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Old 10th August 2008, 04:58
aaatripp aaatripp is offline
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9 Aug 44 - 3 COs in a day - 353FS/354FG/9AF

9 Aug 44 - 'Lest We Forget

This day would remain forever in the history of the 353FS (354FG, 9AF) as a sad day.

On 354FG Mission #2 (16 P-51s, t/o 1103) from ALS-2 (American Landing Strip #2) near Cricqueville, France, the Sqdn CO Maj. Don M. Beerbower (from Hill City, MN, flying his "Bonnie B II," marking FT-E) was shot down and KIA by ground fire while strafing approx. 30+ Ju 88s at a German airfield 3 mi. north of Reims, France. At this time he was officially credited with 15.5 aerial victories.

Sqdn Operations Officer (OPSO), Capt. Wallace N. Emmer (from St. Louis, MO, flying his "Arson's Reward," marking FT-G) led Mission #5 (12 P-51s, t/o 1658) in the Red One position and was shot down approx. 5 mi. north of Rouen, France (just east of the Seine River), when a German 88 flak round hit his fuselage fuel tank at 1855 at approx. 11,000 ft. Emmer was badly burned exiting his burning P-51D, but his parachute was observed at approx. 10,500 ft. by 1Lt. Theodore W. Sedvert (flying in the Blue Two position, 353FS). Emmer was captured and later died of myocarditis at 1410 on 15 Feb 45 while departing the Dulag Luft Wetzlar camp (see earlier posts on this thread). Capt. Emmer had 14 confirmed aerial kills.

On a brighter note:
Capt. Felix M. Rogers (from Newton, MA, flying his "Beantown Banshee," marking FT-O), who had been on the morning mission with Beerbower,
became acting CO of the 353rd but was kept from flying as Group did not want to lose "a 3rd CO in a day." Mike Rogers went on to a long Air Force career, retiring as a 4-star general. He is credited with 7 aerial victories.

Our eternal thanks to these fine aces who protected our country.

Tripp Alyn
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Old 11th August 2008, 20:46
aaatripp aaatripp is offline
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Re: 9 Aug 44 - 3 COs in a day - 353FS/354FG/9AF

I spoke with Gen. Rogers several years ago and he mentioned that the German power lines drooped. Thus it was difficult to impossible to fly under the power lines and it was necessary to climb a bit on the run to the airfield. The 353FS formation was line abeam to concentrate fire and to assure no stragglers could be zeroed in on. Beerbower attacked from a different direction to draw the a/a fire. As Beerbower made a 2nd pass and climbed slightly to avoid the power lines, the a/a gunners were able to hit BONNIE B II. Reports have Beerbower only able to climb to 500', where he attempted to bail out. Reports also have him being struck by the tail of the a/c and falling to the ground with no opening of his 'chute. Other reports have him surviving on the ground, but dying shortly thereafter. Any help with these details would be appreciated.

In Gen. James H. Howard's book TALE OF THE TIGER there is a photo of Beerbower & Emmer together but has an incorrect caption saying that they died one day apart. Beerbower died on 9 Aug 44 and Emmer's dod was 15 Feb 45 in Dulag Luft Wetzlar. Still, it is a great photo of these two great airmen, 353FS leaders and tentmates.

Tripp Alyn
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Old 13th August 2008, 15:12
JACK COOK JACK COOK is offline
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Re: 9 Aug 44 - 3 COs in a day - 353FS/354FG/9AF

Don's brother Darrel was a very good friend of mine and gave me a number of photos, clippings and Don's wings and British DFC award. He said that it was reported to them that Don survived the fall but died shortly thereafter. Jim Howard told me that Beerbower was the finest combat pilot/leader he'd served with during his military career.
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Old 13th August 2008, 16:41
aaatripp aaatripp is offline
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Re: 9 Aug 44 - 3 COs in a day - 353FS/354FG/9AF

To Jack Cook----curious where you found the great photos of Bud with Capt. Matson (in front of "Stars Look Down") and "best buddies" the
shot of Bud with Don Beerbower?

As for the pic of Bud receiving the Silver Star from Lt. Gen. Lewis H. Brereton, that frame also appears on the The 354 FG DVD produced by Victory Films where you can see the still photographers in the background.
BTW, on that DVD are great shots of Don Beerbower and his Silver Star, the tray holding all of the medals to be presented, plus FT-G (Bud's assigned a/c) taking off from ALS-2 for a brief "airshow."

Tripp Alyn
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Old 8th October 2008, 02:44
aaatripp aaatripp is offline
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Re: 9 Aug 44 - 3 COs in a day - 353FS/354FG/9AF

Please note the attached Statements by eyewitnesses on 9 Aug 44 to the loss of two COs:

1. Pilots Carr & Deeds re Maj. Donald M. Beerbower & BONNIE B II (FT-E)

2. Pilot Sedvert re Capt. Wallace N. Emmer & ARSON'S REWARD (FT-G)


Tripp
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Old 9th August 2009, 09:43
aaatripp aaatripp is offline
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Re: 9 Aug 44 - 3 COs in a day - 353FS/354FG/XIXTAC/9AF

'Lest We Forget.....65 years later we honor tentmates, good friends and the CO and OPSO of the 353FS Cobras. Maj. Donald M. Beerbower was lost to ground fire after pinning on his new major's insignia the morning of his final mission. Capt. Wallace N. Emmer (Wally/Bud) was hit by ground fire and parachuted to safety, but died 6 months later in Dulag Luft Wetzlar, just 3 weeks before the POW camp was liberated.

That afternoon Capt. F. Mike Rogers assumed command of the 353rd. Just weeks ago Gen. Rogers attended the 354FG reunion....almost 65 years after that fateful day in the skies over France.

We remember and thank all these heroes (and their families) for their many sacrifices.

Tripp
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Old 9th August 2010, 20:55
aaatripp aaatripp is offline
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Re: 9 Aug 44 - 3 COs in a day - 353FS/354FG/9AF

66 years ago...today...the 353 Fighter Squadron lost two COs in air opera-
tions over France.

That morning must have been special for these two tent mates. Don Beerbower of Hill City, MN became the new CO when Maj. Jack Bradley rotated back to the States for a rest. Don had just pinned on the gold oakleafs of a major and I'm sure the chatter at breakfast that morning was spirited with his tentmate and OPSO (Operations Officer). Capt. Wallace (Wally/Bud) N. Emmer, known as "the Wise Owl", was from St. Louis, MO.

Together Don & Bud had 29 1/2 confirmed e/a destroyed in the air. Don was a triple ace and a great leader in his P-51B FT-E "Bonnie B II" (named for his daughter). I've heard that Don preferred the B-model since it had 4 50cal machine guns vs. the 6 wing-mounted guns of the newer D-models. Don liked the higher speed of the lighter B-model. Bud's steed in the Pioneer Mustang Fighter Group (the 354FG was the 1st group to get the hot Mustangs with the Merlin engine) was the P-51D FT-G "Arson's Reward"
(so named after his malfunction-ridden "Peaceful Penguin" caught fire during servicing of the oxygen unit. PP was aptly named, after a flightless bird).

In earlier posts I've listed the details of their missions on 9 Aug 44. At this
time let's pause to remember these great guys, their leadership, their accomplishments & their sacrifices (and those of their families) as we simply say...."Thank you for your service!"

Also, let's honor another great guy....the squadron mate who took over
the 353FS that evening, Mike Rogers. Mike retired as an Air Force 4-star & lives in the Santa Barbara, CA area after a dedicated USAF career.

Tripp

NOTE: In the attached photos are the 4 flights of the 353FS at Tonopah,
NV during gunnery practice on July 29, 1943 (A & B flights in front, C & D in back). The "Wheel of Aces" was taken at Lashendon, England in early June
'44. At the time of this photo these 11 aces of the 354FG had accounted for 127 e/a destroyed in the air. Six of the pilots were from the 353FS (starting at 1 o'clock--Glenn Eagleston, Jack Bradley, Don Beerbower, Bud
Emmer, then Carl Frantz & Ed Hunt at 10-11 o'clock). Clayton Kelly Gross of the 355FS recalled having to stand on the sidelines and watch the photo session of the "wheel" as he only had 4 kills at that point (Kelly later got numbers 5 & 6 to become an ace in his GQ-I "Live Bait").
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 353d_02 TONOPAH.jpg (113.2 KB, 35 views)
File Type: jpg Copy4 of 354FG Wheel of Aces.jpg (183.2 KB, 33 views)

Last edited by aaatripp; 9th August 2010 at 21:26. Reason: consolidate photos/adjust quality
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Old 10th August 2011, 05:35
aaatripp aaatripp is offline
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Re: 9 Aug 44 - 3 COs in a day - 353FS/354FG/9AF

Once again we remember this tough day in the history of the Fighting Cobras of the 353rd Fighter Group. With many missions this busy day at ALG #2 near Cricqueville, France, there were numerous sorties from morning to late afternoon.

On the morning mission Maj. Don Beerbower's FT-E "Bonnie B II" was hit by accurated groundfire as he made a 2nd pass to draw fire away from the rest of his squadron mates at a German airfield near Reims. Don's 'chute never opened and his stunning record in the air came to a tragic end at 15 1/2 aerial victories.

His tentmate and OPSO in the 353FG was Bud Emmer who was out to inflict some payback on the German Luftwaffe. While returning from his afternoon armed recce sweep near Rouen, France, Bud's FT-G "Arson's Reward" was hit by an 88mm AAA shell and his P-51D burst into flames. Bud got out of the a/c but was badly burned and died late, on 15 Feb 45 while a POW at Dulag Luft Wetzlar.

The 3rd CO of the 353FS on that fateful day of 9 Aug 44 was Mike Rogers who was credited with 7 kills and returned from the ETO. Mike retired from the USAF as a 4-star general and lives in California.
We remember our dedicated fighting airmen who gave so much for our freedom.....!

'Lest We forget....

Tripp
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Old 27th November 2011, 02:39
aaatripp aaatripp is offline
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Re: 9 Aug 44 - 3 COs in a day - 353FS/354FG/9AF

EXCITING NEWS.....Paul Sailer's labor of love, his book THE ORANGES ARE SWEET, has just been published and tells the story of 353FS triple ace Major Don M. Beerbower.

You can find more about it at the website of the 354FG, the Pioneer Mustang Fighter Group. It is a thoroughly researched and very well-written account of this fine aviator & leader who paid the ultimate price to defend this country.

Tripp
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Old 28th November 2011, 09:31
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Juha Juha is offline
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Re: 9 Aug 44 - 3 COs in a day - 353FS/354FG/9AF

Hello Tripp
thanks for your very informative posts!

Juha
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