Photo -- See Caption Below

Military Patch

c 1943-1954
Ninth Air Force shoulder patch. Worn September 16, 1943 to August 1954.

General Eisenhower had control over tactical air support which included squadrons from the British Second Tactical Air Force and the Ninth US Army Air Force.  Most missions flown by the Ninth US Army Air Force supported American General Omar Bradley’s ground troops that eventually became the 12th Army Group.

The 354th Fighter Group of the Ninth US Army Air Force was the first unit in the ETO (European Theater of Operations) to use the famous P-51 Mustang fighter planes.  In early 1944 the 354th flew in support of the B-17s and B-24s on bombing missions into Germany and occupied France.

After D-Day the Ninth USAAF relocated its base from England across the English Channel to France. Its lead element in this move was the 391st Squadron, 366th Fighter Group, which, with its P-47 Thunderbolt Fighter Planes, set up its airstrip just inland from Omaha Beach. On the 4th of July General Eisenhower made a quick half-hour aerial tour of the Normandy battlefront, riding in the back seat of a specially altered P-51 flown by Major General “Pete” Quesada, who was the youngest general in the ETO.  Ike actually flew over enemy held positions for a brief time that day.

Major James Howard of the 354th Fighter Group’s 356th Squadron was the only American fighter ace in the ETO to receive the Medal of Honor.  The incident which earned him the award took place on January 11, 1944, when he defended a bomber formation by single-handedly fighting off thirty German fighters with his lone P-51.  Howard shot down three enemy planes and successfully chased the others away.

Previously Howard had served in the China-Burma-India Theater as a pilot with Colonel Claire L. Chennault’s famous Flying Tigers.  Howard was the first American ace in the war to have aerial victories over both Japanese and German adversaries.

Cloth. L 6.7, W 6.2 cm
Eisenhower National Historic Site, EISE 15724