Donald H. Falkingham
graduated from Missouri School of Mines, Rolla, Missouri in May 1941 with
a BS in Petroleum Engineering. During college I learned to fly completing
primary, secondary and advanced flying with the Civilian Pilots Training
Program in college.
I trained in the Southeast
Training program of the US Army Air Corps. After graduation I was sent
to Boise Idaho for B-24 training. From there to Scottsbluff, Nebraska.
The 455th Bomb group was being formed at Langley Field Virginia
in September 1943 and I was assigned to the 740th Squadron of
that group. We were sent to North Africa in December 1943 and while outside
of Tunis, Tunisia.
I developed sinus and ear problems.
The group was moved to Foggia Italy in February 1944 but due to my problems
I was transferred from the 15 AF to the 12th AF and sent to
join the 84th Squadron of the 47th Bomb Group. We
flew the Douglas A-26 in support of the 5th Army.
I won my first Air Medal shortly
after joining this group, on special assignment to develop a ground radar
controlled bomb run to bomb in close support of our ground troops. We moved
up the Italian peninsula as the ground troops advanced until we were just
south of Leghorn. We were then moved to Corsica to support the southern
then moved into the south of France. It was then decided to make our group
a night operations group and we were moved back to Italy to conduct night
operations in the Po Valley. I was acting operations officer of the 84th
Bomb Squadron when we changed aircraft from the A-20 to the A-26.
I was proud to check out all
of the 84th's pilots to fly the A-26 without losing a day of combat. Shortly
thereafter I was transferred to 47th Group headquarters as Assistant
Air Inspector for the Group.
During this assignment I won
a DFC by attacking Germans who were pulling back into the Po Valley. My
airplane was equipped to fire 16 forward firing 50 caliber machine guns
simultaneously and to carry twentysix 250-pound fragmentary bombs. It was
learned that I destroyed at least 6 trucks and killed many German soldiers.
My group was one of the first
to be released from duty in Europe to fly home to the US to regroup to
go to the Pacific war zone. Fortunately the war ended prior to moving to
the Pacific. I turned down a permanent commission to go back to Industry.