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24th Pursuit Group

Constituted as 24th Pursuit Group (Interceptor) on 16 Aug 1941. Activated in the Philippine Islands on 1 Oct 1941. Augmented by two attached squadrons (21st and 34th) and equipped with P-35 and P-40 aircraft, this group comprised the entire pursuit force in the Philippines in Dec 1941. When enemy aircraft were reported to be approaching Luzon on the morning of 8 Dec (7 Dec in the US), the 24th group attempted to intercept but failed because radar and visual sighting facilities were inadequate. Later that day, after the group's planes either had landed for refueling or had run so low on fuel that they could not fight, the Japanese attacked and inflicted heavy losses on the organization. In the days that followed, the group's strength declined rapidly, but the 24th flew some patrol and reconnaissance missions, engaged the enemy in the air, and attacked enemy airfields and shipping. By late in Dec the ground personnel were absorbed by infantry units and some pilots were evacuated to Australia. One of these pilots was Lt Boyd D "Buzz" Wagner, who already had become the first AAF ace of World War II. The remaining pilots continued operations in the Philippines with the few planes that were left. Eventually all of the men, except the few who had gone to Australia, were either killed or captured by the enemy. Although not remanned, the group was carried on the list of active organizations until after the war. Inactivated on 2 Apr 1946.

Squadrons. 3d: 1941-1946. 17th: 1941-1946. 20th: 1941-1946.

Stations. Clark Field, Luzon, 1 Oct 1941; Mariveles, Luzon, c. 1 Jan-May 1942.

Commanders. Col Orrin L Grover, 1 Oct 1941-Apr 1942.

Campaigns. Philippine Islands.

Decorations. Distinguished Unit Citations: Philippines, 7 Dec 1941-10 May 1942; Philippines, 8-22 Dec 1941; Philippines, 6 Jan-8 Mar 1942. Philippine Presidential Unit Citation.

Data from Air Force Combat Units of World War II By Maurer, Maurer, Published 1986


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