The Original War Department document establishing the Air National Guard dated 9 February, 1946 charged the organization with the following air missions:
a. To provide the Army Air Forces with a first line reserve component for the postwar military establishment capable of rapid expansion to the war strength and able to furnish air units for immediate service anywhere in the world.
b. To provide sufficient organizations in each state so trained and equipped as to enable them to function efficiently in cooperation with ground forces in the protection of life, property, and the preservation of peace, order, and public safety under competent order of the state military authorities.
This document, over the signature of Maj Gen Butler Miltonsberger, Chief, National Guard Bureau, assigned the 142nd Fighter Squadron SE, Wilmington Delaware to the 108th Fighter Group Headquarters in Newark New Jersey. It's provisional sister squadrons in the Group would include the 119th and 141st Fighter Squadrons in Newark, and Trenton, New Jersey respectively. The Group fell under the 52nd Wing Headquarters in New York with responsibility for New York, New Jersey, and Delaware.
The War Department memo to the Adjutants General included further detail on officer and enlisted qualifications, leaving little doubt that experienced World War II veterans were preferred for initial procurement. It established basic standards of physical fitness, terms of enlistment, age qualifications and the like. The memorandum also mandated installation minimum requirements including three runways, one hangar. covered storage, petroleum facilities,housing mess and drilling facilities. It included a manning document outlining the rank structure, technical requirements and numbers of personnel required. Finally, it outlined the types of equipment required by the utility flight that would include one C-47 transport, four tow target A-26's, two instrument and transition AT-6 trainers, and two utility liaison L-5 aircraft.
The initial organizational meeting to establish the Delaware Air National Guard was held on March 17, 1946 at the State Armory in Wilmington. After a planning meeting at the National Guard Bureau in the War Department in Washington, Brigadier General Paul Rinard, Adjutant General for Delaware and Colonel John Grier, U.S. Property and Fiscal Officer announced that a site had already been selected at New Castle Army Air Base. A mission had also been determined, and the nomenclature for the unit would be the 142nd Fighter Squadron. All World War II veterans from the Army Air Forces were invited to attend.
General Order Number 9 dated 8 July, 1946 established the Delaware Air National Guard as the 142nd Fighter Squadron ("Blue Hen").
The 142nd was the heir to the lineage of the 342nd fighter Squadron which had flown P-47s and P- 51s in New Guinea, the Philippines and Shima during World War II as part of the 348th Fighter Group, Fifth Air Force. 142d Tactical Fighter Squadron was originally constituted as the 342d Fighter Squadron at Mitchell Field, New York on 24 September 1942. During ‘World War II, the squadron was based at Australia, New Guinea, Wakde Island, Noemfoor Island, Philippine Islands and Japan and was inactivated on 10 May 1946. It was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for outstanding performance of duty in action against the enemy in New Britain. Campaigns include: Bismarck Archipelago, Luzon, New Guinea, Northern Solomons, Ryukyus, Southern Philippines, West Pacific. Allotted to the Delaware National Guard, redesignated the 142nd Fighter Squadron and recognized at New Castle County Airport, the Squadron received its federal recognition on 6 September 1946.
Formal Recognition and Activation
On September 6, 1946, the 142nd Fighter Squadron, Delaware Air National Guard would stand up with an authorized strength of 49 officers and 263 enlisted men. Actual strength on founding day was 15 officers, one warrant officer, and 36 enlisted men. These original 52 “plank-owners” were commanded by Lt. Col. Wallace A. Cameron.
Colonel Richard Ballard from the New York First Air Force Headquarters issued the oath to 16 officers of the State's "Blue Hen Air Force". He recommended federal recognition, making this day the first drill of the new unit. The next meeting of the men would be on the following Tuesday evening. BG Rinard announced that the strength of the unit when at full capacity would be 58 officers and 325 enlisted personnel including the air service group.
The founding fathers of the Delaware Air Guard were almost all veterans of World War II, many with combat experience. They had earned their stripes through the hard experience of war and were determined to start something that would be of lasting value as they returned to their homes and to their civilian jobs. They were a relatively homogeneous group, all fairly young, with a shared experience. They joined for the camaraderie, the chance to fly, and the opportunity to start something big and new.
A short dramatization of the activation of the Blue Hen Fighter Squadron was presented over WILM radio station. The program included an account of how the squadron was named and included talks by Brig. Gen. Paul Rinard, the adjutant general, Lt.Col. Arthur W. Kellond, Army Air Force instructor/advisor with the Delaware National Guard, Air, and Lt. Col. Wallace Cameron, commanding officer for the squadron. Maj. Presson S. Shane, public relations officer of the squadron, prepared much of the material.
The following listing is from 142nd Fighter Squadron (SE) Special Order No. 1, 6 September 1946:
142nd Fighter Squadron Commander, Lt. Col. Wallace A. Cameron
Major Presson S. Shane, Operations Officer
Capt. William E. Swartz, Engineering Officer Capt. William D. Livergood, “A” Flight Commander Capt. William W. Spruance, Weather Station Capt. Donald M. Raine, “B” Flight Commander
1st Lt. Robert W. Laird, Adjutant 1st Lt. Robert R. Volkman “A” Flight airplane commander Additional duty as acting mess, supply and transportation officer 1st Lt. Peter J. Popovich, “B” Flight airplane commander Additional duty as acting personal equipment officer
2nd Lt. Robert P. Kemske, “A” Flight airplane commander 2nd Lt. Joseph F. Martin, “B” Flight airplane commander
Utility Flight Capt. Robert McCormick II 2nd Lt. Clement J. Lenhoff
208th Air Service Group (FTR) Detachment C Major George Spartage 1st Lt. Clarence Atkinson WO Harper P. Moore
A mystery is Lieutenant Frank Stern, who was manning the headquarters in May 1946 and shows up later as a fighter pilot on the roster with an initial date of 14 January 1947. It is unclear why he was not included in the original Special Order No. 1. He may have been off to school at the time.
Eleven of the original Delaware Air National Guard officers received federal recognition two months later on November 14, concurrent with the onset of flying (A T-6 Texan first flown on 14 November by Lt Col Cameron.) The officers receiving federal recognition were:
Lt Col Cameron, Maj Shane, Capt McCormick, Capt Swartz, Capt.Raine, Lt Kemske, Lt. Laird, Lt. Lenhoff, Lt. Martin, and Lt. Volkman. (One name is missing from this Nov 15, 1946 News Journal article).
The following listing of enlisted personnel is from
Detachment “C” 208th Air Service Group (FTR) Special Order No. 1, 6 September 1946:
1st Sergeant Charles A. Thomson
MSgt Norman R. Sparks
SSgt Ezekiel Cooper SSgt Joseph F. Gibson SSgt Joseph W. Maloney Sr. SSgt Joseph L. Manion SSgt William J. Mayberry SSgt Lawrence E. Wiggins
Sgt Robert F. Loeffel Sgt Joseph A. Mayberry Sgt Vincent L. Riley Sgt Charles E. Wade Sgt Kennard R. Wiggins Sgt Franklin L. Wilson
Cpl. Oscar R. Beal
We have copies of Special Order No. 1 from the Detachment “C”, 208th Air Service Group, and the 142nd Fighter Squadron, (Officers only) but there were also likely to be similar orders for the 142nd Utility Flight of 142nd Fighter Squadron and one for the Weather Flight as well, which may account for the missing names to round out the original roster of 36 enlisted men.
Others have been identified (by Vincent Riley and a few other old-timers in the mid 1980’s) in the photograph taken during the first muster at the Wilmington Armory, but not listed above. There are 35 officers and enlisted personnel visible in frame but not all have been identified. The men below were identified, but not specifically listed in the Special Order above:
“Hap” Arnold Stanley Cierkowski John Gibson William Gravatt John Hite William Hollingsworth Harvey Hoffecker Charles Palmer Leroy Pierson Stephen Popovich John Reiser
A January 15, 1947 newspaper article discussed a federal recognition board for new officers in the "Blue Hen" squadron Delaware Air Guard. The following men met the board, headed by Col. Charles W. Stark group instructor of the 108th Group, Lt. Col. Robert Robinson, First Air Force flight surgeon, and Lt. Col. Wallace Cameron, 142nd Commander:
Capt. Frederick O. Fulmer 1Lt Phillip L. Currier 1Lt James N. Diacomakos 1Lt James V. Echieverria 2Lt George M. Feist 1Lt Lawrence S. Gibson 1Lt Ernest B. Gravatt 2Lt Stephen D. Popovich Capt. George T. Singley Jr. 2Lt Saul Sitzer 2Lt Frank H. Stern Jr. 1Lt Richard B. Work
Three more officers were added in May 1947 including:
Capt. George H. Nashold Jr. of Frederica, Flight Commander 1Lt Edmond Palczewski, Pilot and basic trainee with the state police 1Lt B. W. Adams Jr. W. 6th Street, Weather officer
Also in May 1947 the following personnel were enlisted into the 142nd "Blue Hen " squadron:
Sgt. James Andrew Hearne, camera technician aerial photography Sgt. Darius V. Zoll, aircraft mechanic Pvt. William E. Keiser SSgt Jack P. Dougherty, aircraft mechanic SSgt Elmer C. Axelson, administrative specialist Pfc James E. Skaggs, supply clerk Cpl Donald A. Berg, ground control approach mechanic Cpl Donald N. Barber, aircraft mechanic Pvt. Francis J. Czekanski Cpl Howard L. Beatty, special vehicle operator Sgt Sidney E. Keller, gunner Sgt Earl K. Hoffman, parachute rigger, repairman Pvt. William E. Golt, military police Pvt. Claude J. Pruitt, truck driver Pfc Vincent F. Consiglio, machine gunner SSgt Joseph J. Saffa, air mechanic Sgt Lester G. McDaniel, electrician Pfc James E. Kramer, clerk Pvt Henry K. Sasser, automobile mechanic SSgt Stanley H. Schwartz, clerk
Vincent Riley Remembers: “I really don’t remember who was at that first meeting. I think Emerson was there and I believe we filled out a card and what rank we would accept and they got enough people in the subsequent meetings that took place. In August 1946 they got Bob Loeffel and Charlie Palmer and quite a few others enough to form a unit to accept the airplanes. We had our first meeting on September 6th and we were frantically scrambling to fill slots because we had to have a minimum number of slots in different organizations. We had the fighter squadron and then we had the 208th air service group.
So I was a Staff Sergeant in the 142nd as a crew chief, and Bill Swartz called to ask if I would mind taking a bust in rank to Buck Sergeant and transferring to the 208th for the federal recognition. The feds came in, and they counted the bodies, and they counted the stripes, and had a formal muster, to make sure everything was kosher before they put their final seal of approval on it.
Atkinson was the maintenance officer for the 208th and Swartz was the maintenance officer in the 142nd and the full time technician maintenance officer. And we grew from there. But it was funny to see the pilots sitting around in their pink trousers, and their olive drab blouses with their argyle socks."
Mission Aircraft For the first three months training was completely in ground school, familiarization, record keeping, and maintenance. Lt. Col. Wallace Cameron, squadron commander was credited with the first flight in the AT-6 Texan on November 14. On December 13, 1946, two L-5Gs and a second AT-6 training aircraft were received to assist in the training of new pilots. "After it (L-5G) came in, I was one of the only ones if not the only one, who had ever flown anything like it. So Billy Livergood and I took it up and flew it around", said Clarence E. Atkinson.
The mission aircraft, F-47N Thunderbolts were reported on January 7, 1947 to arrive within two to three weeks. The first three would be flown from Hill Field in Ogden Utah. They were followed by a further 14 fighter aircraft, reported on January 9 to arrive within a week or ten days also from Hill field, and one C-47A transport on January 18. The first two F-47Ns actually arrived on Saturday February 1. They were practically brand new with only 25 hours on the aircraft. The P-47N was designed for use over the vast expanses of the Pacific Ocean and was the largest single place fighter ever used by the Army Air Force.
Primarily a fighter-bomber squadron, the unit also acquired the first of four B-26 Invader Attack Bombers (formerly A-26) on March 5, 1947, from Warner-Robins Field in Dalton Georgia. The Invaders were mostly used for target towing. 1947 brought the addition of several more airplanes including another C-47. The total complement was four B-26s, two L-5s, two AT-6s, two C-47s and 25 F-47 aircraft when the squadron was up to full strength on June 1, 1947.
A sophisticated radio network was installed a the squadron in December 1946 to monitor flying activities. Known as the Army Flight Advisory Service it made possible weather data for the entire area. The flight control room at the airport was connected with Mitchell Field, NY, Newark NJ, and Olmstead Field, Middletown PA.
Recruiting A great strength of the national Guard is its strong roots in the community. Friends, family and neighbors tended to join the Guard together. The Guard has a "state" mission to be a resource for local emergencies at the bequest of their peacetime commander in chief; the governor. It is comforting to serve alongside friends and neighbors from the same community. However, this can be a double edged sword. Recruiting is often at the mercy of the local economy, or the peculiar demographics of the local recruiting area. Consequently, recruiting personnel is a challenge second only to training and equipping for the mission. Attracting and keeping qualified men is a make or break proposition for the National Guard, who simply cannot transfer people from one location to another as in the active force.
From the very start in March of 1946 emphasis was placed upon recruiting recent veterans, who were relatively plentiful at that time. Almost every newspaper notice with news of the 142nd included information on the qualifications required, the benefits offered and the kinds of skills required. "Two hours of light work with pay as high as $5, plus 50 per cent additional for air crewmen, and a free ride to and from work is what the Air arm of the Delaware National Guard is offering Delaware youths who enlist this week", according to the Journal Every Evening May 13, 1947. A recruiting drive which concluded in May 1947 netted 60 men, bringing its total to 125 of the 300 personnel authorized at that time.
In December the men were offered the option of attending drills on Tuesday nights from 1900-2100 or Saturday afternoons, 1300-1500. The men must attend 48 such training session per year to maintain their readiness and proficiency. The expanded schedule offered more flexibility and opportunity to gain flying time in just the four aircraft the unit had at that time.
An article on July 14, 1947 described how the unit was taking full advantage of its air resources for recruiting and training. Sergeant Douglas Ponsford who starts a 32 week airplane mechanics course, was taken to Keesler Field in an A-26 plane piloted by Capt. William Swartz and Lt. Clement Lenhoff. They made the round trip in 7 hours and 55 minutes averaging 265 miles per hour.
In February 1947 the 142nd Fighter Squadron announced that it had set up five new engineering shops, according to Lt Col Wallace Cameron. Capt. William Swartz said the engineering shops included electrical, hydraulic, propeller, radio, and instrument equipment. Major Presson Shane resigned due to a civilian job transfer, and was replaced in the public relations assignment by Lt. Robert Laird with James N. Diacumakos as assistant.
The Delaware Air Guard stressed its state mission in March 1947 when it announced a cooperative agreement with the Red Cross to provide airlift and aerial medical evacuation services in the event of an emergency with its two C-47 cargo and two L-5 Liaison aircraft. The C-47 can easily be reconfigured in minutes from passenger to cargo and lift up to 6000 pounds of medical cargo, or 18- 24 medical litters. It is also equipped with up to four radios to serve communications needs.
Pilot Joe Monigle recalled,"I liked the C-47 immediately, beginning with the leather upholstered pilots seats and arm rests. It had less power than the B-25, but its engines had smooth power and a lovely sound." Most of the Utility Flight pilots were full time TWA pilots, including the commanding officer, Ross Adams who piloted Lockheed Constellations to overseas destinations. Monigle recalls that, "My friend Frank Stern often referred to the "Delaware Flying Club" as an appropriate name for our squadron.
The new C-47s were put to another use on 31 May 1947 when the 142nd began an air transport service between Georgetown, Dover and New Castle to transport downstate members to headquarters for the weekly training period. The C-47 can carry up to 28 men and according to Lt Col Cameron, the solution to the downstate transportation problem will enable the squadron to become a statewide organization by opening it to more men outside the Wilmington area.
Delaware Air Guard Navy A newspaper article from May 14, 1947 reported that the 142nd Fighter Squadron moved into the naval brackets with the announcement that a 108 foot boat similar to the Navy's PT Boat is en route here for use as a crash craft by the squadron. Capt. William E. Swartz of the "Blue Hen" squadron disclosed that the craft, which will supplement the 24-foot boat already on hand will be manned by a permanent crew of three. It will be stationed along the Delaware River probably at a pier at Fort DuPont he added.
The two boats are in line with Air Corps policy to provide units based near rivers or the ocean protection should any of its aircraft crash in the water. Meanwhile the unit faced the problem of a location for the existing 24 foot craft on hand. Presently, it resides in the motor pool. The red and blue streamlined boat is similar to boats used by the Coast Guard in rescue work.
Flying Saucer Hysteria In the summer of 1947, an unidentified flying object or "flying disc" hysteria swept the nation with multiple sightings from Roswell New Mexico to Washington DC and even locally, (Rehoboth Beach) some 40 states in all. On July 8, Lt Col Cameron ordered the Delaware Air National Guard onto 24- hour alert ready to intercept flying discs. This was augmented by a dusk patrol using the C-47 transport.
The unit's first annual field training encampment at New Castle was scheduled for July 20-August 3, 1947. It was cancelled just two weeks prior due to a lack of appropriated funds from Congress. A five- day training encampment was held in September in lieu of this cancelled field training encampment. The September camp included gunnery exercises and practice bombing missions as well as ground training and marksmanship for the enlisted personnel.
Air Show A well publicized Air show and base open house was held in perfect flying weather at New Castle on August 2, 1947 featuring aerobatics and parachutists to mark Air Force Day, the slogan of which was "Air Power is Peace". About 2600 people came to witness the free event. This was the first time the Delaware Air Guard demonstrated its aircraft, equipment and capabilities to the public, with a mass formation of F-47s, along with the squadron's utility flight, some 28 airplanes in all; cargo drops from the C-47 and static displays on the ground. The show was broadcast from the airborne C- 47 on WTUX in a ship-to-ground transmission by Robert Wilcox, supervised by TSgt Charles L. Palmer, communications chief for the 142nd Fighter Squadron.
In order to fund the fuel costs of this show the 142nd minimized flying activities for the previous two weeks. The 142nd was rumored to receive new F-80B Lockheed Shooting Stars at about this time, but they did not arrive.
In a remembrance, the September 1959 "DANG Truth" summarized the progress of the organization this way: "The years 1947,1948, and 1949 found the fledgling squadron experiencing the usual growing pains, an assortment of aircraft and changes of command. These were the happy days when a unit could have its pick of veteran pilots who literally stormed the gates for admission to the squadron rolls.
Memories of an Air Commander:
The P-47 Thunderbolts, flown by Delaware pilots thundered through Delaware skies in 1947 and excited the imagination of the populace, which included me as a student at the University of Delaware. The following year, I began to learn the cost of readiness as I examined a gaping hole left by an out of control fighter which took the life of the operations officer.
Like most Guardsmen, I was recruited by the enthusiasm of a friend already a member. This one element has remained essentially unchanged over the years, members recruit their friends and thus local communities become involved in the Guard through its citizens.
Delaware, in 1949 received its first jet fighters, the F-84. It was a spectacular event. In those days, most pilots had only fantasized flying a jet. Civilians were only vaguely aware of what they were. At an Open House a Mayor asked where the propeller was. Their performance was mind boggling if not erratic. Engine overhauls now measured in 1000’s of hours were then measured in tens of hours. The mysticism of the powerplant gave an aura of invincibility to the pilots.
William F. Hutchison Jr.
Excerpt from Squadron History: September 1949 and Summer Encampment 13-27 August 1949
The two weeks annual training period from 13 August to 27 August 1949 was highly successful as far as the 142nd fighter Squadron and allied units were concerned. The encampment started off with a literal “Bang” by having Captain Robert J. Byrne, “B” Flight leader; make an emergency landing, wheels up on the Airport during one of the first flights made on the 13th. Due to poor visibility, operations were curtailed for the day. Most of the flying accomplished was to increase the proficiency of the individual pilots in preparation for the Operational Readiness Test which began 18 August 1949. Weather again hampered our schedule for the 14th but the pilots were able to engage in brief periods of ground gunnery. The night of the 16th the squadron took off on a mass cross-country; a round Robin to Columbus Ohio. Five four-ship flights made the trip. On the 18th all personnel were placed on a standby alert to commence the Operational Readiness Test. The judge or scorer was Lt Col J.I. Steeves, who is also the Air Force Instructor for the Squadron. The missions were generally led on most flights by the Squadron Commander, Lt. Col Ross J. Adams, Jr. Some of the highlights of the O.R.T. were: a maximum effort flight for reconnaissance purposes; a scramble take-off on the 21st when flagmen were used on the end of the runway to direct traffic; and patrols of designated sectors as well as assignment of specific targets for the squadron to destroy…
The 26th was Governor’s Day when the squadron participated in an Air Show for the benefit of the Governors of Delaware and Virginia as well as a large crowd of spectators and prominent personalities. This two week training period was considered very beneficial in pointing out the weaknesses of the squadron as a whole, but also, proved what we already knew, that the 142nd Fighter Squadron was in pretty good shape operationally speaking…
All officers eligible for the State uniform allowance “blossomed out” in the new Air Force blue uniform by the 15th of September. Operations slacked off considerably after the terrific pace set during the encampment, in order to permit the engineering section to catch up on a lot of maintenance caused by continuous daily use of the aircraft. The latest “shot in the arm” for the whole squadron seems to be caused by new rumors concerning our chances of getting F-84 equipment.
HERBERT M. HAZZARD, 1st Lt,FTR2nd FTR SQ (SE), Historian
Call Signs It is difficult to put a perfect date on this document but this Pre-Korean War list of call signs and/or nicknames was recorded in the papers of David F. McCallister. The names appear to be both those within the Squadron, as well as others in the Wing and command structure:
FOX SUGAR Lt. Frank H. Stern Jr. HAPPY CHOPS, alias the Beaming Bicuspid Lt. Col Sheldon W. Farnham HOSE NOSE Capt. Angelo THE FOX Lt. Luther Barcus LUKE THE SPOOK S/Sgt Gordon Irwin BELLERING BILL 1st Sgt William Green THE THYROID Lt. Walter A. Hannum WILD BILL Lt. William Paterson THE FLAMING HAIRED YOUTH Lt. James R. Shotwell FULLAWHISKEY Lt. Edmund Palczweski HIGHPOCKETS MC ASHCAN Col. Milton Ashkins JOLTIN' JOE Col. Joseph Myers HARRY THE HAWK Major Harry Stalcup PAPER MERCHANT Lt. Robert Oldford GIZMO Lt. Francis McCaul FIDGETING FRANNIE Lt. Francis Walton SECRET WEAPON Lt. Charles D. Hogue LITTLE BOY BLUE Lt. Col J. Ross Adams THE BRAIN Lt. Raymond Janney LONG JOHN Lt. John C. Casey BIG AL Lt. Allen Packer DUSTY RHODES Capt. George Dunn PAPPY Capt. Forrest G. Thompson MOPSY Lt. Col Dayton Casto
A 1953 seniority roster of 142nd Fighter Squadron officers offers the following names and dates pre-Korean War:
Name Initial Appointment in National Guard Major David F. McCallister 9 Mar 1948 Major Robert L. Fardelmann 10 Aug 1949 Major Harry G. Staulcup 9 Dec 1947 Capt Walter A. Hannum 25 Nov 1947 Capt. Percy Lewis 21 Apr 1949 Capt. William C. Miller 13 Sep 1949 Capt. John V. Schobelock 26 Sep 1949 Capt. James R. Shotwell Jr. 17 Feb. 1948 Capt. Frank H. Stern 14 Jan 1947 Capt. Alvin T. Thawley 3 Mar 1949 1st Lt William F. Hutchison Jr. 7 Jul 1950 1st Lt Nathan M Ragan 2 Dec 1948
DE ANG Pioneers
Lt Col Ross Adams commanded the 142nd beginning in June 1948, succeeding Major Presson L. Shane. He was the commander when the unit was federalized for Korea. Adams was awarded the Delaware Conspicuous Service Cross in 1951. In 1952 Adams had amassed 6300 flying hours since 1941, serving in four major campaigns in Europe. He came to Wilmington with Trans World Airlines from Kansas City in 1948. After the unit was federalized, Adams moved up to command the 113th Fighter Interceptor Group. In February 1952, he was named commander of the “Screamin’ Demons” of the 49th Fighter Bomber Wing in Korea. While in Korea he was awarded his fourth oak leaf cluster for the Distinguished Flying Cross credited with some five aerial victories over 100 combat missions. He moved to California after the Korean War as a result of his TWA job. A native of Florida, Adams flew 80 combat missions in the Mediterranean Theater during WWII. His wife Elaine and his daughter Diane resided at 109 Harding Avenue, Silview during their residence in Wilmington.
Clarence “Ed” Atkinson, was a charter member, Delaware Air National Guard. A combat veteran of the Army Air Force in World War II flying bombers in the Pacific, and later a fighter pilot in Korea with the legendary 4th Fighter Wing, Atkinson was the original adjutant to the newly formed 142nd Fighter Squadron. He said, “I did not get into organizing the unit itself. That was all done by full- time people at the armory…In fact; I was told I was the first man ever contacted about the Air National Guard by Col Warren Perry.”
MSgt Joe Beattie recalls, "I was a tail gunner on B-17s and B-24s during World War II. I was based in India and flew missions to Shanghai, Singapore and Burma. I joined the unit in August, 1947. Larry Wiggins talked me into it. I was an armorer on the P-47 "Jugs". We had a pilot who had great difficulty scoring in aerial gunnery. All the airplanes used the same kind of ammo. Each airplane had a different color ammo so we could tell who scored hists as there were 3-4 airplanes on a target at the same time. We rigged it so our pilot had blue and the other pilots each had a little blue as well, so that he could qualify. Hutchison, Scotty and Bosetti were all good shots."
Lt Col Wallace A. Cameron, first Commanding Officer of the 142nd Fighter Squadron, Delaware Air National Guard. Cameron was a veteran of World War II, flying P-47s with the 9th Air force, 48 FG, 493rd Fighter Squadron. He wrote,"After the war I was a flight Instructor at McAllen, TX rising rather rapidly to become the Director of Flying responsible for all flight activities. Resigned my Commission November 1945, and went to work with my brother Harold Cameron in Philadelphia, PA. Didn’t work out and entered college as a Junior. at the University of Delaware in Jan 1946. I was selected to organize the first Air National Guard Fighter Squadron in the State of Delaware becoming Federally recognized as a Lt. Col. ANG. That is a whole different phase of my life and I am proud to have had the Experience."
After a short period of command, he accepted an active duty commission and served in the U.S. Air Force into the late 1960’s. General Spruance said of him, “We kind of called him a carpetbagger, in that he was not a native, and he didn’t last too long. He didn’t get along with the Adjutant General and he really couldn’t adjust to the supervision, as I recall.”
Ezekiel “Zeke” Cooper, was commissioned ass a second lieutenant in the Organized Reserve Corps in June 1923 and maintained that commission until January 1938. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in July 1942. He served in World War II as well before enlisting in the Delaware Air Guard. Zeke ran the training for new recruits, at the unit in the days before they were shipped off to Lackland AFB for their Basic Training. He was awarded the Conspicuous Service Cross in September 1954 for formulating and implementing this program.
Technical Sergeant Charles E. Drew, joined the unit in November 1946. He had been a radioman on the B-17 of Maj. Gen. William Kepner, commander of 9th Air Force during the war. While in this duty Drew was in proximity to many of the important conferences during the war from Casablanca to Dakar, Natal and Miami. He was a radioman on the two C-47 transports of the "Blue Hen" Squadron.
2Lt Lawrence S. "Hoot" Gibson entered the Army in January 1943. He won his wings at Moore Field Texas and was stationed in Alaska and the Aleutians flying P-40 Warhawks.
Arthur I. "Ike" Guessford was born on farm outside Odessa. In 1949, he was recruited for the Delaware Air National Guard and became part of the 142nd Air Fighting Squadron. Ike went to radio school for training and in February 1951 his unit was put on active duty during the Korean War. They reported to the New Castle County Airbase, which had been closed after the Second World War. The single-story barracks had been unoccupied, and some of their time was spent repairing the aging buildings. Guessford remembered the circumstances under which he received training at Dover Air Force Base.
Guessford ended up spending 36 years in the Air National Guard, with most of his duty as a technician served at the New Castle County Airport. For a brief period during his active duty, his unit worked at McGuire AFB in New Jersey as support when the planes there were grounded. Over the years, he remembered working on T-6s, C-45s, C-47s and his favorite, the F-51. "Of all the airplanes I've worked on I think that it was the neatest plane ever built…just the looks of it and to see it flying in the air and to see what it did during the Second World War. I just became attached to it."
William F. Hutchison Jr., was the first Air National Guard pilot to go through USAF pilot training school. He graduated from the University of Delaware and converted his Army commission to an Air Force commission and went to flight school in 1950. While still in school, the Korean War broke out and he went to Korea with 310 flying hours under his belt, flying F-84s in the ground support mission in the 7th Fighter Bomber Squadron under Lt Col Ross Adams. Returning to Delaware he became the maintenance officer.
Robert P. Kemske was a World War II fighter pilot with Pacific Theater combat experience. He was a charter member of the Delaware Air National Guard. He flew with the 142nd until the Korean War and then remained on active duty. He hit the headlines in April 1951 when he made a flight to Chicago to get a quantity of Krebiozen, at that time a new drug treatment for the treatment of a cancer patient. Although he was able to deliver the drug on time the patient subsequently died two months later. “My father left the service after the war, and then regretted it. He went back to work at Dupont and attended night school and just itched to get back flying. He dropped out of the night school and went to Baltimore to take a course to become a flight instructor, when they made such courses eligible for assistance under the G.I. Bill. After that, he got a job at Atlantic Aviation. When the Air National Guard was formed, he was one of the first in line, becoming a charter member. Eventually he got what I think was a full-time job with the Guard, as Operations Officer. His Guard unit got activated during Korea, and he went overseas, and while he was overseas, he somehow converted to the Air Force. After Korea, he got stationed at Kedena in Okinawa, and our family joined him there in 1953. I don't know what he flew in Korea. He flew F-86Ds (all weather) in Okinawa. It is an aircraft with a very large nose, and I understand the nose contained the instrumentation that allowed it to be "all-weather." So he had this kind of interlude between the War and Korea, during which his biggest struggle was trying to get back in an airplane." – by son Floyd Kemske.
Robert W. Laird, was an artillery officer for two years during the war, and then transferred to the Army Air Force and graduated as a twin engine pilot, flying C-47s across North Africa, Italy and France. He served as commanding officer of the Pisa Italy Army Air Field. He held a graduate degree in chemical engineering from the University of Delaware. He held positions in the 142nd utility flight as adjutant, mess, supply, and transportation officer as well as assistant public relations officer.
MSgt Charles T. Lee, was a crew chief on C-47's and P-51s in Europe for three years during World War II. He joined the Delaware Air Guard in 1948. He was a crew chief, line chief, recruiter, baby sitter, and OJT instructor in the fighter days. When the C-97s arrived he began to specialize in hydraulics. He retired after thirty years to "go home, do the dishes, and put my wife to work."
Captain William D. Livergood, charter member. On May 13, 1949 Captain Livergood, the full time operations officer at the time, became Delaware’s first casualty when his F-47 crashed on final approach to New Castle Airport. He had been on a gunnery mission over the Atlantic Ocean. Ed Atkinson described the incident: “If you remember in those days when fighters came in, they’d peel off, do a tight 360 degree three-“G” turn, losing altitude to reduce their speed, and land. He just kept going in the turn and rolled right over, and practically went straight in…just about opposite the old entrance”. See Accidents, Calamities and Fatalities.
David F. McCallister, was a WWII veteran with 8th Air Force in P-51s and joined the unit 9 March 1948. He was activated for Korea and went on to lead the Squadron after the war. He won the 1956 Ricks Trophy Race and was killed in the crash of a T-33 in June 1961.
Warrant Officer Harper P. Moore, was the first enlisted man promoted to officer in December 1946. He served full time as supply officer for the 142nd Fighter Squadron. A World War II veteran, he joined the Army in 1939 serving as a supply clerk in Iceland.
Joe Monigle was discharged from the Army Air Forces in 1945. After returning home he learned about the National Guard from his friend Don Raine who had been a P-47 pilot with the Army Air Forces in Europe during World War II. The new Air Guard unit had a supporting Utility Flight which was equipped with twin engine airplanes and had an opening for a pilot. Monigle's first flight was in an AT-6 Texan with the Operations Officer, Captain William Livergood.
Charles Palmer, charter member, on the active duty call up for Korea:“Bob Loeffel and I were up in New England and we got a call to return to New Castle. Although everyone was activated, only the pilots and selected AFSCs were actually sent to Korea. Many stayed behind to furnish a manpower pool. Some were disappointed that we didn’t go as a unit, but were used piecemeal as individual replacements. Later in the war, we received as part of the Air Defense Command, F-94s, one of the most advanced fighter/interceptors of the time. When we returned to inactive duty status we got P- 51s – obsolete relics of World War II. Most of the older guys were World War II veterans and took the call-up in stride…” Charles Palmer, Charter Member
Technical Sergeant Leroy S. Pierson was the full time operations clerk for the Blue Hen Squadron. He was responsible for recording the time logs of the squadron. Appointed on Nov. 20, 1946 his appointment brought the full time staff of the squadron to 20. He served in Iceland during World War II with the 33rd Fighter Squadron and the 458th bomb group as a Link Trainer instructor.
Peter (Pete) Joseph Popovich was a combat veteran of World War II flying with the 27th Fighter Bomber Group. As a founding member 1st Lt Popovich was "B" Flight airplane commander.
Capt. Donald M. Raine Jr. entered Army service in February 1942, and was commissioned at Craig Field Alabama. He served in England France and Belgium withe 373rd Fighter Group earning 205 combat hours on 73 missions.
Vincent "Rex" Riley, founding member. He was selected to attend the Army flight training course at Randolph Field Texas as an aviation cadet. He "washed out", but remained a private pilot for most of his life, eventually retiring as Chief Master Sergeant and as the unit's second Senior Enlisted Advisor. MSgt C.T. Lee recalls, " One day, Rex "Nosedive" Riley was taxiing a jug out on the flightline during encampment, and his old buddy Albert came along in an oil truck. Riley put the brakes on and put the jug right up on its nose and burned off about three or four inches off the prop blades. There's still a mark out on the ramp to this day we call Riley's only mark in life!"Riley was in aircraft maintenance as maintenance control supervisor. He died in 1997 at age 71. “It was quite a conglomeration. It was a small unit and everyone knew everyone else. There was party after party. Our maximum strength then was probably not much more than 200 men. It was all of course, very informal. We were all young guys just released from the war. The pilots were a pretty wild bunch. There were many fast and low overflights. Looking back, it was loose as a goose…” - Vincent "Rex" Riley, Charter Member.
Major Presson S. Shane, was the original operations officer for the squadron, and second in command and rank. He was credited by Colonel Cameron for "the excellent work in organizing the squadron operations office and setting up the flying training schedule to prepare pilots for the P-47 operation." He also had an additional duty as the first unit public relations officer. Shane was a native of Kansas and a P-51 fighter pilot escorting bombers over Germany and strafing the enemy over France. He held the Distinguished Flying Cross and a masters degree in chemical engineering from M.I.T. He resigned in February 1947 when he was transferred by his civilian employer, the DuPont company.
Howard “Bus” Schuckler, Born in Delaware and after attending H. Fletcher Brown he won his private pilot license at age 19. He graduated from Air Cadet School class of 43Q. He was assigned to Air Transport Command as a ferry/test pilot. He made 18 Atlantic crossings delivering everything from B-24s to B-26s. He was then assigned to the China Burma India Theater where he “flew the hump” in C-47s and C-46s.
After the war he and Bill Miller, both Maryland boys, joined the DE ANG in 1948. Howard was assigned by his Lieutenant Colonel Ross Adams to the Utility Flight along with Bill Spruance thanks to his C-47 expertise. When the Utility Flight was disbanded on receiving F-84s, Howard transitioned to the F-84. His first flight was a solo, and he had never before flown a jet. He flew F- 84s before being activated for Korea, where he flew F-86s. While in Korea he was in a takeoff accident that terminated his military career.
William W. Spruance was a founding member, Delaware Air National Guard. A World War II veteran of the China/India/ Burma theater, he “flew the hump” with 362 missions over the Himalayas. He was also a pioneer in developing forward air control tactics and techniques with General George Patton. “What attracts people is the common interest in the airplanes, and flying a mission and the rewarding effect of getting something done when you’re working with a team of people. So I guess that’s what inspired me…” - Brig Gen William Spruance.
Lt. Col Jerome I. Steeves, formerly commander of Dover Army Air Base, was appointed in June 1947 as the Air Instructor for the 142nd Fighter Squadron to assist in training the air unit in coordination with the current Army Air Force training syllabus. He was a reserve officer before World War II and flew P-40s in Iceland before flying P-47s with the 48th Field Fighter Group, 9th Air Force in Europe.
Frank Stern – A native of Wilmington, Frank Stern graduated from P.S. duPont High School in 1938 and attended Texas A&M and Pennsylvania Military College. He was listed among temporary headquarters staff in May 1946, but his date of entrance into the Delaware ANG was 19 January 1947. Either way, he counts as a pioneering aviator in the Delaware Air Guard. Originally a member of the 198th coast Artillery, joining in 1940, Stern was later an Army instructor on P-39, P-40, and P- 51 fighter aircraft during the war. According to General Spruance, “Frank was a good friend of McCallister’s and mine. In fact, of all the fighter pilots he was just a fabulous guy. His father ran Stern’s Auto Top Company downtown, so he’d give us discounts on re-topping our convertibles and all that kind of stuff. Frank was kind of a rotund guy. We decided we’d put a turban on him at one point and put him up on the mantelpiece because he looked kinda like Buddha. I’ve got a picture of him in that outfit.” Stern broke his leg riding a motorcycle down the grand staircase in Spruance's home at a party just prior to mobilization for Korea. Stern would perish on August 21, 1954 flying an F-86A (Ser. No. 49-1285) over the Gunpowder River on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay. See accidents, calamities and fatalities.
Chief Master Sergeant John “Jake” Swan Jr. -Faithfully served his country in the Army Air Corps during World War II, the United States Air Force during the Korean War, and in the Delaware Air National Guard from 1947 to 1977. “Jake” had many positions of responsibility, chiefly in aircraft maintenance. He retired at the rank of Chief Senior Master Sergeant after military service across four decades. He served briefly at Dover AFB where the AMC museum is presently located testing experimental rockets.
William Swartz was a charter member of the unit and there is ample evidence that he was among those who really got the ball rolling. General Spruance first heard about the nascent unit from Swartz March 1946. Spruance says this about Swartz, “ The guy who really carried us through that period (1946-to Korea) was BillSwartz, who was the maintenance officer. He was really the full time member of the cadre who stuck with us for a long time., and finally went on active duty with the unit during Korea. Then he got inot a donnybrook with some general over there who was a horse’s ass. Anyhow he and Swartz got into a hassle and Swartz decided after Korea to just hang it up. He was a highly capable guy, highly dedicated and technically well qualified as a maintenance officer and diplomatic at the same time, he kept the airplanes flying and supervised maintenance. He had the respect of everyone involved. In fact he was just too good for going on active duty with some regulars who had less than good judgment in my estimation.”
Kennard R. Wiggins, Sr., charter member, Delaware Air National Guard. Kennard was a combat veteran of World War II, flying 35 missions as a B-24 ball turret gunner with the 781st Bombardment Squadron, 15th Air Force. “One day my brother Lawrence told me they were going to form a Fighter squadron at the Air base . To be called the 142nd Fighter Squadron of the Delaware Air National Guard...l became a charter member. I was with them till the Korean War broke out.”
Lawrence E. Wiggins Sr. founding member, Delaware Air National Guard. Lawrence was a veteran of World War II in the Italian Campaign with 15th Air Force. He was selected to attend an Army instruction course on the maintenance of the new P-80 jet at Chanute field, IL in December 1946. Brother of Kennard Wiggins.