Kenneth J. Sweet - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Kenneth J. Sweet

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Kenneth enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps on November 18th, 1940. He arrived at Pearl Harbor on December 12th, 1940 and was assigned to Wheeler Field when he arrived. When the attack began he was on guard duty on the aircraft parking ramp. He was guarding P-40 aircraft. When he saw that they were being attacked he returned to the flight lines and started separating P-40 aircraft that were not on fire from the ones that were. Then he started working on rebuilding aircraft by taking the parts from one and putting them on another plane to make them flyable. Then he was assigned to guard duty in the officers living area - where all the wives and children were relocated. After 2 days he was sent back to the flight line as an aircraft mechanic. "After witnessing the Japanese torpedo planes flying over our airfield, a flight of dive bombers flew into our area. I was witnessing the first of two bombs hitting American soil - starting WWII. After the 1st dive bomber made his dive, several started dumping their bombs on the hanger, and barracks. I ran from the flight line area, up into the NCO housing area and crawled under a house, as the Japanese returned after the initial attack and were strafing the flight line and the entire living area."

At the time of the attack, Kenneth was assigned to HQ 18th flight group. "Then I was re-assigned to the 78th flight squadron, 15th fighter group. We flew for several months, returning to Hawaii. We had the duty of training fighter pilots in P-39, P-40,P-47, and P-51 aircraft. In late January 1945 our group put eighty-five P-51s on a devoted aircraft carrier, traveled to Guam, unloaded all the aircraft then flew to Saipan." Kenneth spent four days there waiting for the Marines to secure airfield #1 on Iwo Jima. "We flew in 5 days after the attack started. On April 1st, 1945 we sent eighty P-51s to attack Japan. Our unit was the first fighter aircraft group over Japan. I left Iwo Jima on July 18th, 1945 to return to the States." Kenneth left the service for 1 year and then went back into the Air Force in 1947 and retired in 1982.

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