William E. Kepner
WILLIAM E. KEPNER was born Jan 6, 1893 in Miami County, Indiana. He served four years in the Marine Corps.
He was appointed a 2nd Lt. in the Indiana
National Guard. Served in the infantry on
the Mexican border.
During the First World
War he commanded a company at Chateau-Thierny. Commanded a battalion and was
engaged in most of the battles where Americans were involved. He remained in the military and acquired a thorough knowledge of
airships. He commanded airship schools in
Langley, Va. and at Scott Field, III. He flew
in four National and International air races.
While in command of the 9th Bombardment
Sqdn. at March Field, CA he completed flying school as an Army Air Corps pilot in
1932. In 1934, he served as pilot and commander of the stratosphere flight "Explorer I" attaining an altitude of 61,000 ft. before
the balloon ripped open, and he had to parachute from a minimum altitidue of 300 ft.
He escorted Maj. Ira Eaker in the first blind
instrument flight from the Atlantic to the
Pacific Ocean. This was in two single-seater
fighter planes. . . P-12s.
He graduated from
the Air Corps Tactical School and the Command and General Staff School. He commanded the Eighth Pursuit Group in 1938.
He pioneered the ground observer with telephone response to bomber attack and the
ground to air support concept. He was
assigned as Chief of Staff First Air Force,
N.Y. and in 1941 organized and commanded the First Support Command. In 1942 promoted to Brig. General and made Commander of Fourth Interceptor Com.mand at March AFB, CA.
He was appointed
Commanding General of the Fourth Air
Force in March 1943 and Sept. 1943
assumed command of the Eighth Fighter
Command, ETO. He organized the protective fighter plane escort for all U.S. 8th Bomber Command.
Under his guidance the
8th Fighter Command was key factor in the
destruction of the German Air Force in the
air and on the ground. It played a decisive
factor in the Normandy invasion establishing a circular protective screen 50 miles
around the beachhead.
He was named Commanding General of the 2nd Bombardment
Division of the 8th A.F. The command consisted of approximately 900 4 engine bombers, and 500 P-51, and
P-47s. In May
1945, he assumed command of the 8th Air
Force and was a part of the American/Allies
who received the German's final surrender
at Rheims, France.
In August 1945, he
became Commanding General of the 9th
A.F., which was the occupational Air Force
in Europe. Gen. Kepner participated in 24
missions over hostile areas, lO in fighter aircraft, 14 in bombers. He is rated a command
pilot, combat observer, senior balloon pilot,
zeppelin pilot, semi-rigid pilot, metalclad airship pilot.
Also civilian Rated helicopter
pilot, and glider pilot. He commanded
Army, Navy aviation in "Operations Crossroads" first pacific atom tests and other
atomic related activities.
In 1948 he was
appointed Commanding General of Eglin Proving Ground, FL, and in 1950, Commander-in-Chief of Alaskan Command.
was awarded the DSC, purple heart, DFC,
Legion of Merit - two clusters, DSM -
one cluster, Bronze Star, Air Medal, USMC
Good Conduct Medal, and many many foreign decorations and awards.
He retired as
Lt. Gen. in February, 1953. In 1980, he
was presented the REVOREDO Trophy by
the International Flight Research Corporation at the 8th Air Force Reunion in Orlando, FL.
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.
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.