It is felt that all Officers and Enlisted Men of the 505th Bombardment Group will appreciate a brief history of the Group from its activation to the war's end. Such was the thought in mind when we produced this booklet. Space does not permit covering all of operations and administration, but the pertinent facts are contained herein and we trust that during the ensuing years you will derive pleasure in reviewing it.
Charles M. Eisenhart Colonel, Air Corps Commanding.
We were activated on the 11th of March 1944 at Dalhart Army Air Field at Dalhart, Texas. The cadre for the unit was drawn from the old 9th Bombardment Group. We commenced training at Harvard, Nebraska with a handful of Officers and Enlisted men, few of whom had ever known each other, but with a commanding Officer who had a well earned reputation of being one of the hottest four engine pilots in the Air Force. Colonel Robert A. Ping had recently flown General Arnold in all the theaters of combat and had established a time record in a B-17 from Australia to the United states. As organization proceeded, Officers and Enlisted Men arrived in quantity and crew training started in earnest on 1 July, 1944.
Throughout the period of training we were hampered by shortages in personnel, particularly air crew personnel, and in equipment. Maintenance was a serious problem Stateside and many of us gaped unbelievingly when a formation of six B-29s went overhead. Eventually it was done, we sweated out POM inspections and were declared fit
Changes were constantly being made within the organization, but the line up on 5 November, when the ground echelon departed, was this: Commanding Officer, Colonel Robert A. Ping; Deputy Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Charles F. Heidrick; Adjutant, Major Erik H. Erikson; Intelligence Officer Major Harold S. Funk; Operations Officer, Major John R. Wilson; Engineering Officer, Major Vernon W. Bocock. The 482nd, 483rd, and 484th Bombardment Squadrons were commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Ellery D. Preston, Major James A. Ferguson and Lieutenant Colonel Charles M. Eisenhart, respectively.
The Ground Echelon departed from Seattle on the 14th of November, and, after an interminably long ocean voyage debarked at Tinian Town early on the 24th of December 1944. Meanwhile, the Air Echelon and combat crews were being processed through Kearney, Nebraska, Hamilton and Mather Fields, California. The theory was that the Ground Echelon would arrive and prepare the camp site. When the Ground Echelon moved into the area allotted to the Group, we found that Major Julian Dendy, who later became Commanding Officer of the 482nd Bombardment Squadron, his crew and four other crews were on the island.
The work of building a camp commenced immediately, and despite lack of tools, poor but not intolerable living conditions, shortage of water and a month of eating C and K rations we made great progress. Enlisted personnel pitched shelter halves and lived in them until pyramidal tents could be secured. Officers were quartered in the one Quonset hut in the area.
In spite of the nuisance raids and the constant drain on Group personnel for many and varied details, the organization and building of the Camp had progressed so fast that it was possible to run a practice mission six days after our arrival. Because of the distance separating the billet area from North Field, the problem of transportation gave us some concern, but eventually a line bus was put into operation leaving the area for the line every half hour. A battle scarred building, once a Japanese Fighter Command Headquarters, was transferred into a line mess hall.
During the month of January, we were kept busy flying training missions and preparing in other ways against that day when we would strike the enemy. On the 21st day of January, Captain Slaughter led the Group against the Moen Airfield in the Truk Atoll. Three days later, in a combined operation with the Navy and elements of the 7th Air Force, the Group attacked an airfield and installations on Iwo Jima. On the 29th of January we again went to Iwo Jima for another shot at an airfield, and here saw our first enemy aircraft, he made a pass and didn't fire. Meanwhile, we were kept very busy with a lot of things which weren't actually flying but were necessary.
Wilcox and Captain Wilkinson were engaged in working up and publishing
SOP for use with- in the Group. More mess halls were put into operation,
showers with rationed water were assembled and a nightly picture show
relieved us of a little monotony. The briefing room was completed and
we moved out of the circus tent hard by West End Avenue. The value of
Air-Sea Rescue was brought forcibly to us when Captain Johnnie Wier
and crew, with Major Ferguson, Commanding Office of the 483rd Squadron
as passenger, went down at sea in a burning place. Corporal Estle Davidson
floated for five days in a one many dinghy before being rescued. This
was a high price to pay, but we all learned something when we talked
to Corporal Davidson and realized he consumed only a half-pint of water
in 5 days! We gained a spiritual boost when he said "have faith that
you'll be picked up", but after a month of the Rock we were sure of
The 4th of February was the day, the port and urban area of Kobe was the place. We loaded incendiaries with a few frags thrown in for good measure. Twenty aircraft hit the target. Veterans of the European Theater said they had seen more flak, but none so accurate.
The Nakajima Aircraft Assembly plant located at Ota was the next target. Twenty-one aircraft were airborne, and eighteen attacked the target by visual means. Eight Aircraft were lost. Slaughter and Barnhart collided over target, Schnoeder was last seen with approximately ten fighters on him. Quay crashed on take off, Nicholle was unheard of after he called the Tower on return. Halloran and Caab ditched with all crew members rescued, Lowry ditched, and four crew members, including Lieutenant Lowry, were not seen after impact.