As mentioned in the Twenty-Seventh Tail “In The Darkness of the Night,” two of the squadron’s ladies were injured in the dust cloud tangles in the night at Chowringah and the crews were dead headed out. In as much as the China-Burma-Theater was “The Forgotten Theater” replacement aircraft and/or parts for repairs were hard to come by.  Neither the squadron or “Operation Thursday” could afford the loss of two of its aircraft.  Even though Troop Carrier Command Headquarters was ready to write them off. Squadron personnel were determined to get the ladies back into the skies.

    A couple of days after Chowringah was opened Photo Joe came over in a “Dinah”  clicking his camera. Intelligence, shortly thereafter,  reported “30 plus Zeros moving into Shwebo,” 40 miles distant. High authority, knowing the strip must be evacuated, radioed instructions to the Ground Forces  to destroy the aircraft.  Twenty-Seventh personnel fully realized that if they were going to save the C-47s the job would have to be completed quickly.

    By 1600 hours the next afternoon the Zero attack hadn’t materialized. Spare parts, a big chunk of sheet metal, a portable generator and a seven-man volunteer crew were loaded into another aircraft and the pilot snaked his way at tree-top level 200 miles into Burma leaving the volunteers to attempt the impossible.

    All scheduled flights into Chowringah had been canceled.  Japanese fighters were 40 miles away and enemy ground forces less than 5 miles.  At a Stateside repair depot the job of making the two aircraft flyable would require one to two weeks. The odds of getting the planes flying once again were huge.

    At three o’clock the next morning a flight left India with two extra volunteer crews on board to try and fly the ships out. Daylight at the strip would be most unhealthy for all. The repair crew was still busy as the rescue team reached the strip.  The team flashed a brief signal with their belly recognition lights and let down in the darkness. The Master Sergeant in charged pronounced the aircraft as ready as they’d ever be. One had no air speed indicators, a clumsy eight-foot patch on the leading edge of the left wing and about 15% of rudder travel. The second had two right wing tips and a tail that looked like a Burbank mutation. No one was certain they could fly out of the 3,000 foot strip and make it over the mountains but try they were going to do.
    Bouncing all over the skies the two aircraft arrived in India two hours later.

    Twenty minutes after the take off at Chowringah the enemy bombed and strafed the field into oblivion. Ground forces the squadron had flown in moved safely into the adjacent mountains and they gave a radio “blow-by-blow: description of Tojo working over the abandoned airstrip.

    The seven men who volunteered to risk all to get the aircraft flying were recommended for the award of The Legion of Merit by the squadron with the order endorsed by Charles D. Farr, Commander of the 443rd Troop Carrier Group. The request, upon reaching Theater Command, was  approved but reduced to the Bronze Star.

    For the next one and three quarter years deeds, as mentioned in this tale, were common  and often for the troopers of the proud Twenty-Seventh Troop Carrier Squadron as they gave their all in doing their part to help defeat the enemy in the CBI.


APO # 433

25 April 1944

SUBJECT:   Recommendation for Award of the Legion of Merit.

TO       :    Commanding General, Army Air Forces, APO # 885 (Thru Channels)

                  1.    The following named Enlisted Men are recommended for the award
of the Legion of Merit, under provisions of AR 600-45, for exceptionably
meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service.

Wilbur R. Brewer  M/Sgt. 37011247 Air Corps
Joe R. Harper  T/Sgt. 18198652 Air Corps
Duane O. Nissen  T/Sgt. 37073162 Air Corps
Stanley A. Wojciehowski T/Sgt. 32454593 Air Corps
Andrew S. Burks, Jr.  S/Sgt. 34331300 Air Corps
Henry C. Merritt  S/Sgt. 14188214 Air Corps
Albert M. Weynacht  S/Sgt. 39536018 Air Corps.

      2.    On the night of March 8th, two aircraft of the 27th Troop Carrier
Squadron were damaged by a ground collison at a temporary operational strip
East of the Irrawady River due to heavy traffic and thick dust which obscured
visibility. One a/c, No. 42-100688, had the left aileron and wing tip torn
off, a large hole in the center section of the left wing, and the pilot tubes
torn off. The other a/c, No. 42-100702, had the right elevator and right ail-
eron damaged and the vertical stabilizer and rudder torn off. It was necessary
to leave the a/c at the scene of the accident. The tatical situation was such
on 9 March that all personnel were ordered to abandon the strip by dawn of 10
March, with the two a/c to be destroyed prior to evacuation.

3.   Detailed testimony as to damage to planes was obtained from crews
and plans made to attempt a repair job on them sufficient to enable them to
be flown out of the field. The repair crew, all volunteers, reached the strip
at approximately 1900 hours 9 March, in a/c No. 42-100685,after having made
a portion of the trip over enemy held territory without the protection of

                Additional fittings, bolts and another wing tip were needed to
complete the repair job, so a crew flew to Lalaghat at 2230 hours to pick up
the needed equipment, stripping an aircraft at Lalaghat for the necessary
articles. The repair items were flown into the strip at 0200 hours 10 March,
the plane returning to Sylhet, leaving the repair crew alone on the South
strip. Since there was no radio communication with the strip, another crew
volunteered to discharge their operational load at the North strip, then pro-
ceed to the South strip in order to make sure the remaining disabled a/c No.
42-100702 was stripped and then destroyed, if not flyable, and the repair crew
returned to safety. Aircraft No. 42-100688, having been repaired and flown
out of the strip and back to Sylhet safely, all attention was now focused on
a/c No. 42-100702.

South strip had been ordered abandoned at dawn, and it had been
officially closed to operational traffic, yet permission was secured from
Special Force by a/c No. 42-100684, to proceed direct to south Strip and land
the load of mules for the troops there rather than to the North strip as
scheduled. Time was very short, and there was no indication that landing
flares were still lit, however, a/c No. 42-100684, proceeded to land at south
strip at 0315 hours 10 March and remained there until all repair work was
finished and the disabled aircraft safely airborne on its return trip. A/c
No. 42-100684 was the last to leave the strip, and practically all the boundary
lights were out at the time, only 2 or 3 flare pots still burning.

All personnel participating in the reclamation of these two air-
craft knew that enemy aerial reconnaissance had visited the strip during the
daylight hours of 9 March and that cessation of operations and evacuation of
personnel were ordered ahead of schedule because of the imminence of enemy
ground and/or air attack. It was also known that an enemy fighter a/c force
had moved into Shebo, less than 50 miles distant during 8 March. Within
a few hours after the departure of the last aircraft, the strip was heavily
attacked by enemy planes.

The skill, industry and disregard for personal safety exhibited
by the repair crew is eloquently testified to by the fact that under adverse
conditions of darkness, improvised maintenance facilities and expected enemy
action, they accomplished in 8 hours a job that customarily requires from one
to two weeks in an Air Depot.

The zeal, flying technique, and the willingness of the air crews
involved to undertake the additional hazardous flights over and above their
regularly scheduled operation assignments, contributed greatly to the success-
ful recovery of the two irreplaceable aircraft.

3.    The entire service of these Enlisted Men has been honorable since
the rendition of the action upon which this recommendation is based. State-
ments substantiating this recommendation are predicated on official records:

  Wilbur R. Brewer  M/Sgt.  37011247  Air Corps
 a. Previous awards since 7 Dec 1941:  Good Conduct Ribbon
 b. Date of Birth:     17 January 1918
 c. Home Address:     1611 Western Ave., Topeka , Kans.
     d. Next of Kin:     Mrs. Ethel Brewer, Mother
1611 Western Ave., Topeka, Kans.

 Joe R. Harper  T/Sgt  18198652  Air Corps
 a. Previous awards since 7 Dec. 1941 Good Conduct Ribbon
 b. Date of Birth:     17 June 1907
 c. Home Address:     5302 Roosevelt Avenue
San Antonio, Texas
 d. Next of Kin:     Mrs. Vivian Harper, Wife
5302 Roosevelt Avenue
San Antonio, Texas


 Duane O. Nissen   T/Sgt  37073162  Air Corps
 a. Previous award since 7 Dec 1941: Good Conduct Award
 b. Date of Birth:     4 August 1919
 c. Home Address:     RFD # 1, Yutan, Nebraska
 d. Next of Kin:     Mrs. Vera Nita Nissen, Wife
RFD # 1, Yutan, Nebraska

Incl: Citation (draft)

 Stanley A. Wojciehowski  T/Sgt.  32454593  Air Corps
 a. Previous awards since 7 Dec 1941 Good Conduct Ribbon
 b. Date of Birth:     5 August 1921
 c. Home Address:     4 Trenton Avenue, Box 549
Manville, New Jersey
 d. Next of Kin:     Mrs. Valentine Wojcieowski
Mother, 4 Trenton Ave., Box 549
Manville, New Jersey

Incl: Citation (draft)

 Andrew S. Burks, Jr.  S/Sgt  34331300   Air Corps
 a. Previous awards since 7 Dec. 1941 Good Conduct Ribbon
 b. Date of Birth     11 November 1910
 c. Home Address:     1324 32nd Street North
Birmingham, Alabama
 d. Next of Kin:     Mr. Andrew S. Burks, Sr., Father
1324 32nd Street North
Birmingham, Alabama

Incl: Citation (draft)

  Henry C. Merritt   S/Sgt.  14188241   Air Corps
  a. Previous awards since 7 Dec. 1941 Good Conduct Ribbon
  b. Date of Birth:     1 July 1921
  c. Home Address:     413 Campbell St., Wilmington,
North Carolina
  d. Next of Kin:     Mrs. Mary E. Merritt, Mother
413 Campbell St., Wilmington,
North Carolina

Incl: Citation (draft)

  Albert H. Weynacht   S/Sgt.  39536018   Air Corps
  a. Previous awards since 7 Dec 1941 Good Conduct Ribbon
  b. Date of Birth:     10 January 1918
  c. Home Address:     Rt. 2, B-740, Santa Cruz, Calif.
  d. Next of Kin:     Rt. 2, B-740, Santa Cruz, Calif.