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Erick W. Kyro
Pilot, 41st Fighter Squadron

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.

Wartime History
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

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Dive bombing 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 - 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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