James F. Roberts

Picture of James Roberts JAMES F. ROBERTS, born April 3, 1923 near Atlanta, Ga., graduated from Hapeville High School in 1940 and completed Blevins Aircraft Engine School, Atlanta, in 1941.

Enlisted in Army Air Corps in August, 1941 as aircraft mechanic and was accepted for Staff Sgt. Pilot Training Program five days before Pearl Harbor. Graduated as Staff Sgt. Pilot in class of 42-K.

Discharged and appointed to newly created rank of Flight Officer. Assigned to 303rd Fighter Squadron, Sarasota, Fla., flying P-40's. Transferred to Mediterranean Theater in Feb. 1943. Assigned to 17th Squadron, 27th Light Bomb Group (later Fighter-Bomber) Flying A36's, a dive bomber version of the P51A.

Participated in N. Africa, Sicily, and Italy campaigns flying dive bombing, strafing, and close support attacks on tanks, docks, and supply lines as well as flying cover for Sicily and Italy invasions. Completed 59 missions. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and Air Medal with six clusters. Commissioned in the field Sept., 1943.

Returned to U.S. Dec. 1943 and was assigned to 6th Ferrying Group, Long Beach, Calif. ferrying 18 different types of single, twin, and 4 engine aircraft. Discharged under point system in June 1945 and joined the CAA (now FAA) as an air traffic controller trainee at the Atlanta Air Traffic Control Center.

Transferred to San Juan, P.R. Center in Aug. 1948 and to Memphis, Tenn. Center in June 1951. Flew P-47s with Puerto Rico Air National Guard from Mar. 1949 until May 1951.

Transferred to Southern Region HQ, FAA, in Atlanta, Ga. in Jan. 1962. He was project manager for the initial computerized air traffic control operations in the Southern Region. Retired from FAA southern Region in 1971 as Chief, Automation Branch, Air Traffic Division. Joined Teledyne Acceptance Corp. as Field Representative until May 1975.

He married Dolores Manhardt in 1943 and has three children, Claudia, James, Jr., and David.

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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