21st Photo Recon Squadron

 

IN MEMORIUM




In Memory Of Donald Kiefer, A Friend And Former Army Buddy ~Former Senior Clerk Of The 21st Photo Reconnissance Squadron Who Passed Away On February 2nd,2007. He Will Be Missed By All Who Knew Him


Rest In Peace Donald Kiefer.


SQUADRON INSIGNIA

Worn by pilots and ground crew members on their flight jackets, the insignia depicts a "Peregrine Falcon" grasping a camera in its talons and "Photographing The World".

F-5 (P-38) - FLAGSHIP OF THE 21ST PHOTO RECONN. SQUADRON




THIS PLANE CARRIED ONLY A PILOT AND 'TOP SECRET' TRIMETROGON CAMERAS. SPEED AND HIGH ALTITUDE WERE THE PILOT'S ONLY PROTECTION. NONE WAS LOST DUE TO ENEMY ACTION.

21ST PHOTO RECONNAISSANCE SQUADRON

 

PHOTO FALCONS THE "EYES OF THE l4th AIR FORCE"



When World War II ended in l945 this squadron had several detachments spread around a 4000 miles defense perimeter in Eastern China from north of the Yellow River to Burma. It was a losing battle for the Chinese, but the "shadow box" strategy of General Claire Chennault proved to be one which would save countless thousands of casualties. Miraculously the Hiroshima bombing put an end to the conflict, but not until the Japanese had overrun most of the Allied air fields. During the last few months of the war pilots of this squadron were even more relentless in providing photos and maps to the stepped up air campaign against overwhelming Japanese ground forces. Nothing escaped the piercing eyes of these "photo falcons". On one mission Col. John Foster brought back photos of a flotilla of Japanese warships. leading to the sinking of six ships by planes of the l4th Air Force. On another such mission Capt. Winfrey Sordelette, flying eleven hours non-stop, brought back photos of both Sasebo and Nagasaki, both of which were severely bombed by planes of the l4th Air Force. Among others distinguishing themselves during this hectic time was Capt Wm (Bill) Maass, who flew many missions over Japan and reconned the entire coast of Formosa in preparation for the planned invasion by Allied troops.and Capt.Edward Penick, who flew several daring missions from Suichwan.All of these pilots received the highest awards for their outstnding performance.at that climactic time. Ground crews came under even more intense bombing during this time, when they were forced to work around the clock to keep up with the intensified demands put upon them. The supply situation, which was never good, as all freight had to be flown over the Himalayas, became even worse. Food and water became scarce as did repair parts for planes. Heroism and ingenuity became the order of the day as these men "made do" with what was available. Col. Foster, only 26 yrs old at the time brought his pilots , after a year of training in Colorado Springs, to a staging base at Jorhut, India. where they, along with their planes, were flown by the ATC to their destination at Kunming,China. Ground crews came by boat, one of them, the Mauretania, sister ship of the illfated Lusitania, to Ceylon,to Bombay, then by train across India to Jorhut. Monsoons delayed by three weeks their arrival at their staging base in Jorhut. The treacherous Himalayan air route to Kunming was patrolled by the Japanese at that time and some of the planes did not make it to their China destination.The C-47 carrying myself, two NCO's and 2 tons of photo supplies, was forced to land about l00 miles short of Kunming, which was under threat of bombing at the time. I was able to then load the supplies onto a truck and with a Chinese driver come the rest of the way over the badly damaged Burma Road to Kunming, arriving five days later with the much needed photo supplies. After arriving in Kunmng in the summer and fall of l943, all personnel received additional training to prepare for the coming Japanese push into south and eastern China. A flight was dispatched to Kweilin to be closer to enemy targets. As the war progressed additional flights (detachments) were established at l4th AF bases near the eastern China defense perimeter. Among those was Suichwan, which came under severe Japanese night and day bombing siege. Veterans of service at those bases tell gripping stories of survival. Some were wounded and some paid the ultimate price. It is to those heroic men and to this outstanding unit that these pages are dedicated.


Written By Donald Kiefer~Senior Clerk~21st Photo Recon. Squadron

TECH. SGT. DONALD KIEFER CHINA 1944

T/Sgt Don Kiefer,standing at entrance of Kunming orphanage, where he paid frequent visits when off duty.


Tsai Chien Don.

Music~"Wind Beneath My Wings"

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