Dangerous Haystacks

In January 1945, the 312th was flying missions over Japanese territory on Luzon. As the pilots flew around looking for targets, they would sometimes come across haystacks in the middle of fields. These haystacks looked perfectly until harmless until flames erupted from the antiaircraft guns camouflaged by these haystacks. One pilot reported the Japanese positioning antiaircraft gunners in church bell towers as well. The Japanese would also camouflage their machine guns and other materials in hopes of catching the Allied pilots by surprise.

Parafrags over Luzon Railways

Parafrags fall on a train on Luzon

On the 10th, the 312th was out on one of these patrols, specifically bombing highways and railroads north of Manila. At one point, the 388th Squadron was flying near Gerona and picked out a train to attack. On the first pass, pilots had noticed huts and haystacks in the fields. The second time the A-20s appeared over the fields, the haystacks were gone and machine and antiaircraft guns had taken their place. The A-20 flown by 2/Lt. Wickcliff M. Waltmire got caught in the gunfire, crashed, and exploded, killing him and his gunner, Capt. Franklyn D. Rosenburg . Sadly, Waltmire had received a letter from his wife the previous day saying he was the father of a baby boy.
Waltmire’s A-20 was not the only one hit by the antiaircraft fire that day, though he and Rosenburg were the only ones killed. First Lieutenant Everett L. Almon’s A-20 was hit by flack that damaged the hydraulic system, leaving him unable to lower his landing gear. Almon was able to crash-land back at Tanauan without injuring himself or his gunner. The plane, on the other hand, was a total loss.



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