Enlistment, Training, and Deployment from the United States, England, France and to Germany 1941-1945.

By Larry Wood

A pictorial and written documentary of Army Air Corps life inside one of the most famous Fighter Groups of WWII: The 354th 'Pioneer' Mustang Fighter Group.

As a late depression era 26 year old, Lawrence Wood worked at Ford Motor Company in Chicago, 350 miles from his hometown of Ft. Dodge Iowa. His immediate enlistment after Dec. 7th 1941 made him a top pick for the Army Air Corps trainable airplane mechanics that would eventually tend the “Pioneering” North American P-51 Mustang Fighter. His training, travel, and victories with the 354th Fighter Group have been well documented by many pilot authored books and war statisticians. I wanted to reinforce the crew chief and crews involvement with access to these very insightful and interesting first hand photos and memorabilia.

This book is dedicated to Lawrence A. Wood and the United States Air Forces 354th Fighter Group and all who served in WWII and today.



Stories about the bravery, comradeship, and commitment of individual participants in the Second World War

By Paul M. Sailer

Rising from the overcast on a mission from England to Bremen, Germany, on December 16, 1943, a pair of 353rd Fighter Squadron Mustangs flown by Flight Leader Don M. Beerbower and wingman, Lt. Wah Kau Kong, grace the cover of author Paul Sailer’s new book. Beerbower and Kong represent two of the ten stories in I Had a Comrade. Others include Willie Y. Anderson, Carl Bickel, James Cannon, Wally Kerley and others, including Technical Sergeant Foy Garren of the 326th Air Support Group, the unit that did the major repair work for the 354th’s damaged aircraft. The special focus of the book is comradeship.

The Foreword is by Colonel Richard E. Cole, famous as Jimmy Doolittle’s co-pilot when the pair launched from the USS Hornet bound for Japan in April 1942. Cole says in the Foreword, "Paul Sailer explores comradeship through stories of ordinary people who lived or died during World War II. All of them had their lives altered by that intense form of duty toward others that is exemplified in I Had a Comrade. These stories of courage and love are worthy of our remembrance."


Major Don M. Beerbower and the 353rd Fighter Squadron - Nov 1942 to Aug 1944

By Paul M. Sailer

As the first unit to fly the Merlin-engined P-51B in combat, the 354th Fighter Group adopted the nickname "Pioneer Mustang Group." Until D-Day, it escorted 8th AF heavy bombers to targets on the European Continent. The group then moved to France and supported Patton's Third Army from Normandy to Bavaria, and also participated in the Battle of the Bulge. Its pilots scored over 600 confirmed air victories, and forty-three of them became aces. This book is an almost day-to-day account of their aerial combat experiences and the "gypsy". From a small town in northeastern Minnesota to aerial combat with the Luftwaffe, The Oranges are Sweet is the life story of one of the 354th Fighter Group's most important figures. When Don Beerbower died strafing a German airdrome in 1944, he was the leading ace in the Ninth Air Force and, at age twenty-two, commanded the 353rd Fighter Squadron. This unit knocked down more enemy aircraft than any other squadron in the USAAF in World War II. The Oranges are Sweet is a serious study of a major figure in U.S. military aviation history, and the men who fought with him.


The 354th Fighter Group in World War II

By Steve Blake

As the first unit to fly the Merlin-engined P-51B in combat, the 354th Fighter Group adopted the nickname "Pioneer Mustang Group." Until D-Day, it escorted Eighth Air Force heavy bombers to targets on the European Continent. The group then moved to France and supported Patton's Third Army from Normandy to Bavaria, and also participated in the Battle of the Bulge. Its pilots scored over 600 confirmed air victories, and forty-three of them became aces. This book is an almost day-to-day account of their aerial combat experiences and the "gypsy" lifestyle they and their support personnel led as they moved from one airfield to another across Western Europe.


WWII Memoirs of an Undefeated Fighter Ace

By Clayton Kelly Gross

This is a story of a young man, typical of the youth in the 20's and 30's. He was talented in many areas -- sometimes over-confident. As a youth, he built model airplanes from balsa wood. He devoured every issue of G-8 and His Battle Aces. He dreamt of being a fighter pilot and it did come true. He flew fighters in WWII with a great group of men who formed the 354th Fighter Group. He became an ACE -- undefeated in dozens of kill or be killed "Dogfights." It happened because of his Mother's prayers and a guardian angel to cover the bad parts along with confidence in himself and his mastery of flying "LIVE BAIT." Foreword by Gen. Robert Lee Scott.


The Life of Ken Dahlberg

By Al Zdon and Warren Mack

From a Wisconsin dairy farm to the battlefields of World War II, from starting a small post-war business to running an international company, Ken Dahlberg's life follows the arc of the "Greatest Generation." He milked cows and shot squirrels as a kid, joined the Army Air Corps at 24, flew cover for the D-Day invasion of Normandy, and shot down 15 German planes to become one of America's few triple aces. He also was shot down three times, escaped twice and ended the war in a POW camp in Moosburg, Germany. Forward by Gen. Chuck Yeager.


Osprey Aviation Elite 7

By William N. Hess

Osprey Aviation Elite No. 7. Concise combat histories of elite units, their aircraft and the pilots that flew them, highlighting their vital role in the development of warfare in the 20th century. A unique source of information researched by recognized experts, and brought to life by first-hand accounts and combat reports from the pilots themselves. Authoritative text is supported by up to 60 color profiles and badge artwork, as well as the best archival photography from official and private collections from around the world.


From Flying Tigers to Mustangs - A Fighter Ace's Memoir

By James H. Howard

Roar of the Tiger is the gripping memoir of a pilot whose skill, courage, leadership, and poise under fire made him a hero to America at large and to the men he flew with. Jim Howard, who earned his wings as a Navy pilot in 1939, joined Claire Chennault's American Volunteer Group in 1941, hoping to see combat. He saw plenty, and became a leader of one of the most colorful and potent fighting forces in history, the Flying Tigers. Battling the Japanese air force over Burma and China, Howard earned the title of ace, destroying 6 1/3 Japanese planes and leading many daring missions against Japanese ground targets. When the Tigers disbanded, Howard became a squadron commander in the new Ninth Air Force in Europe. His combat experience (and a new plane, the fabled P-51 Mustang) soon made him an ace in this theater as well. In one mission, on January 11, 1944, Jim Howard came, to the rescue of a defenseless American bomber group and singlehandedly fought off some thirty German planes. His heroism on that day made him a legend in the Air Force and earned him the Congressional Medal of Honor.


Memoirs of a World War II Fighter Pilot

By Richard E. Turner

This is the true life story of the boy next door who went to war. Richard Turner was a student in college when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. As a youngster, he had devoured the magazines and books that told of the exploits and adventures of the flying aces of World War I. When he came of age he took flying lessons, so that when war came he was welcomed into the Army Air Corps. The metamorphosis of this young college student into a crack fighter pilot is the subject of this fast-moving memoir. The reader flies with Richard Turner into the largest sustained aerial conflict ever witnessed in history; past barrage balloons, unmanned missiles and enemy fighters, on hair-raising missions ranging from the escort of heavy bombers (Big Friends), to accompanying the Supreme Allied Commander on his historic personal reconnaissance of the front lines, the first time that a ground general had personally reconnoitered battle terrain in the presence of the enemy. Lt. Col. Turner's memoirs also relate the rise to prominence of the Pioneer Mustang Group (Little Friends) as it aided the Eighth Air Force's heavy bombardment missions. And finally, his very personal book shows how a young generation endeavored to grasp and emulate the traditions of determination and courage of the preceding generation, fulfilling its duty in the proud privilege of serving.


The Tragedy and the Triumph of World War II Air Victory

By William A. Ong

"This book is very informative and technical! The pilot, Col. Kenneth R Martin is also my grandfather! He would never talk to me personnally about the war but when I read the book he was glad to answer my questions. The book is quite informative and intellegent. What the men went through makes me thankful they came home and thankful that our generation has no clue! My Grandfather is now in the heavens again flying with his buddies!"
--- Col. Kenneth Martin's grandson

Both the tragedy and the triumph of the World War II air victory are captured in this gripping account of men and machines. Close friends from Randolph Field Class 38-A re-live their experiences on the "Day of Infamy" at Pearl Harbor... on Doolittle's famed Tokyo Raid... in the "Cactus Air Force" at Guadalcanal... challenging Luftwaffe fighters over North Africa... over Germany with bomber streams and fighter escorts numbering in the thousands... in German hospitals fighting for life and in German prison camps plotting escape... over Hiroshima, to drop the first atomic bomb. This graphic account of raw emotion and violence may in places offend the reader of delicate sensibilities; but for those seeking to capture the temper and spirit of those tragic and triumphant times.


An Armorer's Life in the ETO

By John Henkels

"This is one of few books that I have seen that has been written about the enlisted man's side of the story. It was very interesting to read so many details of his experiences that was almost an identical scenario to what we went through." --- William W. Louie, 9th AF, 356th FS, 354th FG.

Everyone has heard tales of the glory of war, of generals' strategies and ace pilots' adventures, of policy makers' tough decisions and POWs who escape miraculously from behind enemy lines. But what of the ordinary civilian soldier, drafted out of freshman year at college and thrust in a terrifying and exciting unknown world? John B. Henkels lets us know firsthand what it was like to be at the mercy of the armed forces, from the uncertainty of basic training to the pride in becoming a full fledged armorer in World War II. HenkeIs gives us a comprehensive understanding of the importance of those who worked behind the scenes. As an aircraft armorer, his job was to maintain the eight machine guns on a P-47 and to load and fuse the bombs which the squadron dropped on enemy positions in support of infantry. Henkels began his overseas service in England, and then crossed the Channel into France. After seven months in France, he went on to Belgium and ended up in Germany just before the war was over.


354th Pioneer Mustang Fighter Group

By Captain Arthur F. Brown, 354th FG Public Relations Officer

The first published history of the 354th Fighter Group by Capt. Arthur F. Brown, the group's public relations officer. The book contains condense histories written from head quarters and 353rd, 355th and 356th squadron historians responsible in documenting daily activities. The book contains fold-out map, photographs, documents, group and squadron leadership, officers and enlisted men, support groups, visiting dignitaries and generals. Also, renderings by Ninth Air Force combat artist Nathan Glick. The first edition was published shortly after the war (1946) and are rare.

In 1992, the 354th Fighter Group Association had limited quantities reprinted by Taylor Publishing Company of Dallas, Texas.
Update: March 9, 2023 - 25 never issued copies of the 1992 reprinted version will be available through this website in mid-April 2023.