if Rundstedt was trying to do a big left hook to the River Meuse. 
There was not much there—there was damn little there—so I collected here and there, pulled in divisions and formed an army corps under that very fine American General Collins [Major General J. Lawton Collins]." 

 Como, come. 

     "It took a knock. I said “Dear me, this cant go on. It's being swallowed up in the battle”. 
 I managed to form the corps again. Once more pressure was such that it began to disappear in a defensive battle. "I said, 'Come, come,' and formed it again and it was put in offensively by General Hodges after we had consulted together, and that is his present job." What had turned the trick? “… 
    The good fighting qualities of the American soldier. 
I take to hat off to .. such men.... 
I salute the brave fighting men of America
I never want to fight alongside better soldiers.... 
I have tried to feet that I am almost an American soldier myself." 
 There was much yet to be done. 
What would do it? 
"Allied teamwork." 
 As a U.S. football coach might to his high-school charges, Monty spoke: "It is teamwork that pulls you through. … 
Let us rally round the captain of the team and so help to win the match. 
Let me tell you that the captain of our team is General Eisenhower. 
I am absolutely devoted to Ike. . . . 
It grieves me when I see uncomplimentary articles about him in the British press.. . 
He needs our fullest support.. .. And so I would ask all of you . . to stop that sort of thing. . 
 "Ike is a very great friend of mine. 
 My own airplane was damaged the other day. I cried to Ike, “Cant you lend me another plane?” 
He sent me his own at once—wonderful." 
 What about the Germans? Said Monty: "I used to think that Rommel was good. ... 
Rundstedt is the best German general I have come up againsL . . 
I would very much like to get myself into Rundstedt’s brain for a couple of minutes. 

 The Eagles Scream 

     The Screaming Eagles of the 101st Airborne Division screamed loud bast week. They had been given all credit for their indomitable, week-long stand in Bastogne, but now they beget to hear it said that they had been "rescued." 
    To the airtroopers, professional tough men, this was a fighting word. Said their deputy commander, Brigadier General Anthony Clement McAuliffe, author of the now-famed reply "Nuts", who had been in charge during the siege: "We resent any implication we were rescued or needed rescue. The whole thing was just our dish. . . .     
    When we were left during the corps “withdrawal. our commander told to not to get ourselves surrounded. That's a laugh."

 To show how cocky were his "battered bastards of the bastion of Bastogne," the slight, weather-beaten general told a story: 
    two of the men had visited Napoleon's tomb in Paris. 
    One said, "The greatest soldier that ever lived is buried there." 
     The second Eagle retorted: "Aw, when did he ever jump?” 


  Rundstedt's Choice Battered and bedevilled, the German salient in the Ardennes shrank, squirmed, changed shape. Allied counterblows from three directions forced Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt to make a decision. 

He could stand and fight a battle that was turning against him. or he could back up with his well earned gains. 

He chose retreat—and conducted it with consummate skill and minimum losses (see below). 

Top U.S. military sources were now agreed that Rundstedt had aimed. primarily, to capture the Allied communications center at Liege, seize or smash the great supply dumps there. 

The Germans probably never expected to reach the sea, although they might not have hesitated to push on for Antwerp and the coast if Allied resistance had fallen apart. 

But they failed even to capture Liege—and thus failed to force a withdrawal of the Allied positions fronting the Ruhr. 

Yet Rundstedt had achieved what was, undoubtedly. his secondary aim: to disrupt the Allied offensive for four to six months. In casualties he had probably got an even break. 

The Allies claimed some 50.000 Germans dead or wounded, 40.000 taken prisoner. 

Last week Secretary Stimson gave a preliminary count of 40.000 American casualties. including 18.000 missing, but this obviously did not include all the categories of losses. 

Rundstedt had sacrificed about half the men, armor and transport committed to his great gamble. He therefore had left, almost intact, the equivalent of ten mobile and partly armored divisions. 

He was also reported to have received four or five fresh reserve divisions from Norway. And so his striking power last week was still formidable. 

It was certainly enough for a new thrust, in the west if he chose to ignore the threat of the Russian winter offensive and take another gamble. 

Presumably Rundstedt had been well briefed by Goebbels & Co. on Allied psychology, and hoped to shake the Allied command structure, create dissension and mutual distrust in Britain and the U.S. 

There was some U.S. bewilderment over Field Marshal Montgomery's cocky histrionics last fortnight (Time Jan. 15). some British grumbling at a statement issued last week by General Bradley' in which he said his Twelfth Army Group would resume command of the U.S. Armies north of the bulge after the bulge had disappeared. 

But the Allied command team was intact and operating in harmony, which helped to quiet raucous voices. The team had work to do, It had been thrown for a big loss and the way to the enemy's goal was long and hard.

Ice, Snow & Blood.

One day the temperature went down to 9* above zero. 

When the blizzards stopped. the wind blew and the snow drifted. 

Water froze in canteens; motorized troops on the move built fires on the steel bottoms of their trucks. 

In the dark mornings the doughboys climbed out of their foxholes. sleepless, stiff-legged and red-eyed, to fight another day. 

The wounded died where they fell unless they were quickly picked up. 

The medics kept their morphine Syrettes under their armpits to pre-vent congealing. 

When the thaw came, fog settled. 

On most days Cub artillery spotters could get off the ground, and some days heavy bombers were able to attack rear bases and communications by using their "mickeys" (radar bombsights). But for ten straight days, Allied tactical air support was pinned to the ground, except for a few ineffective sorties. 

Fine Weather.

It was fine weather for a withdrawal, and canny Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt made the most of it. 

Voiksgrenadiere in trenches took up the tight, while armor and SS infantry pulled out. 

In some sectors, the punching, pushing Allies encountered aggressive "counter-reconnaissance screening forces"—in others, only mines in the snow, unguarded roadblocks and the eternal booby traps. 

Around Bastogne, Rundstedt counter-attacked persistently to shield the swelling stream of German tanks and transport flowing east through Houffalize and Saint-Vith. 

The Berlin radio announced that the Germans were evacuating Saint-Hubert. 

When the Allies entered the town a day later, it was empty. The U.S. 2nd Armored and 84th infantry found only nine Germans in Laroche. 

The British, pushing against the nose of the salient, suddenly discovered nothing ahead of them, swept up 100 square miles in two days. 

Rundstedt had to hold apart the Allied pincers north and south of Houffalize--- and he did. But in the "box position” -which jutted southeast of Bastogne, the Germans were mauled. 

The area had been shelled by heavy Allied field guns 4 hours a day ever since Dec 27. 

Finally, General Patton attacked the box simultaneously from west and south. trapped a sizable enemy force, captured 3,400, killed other thousands. chased the rest into the woods. 

At Last, Airplanes. 

At week's end the 30th Infantry and 82nd Airborne delivered a massive blow at the German bulge northwest of Saint-Vith. 

The enemy reaction was instant and furious: the Yanks were rocked back by counterattacks with infantry and tanks. 

But U.S. troops took the blow. and shoved forward again. 

The weather cleared at last, and a huge swarm of Allied fighter bombers set out to smash the enemy columns on the roads. 

It was good hunting, though probably too late to inflict more than superficial wounds. 

Even when the Yanks cut the main highway between Houffalize and Saint-Vith, the Germans still had a net of secondary roads to move on. 

Rundstech seemed in good shape to hold a more easterly defense line, or to go all the way hack to the concrete fastnesses of the West wall. 

Some 4,000 Allied bombers and fighter escorts, profiting by the weather break to attack oil plants deep in Germany. raised a swarm of Luftwaffe interceptors. 

At least 232 German fighters were downed, while the first count of Allied losses showed only 45 planes missing. 

The Wasp and The Fire. 

Meanwhile, the Germans. kept up their diversionary offensive in Alsace-Lorraine. 

This show was commanded by a rough-&-tumble general named Hermann Balck, who had distinguished himself in the Nazi retreat up the Rhone valley in France, and who_had been built up in German popular esteem as a successor to the late Erwin Rommel. 

When the U.S. Seventh Army held and shoved hack the German bulge south of Bitche. Balck attacked at Rimling, on the west shoulder of the Bitche salient. 

He also renewed his attacks on the French from the Colmar pocket, drove to within ten miles of Strasbourg. 

Considering the relatively small forces involved, Strasbourg's recapture would be a juicy political plum for the Nazis. 

This week Balck was thrusting with tank and flame-throwers into the Seventh Army's Maginot Line positions near  Haguenau.

It seemed likely that these harassments would continue at least until the Ardennes situation was stabilized. 

To Eisenhower, Balck's offensive was like a wasp snarling around a man who is trying to put out a fire. 


Whose Initiative?

That was the question: who had the initiative last week on the western front? 

  • The Germans had it in Alsace, 
  • the British had it in the north. 
  • Nobody had it in the Ardennes, where the Germans were successfully evacuating the last of their armor and crack infantry, and where the U.S. was successfully liquidating the German bulge. 

Squeeze on Strasbourg. 

Liberated France, cold, hungry and disillusioned. waited tensely for news as the threat to her beloved Strasbourg increased from day to day. 

At Gambsheim, eleven miles north of Strasbourg, the Germans beefed up their bridgehead with men and tanks from across the Rhine. 

From it, they struck north, west and south. 

On the north, they joined with other Nazi units attacking Hatten—a village whose shelltorn, fire-blackened ruins had been fought over for more than a week—and thus established a front from Gambsheim dear across to the Lorraine salient south of Bitche. 

The blow to the west drove the U.S. Seventh Army back five miles. 

Then the Germans shoved south to a point nine miles from Strasbourg. 

From the big Colmar pocket south of Strasbourg, the Germans had already probed within ten miles of the city. Thus, in their 19-mile strip of the Rhine's west bank, the French defenders of Strasbourg were squeezed on both sides. 

At week's end the French in the Belfort-Mulhouse area attempted a diversion by smacking the Colmar pocket's broad southern flank. Launched in a heavy snowstorm, this at-tack cut a deep gash in the enemy lines before it was slowed. 

The Germans wanted Strasbourg for its prestige value; the Allies wanted to bold it for the same reason. 

Strategically it was not worth a heavy commitment of reserves. But Major General Jean Delattre de Tassigny promised a last-ditch defense. 

Holding the Funnels. 

The Ardennes bulge dwindled to a strip which reached only twelve miles into Belgium at the widest point, east of Houffalize. 

The Germans evacuated their funnel at Houffalize. which had served its purpose, but seemed determined to hold the funnel at Saint-Vith for a few days longer. 

Clearing weather enabled Allied tactical pilots to take a last crack at German vehicles, of which they destroyed more than 1,000. 

On the south, General Patton's onrushing Third Army came within range of German guns firing from the casemates of the Westwall itself. 

The Germans' 10th and 11th Armored Divisions, which had spearheaded the Ardennes offensive. suddenly reappeared in other sectors 

- one in the battle for Strasbourg, 

- the other on the Third Army's front, south of Trier. 

In the north last week General Sir Miles C. Dempsey's British Second Army launched an attack on the German salient between Roermond and Geilenkirchen. 

This appeared to be no more than a line-straightening operation, to bring the British up to the Roer, in line with the U.S. Ninth and First Army positions. 

Yet Dempsey's white-painted tanks and white-clad infantry advanced seven miles in three days, swept up a dozen villages, beat down with flame-throwers a counter-attack by Nazi paratroops. 

 * * * * *

Decorated veteran flies again for first time in 50 yearsUpdated: 

Nov. 07, 2011, 11:30 a.m. | 
Published: Nov. 07, 2011, 10:30 a.m. 
 By and Press-Register Correspondent 


Richard Cassady joined the Army Air Corps in 1942. (Courtesy of Debbie Murphy) 

 MOBILE, Alabama — 

    At age 88, retired USAF pilot Richard Cassady recently got the chance after 50 years to take the controls of an airplane, thanks to Jack Thomas, a man he didn't even know. 
     A decorated career military man and reconnaissance pilot whose heroism was detailed in a Time Magazine article on Jan. 15, 1945, 

    Cassady served his country during World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam. 
Cassady fell in love with flying when he was a child in Nashville, Ark. 
"I saw my first airplane — a crop duster — when I was 4 years old," he said. "I said then, 'That's what I am going to do, fly an airplane.'" 
     In January 1942, a month after the U.S. entered World War II, Cassady joined the Army Air Corps, later the U.S. Air Force. 
His ultimate job was to fly his P51 Mustang single-engine fighter plane on weather reconnaissance, bomb-damage assessment, photographic reconnaissance and visual reconnaissance missions. 

     He took part in the offensive against the Siegried Line from September to December 1944, and in the Battle of the Bulge, December 1944 to January 1945

     His daring, heroic and successful recon mission in the Bulge was detailed in Time and later in books by "Tiger" Joe Thompson ("A Photographic Diary of World War II") and Major Harry Francks ("Winter Journey through the 8th"). 
     In the Time article, the writer tells of the coming crisis as "a large German armored task force of tanks, tank destroyers, self-propelled guns and trucks snaked northward" to "seize U.S. gasoline and supply dumps just beyond Stavelot (Belgium) to cut in behind the communications and supply lines of the First and Ninth Armies."
     If the Germans took tiny Stavelot, they'd be only 22 miles from Liege (Belgium), a vital U.S. supply point at the end of the line from Antwerp, the writer explains. If Liege fell, the U.S. would have to retreat from the whole Aachen-Duren area (the main fighting front during the Allied invasion of Germany).
     Though U.S. tanks were on their way to meet the enemy, their arrival would take 40 hours, at least. And in front of the advancing Germans "were only pathetic detachments of U.S. service troops, supply stevedores, civil-affairs officers, medics, clerks." 
     The immediate task was to get every fighter bomber into action, but those aircraft were deployed in other crucial actions. 
And anyway, there was slim hope that there would be any let-up of the week-long drizzle and a fog so heavy and low that "even the birds were walking," as one writer put it. 
     Though there was little chance a plane could get off the ground, a call went out for two volunteers "to take a long chance: To fly their speedy Mustangs into the soup, trying to locate the enemy's forces."      Enter Capt. Richard Cassady and 2nd Lt. Abraham Jaffe. 
Cassady had flown 83 missions and was due for a rest. 
    But the two volunteered for the reconnaissance mission, meaning they had to fly less than 100 feet above the floors of the narrow valleys to get a glimpse of the roads and what was on them. 
    And they spotted what they were looking for — a column headed by 60 German tanks and armored vehicles with their scores of trucks and guns. 
 The photos the men brought back allowed General Vandenberg's Ninth Army fighter bombers to destroy the advancing army. 
    No German tank ever got far beyond Stavelot. The U.S. loss had been one plane. 

     In 1951, Cassady was in the Korean War; in the '60s, he served in the Vietnam War. 
Over the course of the three wars, he earned a multitude of medals and decorations, among them a Distinguished Flying Cross, a Purple Heart, a Bronze Star, numerous Air Medals and Combat Medals in all of the wars. 
But after the Korean War, he never flew again. 
 However, one of his daughters, Becky Owens, had a friend, Gary Duerksen, who worked with a recreational flyer, Jack Thomas. And that connection gave Col. 

Cassady his chance to fly an airplane again on Aug. 6, 2011 — half a century after he served his country as a pilot. "I've never known a World War II veteran who was also an aviator, so I was really excited about taking Mr. Cassady up," Thomas said. "

    When we took off (he flies a Cessna single-engine) and got leveled at 1,400 feet, just sightseeing around Dauphin Island, I let him take the controls, and after he got the hang of it, he did well." 
 Thomas read the Time magazine story about Cassady.
"The word 'hero' is used a lot," he said. "
But Mr. Cassady is a hero. 
His entire generation are true heroes and they deserve to be recognized as such." 

----- This story was written by Jo Anne McKnight, Press-Register Correspondent.

Richard H. Cassady, Lt. Col, USAF Retired Left us on Wednesday May 25, 2016.



Elwood Quesada was a member of the famous Question Mark endurance crew of 1929
    In the first week of January, Second Lieutenant Quesada flew as a crew member with Major Carl Spaatz, Captain Ira Eaker, and others in the Question Mark plane which set a sustained inflight refueling record of 151 hours - more than six days in the air over Los Angeles. 
The trimotor Fokker with Wright engines flew 11,000 miles and was refueled 43 times; nine refuelings were at night. 

    Elwood Richard Quesada was born in 1904 in Washington, D.C. 
Elwood "Pete" Quesada attended the Wyoming Seminary in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., the University of Maryland, and Georgetown University. 
Quesada enlisted in September 1924 as a flying cadet and received his wings and commission in the Air Reserve one year later. 
He was inactive for one and a half years but in September 1927 went on duty as an engineering officer at Bolling Field, Washington, D.C., where he served until June 1928. 
He became aide to Major General James Fechet, then chief of the Air Corps. Quesada went to Cuba as assistant military attache from October 1930 until April 1932. 
He returned to Bolling Field and was promoted to first lieutenant in November. Lieutenant Quesada became aide to F. Trubee Davison who was assistant secretary of war for air. 

Lieutenant Quesada flew Davison and explorer Martin Johnson all over Africa on a mission to collect animals for the New York Museum of Natural History in the summer of 1933. 
     Quesada was chief pilot on the New York-Cleveland route when the Army men flew the airmail in 1934. One year later he became commanding officer of Headquarters at Langley Field, Va. 
    He was promoted to captain in April 1935. Quesada served as aide to General Hugh Johnson, administrator of the NRA, and then Secretary of War Dern. 
    Quesada completed the Command and General School course at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., in June 1937 and went to Mitchel Field, N.Y., as flight commanding officer of the 1st Bomb Squadron. 
 His tour ended in June 1938 when he went to Argentina for two and a half years as technical advisor to Argentina's air force. 
He was assigned to intelligence in the Office of the Chief of Air Corps in October 1940 with promotion to major in February 1941. 
Quesada returned to Mitchel Field in July 1941 as commanding officer of the 33d Pursuit Group. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel in January 1942 and in July took command of the Philadelphia Region of the 1st Fighter Command. 
    Quesada became brigadier general in December 1942 and commanding general of the 1st Air Defense Wing at Mitchel Field. 
    He took this wing in early 1943 to Africa where he also commanded the 12th Fighter Command and was deputy commanding general of the Northwest African Coastal Air Force. 
    He participated in many operational flights during the Tunisian, Sicilian, Corsican and Italian campaigns, and remained head of the 12th until the landings in Italy were secured. 
Going to England in November 1943 as commanding general of the 9th Fighter Command, 
Quesada established advanced Headquarters on the Normandy beachhead on D-Day plus one, and directed his planes in aerial cover and air support for the Allied invasion of the continent. 

Quesada became commanding general of the 9th Command and the 9th Tactical Air Command in Europe in November 1943. In April 1944 he became a major general.

Quesada returned to the United States in June 1945 as assistant chief of air staff for intelligence at Headquarters Army Air Forces. 

General Quesada went to Tampa, Fla., as commanding general of the Third Air Force on March 1, 1946. This group soon became Tactical Air Command. 
As head of TAC he was promoted to lieutenant general in October 1947 and in November 1948 became special assistant for reserve forces at Headquarters U.S. Air Force. 
 General Quesada headed the Joint Technical Planning Committee for the Joint Chiefs in September 1949. 
He was designated commander of Joint Task Force-3 in that office in November 1949. Quesada retired Oct. 31, 1951. He was director of the Federal Aviation Agency from 1958-1961. 
Quesada has held executive positions with Olin Industries, Lockheed Aircraft, Topp Industries, and American Airlines. 

General Elwood Quesada's medals and awards include Distinguished Service Medal with oak leaf cluster; Distinguished Flying Cross; Purple Heart; Air Medal with two silver stars; American Defense Service Medal; European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal and seven bronze battle stars; World War II Victory Medal; British order of Bath (Degree of Companion); Commander of British Empire; French Legion of Honor; French Croix de Guerre with Palm; Luxembourg Croix de Guerre; Order of Adolphe of Nassau; Polish Pilot Badge; Commandeur de l'Ordre de la Couronne with Palm; Croix d'Officier de l'Order de la Couronne with Palm.


 This is one of a series of G.I. Stories of the Ground, Air and Service Forces in the European Theater of Operations, to be issued by the Stars and Stripes, a publication of the Information and Education Division, Special and Informational Services, ETOUSA... Major General E.R. Quesada, commanding the IX Tactical Air Command, lent his cooperation to the preparation of the pamphlet and basic material was supplied to the editors by his personnel. 

 The purpose of this booklet is not only to record the history of IX TAC, but to give everyone in this organisation an idea of what kind of a fighting team we are, and what an important part everyone on the team plays, even though he may not fly a Thunderbolt, a Lightning, or a Mustang. IX TAC still has a big job to do, but I am confident that every man will give more than that extra "10 percent" of his energies which puts more planes in the air, and will, in the final analysis, hasten the day when the German doughboy will cry "Achtung, Jabos" for the last time. 
Pete Quesada 

 The Story of the IX Tactical Air Command 


     THE red tile building at the intersection of two dusty roads near Putanges looked like an ordinary house in the hot August sunlight, but Maj. Randall W. Hendricks and the four Thunderbolts hovering above the tank column saw it as a death trap for Americans. The U.S. tank command on the ground couldn't know that two Tiger tanks had their muzzles trained at right angles to the road, all set to knock off the Shermans as they went by. 
    "Couple of tanks ahead of you," Maj. Hendricks radio-telephoned the tank commander. "How about us bombing them?" 
    "You're too close. You might knock us out, too," was the reply. 
    "Then swing your guns about 45 degrees left because those tanks are set to come out shooting." Sherman guns swung around. 
A few moments later, the ugly snouts of the Tiger 88s nosed out from behind the building. 
The American tanks fired immediately, but were not in range. 
The Tigers, however, scurried back to shelter. 
    "Put some bombs on them," said the tank commander. 
    "Achtung, Jabos.
    " There was no escape for the Tigers. Maj. Hendricks' flight peeled off in a steep dive. 
Bombs dropped. 
Tanks were knocked out. 
Meanwhile near Looges, German troops were holding up another tank column. 
The tank commander radioed to Thunderbolt Flight Leader Lt. Col. John D. Haesler of Loop City, Neb. Because the road ahead led through the trees, the tanker didn't think pilots could bomb without hitting his tanks. 
For 25 minutes, pilot and tank CO discussed the situation. 
The pilot won out. 
Two flights of Thunderbolts swooped to within 250 yards of the tanks and strafed the German position.     "How's that?" the Colonel called to the Shermans. 
With support like that we can go all the way to Berlin!    
    " The two tank columns didn't get to Berlin that day, but they made so much distance with the Thunderbolts that the Commanding General of the German Army phoned Field Marshal von Kluge to report "considerable tank losses and terrific fighter-bomber attacks." 

     THE previous week, Col. Helmdach, German G-3, phoned his Chief of Staff. 
    "G-3 reports enemy penetrated into Laval. 
Our troops showed signs of rout after strong fighter-bomber attacks." Commanding General of the German Seventh Army also called Field Marshal von Kluge. "
...We were unsuccessful, mainly because of the sizable fighter-bomber activity..." Col. Reinhard of the XLVII Panzer Corps called the Chief of Staff. "
The activities of the fighter-bombers are said to be unbearable. 
Liebstandarte also reports that fighter-bomber attacks of such caliber have never before been experienced. 
The attack of the Liebstandarte has been stopped. 
Five of their tanks are out of action.
" The Chief of Staff got still another call from the Commanding General of the enemy Army Group, West. "...
The actual attack has not made any progress since 1300 because of the large number of enemy fighter-bombers and the absence of our own...
" The climax came with U.S. tanks advancing towards Granchiel and Avranches. "
The enemy air superiority is terrific and smothers almost every one of our movements," phoned Field Marshal von Kluge to Gen. Warlimont, Hitler's personal representative in the West. 
"Every movement of the enemy is prepared and protected by its air force. 
Losses in men and equipment are extraordinary.
" Meanwhile, German troops in U.S. PW cages unconsciously coined a new catch phrase to describe the Allied weapon they feared most. "Jagdebombers" (Jabos for short), they said, from privates to generals. "The most terrifying weapon on the Western Front." 

     BECAUSE it was born of this war, IX Tactical Air Command lacks the history of an old Army outfit, but it has covered a lot of territory since activation. 

With one officer and one enlisted man as a start, IX TAC was on the way to becoming an outfit at Drew Field, Fla., in March 1942. 
Of the personnel, 65 percent were selectees, 15 per cent volunteers and 20 per cent regular Army. 
It was the first XII Fighter Command, later swapping names with the IX Fighter Command. 
    Initial stop for the command after it left the States was Africa. Commanding was Brig. Gen. A.C. Strickland, who also was Commanding General, Desert Air Task Force, headquarters in Tripoli. 
This became Advanced Headquarters, Ninth Air Force, later inactivated to become the Tripoli Base Command. 
    Then, after going to India, Suez and Egypt, the command arrived in England Nov. 5, 1943. Maj. Gen. E.R. "Pete" Quesada, (then Brig. Gen.) had been appointed CG Oct. 18. 
    Two days later he was decorated with the Order of Commander of the British Empire, for work in Africa. 
In practice, IX Fighter Command became IX Air Support Command. Fighter Command assumed control of all operations for IX and XIX Tactical Air Command in March 1944. 
On April 20, IX Air Support Command was officially changed to IX TAC. 
The American doughfoot on the ground was enthusiastic about fighter-bombers. 
When Thunderbolts and Lightnings came over he waved to them. 
     One day near Mons, Belgium, he and his buddies sat down on the roadside and watched IX TAC pilots come in to strafe a convoy, confident that the pilots would pinpoint targets and not hit U.S. troops. When a war correspondent searched for boys from Philadelphia wanting to send Christmas messages home to the folks through the newspaper's columns, one GI gave him a piece of paper which said, "For Christmas I want some good weather so the fighter-bombers can come over and give us a hand." 

    Pilots are just as enthusiastic about air-ground teamwork, especially those who have served as ground controllers in tanks. 
They think the doughfoot is a great guy, and they're not reticent about saying so. 
But it wasn't always as slick. Like any football team, air and ground had a long period of practice before they worked as smoothly as they do now. 
Some of the experimenting even had to take place in battle, not in a laboratory. 

    BEFORE D-Day, there weren't any tech manuals on "How to Dive-Bomb a Bridge" or "How to Pinpoint an 88." 
Pilots learned the hard way. 
Some of them, in their anxiety to make good, went down so low that they were caught in the blast of their own bombs. 
Others came back from deck-strafing with everything from branches to nuts and bolts caught in the undercarriage. At first many of them came in at the wrong angles. 
But at last dive-bombing was broken up into skip-bombing, glide-bombing and buzz-bombing—each for a specific type of target. 

    Then results of experience and practice began to show. 
Toughest problem was working with the man on the ground. 
At St. Lo, ground officers directed fighter-bombers. 
They didn't know how close a P-47 or a P-38 could come to the line without hitting U.S. troops. 
They didn't know whether to strafe or bomb a position. 
 But they did know that they had a tremendous striking force at their disposal. 
 St. Lo was a good job, but more teamwork was required: a man to direct the planes, and a man to know where they were most needed on the ground. 
Pilots as ground controllers in tanks worked with ground officers to pick targets. 
This team has proven to be one of the most successful innovations of this war. 
 Prior to the invasion, IX TAC did escort work for the 8th Air Force. 
When heavies went to bomb Hanover, Dusseldorf, Cologne and the long list of strategic targets, Thunderbolts and Lightnings shepherded them to and from their objectives. 
    On Jan. 11, near Oschersleben, Germany, Mustangs from the Pioneer Group, led by Col. James H. Howard (then Maj.) were protecting a group of Fortresses. 
When they were attacked by a large number of enemy aircraft, the Colonel shot down an ME-110, and became separated from his group. Returning to the heavies, he ran into 30 FW 190s attacking the bombers. Col. Howard could have waited for his group to assemble, but he chose to attack by himself.         He lit into the German formation despite tremendous odds against him and shot down three (bringing his total to four). 
The Nazis fled. 
Then out of ammunition and gas dangerously low, Col. Howard headed for home. 
As soon as the bombers rolled to a stop at British bases, crews were babbling excitedly over the daredevil pilot who had saved them. 
They claimed Col. Howard knocked out six planes. 
Ninth Air Force gave credit for four. 
But the scorebook doesn't count. 
The Congressional Medal of Honor which the Colonel wears with his other decorations, and the knowledge that crews think he really deserves it do count. 
IX Cracks Hitler's Bridgework 

    HOW TO CLOG COMMUNICATIONS TO IX TAC fell the important task of knocking out bridges and communications on the continent. 
In addition to enemy aircraft, the pilots now had to worry about flak. Dive-bombing by IX TAC fighters actually began March 15, 1944, when a group attacked St. Valery Airdrome. 
There were eight Thunderbolts, each with a 250-pound bomb. 
Hits were scored on runway and airfield. Targets were bridges, railroads, trucks, troops. 
The Army asked IX TAC to help smash the Seine bridges, so that when the invasion began the Germans would find it difficult to reinforce their armies, or to retreat into Belgium. Gen. Quesada's pilots did such a good job that when the German was pushed out of France far ahead of schedule.
     U.S. troops grumbled because so few bridges were left behind. 
While the Thunderbolts and Lightnings were catching Germans with their Panthers down, the unsung recce pilots were swooping down on Hitler's Atlantic Wall, photographing the beaches that on June 6 became famous in history as "Omaha," "Victor," and "Utah." 
    One of these pilots, a captain, flew so low that his pictures showed startled workers putting in the iron stakes which failed to stem the tide of men and machines which later poured in. 
He got a DFC for the job. 
Before D-Day, IX TAC's primary job was to isolate the battlefield—Normandy. 
It was broken up into two phases: paralysing the railroads, and cutting the bridges. 
    Both of these objectives required new tactics. 
When enemy aircraft appeared fighter-bombers jettisoned their bombs and engaged the Nazis. 
But these were merely interludes in the big job which continued day after day without letup. 
Following March 15, the Germans constantly were harassed. 
Bridges across the Seine were so badly shattered that during the retreat from Normandy, the Krauts were forced to build ponton bridges or to use small river boats and barges. 
Marshalling yards filled with priceless rolling stock were bombed and strafed unmercifully. 
Tunnel-busting became a fine art. 
    When pilots spotted a train entering a tunnel they skipped bombs into both ends to seal the train inside, then bombed the tunnel itself. 
Near Canisy a locomotive was shredded until it looked like a steel broom. 

It wasn't as easy as it sounds. 
Germans got tired of having their trains shot up. 
 They ran flak trains with ack-ack guns mounted on alternate cars. 
Box cars often hid camouflaged ack-ack guns. 
New pilots were profiting from the lessons of Africa. 
As fighter-bombers turned more attention to ground targets and less to escorting medium and heavy bombers into Germany and France, the chances of becoming an "Ace" dropped to almost nothing. 
    But compensation came later when the doughfoot, who used to regard the pilot as a glamour boy who flew up high where the going looked easy, came to love him like a brother and missed him when he wasn't there. As operations changed, so did the planes. 
    No longer painted olive drab, fighter-bombers went out as "silvery shapes" flashing in the sun. Although supremacy over the continent had been established, speed was more important than camouflage. 

    The Luftwaffe still came out, but not in too great strength, not with any regularity. 
The AEAF (Allied Expeditionary Air Force) had five major targets in the month preceding D-Day to prepare the ground for invasion. 
    IX TAC concentrated on three: marshalling yards, airfields and bridges. 
Hitting the first would delay movement of supplies and reinforcements; smashing the second was to prevent the Germans from having fighter and bomber bases near assault areas; attacks against the third were to delay movements of supplies and reinforcements to invasion areas once the battle had begun.  

       During May, IX TAC planes flew 14,000 sorties, 
                used more than 5,000,000 gallons of gasoline, 
                dropped over 2500 tons of bombs, 
                fire more than 800,000 rounds of ammunition. 

    This was the preview to the big show. Opportunity Knocks on D-Day IX TAC TOPS ITS OWN SORTIE RECORD IF they had known that an Air Combat Control squadron was sitting out in the Channel only seven miles from Isigny on D-Day, ground troops would have been the most surprised men in the world. 
They were astonished to find IX TAC personnel on Omaha Beach on D plus 2. 
Sitting out in the Channel on the USS Ancon, the combat control squadron broke its radio and radar silence at 0611 June 6. 
From then on, it directed fighter-bombers in the air and helped detect enemy planes. 
IX TAC flew more than 1400 sorties, a record in its history up to that time. 
TAC recce planes flew back and forth giving information on targets. 
Planes reported the success of prearranged missions. 
Planes on patrol were told to stand by for targets of opportunity. 

    There were so many Allied planes in the air that almost every returning pilot said he had to put his hand out to make a turn. 
    D plus 1 was worse. 
IX Fighter Command flew 1594 sorties. 
Three groups flew 36 armed recce missions. Lt. Gen. Lewis H. Brereton, then Commanding General of the Ninth, commended them in a letter to Gen. Quesada: "On June 7, groups of your command furnished close continuous support to the Omaha Beachhead area. 

    The situation there was critical, and by the excellent attacks and continuous support rendered by you, restored a delicate situation." Gen. Quesada added his own message to Gen. Brereton's: "It is possible, if not probable, that their efforts were in a large part responsible for the attack on Omaha Beach continuing. 
History may show they saved the day." Non-flying personnel plunged ashore on D plus 2 when they stepped off into what they thought was shallow water off Omaha Beach and had to swim for shore. Life-belts didn't help much. 
Three headquarters squadron sergeants shuttled back and forth like lifeguards. 
    Finally everyone landed, wet and miserable—no pup tents, no blankets. 
There was fighting on the beaches, and it was more important to find a foxhole than to worry over the comforts of life. 
When the rest of the squadron arrived, there were enough gruesome tales ready to keep them gaping for a long time. "
The Veterans" had established themselves, and the unsung hero was a private named "Jake," who still claims he dug the first latrine in Normandy. 
No one has ever contested his claim. 
    The German lines weren't too far away, and the Hun had minelaying planes darting across the area. Danger, however, was in falling fragments of Allied ack-ack. 
Helmets which had been shoved away under bunks in England now were treated with respect. 
The Engineering Command did a bang-up job of building strips under fire. Even on D-Day an emergency landing strip was carved out of Normandy fields. 
Within the next week, squadrons were landing and taking off on longer strips. On June 15, planes were landing on A-1. Col. Gilbert L. Meyers' Thunderbolt group was the first to have a squadron based in Normandy on June 19. 
The remainder of the command trickled over on a C-47; the plane carried everything from guns to bicycles. 
    Once established on the continent, IX TAC moved into tents. 
Then came the long trek across France in the wake of advancing armies to smear the Wehrmacht's railroads and trucks. 
Nazi supermen had to fall back on horse-drawn vehicles. 

    PAYOFF was St. Lo. This sleepy, unknown little French town turned out to be the Allies' 20-yard line and called for a razzle-dazzle play to shake things loose. 
The High Command had the play. IX TAC took a big part in the blocking for ground troops. 
Altogether, about 3000 planes set to smash German lines and break the ground forces into the clear. 
 The area in which the fighter-bombers were to operate was 7000 yards long, 250 yards wide. In short, fighters worked closer to ground troops than ever before. 
St. Lo was not only the turning point in the battle for France—it was the proving ground for air support. It was the first time fighter-bombers really had a chance to clear the path to let doughfeet and tanks through. First more than 1500 heavies of the 8th Air Force came to blanket the St. Lo-Perriers area. 
Then 300 mediums of IX Bomber Command attacked three areas west of the heavies. 
Three thousand tons of bombs were dropped with good results. 
Then fighter-bombers came in—15 groups divided into two wings. (At that time, Fighter Command included XIX and IX TAC.) Groups met over strip A-10, checked in with flying control, flew directly to St. Lo.
     The target area was divided into the Eastern and Western Fighter Bomber areas—and they alternated between the two. 
The first group in each wing attacked the Eastern area, the second group the Western. At three-minute intervals groups appeared over the target. 
Five hundred planes dropped 200 tons of bombs in the initial attack. 
When it was over, one of the pilots described the area as "covered with a pall of smoke up to 2000 feet as far north as Carentan, where it was about 8 miles wide." 

The area was badly chewed up. Most of the ack-ack was silenced, because either barrels were burned out shooting at the heavies, or the Krauts were out of ammunition. 

    AFTER the initial breakthrough, doughfeet and tanks really began to roll. 
Fighter-bombers flew almost 10,000 sorties and dropped more than 2000 tons of bombs between July 25 and July 31. 
The mission also included direct support. 
Flights of four would fly half-hour shifts over the head of a tank column, and lead it down the road. 

The support worked in two ways. 

Tank commanders either asked the planes to scout the road ahead to see if there was any opposition, or they called on planes for help when opposition was encountered. 
When a single Sherman was surrounded by 13 Panzers, a flight of fighter-bombers dispersed the Panzers and saved the M-4. 
When a fighter-bomber swooped down on the enemy half-tracks near Canisy, Krauts jumped out and began waving a white flag. 
The pilot radioed Army to pick up prisoners. 

"Achtung, Jabos!" was already a standard alert for the Germans.
 Telephone conversations between members of the Nazi High Command began blaming fighter-bomber attacks for inability to advance, or to stop the U.S. attacks. 
After the initial breakthrough, fighter-bombers held a field day. 
First they bombed crossroads.
 Then they knocked out bridges. 
They smacked Panzer tanks, left them burning.
 When tanks took off cross-country, planes swooped down on them like vultures. 
    On July 29, pilots hung up the scalps of 37 tanks, damaged 42 and knocked out more than 200 trucks. Nazi Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel sent out a warning to his commanders about the effectiveness of what he called the "Anglo-Saxon air force." 
He didn't have to—they were well aware of it. July 31 was another field day. 
Pilots in the air between Granville, Gravery and Avranches threw Sunday punches at the Wehrmacht.         They added to their totals of ground targets, hit railroads and bridges behind German lines, knocked down 14 enemy planes and broke up a counter-attack in the middle of the U.S. lines. 
They blocked the roads. 
They chased Nazi convoys unmercifully up and down the highways and left so many shattered, burning and crippled vehicles that fleeing Krauts had trouble weaving in and out of the wreckage.
     Trucks were parked bumper to bumper like a Saturday afternoon crowd leaving a football game at the Polo Grounds. Even attempts to hide behind the hedgerows proved futile. Pilots swept down to 35 feet from the ground, smacking everything they could see. 
Meanwhile German high commanders screamed at each other over field telephones. One Nazi corps commander called frantically for Luftwaffe air cover. 

"It should be there any minute," he was told. "

According to Col. Blowius, planes have taken off." 
"I've seen only one all day," the corps commander complained. 
"That's one more than I have," snapped his superior. 
To pilots who participated, the St. Lo operation represented an opportunity to show ground troops what fighter-bombers could do. 
To Germans it was a headache. 
Planes crippled them, snarled their supply network, smeared their plan of attack. 
Planes and tanks had become an unbeatable team. 

    DURING early August, the Germans started backing up towards their own goal line. 
It wasn't orderly like Rommel's retreat in Africa, but a confused series of routs. 
Large enemy units became isolated from one another. 
A few made stands, falling back slowly. 
As headquarters and groups pitched tents across France, fighter-bombers kept slashing unmercifully at German communications. 
Through the long summer days they prowled the countryside, beating convoys and railroad trains into twisted and charred debris. 
    German prisoners related that they spent a lot of time digging-in to escape these attacks. 
Vehicles moved in groups of three or four at night, with 500-yard intervals. 
Then they began to fall back on horse-drawn equipment. Aerial battles were eclipsed by pinpoint bombing, which developed into a science. 
First Lt. Walter J. Ozment, Jr., of Cannelton, W. Va., was west of Mortain one afternoon when he saw a Nazi tank with the hatch open. 
 He came down to 1000 feet and planted a bomb right through the opening. Maj. Robert C. "Buck" Rogers, on a mission with some Lightnings, skipped two 1000-pound bombs into the mouth of a railroad tunnel. Col. Howard F. Nichols and a squadron of his Lightnings blasted von Kluge's headquarters; the Colonel skipped a bomb right through the front door. 

    One dramatic incident turned out to be an errand of mercy. 
A tank column was trapped between the burning village of Ranes, which it had just captured, and enemy lines. 
A seriously injured tanker of the column was too far away from the medical station to receive help in time to save his life.
It was 1900 hours when Capt. James A. Mullen, flight leader of a Thunderbolt formation protecting another column, got the radio message. 

"Please have air controller send up blood plasma in a hurry." 

    Less than two hours after the appeal, 1st Lt. Willard R. Haines, Atlanta, Ga., roared down below tree-top level into a hail of intense small arms fire to drop a specially packed belly tank containing plasma, morphine and sulfa drugs. 
Lt. Haines' flap machinery was smashed, but he managed to get back safely. 
While Thunderbolts bombed and strafed the enemy a short distance away, the wounded tanker got a new lease on life. 
"Milk Run" Over Falaise 

JABOS SLASH OPEN A POCKET COMMUNICATIONS along the Loire had been ground down. Bridges were out. 
Railroads were paralyzed. 
At Falaise the Germans huddled together on their own 15-yard line. 
What happened is called the "Falaise Pocket," but IX TAC fighter-bombers borrowed a phrase from the 8th to describe it—the "milk run." 
    Maj. Joseph L. McCloskey, St. Louis, Mo., flew over the area one afternoon and came home biting his lips. 
There were 1000 uncamouflaged vehicles along a series of roads, but infantry had moved so fast the pilots were told to lay off. 
The U.S. could use the vehicles. IX TAC pilots caught Germans trying to escape towards the Seine on Aug. 24 and knocked out more than 400 trucks, armored vehicles and horse-drawn equipment. 

    Next day Lightnings from two of the groups shot down 41 of the Luftwaffe but lost only nine. 
In the four days from Aug. 24 to 28, Col. Gilbert L. Meyers' Thunderbolt group destroyed 426 vehicles, damaged 125. 
    On the 25th, between Soissons and Laon, they knocked out 213, damaged 46. 
But the big day was Sept. 3. 
Roads over the Mons-Bavai canal in southern Belgium were choked with men in green. 
Trucks, armored cars, staff cars, wagons and horses were all drawn up, bumper to bumper. Col. Ray J. Stecker came back from a mission to report 1000 vehicles stalled in and around Mons. 
The Luftwaffe was nowhere in sight. 
It was cold turkey. 
Pilots reported the confusion as indescribable. 
Ground troops moved in so quickly that U.S. vehicles merged into enemy convoys. 
Thunderbolts and Lightnings had to be careful not to hit friendly troops. 
Lt. Col. Louis T. Houck of Todd, N.C., reported at least 1000 vehicles burning and mangled along the roads and hedgerows. 
    Climax of the day was the show put on by Thunderbolt pilot Lt. Zell Smith of Monroe, La. 
On the outskirts of Enghien, he spotted U.S. troops just about to enter a town, waggled his wings at the doughfeet below along a railroad track. Lt. Smith then put on a demonstration of pinpoint strafing, laying a gun pattern over a column of Nazi trucks. 
He came back for another pass at the convoy. 
When he waved a final farewell, the troops moved in to mop up what was left. 
TAC pilots had destroyed 919 trucks and 775 horse-drawn vehicles. 
    In a little more than 30 days, 9000 pieces of enemy transportation had been marked off the books.
To make all this possible, Signal Corps had strung enough wire to stretch from New York to Berlin. Reconnaissance pilots who flew through flak continued to be the unsung heroes, snapping pictures ahead of the Army to provide the pilots with new targets, and checking the extent of the damage. 
     Photo recce boys took most of the pictures.
TAC/R boys had to go down and look for themselves. 

    Paris was liberated and it was fun for a change to buzz the Eiffel Tower. 
The GI perched on top to record every plane that buzzed the famous landmark reported that every type of aircraft had made a pass except a Fortress. 
When that happened he said he would be ready for a transfer.  
Meanwhile, the Germans were almost back on their own goal line, and the Aachen show began. 

    THE Siegfried Line changed the emphasis of aerial warfare back to close support. 
The concrete-studded belt was backed up by heavy pillboxes, underground concrete fortresses and minefields. 
No longer fleeing, German troops were dug-in on the hillsides, entrenched in cellars, well camouflaged and tough. Ground controllers in tanks and at CPs picked out targets in front of ground troops to prevent Germans from bringing up supplies. 
As always they chewed up any of the Luftwaffe that put in an appearance. 
Days shortened and the weather became spotty. 

    IX TAC couldn't get planes into the air as early as formerly. 
Doughfeet missed them and said so. 
Near Diekirch, on Sept. 19, Maj. William D. Ritchie of Pine Bluff, Ark., and Maj. John R. Murphy of McAllen, Tex., received letters of commendation from Gen. Quesada for leading squadrons which knocked out tanks and stopped a counter-attack against 

    First Army troops cut off on the German side of a river. U.S. fighters had the measure of the Luftwaffe. 
The bugaboo was flak. It still is. 
Pilots found it at every altitude, from 88mm to small arms fire. 
It became one of a long list of targets. 
    Flak is a belt along the entire front, extending in depth behind the German line. 
Light stuff, small arms and 20mm, is the pilot's greatest worry. 
One of the weirdest aerial battles on record took place just south of Arnheim Sept. 28. 

    Late that afternoon the Thunderbolt group led by Col. Carroll W. McColpin of Buffalo, N.Y., nosed into about 20 ME 109s and FW 190s. 
Within 15 minutes, 2nd Lt. John W. Wainwright of Marshall, Tex., who had never seen a German plane was an ace—and then some. 
Turning towards a group of Thunderbolts, an ME 109 slid down in front of him. 
He gave it a burst and it exploded. 
Next he caught an ME 109 in a flat spin, threw it a burst and that one blew up. 

    What happened next made history. 

Two ME 109s were directly behind him. 
He went into a spin to escape. 
As he came out, he began shooting at them. 
They collided in front of him. 
The German leader, attempting a right turn, had run into his own wing man. 
    Lt. Wainwright ducked into a cloud, headed home, but as he poked his nose out of the cloud, two ME 109s began firing at him. 
Ducking back, he reappeared a moment later, in time to see them collide and burn. 
He got credit for six planes—with plenty of help from the Luftwaffe.

     AACHEN was the five-yard line. 
The world was watching. 
Not too concerned with the town itself, the fighter-bombers wanted to snag the troops and equipment coming up to defend it. 
As a result, 50 per cent of the missions were direct support, with planes turned over to the ground controller for bombing and strafing ahead of first line troops. 
 During early October, every little town and village within 15 miles of Aachen was hit. 
The attack against railroads bringing up supplies from the rear also continued. Maj. Gen. Edward R. Brooks, commanding general of the First Army's V Corps, sent a letter of commendation to Gen. Quesada, praising IX TAC for its work "in repelling vicious German counter-attacks and in accounting for an appreciable number of enemy personnel and vehicles, including tanks and artillery." 
    To his pilots, Gen. Quesada wrote: "It is a pleasure to have your exceptional performance recognized by the ground forces." 
The Aachen sector was plastered for 20 long days. 
Surrounding towns were strafed daily. Pilots swooped low to knock out strongpoints and observation posts for artillery batteries. 
One afternoon the doughfeet were so grateful for this bull's-eye bombing which wiped out two dug-in mortar and gun positions outside of Aachen that by the time pilots returned an informal telephone commendation was relayed from the front to the base. 
    Aachen finally fell, but there was no lull for pilots. 
Every position in surrounding areas had to be blasted and cleaned out. 
Rail lines had to be cut and the enemy kept from bringing up supplies. 
After the city's official demise, fighter-bombers started hacking away again at German lines of communication. 
    The Luftwaffe came back sporadically. 
During the latter part of October as many as 100 a day would appear on various sections of the First Army front. 
Some were aggressive, but the majority fled. 

    When jet-propelled ME 163s made their first appearance, Capt. Valmore J. Beaudreault of New York was credited with the first, which he drove into the ground. 

    NOV. 16 dawned cold and clear, almost a month after the taking of Aachen. It was another D-Day. Eleven hundred hours was another H-Hour. 
The Army had waited six days for good flying weather over Eschweiler, for a play through the line with air running interference. 
First heavies from the 8th came in to blanket Eschweiler itself, about 30 square miles. 
Mediums hit nearby towns. 
The RAF took objectives farther to the rear. 

     IX TAC did the close-up blocking. 
IX TAC flew more than 200 sorties that day, despite a low ceiling that made close work hazardous. Almost as many planes jammed the air as at St. Lo. 
Bomb holes every 25 feet were outlined by the first snowfall. Here, near the goal line, yardage gained wasn't big. 
But it represented perfect teamwork. "Langerwehe is badly beaten up," reported a major. "
The center of Duren is flat," said a recce pilot. 
Pictures proved it. Little towns whose names were only on large scale maps took the spotlight. 
     They were hit until cleaned out, often continuously for three and four days. 
 American infantrymen on Nov. 18 found themselves pinned down by artillery fire a few miles southeast of Eschweiler. 

Thunderbolts strafed and bombed positions not more than 200 yards in front of the line. 
They were so close, the ground controller said he was able to describe the entire action in detail. 
    Near Stolberg, Capt. Robert M. Fry, Erie, Pa., led his Thunderbolts only 20 feet off the ground to attack German artillery firing at U.S. tanks. "I could see the muzzle blast from the lead tank flatten the grass in front as the gun went off," the Captain said. Meanwhile the Black Widow night-fighters took on a new job. In addition to patrolling and watching for enemy aircraft, they began to beat up the German railroads trying to transport troops and supplies at night. 
IX TAC now hits the Germans around the clock. 

        HEAVY fog lay on the ground, seeped into the valleys, and veiled the low, steep hills flanking the Ambleve River and the villages of Stavelot, La Gleize and Stoumont Dec. 18 as a column of 200 grey-green German tanks and armored moved up towards vital American oil stores and communications. 
    It was noon, and U.S. infantry divisions covering the northern flank of the German counter-offensive, which had started the day before, were not certain they could contain this spearhead as it turned north. The Germans had counted on fog to veil their movements, hoping that it would throttle their deadliest enemy—fighter-bombers. 
In close contact with First Army Headquarters, Gen. Quesada knew that the Germans had driven through the Losheim Gap and were hurrying towards Stavelot. 
He phoned Col. George W. Pack of Detroit, commander of the tactical reconnaissance group, for volunteers to fly through the 10/10 fog and bring back much-needed information about the German movement. 

On the field phone, Gen. Quesada briefed his two volunteers, Mustang pilots Capt. Richard Cassady of Nashville, Ark., and 2nd Lt. Abraham Jaffe of the Bronx, N.Y. 

He told them where to go, what to look for. 
The two-man team flew in valleys, sometimes less than 100 feet off the ground in order to see below and still miss the hills. Near Stavelot, they spotted 60 Nazi tanks and armored vehicles moving through the mist. 

    "We made three runs over that column, and the Germans were so surprised to see us they didn't fire until the last run," said Capt. Cassady, who wears the DFC, the Purple Heart and the Air Medal with 13 clusters. "
We could see their faces as they threw everything they had at us, from rifles to 20mm stuff." 
The two pilots radioed their findings to Col. Meyers, 27-year-old combat operations chief. Col. Meyers already had organized a fighter-bomber mission using the "Hell Hawks" of Col. Ray J. Stecker's Thunderbolt group. 
    The "Panzer Dusters," led by Lt. Col. Frank S. Perego of Canandaigua, N.Y., likewise were alerted. Four-plane flights took off for the target area, each carrying two 500-pound bombs.
 Twisting through the fog between 450-foot hills over winding backgrounds, the first flight caught more than 60 tanks and 200 trucks. 
They bombed 30 tanks, strafed 20 trucks. 
Three planes were hit by flak. 
One didn't come back. Col. Meyers continued to send four-plane flights shuttling over the area until 1700 hours that afternoon, seven missions in all. 
At the end of the day, pilots reported 126 armored vehicles and trucks destroyed, 34 damaged. The crack Adolf Hitler Division had been stopped short of its objective. 
A lightly armed airborne division was assembled to finish the job. On Dec. 20, a U.S. armored division locked around the column, and the threat was ended. Air and Ground Make a Team 


QUOTE: OH, HOW WE LOVE YOU GUYS OFFICERS and GIs behind the scenes may never rate an Air Medal, but the pilot depends on their work. 
    Some are in fighter control, the heart of IX TAC. In a high-ceilinged dark-paneled room are officers and EM at telephones. 
Below is a board showing the First Army front. 
 The men are seated in tiers. As reports come in, GIs move little standards from one grid square to another. 
If the colored square on the standard is yellow, it denotes enemy planes. 
If green, the aircraft is friendly. 
Those numbered designate IX TAC squadrons or groups.
The men with the phones talk with the pilots. 
    When a man gets lost, fighter control tells him where he is and gives him a fix. 
If he cannot contact the ground controller, it will take him to his target and bring him back. 
    Many a time an officer with conviction in his voice has brought a pilot home by telephone. 
One pilot, whose plane was hit by flak, prepared to bail out. 
The controller talked him out of it, led him home for a belly landing. 
Pilot and ship sustained only minor damage. 
A few days later, the appreciative airman came to headquarters to thank the man who had brought him in. 
Because of its fluid nature, TAC has had almost every group in the 9th Air Force under its command at one time or another. 

At present all three types of fighter planes, Thunderbolts, Lightnings and Mustangs, are represented. 
    All groups have done praiseworthy jobs. 
TAC had it best day in North Africa during the rout of Rommel, when the Nazis were making a desperate effort to supply their forces by air. 
    A group engaged 130 enemy aircraft off the coast of Cape Bon, Tunisia and destroyed 58 JU 52s, 17 ME 109s, probably destroyed one ME 109, 10 damaged. 
    Six American planes were lost. 
In the final analysis, it isn't the number of planes knocked out, nor the number of pillboxes cracked, nor the number of gun positions destroyed. 
It's what happened the other day when a group of Thunderbolts had just finished knocking out mortar positions. 
Wheeling around to go home, they heard someone from the ground control cut in on the radio channel with: "Oh, how we love you guys!"