Attacks on ships were among the most dangerous missions. There was nothing to hide behind ...

to eat. When we shipped out, the boy took

our stove and cooking utensils, after all we

owed it him for all that he did for us.”

With the onset of April 1945, American forces undertook Operation Iceberg, the amphibious assault on the island of Okinawa

in the Ryukyu Archipelago. The Japanese

continued to sacrifice their remaining pilots against the vast Allied forces in suicidal fashion. The Americans were feeling

the bite of the Kamikaze’s “Divine Wind”

first-hand, reminiscent of the typhoon

which destroyed Kublai Khan’s attack fleet

off the coast of Japan in 1281.

The forward airfields on Formosa that

provided this aerial menace over Okinawa topped General Kenny’s Fifth Air Force

target list accompanied by the vital alcohol

production facilities and railway terminals.

were already burned out and lying on the

ground. We did hit some of the remaining

planes in their revetments from time to

time. We were flying so low on these missions that we’d discover rice in our bomb

bay doors! One guy even came home with a

chicken stuffed in one of his engine nacelles! We were scared, and of course we flew

very low just to survive.

I believe that we were after an airfield when

I got hit right in the face and in the arms

with broken glass from the wind screen.

I don’t know if the copilot had grabbed the

controls from me, to help steer the B-25

for that spilt second. We were so close to

the ground that it could have been fatal. Our

plane skidded and hit a bamboo tree that

came between the engine and our cockpit


We were flying so low on these missions that we’d discover rice in our bomb bay doors! One guy even came

home with a chicken stuffed in one of his engine nacelles! We were scared, and of course we flew very low just

to survive.

Erwin’s group were called into action to

support the campaign, in an operation that

Lt. Werhand earned the Purple Heart after

his cockpit was riddled by Japanese AA


“Over Formosa our group was to attack

the alcohol plants and airfields. The plants

were top priority since the Jap’s had so

many of them. To get these targets, we’d

come in low below the smokestacks, pop

up over the stack, release the loads and

then get quickly back down on the deck

again. You could see the tracer bullets

coming up at you from the ground below.

On this island we saw some enemy aircraft

parked on their airfields, however they


INFO Eduard

In the wake of the atomic bomb raids on

Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the Japanese surrender to end the Second World

War, Captain Werhand ventured over the

mainland Japan in his aircraft to survey the

destruction of these two cities, that made

headlines around the world. It provided an

indelible sight, similar in intensity to his

previous visit to Pearl Harbor.

“I flew over Nagasaki and Hiroshima after

both bombs had been dropped. It was unbelievable to see it. Our B-25s were dropping bombs of the size of firecrackers!

I flew over each city and could not believe

that one bomb had done all of that!”

In the nuclear alert

After the war, Werhand was assigned as an

air operations officer on Okinawa. He was

the right man for the job, after all he’d flown

47 successful missions without being shot

down. During the escalation and onset of

the Korean War in the Fifties, Erwin flew

the C-54 transport aircraft to evacuate the

casualties. The most interesting job he had

while being a member of the United States

Air Force were flights northward to the

Ice Cap in Greenland in the durable C-47

Skytrain. He provided humanitarian aid to

mountain climbers, dig teams and Eskimo


With the dawn of the jet age, Major Erwin

Werhand cross trained into Strategic Air

Command’s Boeing B-47 Stratojet, tasked

to deliver an 18-Megaton bomb in the event

of Soviet aggression. He remained on alert

status at Whiteman AFB, Missouri, until his

retirement in 1961 in the rank of Colonel. He

had relocated to Charlotte, North Carolina with his adoring wife and served as an

active member of the local ‘Carolinas Aviation Historical Commission’ an organization which still fosters the history and traditions of military aviation, focused on those

who laid down their lives to preserve the

liberties and freedoms of the United States. He passed away in 2002 after losing his

final battle against cancer. Werhand was

buried in Arlington National Cemetery with

full military honors.

August 2022