Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Ettlesen seemed, also as usual, only moderately disgusted by the turn of events.

Howard's diary notes from Fogg in the Cockpit, re: May 25, 1944.

Clear and chilly out.

Up at 0515. No breakfast, to plotting via Jeep. Plotted whole mission in 20 minutes. S-2 had wrong route drawn, the whole thing was wrong. We were supposed to brief at 0615, but no briefing. Ready at 0630.

Finally took off at 0730. Wot a mess. Me, Andy, and Hammy: Yellow Flight. Mac: Red Flight. Murphy: White Flight. One hundred thirty degrees to vicinity of Aachen thence south to Mulhouse.

Ettlesen hit in heavy flak at Aachen. He bailed out okay east of Nancy.

Mac’s oxygen hose came loose, he spiraled down, half out. Finally came to.

Lane took over his flight and the seven of us came home. Clear across France to Cayeux. Four hours flight time. No enemy aircraft.

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And the second excerpt from Fogg in the Cockpit is from the original monthly narrative History of the 359th Fighter Group archived at HQ USAF Historical Research Center, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.

Field orders had been arriving later and later, and the inevitable occurred on 25 May: the order came in so late that the 359th Group was 30 minutes slow getting away and could not execute the prescribed Zemke fan, a wide sweep of the type invented by Colonel Hubert A. Zemke of the 56th Group. The bombers were met leaving the target, Mulhouse, and later Captain Ettlesen was hit by flak at 25,000 over Saarbr├╝cken. He nursed the plane as far west as he could and finally left it at 3,000 over Sarrebourg.

As usual, the radio conversation was memorable, the jewels being the anxious injunctions from his flight: “Remember what they told you,” referring to the briefing on escape and evasion techniques, and the solicitous inquiries “Got all your stuff, Chief?” in reference to escape kit, purse, maps, dogtags. Ettlesen seemed, also as usual, only moderately disgusted by the turn of events.

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Photo Caption: Born in Montreal, Canada, West Pointer Capt. Charles C. “Chief” Ettlesen lived in Summit, NJ. He was one of four 369th Fighter Squadron pilots who volunteered for a special low-level strafing unit known as “Bill’s Buzz Boys,” and was their Commander.

He was an “original” pilot with the 359th FG, flying missions from Dec. 13, 1943, to May 25, 1944 when he went MIA in France. With the help of the Maquis he escaped and evaded, returned to England, and completed his first tour of duty. After leave home in the U.S. he returned to the 359th FG for a second tour, and resumed flying as a flight commander in the 368th FS. On February 9, 1945 while strafing trains near Gotha, Germany, he again fell victim to flak, and was MIA.

Post-war it was confirmed that Capt. Ettlesen was KIA on 9 February, 1945. His body was eventually recovered. He is buried at: Plot G Row 12 Grave 30, Luxembourg American Cemetery, Luxembourg City, Luxembourg.

Photo courtesy of Dr. Paul D. Bruns: Archived by Char Baldridge, Historian, 359th Fighter Group Association.

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The original monthly narrative History of the 359th Fighter Group is archived at HQ USAF Historical Research Center, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. The complete documents were transcribed by Char Baldridge, Historian, 359th Fighter Group Association, from reports filed from December 1943 through September 1945 by Maurice F. X. Donohue, 359th Fighter Group historian and combat intelligence officer.

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