This is what the 500th Bomb Squadron was doing in Dec., some 75 years ago:

7 December, 1942: The first flight crew training begins at Columbia (SC) Army Air Base with new pilots arriving from Williams Field, Arizona. During the rest of the month the crews practiced navigation, gunnery, bombing and gaining experience in the B-25.

2-21 December, 1943: The 345th Bomb Group entered the Western New Britain Offensive. In early December the 500th joined the other three Group squadrons on sweeps along the Borgen Bay area, just east of Cape Gloucester, hitting supply dumps and suspected enemy troop positions. The 500th and the other squadrons continued pounding the same general area for more than two weeks.

22 December, 1943: The 500th and other Group squadrons attacked Wewak. The 500th and 498th swung wide of the main formations, hitting the AA positions, then attacking three merchant ships in the harbor. The 500th’s Capt. Keith Dougherty, swinging his flight wide to the left bombed and strafed enemy AA positions on Wewak Point. Upon seeing an Oscar taking off, he zeroed in on the aircraft and pulled the trigger, but the guns failed to fire, allowing the enemy aircraft to escape. As Dougherty exited the target area, a Japanese fighter attacked from the front, hitting Dougherty’s B-25 in several places. Even though wounded in the face and neck, the turret gunner, Sgt. Jonas Weimer, remained at his guns and was able to splash the fighter with some hits.

The flak over the target area was the most intense and accurate the 500th and Group had ever encountered over Wewak. 1/Lt. George I. Davis, flying SNAFU, took a shell burst directly in front of him, with some shrapnel going through the pilot’s windshield, crossing the cockpit, cutting off two of the copilot’s fingers and lodging in the right engine nacelle.

23 December, 1943: The 500th and other Group squadrons staged to Horanda strip at Dobodura (New Guinea) for another mission to New Britain, but the mission was cancelled and the crews were told to stay there for upcoming missions.

24 December, 1943: The 500th made a sweep mission of the Cape Gloucester area, which served as a dress rehearsal for a mission in support of the U.S. Marine landing that was to take place two days later.

25 December, 1943: On this Christmas morning the 500th dropped bombs on Yellow Beach, Target Hill and the surrounding area of Cape Gloucester. Meanwhile the non-flying Rough Raiders had a fine holiday dinner with all the trimmings, which the flight crews enjoyed upon their return from the morning mission.

26 December, 1943: The 500th supported the U.S. Marine Beachhead invasion with 100-pound white phosphorous bombs and strafing their assigned targets in the Cape Gloucester area. Later that afternoon the 500th again joined the Group in attacking Cape Gloucester and providing continuing support for the Marine landing. This time a Japanese air attack was under way and U.S. Marine gunners mistook the B-25s for enemy aircraft. As a result, the B-25 piloted by the 500th’s 1/Lt William T. Kyser, which was apparently hit by fire from our own troops, erupted in flames, flipped over and crashed into the water a half mile off shore.

The 500th’s second flight, led by Group Commander, Colonel Clint True, was riddled by machine gun and 20mm cannon fire, causing the plane to lose speed and burst into flame. He made a successful ditching about 6 miles from the point where he was hit. He and all of his crew slowly made their way to shore and during the night landed on the beach where U.S. Marines met them.

2 December, 1944: After taking off from Biak, pilot 2/Lt Purrine C. Reed apparently ran into prop wash of the B-25 that had preceded him. At about 200 feet, his B-25 went into a steep bank, stalled out, flipped over and crashed into the sea, killing all six crewmembers on board.

12-25 December, 1944: The 500th and the other 345th Group squadrons made raids on various targets in the Mindanao area.

27 December, 1944: The 500th was ordered to dispatch six planes on an early morning flight to Leyte, where they would meet aircraft of the other 345th Group squadrons. These crews expected to attack a Japanese Task Force, but the mission was eventually cancelled. Because of the need for more air strength in the area, it was decided to retain the group at Leyte.

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