HISTORY

OF

16th BOMBARDMENT GROUP, VH
(SECOND AIR FORCE)

FOR

NOVEMBER 1944






FAIRMONT ARMY AIR FIELD
GENEVA, NEBRASKA


  Page
I. Organization and Administration   3
II. Personnel   4
III. Supply and Equipment   7
IV. Training   8
V. Maintenance   9
VI. Facilities   9
VII. Morale   9
VIII. Group Pictures  11


THE HISTORY

ORGANIZATION and ADMINISTRATION

     Group Mission

      Despite nuerous shifts in key personnel, there were few organization-
al changes in the 16th Bomb Group (VH) during the month. The major task set
for November was the completion of P.O.M. (Preparation for Overseas Movement)
requirements for the Ground Echelon. The existing group structure proved ade-
quate for this mission.

     A thorough check was made of all service records and personnel were in-
formed of any deficiencies. Immediate action was taken to remedy even the
slightest discrepancy.

     Administrative Facilities

      The departure of the 504th Bomb Group (VH) Ground Echelon released a
consideralbe amount of facilites for the 16th Bomb Group. The increase in working
space was especially gratifying and was reflected in increased administrative
efficiency.

      The 16th Squadron probably felt the benefits first as it was able to
move its orderly room to a barracks formerly occupied by the 398th Squadron,
a section of the 504th, on 7 November. The other two squadrons attached
to the 16th Group made their move a few days later.

     Administrative Inspection

      A heartening indication of the progress of the group was contained in
a report from the Office of the Air Inspector issued 27 November. It covered
an administrative inspection of the entire organization and found no major

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deficiencies or irregularities.1

      The minor irregularities, which were noted, were of a type which could
be eliminated by a steady process of tightening up organization. There was
every reason to believe that they could be cleared up very soon.

PERSONNEL

     Key Personnel

      The most important change in the group during November was a major re-
shuffling of key personnel. This affected several offices but principally
those of the Adjutant and S-3.

      On 6 November, Major Robert L. Jones became the Group Operations Of-
ficer,2 replacing Major Richard W. Lavin, who remained as his assistant.3
Major Jones had held the position of Group Flight Test Engineer in which he
was replaced by Major William K. Walker.4

      The changes in the personnel section did not take place until 23 Nov-
ember, when Captain Heber H. Felts was relieved of his duty as Group Adjutant.5
The position was assumed by Major Robert C. Hopsak,6 who had formerly been as-
signed to the 16th Squadron.

                            
1/ Ltr., Hq FAAF, Geneva, Nebrask, file 333.1 H, Subject: Report of Adminis-
trative Inspection of 16th Bomb Gp (VH), Fairmont AAF,Geneva, Nebraska, To:
Station Commandant, Fairmont AAF, Geneva, Nebraska, 27 November 1944.
2/ Par. 3, S.O. #114, Hq 16th Bomb Gp, Fairmont AAF, Geneva, Nebraska, 6 Nov 1944.
3/ Par. 4, S.O. #114, Hq 16th Bomb Gp, Fairmont AAF, Geneva, Nebraska, 6 Nov 1944.
4/ Par. 5, S.O. #114, Hq 16th Bomb Gp, Fairmont AAF, Geneva, Nebraska, 6 Nov 1944.
5/ Par. 1, S.O. #130, Hq 16th Bomb Gp, Fairmont AAF, Geneva, Nebraska, 23 Nov 1944.
6/ Par. 2, S.O. #130, Hq 16th Bomb Gp, Fairmont AAF, Geneva, Nebraska, 23 Nov1944.

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      On the same date, Captain Billy G. Griffith became the Group Personnel
Officer7 and First Lieutenant Donald P. Gaidry became the Group Administrative
Inspector.8 Second Lieutenant Raymond A. Pribyla was appointed Group Adminis-
trative Materiel Officer.9

      A few days earlier, another series of changes had been made in the
operations section. Major Kenneth H. Goetzke, who had been Group Gunnery Of-
ficer, was given the primary duty of Group Bombardier.10 He replaced Major Joseph
A. Howard, who remained as his assistant.11 First Lieutenant Donald A. Meagher
became the Group Gunnery Officer.12

     Flying Personnel

      Combat Crews were formally assigned to the 16th Group on 10 November13
but most of them were granted delays enroute before reporting to Fairmont AAF.
They had been in training with the 231st AAF BU (CCTS (VH)), Alamogordo, New
Mexico.

      The order named 15 crews which were assigned to the three squadrons on
21 November14 but Colonel Gurney indicated at a staff meeting early in the month
that training would not begin until the first of December or later.

                            
7/ Par. 3, S.O. #130, Hq 16th Bomb Gp, Fairmont AAF, Geneva, Nebraska, 23 Nov 1944.
8/ Par. 4, S.O. #130, Hq 16th Bomb Gp, Fairmont AAF, Geneva, Nebraska, 23 Nov 1944.
9/ Par. 5, S.O. #130, Hq 16th Bomb Gp, Fairmont AAF, Geneva, Nebraska, 23 Nov 1944.
10/ Par. 9, S.O. #127, Hq 16th Bomb Gp, Fairmont AAF, Geneva, Nebraska, 20 Nov 1944.
11/ Par.10, S.O. #127, Hq 16th Bomb Gp, Fairmont AAF, Geneva, Nebraska, 20 Nov1944.
12/ Par.11, S.O. #127, Hq 16th Bomb Gp, Fairmont AAF, Geneva, Nebraska, 20 Nov 1944.
13/ Par. 1, S.O. #118, Hq 16th Bomb Gp, Fairmont AAF, Geneva, Nebraska, 10 Nov 1944.
14/ Par. 1, P.T.M. #54, Hq 16th Bomb Gp, Fairmont AAF, Geneva, Nebraska, 21 Nov 1944.

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     Strength table

      The strength table at the end of the month was as follows:15

             Actual Strength           Authorized Strength
                1,589                          2,076

      The increase of 218 over the previous month in actual strength brought
the Ground Echelon close to its authorized strength. But there were a few out-
standing shortages including 60 radar maintenance men.16

      Several inquiries were sent to Headquarters, Second Air Force, concern-
ing these men but in every case the answer was that they were unavailable.

    Personnel Utilization

      Personnel of the group were, on the whole, assigned to the duties called
for by their MOS. There were very few men who could be classified as surplus
and most of these were in "On-the-Job" training to remedy the situation. There
were 37 officers and 132 enlisted men in the latter category.17

    Additional Duties

      A new position was added to the Group on 10 November, when Captain James
O. Clark, 16th Squadron S-2, was appointed Citizenship Officer.18 His duties
were described as assisting non-citizens to become citizens.

      Captain Kenneth D. La Rowe, 17th Squadron S-2, was appointed his assist-
ant.19

                            
15/ Part I, Pages 1&3, WD, AAF Form 127, Hq 16th Bomb Gp, Fairmont AAF, Geneva
Nebraska, 30 Nov 1944.
16/ Part I, Page 2, WD, AAF Form 127, Hq 16th Bomb Gp, Fairmont AAF, Geneva,
Nebraska, 30 Nov 1944.
17/ Op. Cit.
18/ Par. 2, S.O. #118, Hq 16th Bomb Gp, Fairmont AAF, Geneva, Nebraska, 20 Nov 1944.
19/ Par. 3, S.O. #118, Hq 16th Bomb Gp, Fairmont AAF, Geneva, Nebraska, 20 Nov 1944.

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SUPPLY and EQUIPMENT

     General Situation

      The departure of the 504th Ground Echelon eliminated most of the major
supply problems. There were still shortages in minor items but all major needs
were met.

      In some instances, it was felt that supplies were over the mark which
should be considered adequate by a group preparing for operations overseas.
First Lieutenant Francis E. McLaughlin, in an informal interview for the Group
history, said:

      "We are short on supplies in comparison to what we think we should have
but we are not short in comparison to what we will have."

      He explained that the various sections would gradually have items of of-
fice equipment eliminated during the training period. This would apply especi-
ally to typewriters, he added.

      The Group policy on supplies of office equipment had been liberal at the
beginning, he said, because it was recognized that an organization in a forma-
tive stage has a multitude of "paper work" problems that must be eliminated.

     Minor Shortages

      It was still impossible to obtain full supplies of fatigues and Lieuten-
ant McLaughlin said he could see no end to this shortage as it was being felt on
a nationwide scale. But he declared that no one in the group was actually suf-
fering, despite some inconveniences.

      "All of our clothing issue is now 'Class B'," he said. "That is because
clothing is desperately needed overseas and is being shipped as fast as it can
be produced."

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TRAINING

     General

      The month was put to good use in cleaning up ground training requirements.
On the whole, the group was in fairly good shape, but there were a few odds and
ends that required action.

     Bivouac Training

      The greatest deficiency was in bivouac training and this was made up dur-
ing the week beginning 13 November. The regular bivouac area at Belvidere, Ne-
braska, was the scene of the training.

      The officers in charge of the area made the bivouac as realistic as possi-
ble by the use of dynamite, live ammunition and tear gas. Part of the training
consisted of a "live fire" course but most of the men expressed the opinion that
this was mild compared to other things that happened.

      The 16th Squadron covered itself with glory when it succeeded in cap-
turing one of the bivouac officers who was attempting a midnight tear gas raid
on the Squadron Headquarters tent. It was the one bright spot in an otherwise
very dark night.

      Extremely cold weather increased the severity of the bivouac and most
of the men returned to Fairmont AAF looking like battle hardened veterans.

     Briefing

      On the 24th of November, the 15th Squadron held a mock briefing to be
followed by the 16th Squadron on the 29th of November. Headquarters personnel
attended both briefings which were followed by a thorough critique.

      United States camera bombing targets were presented and Squadron S-2s
borrowed necessary pictures from the 504th Group. The mock briefings disclosed

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a general lack of knowledge on the requirements for a radar target but it
was believed that this deficiency would be made up when Intelligence Officers
returned from radar school.

     Physical Training

      The Special Services section expanded its activities by promoting a
basketball league within the group. Arrangements were made to obtain the post
gymnasium for night games.

MAINTENANCE

     General Situation

      The departure of the 504th Ground Echelon left the 16th Group on its
own in the field of maintenance. Naturally, the greatest problem was that of
adjusting the organization to performing all aircraft maintenance.

      The experience gained in working with the 504th proved very valuable,
especially at this stage of training. Fortunately, there were no outstanding
difficulties which could not be solved.

      The inclement weather caused considerable hardship to the men working on
the line. They were issued leather, sheep-lined clothing.

FACILITIES

     General Situation

      The improvement in facilities was very noticeable with the departure of
the 504th Ground Echelon. More living and working space was available and the
always difficult problem of scheduling class rooms became simpler.

MORALE

     General Situation

      Morale probably heightened during the month due to increased maintenance
responsibilities. But there were no objective data to measure these factors.

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     Thanksgiving Dinner

      On Thanksgiving Day, which was celebrated on the 30th of November in
accordance with the rest of Nebraska, all men were given two hours off for
lunch and were served a turkey dinner. Group officers and their families ate
with the enlisted men in the mess halls.

     Officers Club

      A group Officers Club was organized on 3 November, with Colonel Gurney
as honorary president. To date, no regular president was been elected.

      Captain Edward L. Dickinson, of the 15th Squadron, was elected chair-
man of the Board of Governors and Captain William N. Hensley, Operations Officer
for the 165th Squadron, was elected Secretary of the Board.

         For the Commanding Officer:




                                         GEORGE E. REEDY,JR
                                         1st Lt., Air Corps
                                         Group Historian



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Editorial Notes:

Several photos are included in the history, but have not yet been reproduced for inclusion on this web page.

There also exists several pages of substantiating data, that have yet to be transcribed. This data consists of special orders, memorandum, report forms and copies of TWX messages. This will take a long time to transcibe and I wanted to focus on transcription of the unit history first. Hopefully, my fingers will be able to stand this.


Content 2005, Larry Miller
September 21, 2005