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May 21, 2004
Continued from last week, my interview with Fighter –Bomber Pilot William D. Dunbar, Col. U. S. A. F. (ret).
Bill flew his 1st of 78 Combat missions Oct. 29, 1944 in a P-47 D15, Thunderbolt. He flew top cover, which means to protect the Fighter –Bombers as they did their bombing runs. A good way to learn the ropes of combat flying. By his fourth mission he was diving with the Veterans. These dives usually started at 12,000 feet, at 10,000 to 8,000 feet over most targets the ground fire became quite intense, called Flak. It consisted of exploding shells and other munitions which looked, to the pilot, like black and white puffs of smoke and red balls flying all around. Sounds scary but Bill said worst than flying through flak was flying through the clouds in formation. Think about it, try driving to Sacramento in thick fog, 4 cars abreast in a finger formation, other formations to your right and left. No fun! In the 78 missions that Bill flew, he bombed and strafed numerous ground targets, trains, airfields (heavy flak there). He shot up a Me-262 on the ground (German Jet Fighter), which he actually went to see and take pictures of its wreckage, after the war. He did pass up a string of horses that the Germans were using as pack animals. Bill liked horses.
On a bright, clear day, December 23, 1944, Bill who just turned 22 was on a mission to Koblenz, Germany with eleven other P47s when they came upon a formation of our B-26’s (2 engine, very fast light bombers) at about 12,000 feet. They were bombing the railroad yards at Koblenz. In front of Bill’s eyes, over 30 FW-190’s attacked the bombers. By the time Bill’s P47’s got there three or more of our Bombers were going down. Parachutes all over. Which is a sight every pilot dreads. Bill followed his flight leader into the fray. Planes everywhere, confusion, intense radio chatter, an FW-190 on Bills tail (not good). But he had a friend on the tail of the 190 and he peeled off of Bill. Then Bill saw a Thunderbolt to his front and a FW 190 was seriously shooting it to pieces. A few quick turns and Bill gave the 190 some of the same, a short burst from his 50 cal. machine guns (the P47 had 8), and the 190 went straight down in smoke and flames. Bill went on to a long career in the Airforce. He served through two more wars.

From the Minneapolis Tribune 1945
Lt. William Dunbar Saves Squad Leader
In an aerial dogfight over Germany, Second Lieut. William D. Dunbar came to the relief of his element leader, Lt. R. J. Fox of Racine, Wis., and shot down a Focke Wulf 190 that was blasting at Fox; then convoyed the damaged plane back to its base in Belgium. Fox executed a successful belly landing. Dunbar, fighting with the “Thunder Bums,” a fighter-bomber squadron in the Ninth Air Force, flies a P-47 Thunderbolt and has flown more than 15 combat missions, dive-bombing and strafing in support of ground troops.

Stu’s notes:
Veterans Radio every Thursday from 7-8PM KRBS 107.1 FM. I will be on with Howard Gregg May 27th. The Avenue of Flags and Memorial Service. The avenue of flags placing the headstone flags, will take place at Memorial Park Cemetery on Lincoln Boulevard starting at 6 a.m. Flags will be taken down beginning at 4 p.m. on Monday, May 31st. Memorial services start at 11 am. If it is raining, the service will be held in VFW Clubhouse at 1901 Elgin St.
If any veteran or widow has a casket flag that they would like to donate to the American Legion or VFW to fly in the Avenue of Flags they may take them to the Clubhouse on Elgin. Wreaths and momentos are also appreciated. For more information call Stan Rinehart 532-0561.
Last week when I thanked everyone I missed thanking the DeMolay Boys who were a big help on our Spaghetti Dinner. They did a great job. Thank you guys. Last week picture of Virgil McGinnis was my mistake, his story will come soon.