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Donald H. Falkingham

I 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 France invasion.

We 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.

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