Robert H. Powell

Picture of Robert H. Powell ROBERT H. POWELL, JR., born in Wilcoe, W.Va. on November 21,1920, Robert H. "Punchy" Powell (the nickname came from early Golden Gloves boxing days) spent his boyhood in the coalfields deep in the mountains of southern W.Va. He was attending West Virginia University when the Japanese struck Pearl Harbor, so he and his best friend hitch-hiked to Pikeville, Ky. to take the aviation cadet exam.

By March, 1942 he was an Aviation Cadet enroute to Santa Anna, Calif. for basic military training. After flight training in PT -13s at Oxnard, BT-13s at Gardner Field, and AT-6s at Luke Field, where he got his wings with Class 43-A, he went to Cross City, Fla. for a brief transition in P-47 s.

April found him aboard the "Avant Pasteur" England-bound for the Mighty 8th Air Force. Joining the 352nd Fighter Group at Bodney, he flew some 83 combat missions in Jugs and Mustangs (the Group switched to P-51s in April, 1944), where he ran up an unofficial score of six destroyed, two probables, and seven damaged (later changed in official records to 4-6-7), including destruction of the first HE-177.

In addition to bomber escort missions, he flew numerous ground-support, train-busting, and airfield strafing sorties and was battle-damaged on five different missions. His awards include the Distinguished Flying Cross with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Air Medal with three O.L.C.s, and the Presidential Unit Citation as a member of the 352nd F.G. Returning Stateside, he married his hometown sweetheart in January, 1945 and was assigned to Fighter Test at Wright-Patterson AFB in Dayton, Oh.

At war's end, he returned to WVU to earn his B.S. degree in Journalism in 1947. He worked as a newspaper reporter - photographer - feature writer 9n the Roanoke World-News and later became Advertising Assistant for the N&W Railway in Roanoke, Va. before being "retreaded" for the Korean War to fly Mustangs again.

Four more military years included fighter gunnery assignments at Nellis AFB, NV and Wright-Patterson AFB with the Air Force Exhibit Group, later serving as an AFROTC instructor at Grove City College, Pa. Separating again from the service in 1954, he returned to the N&W as Advertising Manager.

In 1956, he moved to Atlanta, Ga. with McGraw-Hill Publishing Co. and is currently Regional Manager for Technical Publishing Company's business publications in the Southeast. Bob and Betty have three children-Robert, Linda and Betsy – and make their home in Atlanta, GA.

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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