American Fighter Aces Panel:
Time: Saturday, April 21, 2007 - 2:00pm - 3:30pm
On January 1, 1945, virtually every Luftwaffe fighter on the Western Front flew toward Belgium, planning to surprise Allied aircraft that had recently arrived at a forward base in Asch known as Y-29. The Germans believed they could catch the Americans unawares after New Year's parties. However, the members of the 352nd Fighter Group, the "Bluenosers" Mustang Unit, suspected an attack and were in their planes as the German planes approached. They were scrambled into the air and began what turned into one of the greatest victories of the European air war. A number of pilots became aces that day in what became known as "The Battle for New Year's Day." Join us for a panel of aces who were a part of this famous air battle. Lt. Col. Donald S. Bryan USAF (Ret.) flew both P-47s and P-51s and is credited with 13 1/3 confirmed kills, including his last when he destroyed an Ar-234 jet bomber. He became commander of the 328th in Jan. 1945. However, he watched the New Year's Day Battle from the ground, as his P-51 was the only allied destroyed on the ground that day. Lt. Gen. Sanford K. Moats USAF (Ret.) was assigned to the 487th Fighter Squadron in the 352nd, stationed at Bodney, England. Flying the P-51 Mustang, he is credited with 8 _ German aircraft destroyed between July 18, 1944 and Jan. 1, 1945, including 4 on New Year's Day. General Moats retired in 1977 as a Lt. General after a distinguished career that included service in Vietnam. On his way to the forward base, Maj. Alden Rigby USAF (Ret.) witnessed an attack by a V-2 rocket as well as the wreckage of a theater hit by a V-1 "Buzz bomb" in which 100 people attending a Christmas party were killed. In Sept. 2000, Lt. Rigby received credit for an additional victory, making him the 352nd's 29th ace. Joining the panel will be Lt. Richard Creamer, who was at the airfield in Asch, Belgium on that fateful day. Moderating the panel will be fellow Bluenoser, Lt. Robert H. "Punchy" Powell who flew 89 missions with the 352nd. Presentation is free with Museum admission.