The 13th Air Force Veterans Association
Early in 1990, 13th Air Force Veteran, Joe Cambron, from Tuscaloosa, AL, was terminally ill and wanted to see some of his 13th Jungle Air Force friends with whom he had served in the South Pacific. He arranged to meet them in Dayton, Ohio, on the 13th and 14th of October, 1990. Unfortunately, Joe passed away before the group met in Dayton at the Holiday Inn North. However, the following veterans did attend thanks to Joe's arrangements: Lee Bloomberg, Phil Dyer, Bob Fritts, Howard Hamilton, Dan Higgins, Art Hotler, Lee Koppen, Carl McDonough, Don Paul, Lee Railsback, Joe Ross, Max Tessier, Mack Williams, and Stan Zombek.
The 13th Air Force itself has a fascinating history and remains active to this day. The latest location following the years at Guam is now in Hawaii. The 13th was formed on Expiritu Santo, now Vanuata at 13:13 hours on the 13th of January, 1943. John W. (Wally) Black, a member of our AFVA remembers being one of the original members present at that moment. Many different units forming the original 13th AF were already in the South Pacific Theater as parts of USAFISPA ( Us Army Forces in the South Pacific Area) based in Noumea, New Caledonia.
Some remarkable achievements included destroying Japanese Naval Bases at Rabaul an Truk. The 13th had a part in shooting down Admiral Yamamoto's plane at Kahili. Oil fields were destroyed at Balikpapan and Lutang. Missions were often long lasting over 18 hours in length due to three of the bomb bays fitted with fuel tanks. One bomb bay did have bombs. Flights were flown over these vast distances with no fighter escorts. In an unusual strategy the Snooper Squadron, B-24 Bombers, flew at night at low altitudes preventing the enemy from resupplying at night.
Recent information reveals that WW II's key Pacific air force was the 13 Air Force. Probably unknown the time, the aggressive 13th became the deciding factor in reducing the Pacific War's Japanese great military force to a non-entity in that South Pacific Theater. Defeat of the Japanese forces began with heavy bomber air support in the battle for the Solomons where the U. S. key offensive action of WW II began with the U.S. Marines landings on Guadalcanal in August of 1942.
Next the 13th AF became the deciding factor in isolating and destroying Rabaul and Truk, Japan's most important bases and headquarters, Without these resources and reinforcements at Rabaul and Truk, every Japanese base, army and installation throughout the Pacific was left to survive on its owns leading to the final defeat of that empire in 1945.
Today many of the veterans of the 13th Air Force meet at 13th Air Force Veterans Association Reunions to talk over times past, present, and future. Members of other units and squadrons now also attend. While most are WWII veterans, others are certainly welcome. The association also welcomes friends and spouses to become associate members, and many have done so.