The Executive Committee is working hard to have our first post pandemic membership meeting April 11, 2022. Stay tuned for updates.
In 1942, the United States needed pilots for its war planes lots of war planes; lots of pilots. Lt. Louis Curdes was one. When he was 22 years old, he graduated flight training school and was shipped off to the Mediterranean to fight Nazis in the air over Southern Europe.
Lt. Louis Courdes arrived at his 82nd Fighter Group, 95th Fighter Squadron in April 1943 and was assigned a P-38 Lightning. Ten days later he shot down three German Messerschmitt Bf-109 fighters. A few weeks later, he downed two more German
Bf -109's. In less than a month of combat, Louis was an Ace.
During the next three months, Louis shot down an Italian Mc.202 fighter and two more Messerschmitts before his luck ran out. A German fighter shot down his plane on August 27, 1943 over Salerno, Italy. Captured by the Italians, he was sent to a POW camp near Rome. No doubt this is where he thought he would spend the remaining years of the war. It wasn't to be. A few days later, the Italians surrendered. Louis and a few other pilots escaped before the Nazis could take control of the camp.
One might think that such harrowing experiences would have taken the fight out of Louis, yet he volunteered for another combat tour. This time, Uncle Sam sent him to the Philippines where he flew P-51 Mustangs.
Soon after arriving in the Pacific Theater, Louis downed a Mitsubishi reconnaissance plane near Formosa. Now he was one of only three Americans to have kills against all three Axis Powers: Germany, Italy, and Japan.
Up until this point, young Lt. Curdes' combat career had been stellar. His story was about to take a twist so bizarre that it seems like the fictional creation of a Hollywood screenwriter.
While attacking the Japanese-held island of Bataan, one of Louis wingmen was shot down. The pilot ditched in the ocean. Circling overhead, Louis could see that his wingman had survived, so he stayed in the area to guide a rescue plane and protect the downed pilot.
It wasn't long before he noticed another, larger airplane, wheels down, preparing to land at the Japanese-held airfield on Bataan. He moved in to investigate. Much to his surprise the approaching plane was a Douglas C-47 transport with American markings. He tried to make radio contact, but without success. He maneuvered his Mustang in front of the big transport several times trying to wave it off. The C-47 kept head to its landing target. Apparently the C-47 crew didn’t realize they were about to land on a Japanese held island, and soon would be captives.
Lt. Curdes read the daily newspaper accounts of the war, including the viciousness of the Japanese soldiers toward their captives. He knew that whoever was in that American C-47 would be, upon landing, either dead or wish they were. But what could he do?
Audaciously, he lined up his P-51 directly behind the transport, carefully sighted one of his .50 caliber machine guns and knocked out one of its two engines. Still the C-47 continued on toward the Bataan airfield. Curdes shifted his aim slightly and knocked out the remaining engine, leaving the baffled pilot no choice but to ditch in the ocean.
The big plane came down to it wings in one piece about 50 yards from his bobbing wingman. At this point, nightfall and low fuel forced Louis to return to base. The next morning, Louis flew cover for a rescuing PBY that picked up the downed Mustang pilot and 12 passengers and crew, including two female nurses, from the C-47. All survived, and later, Lt. Curdes would end up marrying one of these nurses.
For shooting down an unarmed American transport plane, Lt. Louis Curdes was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. Thereafter, on the fuselage of his P-51 "Bad Angel", he proudly displayed the symbols of his kills: seven German, one Italian, one Japanese, and one American flag.
See the exhibit at the Pima Air and Space Museum.
Thanks to Lou Pirone for this interesting article.
Join the VFW Post 1040, the City of Lynnwood as we pay tribute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the United States of America. With performances by former Councilmember Jim Smith and the NW Junior Pipe Band. All are welcome.
Date: May 30, 2016
Time: 11:00 AM
Location: Veterans Park Map it
194th St SW & 44th Ave W, Lynnwood 98036
Honor a service member with a Veterans Memorial Brick.
* Reflects actual number still unaccounted-for. PMKOR database count is slightly higher due to several entries pending administrative review.
* Due to limited or conflicting data concerning location of loss for approximately 1% of WWII missing, the above map does not show a total number equal to the list of WWII missing by name elsewhere on this site. As the data from our predecessor organizations is merged and validated all publicly available information will be promptly updated.
*Around 41,000 of the unaccounted for from WWII are considered, "lost at sea."
*Above Information was provided by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (click here)
* Compiled by Jerry Hughes of The American Legion, Department of Washington, POW/MIA Committee
Posted by: Audrey Simmons
“Our lives are built around stories. It’s the fabric of society,” says Tom Skerritt, whose Red Badge Project helps Wounded Warriors use storytelling to explore their emotions and heal invisible wounds. (Photo by Katie M. Simmons)
Military veterans have a significantly higher risk of suicide than the general population — as much as 41% to 61% higher, according to a study of those who served during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Forefront’s grassroots network of suicide prevention advocates includes those who are helping reduce that risk. Click here to see how Tom Skerritt is using his passion and experience to help fellow vets find their place and themselves in civilian life.
Cascade Warbirds is pleased to announce that they are to host the B-17 Aluminum Overcast at the Museum of Flight in Seattle in June. The local group, which supports historic military aircraft, has received notice from the EAA that the beautifully restored Boeing bomber which formed the backbone of US airpower in WWII will be beginning an international tour season on the West Coast this year.
“We have asked the EAA which owns and operates the B-17 and to bring the airplane in on a very historic date: D-Day, the sixth of June, the date of the Allied invasion of Europe in WWII,” said Squadron Commander Ron Morrell. “The airplane will be conducting several flights a day on the weekend of June 10th through the 12th for people to experience the sensations of a trip back in time. Afterward, the plane will be open to the public for ground tours.”
“Now is a good time to start thinking about what can be a really exciting start to summer,” Morrell said. “Anyone interested in flying on this magnificent historic aircraft can find details on the EAA website (click here). This is also the place to pre-book a flight at the best price instead of waiting until the airplane arrives.”
To learn more about the Cascade Warbirds, click here.
Posted by: Audrey Simmons
MIA Update: The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced the identification of remains of four American servicemen who had been missing in action from World War II and Korea. Being returned for burial with full military honors on a date and location to be announced are:
CHRISTINA OLDS, DAUGHTER OF TRIPLE ACE FIGHTER PILOT GENERAL ROBIN OLDS, TO SPEAK TO CASCADE WARBIRDS
Cascade Warbirds, an organization with the mission to encourage the flying, preservation, and display of Warbird aircraft, to honor Veterans, and to engage in aviation education, will host guest speaker Christina Olds at its March meeting this Saturday, the 12th. Olds, daughter of Brigadier General Robin Olds, will bring to life the exciting career of her father and display some of his original drawings. She will also have available her book about her father’s life, personalized and autographed for only $20.
As stated in the summary of her book, Fighter Pilot: The Memoirs of Legendary Ace Robin Olds, Robin Olds was many things to many people. To his West Point football coach he was an All American destined for the National College Football Hall of Fame. To his P-38 and P-51 wartime squadrons in WWII he was the aggressive fighter pilot who made double ace and became their commander in nine short months. For the pioneers of the jet age, he was the wingman on the first jet demo team, a racer in the Thompson Trophy race, and the only U.S. exchange officer to command an RAF squadron. In the tabloid press he was the dashing flying hero who married the glamorous movie star. For the current crop of fighter pilots he is best known as the leader of the F-4 Wolfpack battling over North Vietnam. For cadets at the Air Force Academy he was a role model and mentor. He was all of those things and more.
Cascade Warbirds Squadron Commander Ron Morrell met Christina Olds at a recent aviation convention and arranged for her to come to Seattle for this weekend’s meeting. “Her presentation of her father’s life and career with personal details and anecdotes is something every person with military experience or interest in history will find to be amazing,” he said. “This is a unique opportunity for our entire community.”
The Cascade Warbirds meeting will be the Museum of Flight, Boeing Field, Seattle, North View Lounge. It will begin at 10:00AM with a short introduction, then Christina Olds presentation, and organizational business to follow.
Cascade Warbirds, is Squadron #2 of EAA Warbirds of America. With over 250 members, it is the largest Squadron in WoA. Membership is centered in the Puget Sound area, extends throughout Washington, and also from British Columbia to Nevada, with others all across the continent. Its mission is to promote and encourage the flying preservation and display of Warbird aircraft (Keep ‘em Flying), to honor Veterans, and to engage in aviation education.
On the web at http://www.cascadewarbirds.org
For further information contact: Kerry Edwards
Check out this video honoring WWII veterans. The Gary Sinise Foundation brought WWII veterans and their guardians to The National WWII Museum in New Orleans.
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