26 Janaury, 2013 — Anderson, SC
My father was Leland Burns. On his 18th birthday he enlisted in the USAAF. In 1942 you had to have a college degree or score very high on the pilots test to get into flight school. Reportedly he made a perfect score. For many years as a kid he built model planes and won several free flier competitions. He was president of the local model plane club. That club also included Major Rudolf Anderson of Cuban missil crisis fame. After approximately 18 months of training he was asigned to the 50th Fighter Group, 81st Fighter Squadron as part of the 9th Air Force. On june 6th 1944 he board a liberty ship in Richmond, Va. headed for his first base in Lymington, Englnad. They were on there a few days before moving to their first base in France located at Carentan near Utah Beach. Overt he next 11 months he flew 92 missions in a P-47 Thunderbolt providing ground support for troops advancing toward Germany. Those missions included destroying anything that moved. Locomotives, train yeads, marshalling yards, barges, trucks, tanks, horse carts, ox carts, Also, destroying bridges. As a teenager Pop had trouble being acceted by the older more experienced pilots. It was not until they discovered he had 20/10 vision that they began to include and trust him on dangerous missions. In April 1945 Pop reported entire colums of German solders would surrender to two Thunderbolts. The pilots would call the forward air controller and they would send out one or two jeeps and they would take control of Marching 300/400 german prisoners of war. Pop boarded the Queen Mary out Gourock in July 28 1945. They arrived New York harbor August 1, 1945. Pop returned home safely three months before his 21st birthday. He passed awa in June, 2000. In 2003 I began to attend their unit reunions. As of this date to my knowledge there only six members of their original unit surviving.