KITS 08/2022

B-25J-6, 43-27957, Capt. Ervin J. Werhand, 823rd BS, 38th BG, 5th AF, Kadena, Okinawa, July 1945

This ship was originally named Little Princess Deanna

and was assigned to Capt. Zane E. Corbin. He was succeeded by Capt. Ervin J. “Joe” Wehrand who renamed

the ship Bugs Bunny, an animated cartoon character

best known for his starring roles in the Looney Tunes

and Merrie Melodies series. The name of the 823rd BS

was "Terrible Tigers," and the noses of their aircraft

were decorated with a tiger painting. This unit, along

with the 822nd BS, was activated in Australia in April

1943 as replacements for two squadrons that had been

withdrawn from the 38th BG “Sun Setters“ composition. However, the 823rd Squadron did not reach its full

strength until the end of June that year when it moved

to Port Moresby, New Guinea. By August, the unit was

already engaged in offensive action against the Japanese at Cape Gloucester, New Britain and received

a Distinguished Unit Citation (DUC) for this activity. The

second time they received DUC, in June 1944, it was for

attacks on Japanese airfields, ports and ships on New

Guinea. From October 1944, the "Terrible Tigers" opera-

ted from the Maluku Archipelago in eastern Indonesia,

from where they attacked targets in the Philippines in

support of Operation Leyte. Then, on November 10, the

pilots of the 823rd BS dispersed a large enemy convoy,

for which they received their third DUC. In February 1945,

the unit moved to Okinawa, from where it attacked targets in southern Japan until the end of the war. It was

then part of the occupation forces until September 1946,

when it was inactivated as the 38th BG was transitioned

to peacetime status with two squadrons.

B-25J-27, 44-30866, 1/Lt. Thomas Evans, 82nd BS, 12th BG, 10th AF, Fenny, India, spring 1945

The ship with the name Sunday Punch was purchased thanks to the fundraising campaign conducted by employees of the Oak Ridge (K-25) plant

in Tennessee. The plant was part of the Manhattan

Project, and when each employee donated their

two Sunday overtime pay checks, $250,000 was

raised - enough to buy one Mitchell. Factory representatives then christened the plane with a bottle

of champagne at McGhee Tyson Airport in Knoxville

on March 18, 1945, with the name SUNDAY PUNCH. The

name referred to the Sunday punch card paychecks.

After shipment to India, the aircraft was assigned

to the 82nd BS, where the staff added a drawing of

a scantily clad girl to the lettering. And when one

of the pilots, 1/Lt. Thomas Evans, learned that the

ship had been purchased thanks to the campaign

conducted in his home state, he requested her assignment. By the end of the war, Evans had flown

14 of his 28 combat missions with her. One of these was

the May 27 attack on Takli Airfield in Thailand. In poor

weather conditions, they made a total of 2,580 km

(1,600 miles) flight and subsequent attack.

B-25J-27, 44-30583, 1/Lt. Don McKenzie, 100th BS, 42nd BG, 13th AF, Puerto Princesa, Palawan,

Philippines, March 1945

The name of this ship from the 100th BS, part of the

42nd BG “Crusaders” composition, refers to the poignant story of one of the best college football players

of all time, George “Gipper” Gipp, who died at age

25 of streptococcal throat infection and pneumonia.

On his deathbed, he told visiting coach Knut Rockne,

"I've got to go, Rock. It's all right. I'm not afraid. Some

August 2022

time, Rock, when the team is up against it, when

things are wrong and the breaks are beating the

boys, ask them to go in there with all they've got and

win just one for the Gipper. I don't know where I'll be

then, Rock. But I'll know about it, and I'll be happy."

A movie was made about the legendary coach in

1940, which includes this scene. The role of George

Gipp was portrayed by Ronald Reagan, who years later used the slogan “Win one for the Gipper” during

his presidential campaign, as the role earned him the

nickname Gipper. Crew Chief Sgt. William A. Bean was

in charge of the aircraft honored with the slogan.

INFO Eduard