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36thIDAlex

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Posts posted by 36thIDAlex

  1. 19 hours ago, huntssurplus said:

    Stellar group! Interesting the CIB is on his enlisted jacket, I'm guessing he got if because of his frontline combat in Belgium even though he did have an Infantry MOS.


    Hunt

     

    You'd be spot on. According to Jones they were thrown around the 84th ID lines during the Bulge for over a month, it was the most continuous days of actual combat he personally saw. At the end of it he had met the requirement and got the CIB, although he did not keep his discharge papers to see whether it was official or not.

  2. Hey all, so I finally managed to just about complete this wonderful grouping and thought I would share. It belonged to Lieutenant Jordan Linus Jones of the 84th Signal Company, 84th Infantry Division and features just about all you could ask for, the only things missing are a few coast artillery collar insignia I am still waiting on.

     

    Jordan L. Jones was born and raised in Los Angeles, California and while in school, thrived in mechanical engineering. When he graduated he applied and was hired as a lineman and field repairman for the Southern California Telephone Company. Traveling across large portions of the state, Jones refined his technical skills and became a proficient master of communications equipment and its upkeep, knowledge that would serve him well later on.

     

    With the rise of tensions worldwide and the threat of war looming on the horizon, Jones thought it best to join up early and let use skills for a greater good. In January of 1940 he signed up for the California National Guard and was attached to the 250th Coastal Artillery regiment. Based out of San Francisco, Jones would work to upkeep the ancient artillery pieces utilized by the guard. It was fairly easy duty which kept him busy until all America was thrown into a whirl with the attacks on Pearl Harbor. With the country now at war, Jones felt the need to move past the guard and transferred to the national army.

     

    Moving past his position with the artillery, Jones discovered a more comfortable home with the US Army signal corps. Just as critical as the guns needed to arm the military were the radios, telephones, wires, and related logistics that kept everyone in contact with one another on and off the battlefield. With his high level of skills picked up in the telephone company, Jones was a natural fit. He qualified highly in all of the required areas but focused on the upkeep of hardware utilized by the armed forces.

     

    By 1942 Jones had completed his training and was already active in stateside operations, but his skills were needed elsewhere. In October of that year the 84th Infantry Division “Railsplitters” were revived at Camp Howze, Texas and recruitment to fill its ranks began immediately. Before long Jones found himself a senior NCO in the division leading the repair and maintenance section of the 84th Signal Company attached to the division. For the next two years he worked with the division alongside command and field units to train and prepare in combat usage of communications, building a crack team of mechanics and gear heads from other young men with similar backgrounds in the telephone industry.

     

    On 20 September, 1944 the division shipped overseas. With the allied invasion of Europe well underway, the 84th was sent in to support the ever growing land forces on fortress Europe. Traveling through much of the wreckage left behind by the ever-advancing army, Jones and the 84th finally began combat operations with an attack on Geilenkirchen, Germany on 18 November. When the division arrived in France, each of its subunits was given the latest equipment to prepare it for combat. For the signal company, that meant higher-performing maintenance gear. The company was given 2-3 M30 Repair trucks outfitted for radio repair. Jones was assigned to command one of these vehicles and a platoon of men to equip it. Never in the actual action themselves, the platoon was never far from it. Working on equipment from backpack radios used on the frontlines to the complicated comms systems of division HQ, Jones and his boys were sent up and down the line making sure that the 84th could maintain its combat effectiveness through meaningful communications. It wouldn’t be until the Battle of the Bulge, however, that Jones would truly see what that combat effectiveness meant.

     

    On 21 December 1944 the 84th began its operations to stop the German push through American lines. Thrown into the fray in northern Belgium, the division found itself under equipped and undermanned for the severity of the German attack. According to Jones, they barely had any winter equipment. Most men only had a single pair of socks and many of the infantry companies had far fewer men than needed to defend the large stretches of land they were ordered to hold. On one of the coldest nights he ever remembered, somewhere around Christmas, Jones was changed forever. Sleeping around their truck bundled up in whatever cloth they could find, Jones and his platoon were roused in the middle of the night by an angry infantry captain. Supposedly, he was frustrated because he had been given a large stretch of the line to defend and he barely had enough men to cover it. Going around to find support, the captain ordered Jones and his men to grab the lids and rifles and report to the front. Jones was terrified. He had never seen combat and had hoped never to. Unfortunately, when duty calls, one has no other choice.

     

    Jones and his platoon were shoved into several crude foxholes and trenches dug around the lines of an unknown infantry company and were told to hold out for a possible German attack. Snuggled up to his carbine in the Belgian snow, Jones spent the night wide-eyed and in prayer, watching for signs of movement in the dense winters brush. A few hours later, all hell would break loose. Mortar and artillery fire turned the area into crater-ladened landscape, splintering trees and destroying fortifications all around them. Before long, the Germans came. Armed with tanks, halftracks, and snow-camouflaged infantry, the attack was relentless. Several times the Germans even got into their lines and the attack became hand-to-hand. Jones recalled three separate times when a German soldier managed to break through and jump down into his trench ready to attack. Luckily, Jones was prepared, and each time he brought up his carbine to fire at point blank range. To put it simply, no German made it in or out of Jones’ trench. However, to kill for the first time, especially in such quick succession and in such a personal manner, left its mark on Jones. He never forgot the faces of each man he killed that day and suffered from PTSD the rest of his days, often waking up screaming in the night fearing he had returned to the snowy hellscape of Belgium.

     

    By February the line had been restored and the boys of the signal company could return to their regular duties, likely a welcome change from the brutish combat they experienced for the month or so prior. It was around this time that the American push really gained speed and Jones’ truck was put to the test to supply and maintain the division throughout the final campaigns of the war. At its conclusion, Jones and the signal company were ecstatic. Their months of running to and fro were now at an end and the comfort of occupation could begin. Jones and the rest of the division were sent to Mannheim/Weinheim for occupation, two cities that couldn’t contrast more despite being only a few miles apart. Mannheim, the site of many industrial facilities, had been bombed into oblivion by the allied air forces while Weinheim remained practically untouched. Jones recalled the marked contrast and recognized the true power of the planes he had seen flying high overhead for so many months before. He recalled the time in the cities fondly, chasing German girls and Lugers to bring home. While he could never find himself a Luger, he did find plenty of time to take some wonderful photos of his men, the area, and occupation life. He did get a nice souvenir, finding an abandoned town hall with a pristine Nazi banner hanging on the wall which he cut down and saved away as a reminder of the struggle he and his men had experienced, knowing that the banner and the regime it represented would never fly again.

     

    In early 1946 Jones received a commission and transferred to the 302nd Signal Battalion which was still working with the 84th in the area. He only served with them a few months, however, before he was told to pack his bags and head home. Returning back to the states in late 1946 a brand new 1st Lieutenant, Jones found himself welcomed back with open arms to the California telephone industry as a director, working the rest of his life coordinating efforts in his state with other phone companies around the country. After the war he met his wife, Leverne, and traveled around a bit in their later years, settling in Oregon before he passed of cancer in 1989.

     

    Upon his death these items were given to my friend who was his neighbor at the time. My buddy has been downsizing a little and now they have been passed onto me. The grouping is a pretty darn complete one. While his wife unfortunately donated his officer tunics before my friend could save them, the uniforms included are his officer undershirt as well as the final tunic he wore as an enlisted man. Supposedly he didn’t get to wear it too much and since he spent so much of the war as a sergeant, he decided to keep it. Also included are his cased medals, over 100 photographs taken from the spring of 1945 to the end of his service in Germany in early 1946, several patches, his devotional book, an army song book, the 84th souvenir booklet, and the amazing German banner he took from Weinheim. It has no staining or color loss whatsoever and is a true testament to the untouched nature of Weinheim he described in the postwar era. It looks to be a large wall banner, is double sided, and measures 46” x 92” so its a pretty big boy. Hope you all enjoy a pretty solid group from a renowned infantry unit. Ive attached my scans for some of the more interesting photos as unfortunately to do all of them might be a little much. Thankfully almost each one has a full caption written on the back so the people and places are well documented.

     

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    Photos of the truck

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    A few of the many portraits

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  3. Hey all, just got my high resolution scanner up and running and have been going through scanning all my photographs. After scanning these I saw a lot of really great details and figured it’d be a good reference to have up on the forum. The pictures come from a tail gunner grouping of a marine who flew a PBJ in VMB-423. The era is winter 1944 to summer 1945. I’m not super down on my navy gear but thought you all who are would appreciate it.

     

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  4. I would have had the same question as that leather does look very fresh!  But NOS would explain that.  Thankfully this is one of the items no one has "faked" yet....that we know of lol
     
    Congrats a nice helmet - looks like you have a nice collection going back behind there as well....
     
    Although, that water bottle does not appear vintage 

    Thanks for the help y’all, I might just have to try that knife thing and keep it around for whenever I come across stuff like this

    And yeah it’s just the latest in a growing air corps display. I try to stick with just ETO infantry but I swear every time I find a really neat air corps piece I just can’t pass it up. It’s made for some great public displays. The helmet gets me closer to completing my PTO flyer which uses the P61 veterans suit for a base. Still need that A14 which has long-evaded me but we go on.

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  5. Looks fine, and original NOS, to me. I'm unaware of anyone reproducing theses helmets. They have been readily available for decades now as tons were released to the surplus market after the war. One suggestion though. I'd remove the oxygen mask hook from the wearer's left side. It was only worn on the right with the A-14 mask.
    When you do, don't just pull it off though, use the tip of a small screwdriver, or blade of a knife, to separate the two parts of the snaps, as the material can sometimes be fragile, even when it doesn't appear to be on these 75 year old helmets.


    Thanks for the heads up, I just had no idea a helmet could be in such good shape this long but I Imagine it was one stored for long after the war. I wasn’t sure why there were the double hooks on there but will have to take them off. Should I still leave one on? I have an a11 I could put the spare on if you think it would be right and then I’d have one on both, but if it wouldn’t be correct I’d rather take both off and keep them in storage. I tried tugging gently and realized they were real snug so I will have to try your screwdriver trick, hopefully that works.
  6. Hey all, just got this one in as I was hoping to get a nice summer helmet for the jumpsuits I have. Unfortunately I don’t have a ton of experience with these and am concerned with parts of this one being refurbished or redone. I am mostly concerned that the leather bits have been replaced as the receiver, cups, the metal snaps, and the cloth itself seem to have a good amount of wear and appear original to me. The leather just seems really rough and fresh. The chinstrap has some loss of color and is cracked but the stuff on the back and the leather where the O2 mask attaches just looks super fresh to me. I don’t know enough about if there even a lot of reproductions out there or if replacing stuff like that is even possible so I figured I’d reach out here if anyone can tell me whether I am fine and maybe it’s just NOS or if this is something restored or made from scratch.

     

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  7. 1 hour ago, dmar836 said:

    Great grouping. Thanks! Looks different than what they were wearing in the ball team pic but, yeah, looks like a few there.

    Nicely photographed, BTW

    Dave

     

    From reading in the unit history they asked command if they could make custom caps for themselves while on Hawaii waiting for the invasion of Iwo Jima, this is where they had the custom crimson and white ones made like you see in the photos. I believe the baseball team is wearing yet another type of hat as the history mentions they made custom uniforms when that started.

  8. Hey everyone. Post is up in the groupings section and I’ve attached the link here. I managed to pick up a nice AN-H-15 last night to display with the set and for any future displays, still holding out for an A14 though. Thanks for all the help in here.

     

    Dave, I believe it’s another one of the squadron hats like some of the others are wearing. I think they had a red and white/red version. You can see some more in the grouping post. 
     

    https://www.usmilitariaforum.com/forums/index.php?/topic/342468-great-woodwork-p-61-radar-operator-uniform-grouping-“the-spook”/

  9. Miller is wearing a crimson red cap in this photo, apparently they asked command if they could make special ones for the squadron (their P61s were marked with crimson highlights) and they ended up getting approved.
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    Unfortunately “Spook II” was lost before a photo could be taken according to Miller. It was painted the same. This is their third plane, note the parachutes painted on the side to represent their escape.
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    “Anonymous” landing at Ie Shima
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    The squadron baseball team, Miller is the far right kneeling
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    Miller in his last flight before retirement
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    The following were kept by the grandson, I am still waiting on some pictures for the rest of his medals

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    This compass is the one stolen by the grandmother, he kept it on him for years after.
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  10.  

    Hey all, today I’ve got a nice grouping from the radar operator of a fairly famous P-61 Black Widow, “The Spook.” There is a TON of information on Miller and his crew and not much is out there from the night fighters, so feel free to enjoy the service of an impressive and rare flyer .

     

     

           Avery J Miller was born in the small town of Oil City, Pennsylvania in 1922 and joined the Pennsylvania National Guard after leaving high school in January of 1941. After completing his training, he was assigned as a private in the anti-tank company of the 112th Infantry Regiment, 28th Infantry Division. While part of the guard, Miller participated in the Louisiana maneuvers where he met General George Patton. At one point assigned to direct traffic for a large column of armored vehicles, Patton, acting as an umpire, came up and began complaining to the poor private about something long-forgotten, although it made a solid impression on the 19 year old who fondly remembered the general as “a stern, stoic sweetheart.”

     

     

           When Pearl Harbor was hit Miller realized his boredom with ground-pounder life and sought a transfer for a more exciting and growing branch of service--the Army Air Corps. Applying as an aviation cadet in 1942, he attended pilot school and completed the first two levels of training before washing out in the advanced program. Not wishing to waste his hard-earned flight skills, however, the army decided to transfer him to a very rare and brand new school for radar operation. Learning the complicated skills associated with incorporating the brand new radar technology into fully functioning multi-crew aircraft, the training he underwent was practically being written as he learned it. The skills needed were very high-functioning and any information regarding the methods or technology was highly classified. Many ROs would wash out, however, Miller completed his training (with additional gunnery training in each of the B17 turret positions, as all ROs were expected to operate external guns in case situations called for it), and joined the roster of first-generation ROs waiting for assignment.

     

     

           In March of 1944 the 548th Night Fighter Squadron was formed and before long Miller would join as a founding “plankowner.” For the next several months Miller and his squadron traveled up and down the west coast training with the P70. Like all night fighter units, Miller was paired to train with a pilot, Lieutenant Mel Bodes. Like bombers, the men trained as a team. The pilot and RO would have to work in unison to achieve successful nighttime interceptions, so tight cooperation was a necessity. At the end of stateside training in October they received an enlisted gunner and moved with the squadron to Ohau for some tropical field tests around the Hawaiian islands. While some members of the squadron went to Saipan for combat training, Miller and the others stayed in Hawaii doing practice patrols. In January of 1945 the squadron received orders they would finally be shipped to combat for the then unbeknownst invasion of Iwo Jima. With the ground echelon shoved onto four different ships bound for Iwo Jima, the flyers waited for the signal in anxious anticipation.

     

     

           When the invasion hit in February, most of the ground echelon awaited in fresh overalls and HBTs from the decks of their landing craft. The army wanted to get planes on the ground as soon as the first airfield was taken, so on D+8 the men of the 548th landed to the surprise of many a beachmaster. With shaking carbines and freshly pressed uniforms, the mechanics and support personnel were told to wait in foxholes near the airstrip until it could be fully secured from Japanese forces. It was a hard fought battle, but as we all know the marines took the strip and on March 6th Miller became one of the first P61s to land on the rocky volcanic island. Flying operations were set up almost immediately, running out of foxholes and empty cave systems. Miller, now with the brand new nose art painted by his pilot ascribing his plane with the name “The Spook,” began his first combat flying off of an island that was still only partially held in allied hands. The nightly patrols were meant to support the invading forces by creating a defensive perimeter around the island, preventing Japanese land-based bomber forces hitting the marines from above. For the entire time the 548th was the primary night-fighting force on Iwo Jima, no Japanese bombers hit the island whatsoever.

     

     

          For the entirety of their service on the island, the men were plagued by the stench of rotting corpses and mass swarms of festering flys. As mentioned earlier, the first month or so was run entirely out of foxholes in constant danger from Japanese attack. On March 25th a neighboring P51 squadron was hit by a large banzai charge from surviving Japanese, showing just how close to danger the men of the 548th were. Eventually the fright would subside as the marines overtook the remaining ground and some more regular, permanent structures could be built. It was constructing these buildings that Miller and the 548th had their first encounter with the local population. While in the process of building a hut, Miller and his pilot began noticing small pieces of equipment going missing. At first a flight compass, but then navigating tools, food, and watches. Deciding to perform a stakeout once they realized, they were shocked to find an elderly grandmother sneaking pieces from the crew’s hut back to her hiding hole 50 yards away where she and her infant granddaughter had waited out the fighting. After some gentle coaxing, Miller and his compatriots were able to get the couple to safety and more direct care.

     

     

           While the fighting was less severe, the P61s of the 548th were still important in keeping security on the island. While they were on Iwo Jima, the P61s performed escort missions for many of the B29 bombers seeking refuge. These emergency calls came up multiple times a week as hundreds of bomb crews out of fuel or damaged by flak sought out the island for salvation. The P61s would find the straggling bombers using their radar and guide them into the island where the crews could either ditch or attempt a crash landing. It is never harked on that much in the wartime unit history, but it is clear that this critical, forgotten job saved countless lives.The Japanese were deeply stung by the effectiveness of the new island and the threat of bomber raids was ever present. Flying between the hours of 1900 to 0400, the widow crews braved surprising cold, ever-present storms, and unceasing fog as added challenges to their intercepting and lifesaving tasks. It was these conditions that caused the first plane casualty in action.

     

     

           In the early morning of April 20th, “Spook” and a few other P61s were returning from night combat patrols when they found the island once again engulfed in a thick, heavy fog. This weather was well-known as the most dangerous for the flyers, as it gave near-zero vision reaching several hundred feet up into their air blocking any hopes of a landing. A Marine PBJ began its approach first but crashed into the ground, killing all onboard. Waiting around in hopes of weather change, the P61s began waning on gas with no other option than blind landing or bailing out. While the first plane, “Midnite Madness,” came in fine with only minor gear damage, Miller and the crew of “Spook” were not so lucky. “Midnite” was stuck in the middle of the runway after her gears dug into the ground. Still operating on radio silence as usual, “Spook” was unaware of the impending danger. Landing off kilter in the blinding fog, “Spook” first hit the ground with her wingtip and began bouncing down the runway. Fortunately for all involved, one of these bounces scraped over the top of “Midnite,” destroying large chunks of either plane, but avoiding a more disastrous collision. As “Spook” crashed into the dirt just past her plane-shaped obstacle, her front cannons and bits of engine ripped off and scattered across the runway, with spare rounds flying in all directions. Somehow, none of the gasoline blew and the crew reached the end of the runway entirely unscathed with only a few bruises and an entirely trashed aircraft. The incident became squadron legend and even got reprinted in several army and civilian newspapers and magazines.

     

     

           Miller and Bodes managed to get a second aircraft, named “Spook II,” which would soon prove equally as disastrous as the first. Combat operations on Iwo Jima ceased on May 1st and the squadron began preparations for a move to Ie Shima in support of the invasion of Okinawa. Ironically enough, right after the 548th was placed off of patrol duty, Iwo Jima was successfully bombed by two large squadrons of Japanese bombers who had failed to be stopped by their new sister-squadron, the 549th. The squadron made their move on June 12th and started flying interceptor missions over the Ryukus and the Japanese mainland. Continuing their regular intercept missions, the P61 now undertook ground attack operations by attaching HVAR Rockets and multiple 500 lb bombs to their wings. It was on one of these missions that Spook II would meet her fate.

     

     

          Sent to scout out Japanese targets on the island of Kyushu, Miller used a large volcano to hone in the radar and guide them to the island. Once they got closer they spotted a Japanese airfield and  supply depot lying still in the dark of the night. On their first Bodes took them in and strafed the primary hanger and planes on the tarmac, the second time around they hit several fuel dumps which blew up and lit up the night. Despite caution from Miller, Bodes decided to go around yet again. On the third circle the 500 pounders made quick work of the hangers and led to their total collapse. Taking little heed of Miller’s warning, Bodes went around for yet a fourth attack this time using the HVAR rockets but had to pull out early as the Japanese AA gunners had managed to awake and reach their guns. Heavy flak peppered the sky and rocked Spook II thoroughly. Luckily the pair managed to pull out before they could be knocked out, however, the unseen damage from the flak would gradually tear their plane apart. Three minutes out from the Japanese airfield Miller recounts the plane began shaking and after 15 minutes was shaking so bad that pieces were falling off the plane, Bodes could no longer read the control panel, and control of the aircraft was becoming near impossible. To make matters work a large storm had been brewing and now the two were being tossed about and shaken in the middle of a tropical thunderstorm. It was then that they decided it was time to let Spook II go.

     

     

          From the beginning of their training both had been told it was better to crash land than bail out of the P61. The P61 was notorious for its structural soundness and was considered much safer for crashes than the risks taken when bailing out. Unfortunately, with the controls gone, the two had little choice. After the decision was made the pair waited until they were as close to Allied lines as possible and each gathered their emergency gear. As the plane began shaking more violently than ever, Miller was angered to find his emergency hatch on the floor of his “office” melded shut. Apparently, rust and old parts had come together to keep the hinges from opening and worry set in. Looking around for his fire ax, he could not find it as it had been temporarily removed by the same mechanic who had overlooked his hatch malfunction. In frustration, Miller began jumping up and down on the hole and after a few solid jumps, it gave way and “dropped me like an egg” into the dark, stormy night. As Miller pulled the cord and began his descent a violent airsickness overcame him. The storm was blowing him about like a leaf in the wind and he had to double himself over to prevent what he remembers as his number one fear at that very moment “vomiting on my flight suit.” Eventually he hit the ground near an army encampment on Okinawa. Landing on his rear, the wind picked up his parachute, dragging him across several bristly patches of plants and slamming him into a tree where he was now stuck. Before long “the biggest” African-American soldier he had ever seen approached the tree shouting “parachute! Parachute!” and pointed a rifle in his face. Unbeknownst to Miller, this night was the sole time Okinawa was put on black-alert (threat of Japanese paratrooper attacks). Luckily Miller remembered a surefire way to prove his American loyalty--swearing. Supposedly Japanese soldiers could speak english well, but never could learn how to properly swear. In his fright Miller “let loose the longest chain of profanities I had ever said.” His captor gave a big grin, lowered his rifle, and helped Miller down and back to his unit where he spent a week or so in a hospital recovering from his wounds and bruises. Bodes also survived the crash but got stuck on the .50 barrels of the turret when he jumped out, spending several minutes dangling on the back of a P61 hurtling out of control before letting loose and landing in the ocean.

     

     

          These are but a few of the many stories from Lieutenant Miller as recorded in the squadron history, several interviews, and the memories of his grandson. Miller was essential in the creation of the squadron history several years ago, filling in the gaps of the unofficial records from the war. As a result, many of his accounts and photographs scatter the book and inform the reader about the complexities, dangers, and realities of night fighter operations. After their second crash they received a third plane, this time named “anonymous” as both the CO and their fellow pilots made quite the fuss about naming yet a third plane Spook, many of the other pilots swearing they would not fly with such an unlucky mark. After the war Miller returned home a decorated hero who had pioneered the development of electronics usage in military aircraft and set the Air Corps record for most planes lost by a P61 crew. His plane, “Spook,” would go on to gain popularity as the cover for several books and the base of a popular Revell model kit. After a brief relief from service, he rejoined the air force in the reserves and served until 1970. He continued to fly in the F4 Phantoms at the Wolf Pack University for pilots and navigators while with the 445th FIS. He even became the first back-seat flyer to command his own squadron, the 4457th CCTS, before retiring and becoming a social studies teacher. Despite his injuries from the bailout of Spook II, Miller was not awarded the Purple Heart as the paperwork was lost during the war. In 1991 he finally received his honor and became heavily involved in the Night Fighter veteran network, even speaking at the Smithsonian dedication for their own P61.

     

     

          I am very proud to now take care of some of Lieutenant Miller’s items. These all came from his grandson who decided to pass on the items sitting in storage to someone who would care for them and appreciate them. Included is one of his two original AN-S-31 Flight Suits which has been modified with shortened sleeves. While he did not keep many things from WWII, he was certain to keep the suit he wore so many times high up in the pacific. His grandson believes that he cut the sleeves down to help keep temperature balance when wearing a flight jacket. There are several photos of him in a long-sleeve suit, which his grandson believes was a second he wore for ground duty but it is possible he just cut the sleeves down after this photo was taken. Also included were some small bits from his medal sets, one of his Berkshire caps with white and black cover, all three levels of navigator wings, various insignia, an original photograph, some of his mugs from the 445th, and a cd of him at the smithsonian. The book is “Deny Them The Night Sky,” and is the unit history he helped to create. For the sake of how uncommon P61 crews are to find, I have also attached some images of the items retained by his grandson in case anyone is interested. They include his Cold War flight suit, his original ribbon and medals, gunnery wings, and even the compass that was stolen by the civilian on Iwo Jima.

     

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  11. This has been a very helpful thread everyone! I will hopefully be posting the group tomorrow, I got a decent amount of items all from the grandson who wanted it to go to someone who would use it for education and displays like I do. As such, he kept some of the other pieces of the group but Ill be sure to post photos of everything regardless because its so rare we find anything from the night fighters. I figured the complete group would be a good reference because I could only find one or two others on the entire forum. I am currently trying to edit down my write-up and it should be good to go. There is a unit history which this veteran helped co-write a few years ago that is chock full of information and anecdotes from him and there is also a cd interview I need to watch and review. Lots of incredible information on a very unique and important part of the AAF.

  12. Thanks for the help everyone! Definitely overlooked the whole obvious fact of cold nights being the primary time of operations. I talked to the grandson again and he thinks he remembers his grandfather saying he wore just a flight suit at times and a suit with jacket at others, really just dependent on the weather and altitude. Will definitely have to start getting something together.

  13. Thanks for the help everyone! Definitely overlooked the whole obvious fact of cold nights being the primary time of operations. I talked to the grandson again and he thinks he remembers his grandfather saying he wore just a flight suit at times and a suit with jacket at others, really just dependent on the weather and altitude. Will definitely have to start getting something together.

  14. Thanks for the quick response! I figured this was mostly the case. I was not sure if the P61 was pressurized which would negate the need for cold weather gear but it looks like the summer mix seen in the other photos you added probably matches the 548th pretty well. The flight suit Im getting is an AN-s-31a with the sleeves trimmed down. According to his grandson, he cut down the sleeves to make it easier to operate the complex radar setup with all his other gear on. I am not sure whether people had multiple flight suits issued, but in most of the original photos I found of the vet he has long sleeve suits. His grandson believes he had two sets, the long sleeves for ground work and the short for flying, but I am not sure if the flyers were issued multiple sets. If not, I would imagine he just cut it down towards the end of the war.

  15.  

    Hey everyone,

     

          So I’m getting a grouping this week from a P61 radar operator of the 548th NFS which includes his original flight suit worn overseas. I have been able to find tons of information on the veteran and photographs from the grandson who I am getting it from, and was thinking about getting the few AF pieces I do not have to complete the outfit, particularly the helmet

          I’ve attached a few photos photos I’ve been able to find of their squadron in flight gear, but unfortunately it doesn’t show them in the cockpit so I don’t know what pacific P61s might have truly worn while flying. I believe the helmets are AN-H-15s and that the goggles are B8 but was hoping someone could visually double check me. As for other gear I found one showing life vests which looks like they used a variety.

          In one of the accounts from the veteran whose suit I am getting, he had to bail out of his black widow after flak disabled their controls. He jumped out amidst a massive thunderstorm and said that for some reason his number one priority when he got violently airsick being tossed about in his parachute was to not throw up on his flight suit which makes me think it is also possible they did not wear the flight jackets all the time. While flight jackets periodically show up in the unit history, I could only find a single photo of them wearing any type of jacket in combination with other flight gear throughout a nearly 900 photograph collection on a cd from the unit history which the grandson has included. If anyone else has photos of 61 crews from the pacific, especially in flight gear I’d love to see it. And if anyone has spares for the pieces I need (at the moment, particularly a larger size AN-H-15) feel free to pm me. Otherwise thanks for all the help! This forum teaches me a lot every time I post.

     

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    This is the only photo where I saw jackets worn in combination with any type of flight gear, in this case the variety of life vests

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    Finally, this is the closest I have to a photo of the veteran whose uniform I’m getting in flight gear. This is his pilot leaving the cockpit. It’s low quality but it’s the closest I have to seeing what my guys exact setup would have been and figured maybe someone more experienced can spot something.

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  16. Wonderful! I did a very similar setup, only with a cartridge belt rather than a pistol, for my infantry mannequin seeing as that is the time period my grandfather entered the 36th ID. Looks good!

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