The History of the 514th in Brief
M ajor C.B. Kelly's and Captain C.H. Doyle's return to active duty on 13 February 1945 marked the beginning of many changes in key positions. Lt. Colonel Bratton's departure led to Major Kelly's elevation to that post and he, in turn, was succeeded by Captain Doyle as Squadron Commander. The vacant Operations position was filled by Captain J.C. Bloom.
Memories of our brief term of duty in Ashford, Kent, England, were rejuvenated by the sputtering roar of robot bombs as they shot over our heads on the way to either London or Antwerp. However, they weren't too numerous or bothersome.
The windy month March was ushered in in typical Air Corps fashion. Sortie after sortie stabbed and jabbed into the Rhineland, knocking out gun positions; strafing heavily trafficked roads; bombing bridges, and in general unbalancing our foe for the final blow. With guns blazing and bombs placed in strategic spots, our "Raiders," led by Capt. J.C. Bloom, worked hand in hand with General Simpson's Ninth Army effectively to chase the disorganized "Krauts" to and across the majestic waters of the Rhine.
On one of many visits to the Ruhr Valley, Capt. J.C. Bloom and his vanguard of stubby Thunderbolts effected a surprise attack on an airfield near Munster. This element of surprise prevented the Jerries from concealing their aircraft and as result 20 of them were definitely destroyed and 14 were damaged.
Halfway through the month, on 14 March 1945, Allied armies began operations to cross the last natural obstacle—the Rhine River—in their drive to the German capital. Our role in this mammoth task was centered in the sector selected for paratroop and glider landings. How well our job was done is reflected in the complete success of this venture. Once the east side of the river was reached by a sizable force, our hopes were buoyed for early finish of belligerent tactics.
Unfortunately, another of our pilots was not to see the culmination of the European conflict. The unlucky flyer was Capt. B. Sweet, veteran flight commander who was killed in a landing accident on the field. Captain Sweet was returning home from a mission when the accident happened. Last remnants of German anti-aircraft defense system earned for Lt. R.G. Garrison the non-too-cherished Purple Heart Medal by inflicting shrapnel wounds on him. Though seriously injured, Lt. Garrison managed to guide his ship back to home base.
Lt. McVey, on the other hand, was not that fortunate. He failed to return and was classed as "MIA".
Another month rolled around to find us still snuggly settled on Asch Air Strip. The first three days were plagued by inclement weather, but the fourth returned us to assistance of the XIII and XVIII Corps whom we spearheaded to their objectives. By this time they were traveling at a remarkable rate of speed, driving deeper and deeper into Hitler's domain.
Imminence of the end was quite probable now. But, on second thought, alacrity of Nazi withdrawal into mountain strongholds in Bavaria indicated that they were determined to hold out to the last man. This factor was generally accepted as strategy to prolong the war. Therefore, our pursuit of his scattering troops necessitated proximate establishment on a base in the Rhineland. Before this materialized, however, Capt. M.W. Sanders and his cohorts set a record for aircraft destroyed on the ground. He calmly led them to an airfield at Celle, Germany, on 8 April, where in workman-like fashion they raked up and down the airdrome to account for 28 destroyed and 15 damaged.
On the 15th day of April the move into Germany was performed to make us one of the first Air Force units settled on the east banks of the Rhine River. Our location was in the vicinity of Munster—in early days of European war—the most troublesome area for airmen. By this time, General Simpson's matchless armies hammered their way to the shores of the Elbe River, where the boundary for U.S. troop advances was located. Consequently, with the job virtually completed, all that remained for our exuberant air power was armed reconnaissance patrol over that sector. Confinement to this type of aerial work persisted until the greatest day in our memories—7 May 1945—the day we were informed of Germany's capitulation. Official announcement was made two days later.
Activity after that momentous day is quite insignificant though on two different occasions sad incidents resulted in the loss of two adept enlisted men. Surviving the rigors of war throughout our eventful itinerary across the continent, Sgt. S. Udowitz and Cpl. G.W. Satchell died in service of their country.
Filling the breach left vacant by Colonel Grossetta, Lt. Colonel Kelly stepped into the capacity of Group Commander. In turn, Captain Bloom rewarded for incessant devotion to duty, became our esteemed Squadron leader. Captain M.W. Sanders then took over the post of Operations Officer.
On 5 June 1945 we were dispatched to Nordholtz, Germany, for purpose of patrolling the Bremen area in our post-war task as the Air Force of Occupation. As this recital approached its closing stages, the 514th "Raiders" are still comfortably ensconced in proximity of the North Sea, pursuing a droll life but hoping that its past deeds will merit another call to battle.
bomb lines, has "Finis" emblazoned on it the
day European war was over.
A fitting climax to this narrative is a richly deserved tribute to all concerned for sincere, unselfish devotion to duty, high degree of enthusiasm, and unsurpassed cooperation to make the 514th Fighter Squadron one of the finest organizations in the Army Air Forces.