William T. Beckler

Picture of William Beckler WILLIAM T. BECKLER was born Dec. 3, 1920, Sneedville, Tenn. Graduated high school, Morristown, Tenn. Later moved to Knoxville, Tenn. Attended University of Tennessee. While at UT received flying training under the Civilian Pilot's Training program, earned a commercial license and instructor's rating, qualified as Army Primary flight instructor.

Elected the Army Air Corps entered active duty as Cadet on Jan. 10, 1943 in Class 43-I at Nashville, Tenn As a Cadet, Beckler trained at Maxwell Field, Ala., Jackson, Tenn., Walnut Ridge, Ark. and final training at Dothan, Ala., where commissioned Oct. 1, 1943, then on to RTU training on the P-40 Warhawk at St. Petersburg, Fla.

Combat assignment began March, 1944 with the 324th Fighter Group, 316th Squadron, at Cercola, Naples, Italy. Flew a total of 108 missions in Italy and France, 93 in the Warhawks and 15 in the Thunderbolts. Most missions were fighter-bomber missions together with patrol, escort and reconnaissance. Missions included close support targets at Anzio, Monastery Hill at Mt. Cassino, Operation Strangle and the invasion of Southern France.

In July, 1944 Beckler exchanged his P-40 for a P-47N Thunderbolt. Missions in the Jug covered Northern Italy and Southern France. These included escorting medium bombers. The Bombers, based in Southern Italy, would be escorted to France by Thunderbolts based on Corsica. Shortly before target the Jugs would pull ahead of the bombers and bomb the enemy gun positions. Beckler's activities while participation in three major campaigns earned him the DFC, two Air Medals and two Presidential citations.

After completion of combat in August, 1944, Beckler returned to the States and instructed on P-51 Mustangs at Venice, Fla. until discharge in Sept. 1945. After the war Bill spent a year as flight instructor for a Knoxville flying school then back to the University of Tenn. and marriage.

He spent three years as fingerprint expert with the Knoxville Police Dept. then entered the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Feb. 1951. Will retire from the FBI in Jan. 1981 with 30 years service. Remained in the Air Force Reserve after WW II and retired in 1971 with the rank of Lt. Colonel. Charter member of the Civil Air Patrol at Knoxville having joined the CAP shortly after its inception in 1942. Received several awards for his activities with the CAP and is still active as mission pilot and emergency services officer.

Bill married the former Elsie Dyer, Knoxville, in 1948 and they have two children, Mark and Lisa.

List of all p51 Pilots:
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Pilot Name Biography Summary
Asa A. Adair He returned to the States in August of 1944 after participating in the invasion "D" Day. He flew P-63's, P-51's, F-80's, T-33's, F-84's, T-38's, P-47's in numerous assignments during the following twenty years in in, Japan, U.S.A. and Europe before retiring after twenty-six years of Active Duty.
John C. Anderson After P-47 transition he was assigned to the 406th Fighter Group, 512th Fighter Squadron. (E.T .0.) He flew 56 missions through January, 1945 destroying supply routes, bridges, and railroads; he also flew close support missions with the ground forces, with attacks on tanks, artillery and enemy positions.
W.B. 'Tex' Badger Eight and Ninth Air Force in WWII. B-l7's, P-51's and P-47's. Fifth Air Force in Korea, F80's and F86's. WWII and Korea, Flew 156 missions. Tactical units served in with the USAAF and USAF were: 305th BG , 368th Fighter Group, 4th Fighter Group, 49th Fighter Group, 12th Fighter Wing, 506th Fighter Wing.
Robert T. (Bob) Bagby He trained in P47's at Cross City and Dale Mabry Fields, Florida and then joined the 341st FS Black Jack Squadron), 348th FG of the 5th AF in Brisbane, Australia in June 1943. Bob flew 78 combat missions in New Guinea (Port Moresby, Finchafen, Sador, Wakde and Biak) primarily as wingman to squadron CO's John Campbell and John Moore. Also privileged to fly wing to Neil Kirby on several occasions.
Frank Baker After brief stops at Stone and Atcham, England he joined the 313th Fighter Squadron of the 50th Fighter Group in France. He flew 90 missions through V.E. Day. Most of the missions were close support attacks on various ground targets with a few B-26 escort missions thrown in. All of the missions took place in eastern France and southern Germany. He was awarded the Air Medal with 11 oak leaf clusters.
John M. Balason To relieve the boredom, Balason went down on the deck and blew up a locomotive he had observed at altitude. A few seconds after making his strafing pass he received a hit in his left wing tank and a fire started immediately in the cockpit. The paralyzing effect of the intense heat made climbing out of the cockpit impossible.
Albert W. Barlow, Jr. He flew 69 escort and ground support missions. Destroyed one E/A (ME-I09). Was shot down on Sept. 8, 1944, and evaded enemy ground forces for 8 days. Was picked up by an American Recon. Unit behind the German lines. Was hospitalized until Feb. 1948, when he was medically retired with the rank of Capt. Awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters, and Purple Heart.
William T. Beckler In July, 1944 Beckler exchanged his P-40 for a P-47N Thunderbolt. Missions in the Jug covered Northern Italy and Southern France. These included escorting medium bombers. The Bombers, based in Southern Italy, would be escorted to France by Thunderbolts based on Corsica. Shortly before target the Jugs would pull ahead of the bombers and bomb the enemy gun positions. Beckler's activities while participation in three major campaigns earned him the DFC, two Air Medals and two Presidential citations.
Herbert R. Benson After training in P-47 Thunderbolts at bases in North Carolina, Virginia, and Delaware, he was assigned to the European Theatre of operations and joined the 48th Fighter Group 493rd Fighter Squadron at St. Trond, Belgium. After flying 44 combat missions, he was awarded the Air Medal with 4 Oak Leaf clusters.
Marvin C. Bigelow Training in the Southeast Training Command with the class of 44C, he graduated and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant single engine pilot at Marianna, Florida with the class of 44D. After checking out in the P-40 at Marianna, he transitioned in the P-47 in the Northeast Defense Command and after gunnery at Dover, Delaware was shipped on the Queen Mary to England.
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