Francis E. Lewis

Picture of Frank Lewis FRANCIS E. (FRANK) LEWIS, born in Binghamton, N.Y., 29 June 1922 and joined the Army in 1942 for flight training in pursuits, graduating Class 44-B at Williams Field, Arizona. His ETO P-47 unit was the 406th Group, 514th Squadron, dive-bombing and strafing in support of Patton's Third Army. After 70 missions, he returned to the states on leave, but the war had just ended as he returned to Europe in May 1945. Not wishing to remain in the occupation force, he was assigned state-side duty at Kelly Field in 1946 and soon mustered out.

Four years of civilian life in San Antonio flying P-51 's with the Texas ANG and Lewis returned to active duty with the 36th FB Wing, 182nd FB Squadron, TANG, for Korean duty in 1950. Volunteering for combat duty early, he left that wing to join the 18th FB Wing at Pusan just in time for the big push to the Yalu River, flying Mustangs for a 100-mission tour.

He re-joined the 36th for a second tour in jet fighters, the F-84, and returned home after 35 more missions and one MIG-15 probable late in 1951. Assigned to strategic nuclear fighters in SAC, he flew F-84F's with the 12th Strat Fighter Wing at Bergstrom AFB for six years, marrying Merle Tooke, and fathering daughter, Kathy, before taking on an AFIT university program at the University of Texas.

A degree in executive management earned, he moved his new family to Westover AFB, there to fly the B-52 for six more years, with staff duty at 99th Bomb Wing and 57th Air Division as Director of Safety.

In 1965, the Lewis family, now augmented by son David, moved to Kirtland AFB, New Mexico, where his final assignment found Frank the Chief, Air Defense Branch of the Directorate of Nuclear Safety. Turning down an assignment to War College in favor of getting acquainted with and raising his kids, Lewis retired in 1967 with a Regular Air Force rank as Lieutenant Colonel, to take up civilian life in Austin.

Master's degrees earned by both Frank and Merle at The University of Texas took them to Maine, both to teach at the same high school while the children enjoyed the benefits of a low. pressure, small-town schooling. David graduating in 1981, the family will return to Austin for a second retirement, both parents to seek PhD's, Frank to research and write, and to manage their real estate in Texas and Maine, the family to divide their lives half and half between those two states.

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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