Leslie David Minchew

Minchew, Leslie David
Born: August 3, 1920 Paola, Florida


Leslie (Les) Minchew joined USA Reserves while attending University of Florida in 1942. In summer of 1942 he attended USAAF Flight Training and graduated as a Second Lieutenant in November 1942, immediately transferred to 50th FG. When the 50th FG became the core for the 355th FG Minchew was assigned to 354FS and shipped to Steeple Morden England in July 1943 where he remained till the end of the war in Europe.

Minchew scored his first victories with the 354FS, then transferred to 355HQ and again to 357FS in mid April 1944. He scored a Me 109 in June, then 2-Me 410’s on July 7 plus a shared one then got his last score in the air in a big battle in Baden Baden area on August 3rd, 1944.  He was the 355FG’s 10th ace.

In late April, 1945 Minchew transferred to the 359th FG before rotating home.  He completed his Law Degree at University of Florida before he was recalled to USAF during Korean War.  In 1963 he flew with Air Commando’s attached to VNAF, then joined Air America.  During his 6 years in Viet Nam, Minchew flew the spectrum of A-1E’s, B-26’s, and C-123’s on missions ranging from Laos to North Viet Nam, South Viet Nam and Cambodia.  He returned to the States in 1968, retiring from USAF Reserves as a Colonel in 1970.

Final score; 5.5 destroyed, 5 damaged in the air; 0.5 destroyed, 1 damaged on the ground.

Awards: SS, DFC (3), AM (10), Distinguished Unit Citation

Aircraft assigned: P-47D 42-xxxx WRM Gator Baby, P-51B 43-6457 WRG (NN), P-51B 43-7103 OS-O (NN), P-51B OS-O (NN), P-51D 44-14753 OS-O (NN)

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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