Charles H. Kruger

Picture of Charles H. Kruger CHARLES H. KRUGER, born June 30, 1919 at Wilson, New York, graduated from Newfane High School in 1936 and entered trucking business, sold in 1940 to Liberty Motor Freight Lines. Was hired as Area Supervisor for Standard Oil of Ohio in Cleveland, Ohio.

Enlisted in Air Force as Aviation Cadet on April 11, 1942 and was placed on leave until August 12, 1942. Entered service at Kelly AFB and was given Primary at Ballinger, Texas, Basic Training at Randolph AFB, commissioned at Moore AFB, Mission, Texas as the Class of 43-D, on April 22, 1943. Flew the P-40 Warhawk for 10 hours in Advanced at Moore AFB.

Assigned to P-47's at Westover AFB, Mass., checked out and joined the Original forming of the 359th Fighter Group, 369th Fighter Squadron at Republic Field, Farmingdale, L.I.

Trained with group and went to England with Group on U.S.S. Thurston in September 1943. Landed in Glasgow, Scotland. Went directly to East Wretham (S.W . of Norwich) and established the 359th Fighter Group (368,369 and 370 F.S.) 8th Air Force.

Made our debut in combat on 13 December 1943 equipped with P-47 D-6. E. Wretham is located at Thetford, England and was former RAF Lancaster base, sod field, no runways showing, runways laid in Peat. Entered combat as a 2nd Lt. and upon completion of tour was Captain, flew 89 Combat Missions, 300 combat hours.

Destroyed 2-ME-109's, damaged 1 and 2 probable destroyed in Air to Air combat. Flew P-47's for many strafing and dive bombing missions on D-Day both prior and after (flew 3 missions D-Day)

Flew P-47's until equipped with P-51's in March 1944.

Combat commendations Distinguished Flying Cross w IOLC, Air Medal with 14 OLC, Presidential Unit Citation w 12 OLC. Mission in 8th AF was protection of 8th A.F. Bombers, deflect and not pursue enemy fighters, give target support and cover withdrawal of Bomber Forces.

Returned to States September 1944. Flew P-47's as Base Standardization Officer, gunnery in various stations on East Coast. Flew P-47 N's and various other type planes.

Returned to civilian life in Sept. 1945, returned to Standard Oil Co. as Area Supervisor and formed own company in 1947 to manufacture Irrigation Equipment at Mission, Texas. Retired for health reasons in 1973 and sold interest in business. Flew personal plane for all the time since leaving service until 1973.

Married to present wife June in 1941,2 children. Son Air Force Pilot for 10 years, now a Pilot for Air Line. Daughter married to Physical Therapist. Son lives San Antonio, Daughter in Fredericksburg.

Crash landed and burned 1-P 51D and had 1-P51 and 1-P47 replaced due to damage inflicted. Highest Rank attained, Major. Plane named NANCY JUNE 3rd (For 3rd replacement) Sqd. Number IV-K.

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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