Note: Jim lives just down the highway and
was a regular attendee of our luncheons until about a year ago. A
long term medical condition prevents him from attending meetings. Though
he has shared his story of his encounter of the great Luftwaffe Ace and
gentleman, Adolph Galland a number of times, we have borrowed this interview
from another source (and if somebody will remind us where it came from
we can accord proper credit) so that you can read in his own words,
Jim's account of that day and of his friendship with Galland some years
What fighter group were you with?
I was with the 50th fighter group. I had been
in the European theater since May 20, 1944, but my first combat mission
was on D-Day - -June 6th, 1944.
Did you know of Adolf Galland during
No I did not know of him. I met him in 1979.
The way we met was through a Japanese-American
student at San Jose State University. As part of his required reading in
school, he read Gallandís book ĎThe First and the Lastí. After graduation,
his parents sent him to Japan as a present, and there the student met some
ex-Zero pilots who asked him to check American Air Force records of aerial
actions that had taken place in the Pacific theater, as theirs were destroyed.
The Air Force sent him the reports, and
he saw how detailed they were, and was able to help the Japanese pilots.
He then remembered reading Gallandís book, and remembered the passage about
him being shot down. He looked up Galland and wrote him to ask if he wanted
to know who had shot him (Galland) down. The student found my name in the
action reports for that area on April 26, 1945, and deduced that it was
Gallandís Me-262 that I had listed as a probable.
So, then Galland and I exchanged letters
and put the mission together. Galland had initially thought it was a P-51
that shot him down, but realized later that it was P-47ís that were escorting
the B-26 Marauders.
The two of us began corresponding, and
we first actually met at an Air Force Association meeting in San Francisco
in 1979. Galland wrote and said he and Bob Stanford-Tuck were invited to
the meeting and would like to meet. I went to pick them up from the San
Francisco airport, and we went for a few drinks.
That began our association. I last saw
him in 1991 or `92 when he came to San Jose for an appearance, and asked
if my wife and I would like to be his guests for dinner.
He and his wife had stayed at our home,
and we had visited and stayed in his home in Oberwinter.
Can you describe the combat against
Adolf Galland in his Me-262?
I was leading the top flight cover of P-47ís
that was escorting the B-26ís to their target. As I gazed down, I saw 2
objects come zipping through the formation, and 2 bombers blew up immediately.
I watched the 2 objects go through the bomber formation, and thought ďthat
canít be a prop job....itís got to be one of the 262 jets.Ē
I was at about 13,000 feet and estimated
them to be at about 9-10,000. They were climbing, and I pulled a split-S
towards the one that turned left, and almost ended up right on top of him
- - about 75 yards away!!
I gave a 3 second burst and saw strikes
on the right hand engine and wing root. I was going so fast, I went right
through everything, and guessed my speed at about 550 mph. I recorded it
as a probable.
I was flying a D model Thunderbolt with
a bubble canopy, a natural metal finish and a black nose. The 262 had a
green and brown mottled camouflage with some specs of yellow.
That turned out to be my last flight in
a P-47. My kills for the war were an FW-190 and an Me-109, in addition
to the Me-262.
What thoughts did you have about Adolf
Galland always impressed me as being a true
warrior. He loved combat and the involvement, but was not out to kill. That
was just part of it.
I speak to colleges, schools and other
groups, and feel the need to mention to not forget what WW2 was all about.
It was nothing to glamorize....it was something we believed in. When I
got into it, I said whoa....they are shooting at me....this is for real.