Leroy V. Grosshuesch
U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF), 35th Fighter Group, 39th Fighter Squadron
Fighter Pilot and Ace
Leroy Victor Grosshuesch was born May 6, 1920 to father Oscar Grosshuesch in Menno, South Dakota. He completed four years of High School and was employed as a clerk in Yankton County, South Dakota before he enlisted in the military.
On January 9, 1942 enlisted in the U. S. Army at Fort Des Moines, Iowa as a private with serial number 17042280. Initially, he was assigned to the quartermasters then was allowed to enroll in flight school in Texas as an aviation cadet. On July 28, 1943 he earned his wings at Selma Army Air Field and was commissioned into the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as a 2nd Lieutenant with serial number O-807554.
Grosshuesch was sent overseas to the South West Pacific Area (SWPA). Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 35th Fighter Group, 39th Fighter Squadron as a fighter pilot flying th P-47 Thunderbolt from Gusap Airfield. Later, promoted to the rank of 1st Lieutenant.
On March 14, 1944 took off from Gusap Airfield on an escort mission over Wewak. During the flight, he witnessed the ditching of P-47D 42-22920 pilot 1st Lt. Gene Duncan near the mouth of the Sepik River. He circled his life raft until low on fuel then departed landing at Saidor Airfield then returned to Gusap Airfield. After refueling, he returned to circle the life raft until bad weather approached and he ran low on fuel. Sadly, 1st Lt. Gene Duncan was not rescued and remains listed as Missing In Action (MIA).
In July 1944, Grosshuesch interacted with
Charles Lindbergh who was in New Guinea working with USAAF squadrons to extend their flying range using different fuel mixture and propeller settings.
During February 1945, promoted to the rank of Captain and became the Commanding Officer (C. O.) of the 39th Fighter Squadron.
On July 30, 1945 Grosshuesch claimed to sink a Japanese destroyer off Goto Retto off Kyushu in Japan and earned the Silver Star for this mission.
On August 12, 1945 took off piloting P-61F Black Widow and claimed a
Ki-84 Frank shot down to the west of Bofu Airfield on Honsu in Japan. By the end of the Pacific War, he had flown 150 combat missions and a total of 624 combat hours.
Grosshuesch was assigned a number of aircraft in the South West Pacific Area (SWPA) including:
P-47D Thunderbolt 42-27861 Squadron Number 10
P-47D Squadron Number 33 with scoreboard with six victory claims as of February 10, 1945
P-51D "Little Girl" 44-64124 Squadron Number 10
P-61F "Little Girl" 43-14124 [sic?]
Squadron Number 10
Aerial Victory Claims
Grosshuesch was officially credited with eight aerial victories between November 21, 1944 to August 12, 1945. His first seven claims were all claimed flying P-47 Thunderbolts. He claimed two aircraft on January 30, 1945. He claimed three victories on February 10, 1945 over Formosa. His last victory claim was on August 12, 1945 piloting a P-61 Black Widow. His P-51D Mustang and P-61 Black Widow were nicknamed "Little Girl".
||Notes on claim
||First aerial victory claim.
||Second aerial victory claim.
||Third aerial victory claim.
||Fourth aerial victory claim.
||Fifth aerial victory claim, became an "ace".
||Sixth aerial victory claim.
||Seventh aerial victory claim.
||Eighth aerial victory claim piloting P-61 Black Widow
Grosshuesch remained in the military and continued in the U. S. Air Force (USAF). He served in the Vietnam War. In 1973 retired with the rank of Colonel. He married Alexandria Meakin and they had three children. He lives in retirement in Kaneohe in Hawaii.
Grosshuesch earned the Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), Air Medal and Air Force Commendation Medal.
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Leroy V. Grosshuesch
USAF Historical Study No. 85 USAF Credits For The Destruction of Enemy Aircraft, World War II Alphabetical: Grosshuesch, Leroy, V. page 77 (PDF page 85)
Missing Air Crew Report 4112 (MACR 4112) created March 17, 1944 pages 6-7 (Statement of Lt. Grosshuesch)
Fighter Combat Tactics in the Southwest Pacific Area - Captain Leroy V. Grosshuesch, 39th Fighter Squadron, 35th Fighter Group (P-47)
Twelve to One V Fighter Command Aces of the Pacific (2004) pages 31-33, 128 (index)
Beyond the Sprues - Northrop P-61F - "Little Girl" - Capt. Grossheusch by Logan Hartke November 27, 2013
[Grosshuesch later stated] "So, on this day four of us were on a "search and destroy" mission over Southern Japan. Normally, this was a great mission where we were free to search for targets of opportunity. However it was not a good day because we had a heavy overcast at 1000 to 1100 feet, so our ability to see ahead was quite limited.
We found some targets and attacked them, but wanted to find something more. I headed in a westerly direction and on the horizon saw an island, which was Goto Retto, a Japanese naval base, but we didn't know that. The mountain tops were up in the overcast, but there was a valley between two of the peaks which formed a "V" shaped opening through which we could see the water on the other side.
As we approached, we were surprised to see a destroyer followed closely by another one sail across the space. Our P-61's had no bombs that day, just our four machine guns and four 20mm cannons, but we decided to make a strafing pass, not expecting that we could do much damage except to the personnel. Because of the narrow opening, we had to go in in trail. We took them by surprise. I gave a burst on the destroyer in view, and turned left because the harbor was not very wide and on the other side there was a range of mountains, their tops all in the cloud cover. It was a fateful turn! The other three turned right which was a stroke of luck because that let them exit the harbor. If all four of us had been inside the harbor, like I was, the destroyers would have surely shot down some of us. As I turned to the left, I saw directly in front of me the naval base, and they started to unleash their anti-aircraft guns. I quickly turned right hugging the far side of the harbor, which was not far enough away to keep me out of the range of the two, now alerted, destroyers. I had seen ack-ack many times before, but nothing compared to this. The sky was filled with tracers and explosions, and they were all aimed at me. I don't know what was behind me, but it was awesome in front of me. They seemed to be shooting above me, so I couldn't pull up through all that flak into the clouds. I had to dive but there wasn't much space to do that. I decided if I was going to get "it" I would do as much damage as I could before they hit me. I dived and turned into the rear destroyer. I let go a long burst aimed at the water line of the ship. I must have hit the ammo magazine because the destroyer exploded. It was a terrific explosion--a huge, gigantic ball of fire which I had to fly through because I was too close to avoid it. As I burst out of the fireball I was heading for the "V" under the clouds, so I exited the way I had come in.
One of the guys in the flight said: "What the hell was that?" Another voice said: "I think Lee dove into the destroyer." By then, my heart had gotten out of my throat so I told them that I was OK, but damaged. We got together and returned to Okinawa. I had sunk the destroyer, but my poor P-61 was so riddled with shrapnel and debris from the explosion that it had to be scrapped. I don't know what happened to the other destroyer, but it must have been severely damaged by the huge explosion so close to it.
At one of the reunions, one of the crew chiefs said: "I don't know what all he did, but I know one thing, he is one of the luckiest guys in the whole world." I couldn't disagree with that."
Air Force Magazine May 2013 page 130 [PDF] Army Air Forces Aces of World War II - Leroy V. Grosshuesch
Air Force Magazine May 2015 page 126 [PDF] Army Air Forces Aces of World War II - Leroy V. Grosshuesch
Air Force Magazine May 2016 page 119 [PDF] Army Air Forces Aces of World War II - Leroy V. Grosshuesch
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