By SM Sgt. Wilbur Tackaberry
The 110th Observation Squadron, Missouri Air National Guard. (Board shows that "to date"the squadron has destroyed or damaged ten Japanese aircraft in the air; thirty-one destroyed on the ground; three warships destroyed; four warships damaged; Six and 1/4 auxilliary ships destroyed.)
In 1940 only 86,188 airline passengers boarded and deplaned at Lambert Field. The Curtiss-Wright Aircraft Corporation was building aircraft for the Allies and the members of the 110th Observation Squadron. The Missouri National Guard was about to put their years of valuable training to test.
As a result of the situation in Europe, and upon directions of the President, the 110th Observation Squadron was called into active service on December 23, 1940. The unit under the command of Major Edwin H. Lauth, deployed to Adams Field, Little Rock, Arkansas, where it trained until December of 1941 and then proceeded to California. Part of the unit made preparations for overseas duty as a liason and medium bombardment unit. Another element remained in the States for extensive training in P-39 and P-40 fighter aircraft after which they deployed overseas to Australia and then to New Guinea.
By 1941 the Navy had constructed a large Flight Training Base at Lambert Field while the Army provided transient aircraft services at the National Guard facility.
As the war moved toward the Philippines the unit distinguished itself in sinking an enormous tonnage of Japanese shipping and received a Presidential Unit Citation. The squadron converted to F-51 "Mustang" aircraft. Prior to its move to IE Shima in the Ryukus from which it continued combat operations against the enemy until the war’s end.
The 110th was credited with participation in the Ryukus Campaign, Anti-Submarine Defense, Air Offensive Japan, China Defense, Luzon Campaign, Leyte Campaign, Western Pacific Campaign, and the Campaign for the Bismarck Archipelgo.
In late 1945, the unit rotated back to the United States and members were separated from active duty to resume their civilian occupations.
As World War II came to an end it became apparent that larger facilities would be required at Lambert Field to accommodate an anticipated expansion in commercial and private aviation. The Curtiss-Wright Corporation phased out its operation and the McDonnell Aircraft Corporation occupied existing facilities. Within a few years McDonnell gained recognition as the biggest single employer in the St. Louis area, surpassing Chevrolet, Ford, Anheuser-Busch and the other industrial giants. Longer runways, additional parking space for aircraft and modern aids to navigation were installed.
In a relatively short span of time Lambert Field had experienced an amazing growth. From the early days of the air mail service the facility had seen the influx of aircraft manufacturers who produced such notable aircraft as the "Curtiss Robin", "monocoupe", "Curtiss Condor", and the C-46 "Commando", a modern World War II troop and cargo transport. [Photo: Unidentified Missouri Air National Guard Pilot, Enlargement]
One major incident marred activity at Lambert Field during World War II. The crash of a locally manufactured military glider took the lives of Mayor William Dee Becker, Major William B. Robertson and other city and civic officials during a demonstration flight.
The end of the war heralded a rapid expansion in both private and commercial aviation. Facilities of Remmert Werner, VonHoffmann, and St. Louis Flying Service virtually bulged with aircraft owned by private individuals and businesses. Commercial traffic increased tremendously and such major carriers as TWA, American Airlines, and Chicago and Southern operated modern equipment on expanded routes and schedules. A newspaper article of the period estimated that an average of 8,000 people came to the airport each Sunday, "just to watch the activity".
Meanwhile engineers of the major aircraft manufacturers companies were rapidly developing designs, mockups, and prototypes of a new generation of aircraft which would herald arrival of the Jet Age.
Enlisted Men, 110th Squadron, WW2, South Pacific, [Enlargement]
The final score. [Enlargement]
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