Checkertails: 325th Fighter Group (Squadron 6175)
By Ernest R. McDowell
Publisher: Squadron/Signal Publications 1994 80 Pages
PDF 13 MB
Formed as the 325th Fighter Group on 24 June 1942. the new group was activated on 20 July under general order number 50 issued by 1st Aii Force headquarters. Fastern Defense Command With activation life ing place on 3 August 1942.
Officers and enlisted men were detached from the 79th Fighter Group under the command of Major Leonard C. Lydon to form the nucleus of the new fighter group. The group headquarters and 317th Squadron were based at Theodore Green Field. Hillsgrove. Rhode Island, the 318th was sent to Grenier Field. Manchester. New Hampshire and the 319th deployed to Renschler Field. Hartford. Connecticut. Additional personnel was drawn from various service schools. Officer Candidate Schools, replacement pools and inductees who had completed basic training. Some of the new officers from OCS were given intensified courses in chemical warfare, camouflage, intelligence, and other specialist areas. Enlisted men attended lectures, viewed training films, drilled and received on the job training in their new assignments. Pilots practiced formation flying, acrobatics, navigation, instrument flying and aerial gunnery.
The activities of the 319th Squadron during this period may be cited as more or less typical. Initially, the squadron consisted of 178 enlisted men under the command of Captain Lawrence E. Oldham, who was the only officer attached to the 3I9lh at the time. Major Robert I. Baseler arrived on 26 August to assume command as pilots began to trickle in to the 319th.
Bob Baseler was a tall, gangling, soft spoken redhead, an easy going individual with a keen sense of humor. He had earned his wings at Kelly Field. Texas on 1 February 1939. His first duty was as a pursuit pilot with the 94th Pursuit Squadron, the famed Hat-In-The-Ring squadron of WW I fame, which was flying P-35s and P-36s at that time. One of the best pilots in the squadron was Neel E. Kearby and Bob got to know and admire him. He asked Neel to help him perfect his dogfight fighting techniques and Neel agreed, but to make it interesting suggested that a wager be made on the outcome of each session. Bob paid off on a fairly regular basis the first month and then began to hold his own but he never did win back all of the money he lost. He always considered it as money well spent. Later in the war Neel Kearby. who became commanding officer of the 348th Fighter Group in the Pacific theater, was awarded the Medal Of Honor and had accounted for twenty-two enemy aircraft destroyed before losing his life in combat.