Thursday, August 9, 2012

Maj. Ray S. Wetmore

Maj. Ray S. Wetmore -- "X-Ray Eyes"
359th Fighter Group, 370th Fighter Squadron

Maj. Ray S. Wetmore, nicknamed "Smack" and known for his keen vision, amassed a total score of 24 destroyed air-ground combat, highest scoring Ace in the 359th Fighter Group and eighth best of all American pilots in the ETO. On VE-Day he was a 21-year-old major.

Flying with the 370th Fighter Squadron, in February and March 1944 Wetmore scored his first 4.25 victories flying the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt. Upon conversion to the P-51 Mustang the group ranged farther afield and Wetmore became a 20-year-old ace with a double victory on May 19, downing two Me-109s. By the end of May 1944 his tally was 8.25. At the end of 1944 he was a captain with nearly 15 kills, flying a Mustang named "Daddy's Girl."

After returning from leave in the U.S. to serve his second tour of duty, Wetmore continued to score from November 1944 to January 1945. During that time he downed 12 more enemy fighters including 4.5 FW-190s on January 14. His final victory was a rocket-powered Me-163 on March 15.

Postwar, Major Wetmore commanded the 59th Interceptor Squadron at Otis Air Force Base, Massachusetts. On February 14, 1951, Raymond took off from Los Angeles with an F-86 Sabre on a trip to Otis. On his final approach, his plane suddenly shot up skyward, and then turned towards the ground where it crashed. Ray was killed instantly. He reportedly said that he was having trouble slowing down his plane and ejecting from the plane. He was also reported to have said to the tower that, "I'm going to go up and bring it down in Wakeby Lake, so I don't hit any houses."

"Say goodbye to my wife and kids," were his final words.

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