The 352nd FG Association was founded in 1983 when 19 veterans of the Group met
in Orlando, Florida while attending an Eighth Air Force Reunion. The first official
Association reunion was held in Oklahoma City in 1984 with 130 members
and spouses attending and later grew to a membership of more than 1,100 veterans of
the 352nd FG and 1st Service Group who served at Bodney, England and Chievres and Asch, Belgium
between 1943 and 1945 during the Second World War.
352nd Fighter Group History
Like one of America's mighty rivers, the 352nd FG had its beginnings
in the merging of smaller units into a superb fighting force which would
account for 776 enemy aircraft destroyed, fourth among all 8th Air Force units.
The 352nd Fighter Group was constituted in Sept 1942 and activated at
Brandley Field, CT on October 1, 1942. Two of its squadrons, the 21st
(later changed to the 486th) and the 34th (later changed to the 487th)
had long combat histories, but like the newly formed 328th, were short on
experienced personnel. Early flight training in the P-47 Thunderbolts
was at Westover, Trumbell, LaGuardia and Mitchel fields. Most of the
enlisted personnel, Det. "A" of the 1st Service Group arrived in January,
The Group embarked from New York harbor July 1, 1943, arriving in
Scotland July 5th and a few days later reached their new base at Bodney,
England. Training for combat became intense those next few months.
The Group flew its first combat mission on September 9, 1943, an uneventful
sweep out over the North Sea to escort returning B-17s. Some 40 pilots
participated in this mission. Although the 352nd had several minor encounters with the enemy in their
early missions, it wasn't until November 26th that Major J. C. Meyer,
C.O. of the 487th Squadron scored their first victory-an Me-109 attacking
the bombers near Gronigen-the first of many victories for the 352nd.
During WWII the 352nd flew 420 missions, 59,387 operational combat hours,
destroyed 776 enemy aircraft and had 29 aerial aces. Returning to the
U.S. at war's end, the unit was deactivated.
Highlights and Outstanding Achievements of the 352nd FG
Among leading aces of the AAF and USAF in both WWII and the
Korean War, 352nd pilots Col J.C. Meyer ranks second; Major Bill Whisner ranks
fifth; and Lt Col Ed Heller ranks nineteenth. Whisner was one of only seven
pilots that became an ace in both WWII and the Korean War.
Among the leading Allied air aces of WWII, two 352nd
pilots, Major George Preddy and Col J.C. Meyer ranked sixth and seventh.
The 352nd can claim more "aces in a day" with five
victories on one mission than any other Mustang group in either theater.
George Preddy (six Me109's), Don Bryan (five FW190's), Carl J. Luksic
(four FW190's, one Me109), and William T. Whisner (five FW190's) led the way.
The top two Mustang aces were Major George E Preddy, Jr. with
23.83 aerial victories in the P-51 and Col. J.C. Meyer with 21 Mustang
victories. Maj. Preddy scored three more victories in a P-47D for a total of
26.83, and Col. Meyer also scored three in a P-47D for a total of 24.
Seven 352nd pilots became "ground aces in a day",
destroying five or more in ground attacks.
Twelve 352nd pilots scored aerial victories over German jet
Twenty-nine of the USAAF's aerial aces over Europe were
Ten 352nd pilots were awarded the Distinguished Service
Cross, the 2nd highest U.S. combat award. Col J.C. Meyer receiving the DSC three
times and Captain Bill Whisner twice. Lt Ed Heller got the DSC for setting the
8th AF strafing record.
Seven 352nd pilots continued their military careers and
attained the rank of General. One of these, Col J. C. Meyer, the only fighter
pilot in WWII to attain four-star rank, commanded the Strategic Air Command and
later became the Vice Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force. The seven
Generals from the 352nd were: John C. Meyer, Luther Richmond, Sanford Moats,
Bill Pattillo, Buck Pattillo, Glenn Moran, and Gustav Lundquist.
Twin-brothers Bill and Buck Pattillo, both pilots in the
352nd, later flew with the first USAF Thunderbird team. Both went on to attain
One 352nd squadron was the only 8th Air Force Squadron to
be awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation. This award came after a mission flown
from a Belgian airfield during Operation Bodenplatte when 12 pilots of the
487th, led by Colonel Meyer, shot down 24 attacking German fighters without a
loss while under a strafing attack on takeoff.
The 486th Squadron participated in the first "Shuttle
Mission" flown by the 8th AF from England to Russia to Italy to England
escorting bombers to targets en-route. On this mission, Lt. Ed Heller scored the
longest range fighter victory of the war with a victory over Poland.
Aces of the 352nd Fighter Group
|Major George E Preddy, Jr.
||Cripes A'Mighty (P-47D), Cripes A'Mighty ("B" model Mustang), Cripes A'Mighty 3rd and Cripes A'Mighty( "D"
|Col John C Meyer
||Lambie, Petie 2nd, Petie 3rd
|Captain John F Thornell
|Captain William T Whisner
||Princess Elizabeth, Moonbeam McSwine
|Major Donald S Bryan
||Little One, Little One II, Little One III
|Lt Glennon T Moran
|Captain Raymond H Littge
||Silver Dollar, E Pluribus Unum, Miss Helen
|Lt Col William T Halton
||Slender, Tender, & Tall
|Lt Virgil K Meroney
||Sweet Louise, Sweet Louise II
|Major Steven W Andrew
||Prairie Farmer/Spirit of Los Angeles City College
|Captain Charles J Cesky
||Diann Ruth, Diann Ruth II
|Lt Carl J Luksic
||Lucky Boy, Elly's Lucky Boy
|Captain Sanford S Moats
||Kay, Kay III
|Lt Col Everett W Stewart **
||Sunny IV, The Margarets
|Lt Henry J Mkilajcyk
||The Syracusan, Syracusan the 3rd
|Lt Frank A Cutler
|Walter E. Starck
||Lucia, Starck Mad (L) Even Stevens (R)
|Captain Clarence Johnson**
||Bula B VI
|Lt Col Willie O Jackson
|Lt Francis W Horne
||Hi Yo Silver, Snoots' Sniper
|Captain Edwin L Heller
||Happy, Hell-er Bust
|Captain William J Stangel
|Lt Earl R Lazear
|Captain Clayton E Davis
||Marjorie, Marjorie II
|Lt Ernest O Bostrom
|Captain Alexander Sears
|Captain Duerr H Schuh
|Col Joe L Mason
||This is it
|Lt Alden Rigby
||Eleen & Jerry
** Scored some victories with other Groups