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^[[Miis [[?]] [[underlined]] 4392 [[/underlined]] Kleceelein [[?]] 2244 [[ single } character, right adjacent to and height of last two words]] ]] [[stamped, red]] FUTURE RELEASE PLEASE NOTE DATE[[/stamped, red]] WAR DEPARTMENT Bureau of Public Relations PRESS BRANCH Tel. - RE 6700 Brs. 3425 and 4860 FUTURE RELEASE [[underlined]] FOR RELEASE, 2 P.M., THURSDAY, JUNE 21, 1945 COLONEL DAVIS ASSUMES COMMAND OF THE 477th BOMBARDMENT GROUP [[/underlined]] Colonel Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., former commanding officer of the 332nd Fighter Group in Italy, today assumed command of the 477th Bombardment Group at Godman Field, Kentucky, the War Department announced. The 32-year-old West Point graduate of 1936 earned his pilot's wings at the Tuskegee Army Air Field, Alabama, in 1942. Placed in command of the 99th Fighter Squadron, he went overseas with it in April 1943. The colonel, then a lieutenant colonel, served as commanding officer of the 99th in the North African, Sicilian and Italian campaigns. On October 5, 1943, Colonel Davis, a native of Washington, D.C. returned to the United States and assumed command of the 332nd Fighter Group, which was activated October 13, 1942. The Group trained under Colonel Davis until January 13, 1944 and then went overseas into action against the enemy as part of the 12th Fighter Command of the Mediterranean Allied Air Force under Lieutenant General Ira E. Baker. Flying the sturdy p-40 Warhawk and P-47 Thunderbolt with the 12th Fighter Command, the group strafed enemy shipping and did low level skipbombing at Cassino, Anzio and other points in Italy. they were later assigned to the 15th Air Force, and equipped with P-51s. The Mustang became a favorite with the pilots. On February 28, 1945, Colonel Davis' Group had completed 200 combat missions with the 15th Air Force and had served as escort to heavy bombers without losing a single bomber to enemy fighters. Up to that time, members of the 332nd Fighter group had been awarded 63 Distinguished Flying Crosses, and had completed 8,000 sorties while destroying more than 200 enemy aircraft in aerial and ground strafing assaults. Working in close cooperation with the U.S. Fifth Army and the British Eighth Army,the fighter group performed all types of missions, ranging from escorting heavy bomber over the Ploesti oil fields to low level strafing raids on retreating Germans in Northern Italy, Yugoslavia, Austria, and final over Germany itself. Colonel Davis has been awarded the Legion of Merit, Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with Four Oak Leaf Clusters. He recently returned to the United States to take command of the reconstituted 477th Bombardment Group, which will be known as a Composite Group. Elements of the 377th will include two bomber squadrons, and one fighter squadron from the 332nd Fighter Group. The remaining elements of the 332nd Fighter Group will be held in strategic reserve. [[underlined]] END [[/underlined]] DISTRIBUTION: Ad.
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