In October 1941, when Jack Heyn was assigned to the 3rd Bomb Group, it was based at Savannah Army Air Base, Sav., Ga.. It consisted of 5 tactical Squadrons - Headquarters, 8th, 13th, 89th and 90th Squadrons. All but the 8th were equipped with A-20's. The 8th Squadron had A-24 Douglas Dauntless Dive Bombers. In the summer of 1942 the Headquarters Squadron was deactivated as a tactical unit and became strickly a Headquarters Squadron with all the Group offices. Mechanics, armorers, radio men, etc. were transferred to the other 4 Squadrons. When the 3rd Bomb Group were shipped overseas they left the planes and senior officers in Savannah. The planes to pull sub patrol, the officers to form a new group. aboard the S.S. Ancon on 25 February 1942 without planes and a 1st Lieutenant as Group Commander. . The 13th and 90th Squadrons soon moved to the new airfield at Charters Towers.
In February 1940 the 27th Bomb Group was formed from a Cadre of the 3rd Bomb Group. On 1 November 1941 they sailed for the Phillipines. They were equipped with A-24's, but their planes never arrived, and were diverted to Australia.
Some of the pilots went to Australia to get planes, but only got back as far as Java, because of the deteriorating situation in the Philippines. In March 1942 - 42 officers, 62 enlisted men and 24 A-24's were assigned to the 3rd Bomb Group stationed at Charters Towers, Queensland, Australia. They were assigned to the 8th Squadron.
The 3rd Light Bombardment Group comprising A-24 Dauntless Dive Bombers, A-20 Havoc Bombers and B-25 Mitchell bombers moved to Charters Towers on 1 March 1942. The first aircraft to land at the newly constructed airfield was Major "Big Jim" Davies of the 8th Squadron in his A-24. On 1 April 1942 the 3rd Bomb Group pulled their first combat mission of WW II. Six a-24's, led by Lt. Bob Ruegg (retired as Lt Gen. of the Alsakan Command) were headed for Lae Airdrome. Lae was socked in by weather so they diverted to Salamaua. They dropped 5 bombs, a very inauspicious start for a Group that was to become one of the most active units in the Army Air Forces in WW II. On 29 July 1942, seven A-24's of the 8th Squadron left Port Moresby, led by Maj. Floyd Rogers, headed for a convoy heading for Gona. They had an escort of P-39's. Somewhere over the Owen Stanleys they lost their escort and
decided to go in with out them. They encountered a host of Zeros -- one A-24 returned from that mission, Capt. Wilkins and Gunner Al Clark. Wilkins later received the Congressional Medal of Honor, posthumously, in a Rabaul mission on 21 November 1943. For more please visit DUNN PAGE
3 BG 5 AF. 3 BG 5 AF
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