354th Pioneer Mustang Fighter Group


VALOR IN COMBAT

-354TH UNIT EMBLEM

The shield with crossed swords represent combat. The bars across the shield are Red, Yellow and Blue representing the Squadrons. The Eagle, Crown and cross are emblematic of the countries the 354th has served in.

The emblem was drawn by Sgt. Bourbon and Cpl. Langran.

GROUP CAMPAIGNS

Air Offensive:
Europe; Normandy; Northern France; Rhineland; Ardennes-Alsace; and Central Europe.

GROUP DECORATIONS

Distinguished Unit Citations (2):
ETO, December 1943 - May 1944
France, August 1944

French Croix de Guerre with Palm:
December 1943 - December 1944

News & Updates

06.23.14: Posted Flight Journal D-Day 70th Anniversary Issue link that includes Lt.Col Richard E. Turner and Capt. Clayton Kelly Gross articles.

06.22.14: Posted Before I Forget film campaign information.

06.10.14: Unit Roster G-L: Added Joseph O. Hasbrouck, Modena, NY.

03.20.14: Unit Roster S-Z: Added Wood, J.C. "Jake", Marietta, GA.

03.01.14: Tributes: Lt. Charles W. Moore, 355th FS - by Milton Bond.

01.22.14: Unit Roster M-R: Added Moore, Charles W., Williamson, NY.

12.03.13: Unit Roster S-Z: Added Wirkkala, Ernest R., Rosburg, WA.

11.08.13: Unit Roster G-L: Added Lutomski, Frank J., Detriot, MI.

09.05.13: Tributes: Col. Robert B. Curlee, 355th FS - by Chris Curlee.

06.23.13: Retired U.S. Air Force Lt.Col. Ralph Delgado, Jr., Tampa Bay Times article

 

Historical Group

Boxted Airfield Museum recently opened to the public near Colchester, Essex, England. The most important U.S. fighter base during the war it was home to the 354th FG, 56th FG, 386 BG, and the 5th Emergency Rescue Sqdrn. Contact the Boxted Airfield Historical Group for information. 
 

National Archives
Official link to the National Archives on Veterans' Servbice Records: Military Service Records and Official Military Personnel Files

Home|History of the 354th Pioneer Mustang Fighter Group during World War II - Valor in Combat
 

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The Famous 354th Pioneer Mustang Fighter Group

This website is dedicated to the men of the 354th Fighter Group. Assigned to the Tactical Ninth Air Force the 354th Fighter Group was the first unit to take the Packard Merlin engine P-51 Mustang into combat escorting heavy bombers in the strategic bombing campaign in December 1943. With the Mustang’s long-range and maneuverability the 354th changed the nature of war and rescued the Eighth’s Air Force daylight strategic bombing campaign over Europe. The Pioneer Mustang Group became the highest scoring aerial fighter unit in the United State Army Air Force.

There are literally hundreds of pages meticulously written by 354th group historians at squadron level to headquarters covering day to day operations. Unit histories on this website are a concise narrative from those pages that began at the 354th activation at Hamilton Field, California to the end of hostilities in Europe.

General Eisenhower's Famous Fourth of July Flight In A Modified P-51B Mustang

By 356th FS Command Officer Capt. Richard E. Turner

On July 4, 1944 the Allied Supreme Commander Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower flew in a modified P-51B Mustang with Ninth Air Force Fighter Command Maj. Gen. Elwood R. "Pete" Quesada at the controls to reconnoiter terrain for a planned battle operation.

The P-51B Mustang "The Stars Look Down", was specially modified by the 461st Air Service Group. New information by Karen Calhoun Kasjaniuk provides additional insight on the men involved in getting "The Stars Look Down" ready for the historic flight.

Eisenhower's Historic Flight

Flight Journal D-Day 70th Anniversary August 2014 Issue

Witness To History: D-Day Fighter Pilot Richard E. Turner, 356th FS.

In his memoir, Lt. Col. Richard E.
Turner recalled D-Day for the Ninth
Air Force's 354th Fighter Group at
Maidstone, Kent. He describes the
"Pioneer Mustangs" rare D-Day
missions: night escort of troop
carrier aircraft gliders. Barret Tillman.

Live Bait: Fighting with the Pioneer Mustang Group - Capt. Clayton Kelly Gross, 355th FS.

Then 1st Lt. Gross recalls his first
impressions of the P-51 Mustang
and tangling with the Luftwaffe on
long-range escort missions.
Also, how his Mustang "Live Bait"
came to be named.
Capt. Gross ended the war with six victories during two tours and owes his survival to the P-51 Mustang.

Flight Journal's D-Day 70th Anniversay Issue
Also, available at bookstores or where magazines are sold.

Before I Forget - Documentary Series

Based off the book “Before I Forget”, written by Tech Sgt Robert Davis USAF Ret.

The series will feature a fallen pilot from the Pioneer Mustang Group, Lt. William F. Harker, 355th Fighter Squadron, who was killed in action on 13 April 1945. Both Harker and Davis went through basic training together, "Bill was like a brother", said Davis. Read his tribute to Lt. William F. Harker Tribute

We are currently in production to finish the first of 4 Episodes. We need your help. There is a call for contibutions to complete the project. Why is this important? According to the filmmarkers, "we not only have an opportunity, but a privilege and a duty to use our talents and resources to capture these amazing stories before they are lost. At the very least, these men and women deserve it. History needs to be recorded and subsequent generations need to understand the patriotic camaraderie and sacrifice that the world experienced during these tumultuous times. This applies to current members of our armed forces today.

This campaign started on June 4th and will close on August 2, 2014.

BEFORE I FORGET - The Robert Davis Story Project Facebook: BEFORE I FORGET "Film".


Mustang Fighter Pilot Ralph Delgado's ME-262 Shootdown

Town 'n Country man has vivid memories of his time as a WWII pilot - Tampa Bay Times Article by Philip Morgan

Retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Ralph Delgado recounts his experience downing one of the Luftwaffe's new jet fighter as a Mustang fighter pilot with the 354th Fighter Group in Europe over 70 years ago.

He claimed his big victory in March 1945 while returning from a strafing mission in Germany, he spotted an airfield below with enemy aircraft activity. His victory over the ME-262 was the 700th enemy plane shot down by the 354th.

The article can be viewed here: Tampa Bay Times

For more information about Lt. Col. Ralph Delgado, Jr., visit his: website


LINKS  

354th Fighter Group websites:
Lt. Col. Ralph Delgado, Jr.
The Olden Times: Capt. Gus Allen
Nayland and Wiston: Lt. Charles F. Gumm, Jr.
354th Fighter Group: Lt. Robert M. Lamar
Present 354th Fighter Wing - Eielson AFB, Alaska

Photos:

Nantucket Historical Association Digital Exhibition
Cybermodeler Online: Photo History of the 354th

National Archives: World War II Photos

 

Aircraft Builders History 

North American Aviation
Republic Aviation

 

Memorials, Cemeteries and Museums:

Fields of Honor - Database

The Museum of Flight
The National WWII Museum - New Orleans

National World War II Memorial, Washington, D.C.
Air Force Memorial Foundation
National Museum of the United States Air Force
National Aviation Heritage Area
National D-Day Museum
Arlington National Cemetery

Battlefields of WW2: Paul Reed
National Air & Space Museum: Udar-Hazy Center

 

Aviation Magazines:

Flight Journal     WWII History
Classic Wings   Warbird Digest

Historical Groups :
Boxted Airfield Historical Group
Commemorative Air Force

American Aviation Historical Society


Military Service Records:
Together We Served

The National Archives: How to Request
Veterans and their Families
Finding and Telling Dad's War: Wesley Johnston

 

Mustangs:
Gathering of Mustangs & Legends
Mustangs Mustangs
Martin Kyburz: Swiss Mustangs

USA & ETO Airfields:
Military Airfields in WWII 1941-45

Advanced Landing Grounds in Normandy
 

Associations:
American Fighter Aces Association
Ninth Air Force Association

P-51 Mustang Pilots Association
P-47 Thunderbolt Pilots Association

 

Documentary & Video Media:
Heroes of the 354th FG & Angel From Hell
Zeno's Warbird Video Drive-In

Contact Information

If want your photos featured on this website please contact the Website Coordinator: 354thpmfg.com. If you are interested in submitting a tribute for any member of the 354th Pioneer Mustang Group please contact the website coordinator.

Acknowledgements

These people provided assistance and contributed materials. I am eternally grateful to the 354th Pioneer Mustang Fighter Group Association, without them this website would not be possible.

354th Fighter Group Historians: Capt. Arthur F. Brown, Capt. Fredrick S. Burkhardt -HQ, Lt. Albert J. Feigen - 353rd FS, Lt Donald F. Snow - 355th FS, Lt. Gabriel M. Bernstein - 356th FS, Capt. Albert D. Fowler - 356th FS, Lt. Charles F. Kennaw - 353rd FS, Rudolph A. Tholt - HQ.

The 354th Fighter Pioneer Mustang Group Association, William W. Louie, Charles "Chuick" Tighe, Ray Bain, Norm Davis, Alan Grant, Rosemary Krebs, Larry Wood, Roberta Roddy, Robert D. Davis, Walter Harrington, Jon Teboe, JMT Productions, Robert W. Lamb, Paul Cornell, Jr., Jack Cook, Ted Skowronek, Hugh Gibson,  The Al Styrsky family, Nantucket Historical Association Digital Exhibition - Robert Young, Jr., Jack E. Wimer, Doug Gifford, Jim Pierce, Walt Fink, Catherine and Millicent Carrizales, Tripp Alyn.

Thanks to DemusDesigns for providing this open source web template and StuNichols for allowing use of the gallery script.