In his memoir, Lt. Col. Richard E. Turner recalled D-Day for the Ninth Air Force’s 354th Fighter Group at Maidstone, Kent. He described the “Pioneer Mustangs’” rare D-Day missions: night escort of troop carrier aircraft and gliders.
Since the 25th of May, the group had been informed that it was on a six-hour alert status, and had been assigned two officers from General Patton’s Third Army to stay with us and set up liaison procedures. Our flying hadn’t changed much except that more dive-bombing, fighter sweeps, and strafing missions were being thrown in with our normal escort duties.
“It didn’t take much brain power to know that the invasion of the Continent was imminent. The clincher came when we discovered a small detail of cameramen among us who had been assigned to cover our first-day activities on D-Day.
“On the 3rd and 4th of June, a couple of short missions were run over France. Rumor and speculation ran high on the 5th and 6th as we awaited the event with bated breath, and when it was revealed that the first day’s operations had already been completed without our participation we felt very much let down.
Read the article from the August 2014 issue of Flight Journal, click here.
By Barrett Tillman