In memory - Erick Kyro passed away on January 25, 2017.
Erick W. Kyro was born in 1916 in Thunder Bay, Ontario. His family moved to Detroit, Michigan. On November 11, 1941 he enlisted as an aviation cadet in the U.S. Army with serial number 16042121.
After completing flight training, Kyro was assigned to the 5th Air Force, 35th Fighter Group, 41st Fighter Squadron. In total, he flew 215 combat missions in the South-West Pacific Area (SWPA) in New Guinea from 7 Mile Drome near Port Moresby, Tsili-Tsili Airfield and Gusap Airfield.
In 1943 Kyro was assigned a P-39N Airacobra he nicknamed "The Flying Finn / Sisu" because Kyro was of Finnish ancestry with the nose art of a skier, modeled after a Finnish Olympian Paavo Nurmi. The word "Sisu" is Finnish for guts.
P-39N "Flying Finn" 42-1??12 assigned to Kyro during 1943, ultimate fate unknown
P-39N Airacobra 42-18807 damaged August 7, 1943 afterwards repaired
P-47D Thunderbolt 42-22626 assigned to Kyro during the first half of 1944, ultimate fate unknown
mission against Shaggy Ridge
Kyro flew this mission against a Japanese
gun emplacement on Shaggy Ridge. This was the only know mission in New Guinea
when an Airacobra was used as dive bomber.
"We had another interesting mission that I
noticed in the book The Forgotten
Fifth, A flight of P-39's from Tsilli-Tsilli Airfield had
been given an order to dive-bomb a Japanese gun position that was
given Australian ground troops some difficulty in the Finesterre
mountains. I was on that mission. It was interesting.
The bomb rack on the P-39 was used to carry belly
tanks, we had never had any dive bombing missions - only strafing
missions. When ever we went down close to the enemy, we would drop
our belly tank. In this case, we were asked to follow an Australian
reconnaissance airplane, a Wirraway, something like our T-6, and
he was going to point out this gun emplacement was giving the Australian
Army a real tough time.
The Wirraway dived at this canopy of trees, and
we could not see anything down there. We got into a rotating pattern,
taking terms to dive bomb the area, and we did.
A day or so later, we got a message that we had
silenced the gun! And the Aussie commander wanted to present our
command with a sword. But, we had no way of getting the sword, so
we never did. The history mentions liquor
being distributed as a gift to the squadron from the Aussies, I
never got any of that liquor!"
Kyro passed away at age 100 on January 28, 2017. He was buried on February 4, 2017 at Glen Eden Cemetery in Livonia, Michigan.
Biography of William Arvi Kyro (Kyro's father)
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records Erick W Kyro
41st Fighter Squadron DVD - Erick W. Kyro interview
Legacy.com - Erick W. Kyro 1916-2017
FindAGrave - Erick W Kyro
Veterans History Projet - Erick William Kyro Collection (AFC/2001/001/16361)
Midland Daily News "World War II veterans share wartime experiences" - Maj. Gen. Erick Kyro May 30, 2016
Thanks to Erick Kyro for additional information
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