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68th Fighter Squadron (68th FS)
U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF), 13th Air Force (13th AF)
Background
Assigned to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF), 13th Air Force (13th AF), 347th Fighter Group (347th FG) in the South Pacific (SOPA). The squadron operated P-39 Airacobras, P-40 Warhawks and finally P-38 Lightings.

Wartime History
At the start of the Pacific War, the 68th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor) operated P-40 Warhawks and was assigned to the 58th Fighter Group (58th FG) in the 7th Air Force (7th AF). The squadron departed overseas across the Pacific bound for Australia. On March 16, 1942 the squadron arrived at Amberly Field near Brisbane with P-40 Warhawks and P-39 Airacobras.

Redesignated the 68th Fighter Squadron (68th FS). On May 16, 1942 the squadron moves to Tongatabu Airfield (Tonga Tabu) on Tonga operating P-40 Warhawks and P-39 Airacobras. On October 2, 1942 the 68th Fighter Squadron is transferred to the 347th Fighter Group (347th FG) in the South Pacific (SOPAC). The squadron is based at Tongatabu Airfield (Tonga Tabu) on Tonga.

On October 28, 1942 the squadron departs Tonga for New Caledonia arriving November 2, 1942 then moves to Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands. On November 12, 1942 the squadron flies their first combat mission at the start of the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal.

During the Battle of Guadalcanal, the squadron pilots and aircraft were assigned to the 44th Fighter Squadron "Vampire Squadron" Detachment (44th FS Detachment) operating from Fighter 2 (Kukum) on Guadalcanal and flew scramble and interception mission from Guadalcanal with P-40F Warhawks.

On January 27, 1943 68th Fighter Squadron P-40Fs took off to intercept an air raid by Japanese Army Air Force (JAAF) Ki-48 Lilys from 45th Sentai escorted by Ki-43-I Oscars from 1st Sentai and 11th Sentai over Guadalcanal. This was the only air raid by the JAAF against Guadalcanal.

On February 4, 1943 lost is P-40F Warhawk pilot 1st Lt. Michael J. Carter (MIA) on a mission to escort SBD Dauntless dive bombers attacking Japanese destroyers north of New Georgia.

On February 13, 1943 seven P-40F Warhawks from the 68th Fighter Squadron took off from Fighter 2 (Kukum) on Guadalcanal on a mission to escort six B-24 Liberators on a bombing mission against Japanese shipping in the Shortland-Kahilli-Buin area. Inbound, 3 P-40s and 2 P-38s aborted the mission due to engine trouble, leaving the B-24s with an escort of 2 P-38s and 4 P-40s. Over the target, the formation was intercepted by 39 enemy fighters including A6M Zeros and A6M2-N Rufe floatplanes. Lost is P-40F 41-14102 pilot Captain Albert L. Johnson (MIA) and P-40F Warhawk 41-14110 pilot 1st Lt. Raymond A. Morrissey (MIA).

On February 27, 1943 P-40Fs from the 68th Fighter Squadron took off on a mission over Vella Lavalla and engaged enemy aircraft. Lost is P-40F Warhawk pilot 1st Lt. Jackson B. Lewis (MIA) seen to crash into the sea.

On April 12, 1943 the squadron began to withdraw from Guadalcanal to Nadi Airfield in Fiji but the flight echelon continues to fly combat missions from Guadalcanal until December 1943. By late 1943, the squadron began operating late model P-39N Airacobras and P-39Q Airacobras as replacement aircraft.

On September 6, 1943 P-39 Airacobras from the 68th Fighter Squadron took off from Fighter 2 (Kukum) on Guadalcanal on a mission to escort U. S. Navy (USN) bombers attacking a suspected radar site ob Magusaiai (Morgusaia) in the Shortlands. The formation included other USN fighters including F4U Corsairs and F6F Hellcats (their first combat mission in the South Pacific). Over the target, the P-39s claim five shot down. Lost are P-39N Airacobra 42-19022 pilot 1st Lt. Andrew Capa and P-39N Airacobra 42-18798 pilot F/O Buell F. Payne (MIA). Returning, the rest of the squadron lands at Segi Airfield on New Georgia.

By December 1943 the rest of the squadron withdrew to Nadi Airfield in Fiji. During late January 1944 returned to the Solomon Islands operating P-38 Lightnings. On January 27, 1944 squadron arrived at Ondonga Airfield on New Georgia. On February 4, 1944 the squadron moved from Nadi Airfield in Fiji to Torokina Airfield on Bougainville.

On February 22, 1944 lost on a test flight hop was P-39Q Airacobra 42-20107 pilot Captain Herschel A. Brown (MIA)

On August 17, 1944 the squadron moves from Torokina Airfield on Bougainville to Middelburg Airfield on Middelburg Island.

On June 15, 1944 became part of the Far East Air Force (FEAF) when the 5th Air Force (5th AF) and 13th Air Force (13th AF) were combined until the end of the Pacific War.

On February 23, 1945 the squadron moves from Middelburg Airfield to San Jose Airfield (McGuire) on Mindoro.

On March 6, 1945 the squadron moves from San Jose Airfield (McGuire) to Puerto Princesa Airfield on Palawan and remained at this location until the end of the Pacific War.

On June 26, 1945 P-38s took off on a mission over Balikpapan. Lost is P-38 Lighting pilot 2nd Lt. William K. Hootman (MIA).

References
347th Fighter Group Advanced Echelon APO 709 "Preliminary Intelligence Summary of Operations of Army Fighter Planes at Cactus - December 1, 1942 to February 17, 1943" February 21, 1943 pages 1-3



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