John Leard Elder, Jr.

Elder, Jr. John Leard (Moon)
Lt. Colonel
Born: April 8, 1919 Ebensburg, Pennsylvania


John Elder joined Army Reserves after Pearl Harbor and commissioned as Second Lieutenant following pilot training completion at Victoria Field, Texas. Interestingly enough Bert Marshall, Jr - a future fellow squadron commander for the 355th FG was his instructor. He joined the 50th FG which became the 355th FG in May 1942 and shipped overseas with the group in July 1943.

Elder became 357FS Operations Officer, deputy to Lt. Colonel Edward (“Jonesy”) Szaniawski, and shot down his first Fw 190 in a P-47 on February 21, 1944. After Szaniawski was shot down by flak, Elder became 357FS CO in July, 1944 and remained CO until the end of the war in Europe. Elder became the 355th FG’s 13th ace when he shot down two Me 109’s SE of Hildesheim on August 16, 1944. He scored one in the air and five on the ground at Wernigerode A/D on November 2, 1944.

Elder got his eighth and last aerial victory on January 14, 1945 in the Munster area. Twelve Mustangs of combined 354/357FS engaged 20 plus 109’s and 190’s, claiming 11 for no losses, with Elder getting one Me 109.

He destroyed a total of 13 on the ground, scoring his last four on April 16, 1945 near Linz. At the end of hostilites, Moon Elder was 3rd highest total combined scorer for the 355th FG behind Brown and Kinnard.

He became Deputy Group CO when Marshall became Group Commander, then was promoted to 355th FG CO in October, 1945 until 355th disbanded in 1946. Elder remained in USAF Reserve until 1966 when he retired.

Final tally was 8 destroyed and one damaged in the air, 13 destroyed and 6 damaged on the ground.

Awards: Polish Cross of Valor, SS (2), DFC (4), AM (17), Distinguished Unit Citation
Aircraft assigned: P-47D-2RA 42-22784 OS-R -Moon-, P-47-5RE 42-8544 OS-R Moon, P-51B- 42-106732 OS-R Moon, P-51D-20 44-63633 OSR Moon, P-51D-25 44-73065 OS-R Moon plus at least one more Mustang between July and November, 1944. Only Marshall, Hovde and Kinnard had as many a/c assigned during combat operations with the 355th FG.

Written by Bill Marshall,
author "Angels, Bulldogs and Dragons - History of the 355FG in WWII"

Contributed by Bill Marshall, October, 2006. Unverified.

The text is copyright Bill Marshall 2006. All Rights Reserved. You may not copy or reproduce this biography without the express written consent of Bill Marshall.

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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