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332nd Fighter Group

 

Nah, I won't be home for Christmas.

 

The name is 1st Lt. Shaun Clearence Wheatley, 100th FS/332nd FG. I was based out of Rametelli Air base in Italy. I should have been on a ship headed for New York Harbor by now. But, I am here with you guys. To make a long story short, I wanted to fly one more mission before I left the squadron. There's just something about the P-51 that called me out every time I looked at it. We lost two pilots on missions over Budapest three days ago and the replacements hadn't arrived. So I volunteered for this last mission. The CO warned me but I just shrugged it off. Anyway...
 


We ran into some really bad weather over the Alps and I became separated from the group. We hadn't yet made our escort rendezvous yet. So I thought I would just try and make the RP.
 


When I arrived at the RP the 332nd FG wasn't there. But the 352nd FG was, making there RP and linking up. I reported in and was told to wing up with 1st Lt. CprHead.
 


We proceeded to fly high cover and keep and eye out for banditos along the way.
 


The overcast weather at that altitude was becoming a problem. So we spread to avoid collision and somehow I was separated again. I looked down at my instrument panel to try and figure out the problem. Low and behold, the engine monitor was reading DISCO'd...
 


I figured that was enough and I should probably be head back to Rametelli anyway, when off in the distance I saw a lone aircraft. I had been with the unit since Salerno and I had never shot down a Jerry. I thought, Hmmm now's my chance.
 


I had already prepared for the engagement, tanks away, full throttle, and focus on the target.
 


I kind of smirked at bit to myself, because the German pilot never knew I was there.
 


I got a cold chill because this was the first time I was ever alone with the enemy. I lined up on him and let go with my 50 cals.
 


I HIT HIM! Wow reality smacked me in the face and adrenaline ran at light speed through my veins. My eyes must have been as big as fifty cent pieces.
 


Wait a minute that didn't kill him! I maneuvered back behind him for a second shot.
 


My rounds were hitting him. But he wasn't going down. He began to feverishly roll his plane to try and get me to miss.
 


I closed on him and kept firing in short burst.
 


Something was odd and I couldn't put my finger on it when that something popped into view. The German pilot hadn't dropped tanks. The extra drag from the tanks kept him in range of my 50ies.
 


The German didn't try and run. Not like I would have. He maintain altitude + or - a thousand feet or so.
 
 

The adrenaline in my veins started to give me an extraordinary focus. I started to feel like I could kill him. My 50ies were now hammering away at him.
 

Then it happened, the final burst blew his wing off and he went spiraling to the ground. I DID IT! I FINALLY GOT ONE!
 
 

I kind of felt sorry for the guy. He must have been dead because he didn't jump.
 

Now, I'm feeling a little bit invincible. But there is another problem. I don't know where the hell I am! So I pulled out my area chart and start the pilotage. Things started to look familiar and I figured now is a good time to head south.
 
 

Well on the way south I happen by a Me110 that was obviously up looking for bombers.
 

I think he was hoping that I hadn't seen him. "Nah, buddy I'm feelin good too." You're dead!
 

The German pilot had the skills but the wrong aircraft. I had burned off quite a bit of fuel and was very light. He seemed to be on full tanks and hadn't fired his weapons yet. I wasn't about to give him a clean target either.
 

I stayed clean and fast and he cranked in all of his flaps trying to turn hard into me. The Mustang felt fresh and ready. Every time he turned I put 1500 ft. of Alt. between us.
 

Until finally the German pilot made his last mistake, I reversed direction quickly and headed right for him, as he was turning to take a SNAPSHOT. But the weight of the 110 seemed to make that a difficult task. I lined up on him for my own SNAPSHOT.
 

Again the adrenalin in my veins had me focused. I plotted his path and distance away from me in a split second and FIRED!
 

The 50 cals found there mark and buzz sawed the left wing of the 110.
 

The convergence of my weapons on his wing was near perfect. The damage was devastating.
 

The outer wing begins to slide away from the 110.
 

As I fly by the German pilot looks up at me as if to say. "How the hell did he do that?"
 

Okay the 110 is down. But I have a new problem.
 

As I had been maintaining my focus on the 110, a Fw190 had slipped into my range and I was now low and out of position.
 

The 190 began to stalk me and I was looking for the door.
 

He prowled around me for a few minutes, then made his strike.
 

Now the shoe was on the other foot. I was dropping flaps and turning hard and the 190 would dive and zoom back to altitude.
 

On his ensuing pass, he was too fast for a good firing solution and too slow for me not to take advantage. So I reversed him and got on his six.
 

Well he wised up and thought better of trying to turn with me. So he used his available "E" to extend quite a ways out.
 

Well in like minded thought. I'm not catchin him maybe he won't catch me. So I turned and headed back west.
 

In the time that I ditched the 190, I landed at a forward RAF airbase to refuel and rearmed my plane. Then I was off again heading south to Italy. It just so happened that I ran right into a group of bombers that looked as if they could use some help and they were going my way.
 

So I tagged along for the ride back to Italy.
 

If you have ever had that feeling like you were in the wrong place at the right time. I had that feeling and it was getting stronger.
 

One bad thing lead to another, high altitude bandits were over the formation of bombers and the other fighters covering and myself were below trying desperately to climb back up to the bombers without getting holed out.
 

Captain 18Whiskey was out in front of me as our situation seemed to worsen with the arrival of more enemy fighters.
 

My instinct to duty kicked in at the wrong time as I see a 190 trailing smoke on my right.
 

I rolled it over and to the right to pick him off as he goes by; What's that Whiskey? Check six...
 

HOLLY $&!#!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 

MAYDAY! MAYDAY! MAYDAY! Redtail7 is hit! I'm going down! I'm going down! OHHHHHH S&!#!!!!!!!!!!!!! I begin to breath really hard and loose consciousness. Then a quiet little voice says to me,"Shaun, get the hell out of this plane, now!"
 

Well the rest is history as they say and here I am. So Nah, I won't be home for Christmas...
 
 
 

 

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