William Johnston Hovde

Hovde, William (Billy) Johnston
Born: April 4, 1917 Crookston, MN


Billy Hovde graduated from US Military Academy January 19, 1942 and completed pilot training December, 1942. Assigned to 358FS/355FG in May, 1943 as a Captain and flight leader, he went to war with the Group in July, 1943 when they sailed to England.

Hovde downed a Fw`190 on 22 February, 1944 near Munster and followed with two more 190’s on March 18, 1944. Hovde became the Group’s eighth ace on July 19 when he shot down a 109 near Augsburg.

His biggest day came when he led 12 Mustangs from the 358FS on a bounce against 100+ combined 109’s and 190’s over Berlin, breaking up an attack against 2AD B-24’s and personally shot down five and shared another, receiving the DSC for his action.

Hovde commanded the 358FS once in July before end of his first tour and again in August 1945. Before he returned home he would also command the 357FS to become the only fighter pilot to command two squadrons in the 355th. Billy Hovde was one of the most decorated 355th pilots along with Henry Brown, Claiborne Kinnard, Royce Priest and Bill Cullerton, and finished combat ops as the number two air ace behind Henry Brown.

Hovde went to war again as a Lt. Colonel and squadron CO in 4th FIW in March 1951 where he shot down a MiG-15 to raise his total air score to 12.50. He was promoted to Colonel in 1955 and retired from the USAF in June 1967.

Final score was 12.5 destroyed (one Korea), 1 damaged in the air, plus 2 destroyed and 2 damaged on the ground

Awards: WII DSC, SS, DFC (5), AM (8) Distinguished Unit Citation; Korea- DFC, AM
Aircraft assigned; P-47D 42-8368 YF-I Ole, P-51B 43-6928 YFI Ole II, P-51D 44-14531 YF-I Ole III, P-51D 44-14541 Ole IV, P-51D YF-I 44-11200 YF-I Ole V, P-51-D YF-L 44-73155 YF-I Ole VI, P-51D 44-15494 WR-I Ole VII, P-51D 44-73294 OS-I Ole VIII

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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