Group and Station Command
The Group Commander also acted as station commander with all units ultimately responsible to him. To aid him in this vast administrative task, two key individuals were assigned for non operational concerns. Lt Col. Samuel F. Stephenson acted as Station Executive Officer until February 9, 1945. He was joined by Group Ground Executive officer Maj. Charles T. Bruett assigned from the 78th Fighter Group on May 1, 1944. Major Bruett assumed both roles on February 9, 1945.
Various units were assigned to the Station and these slotted into the structure whilst maintaining their own administrative independence. Thus many departments had personnel from several different units. Personnel remained assigned to their units for administrative purposes.
Units assigned to the 353rd Fighter Group:
Headquarters 353rd Fighter Group
350th Fighter Squadron
351st Fighter Squadron
352nd Fighter Squadron
Det A Hq and Hq Sq 79th Service Group
Det A 1099th QM Company Service Group (Avn)
Det A 1042nd Signal Co
378th Service Squadron
1807th Ordnance S&M Co
43rd Station Complement Squadron
2125th Fire Fighting Platoon
18th Weather Detachment
On April 15, 1945 those units not directly part of the 353rd were reorganised into the 440th Service Group commanded by Lt Col. Robert E. Williams. It comprised of the 866th Air Engineering Squadron commanded by Maj. William S. Woolsey and the 690th Air Material Squadron commanded by Maj. Gerald D. Colvin.
Dispensary: Units from the 353rd and 79th SV Group provided medical facilities. Originally commanded by Maj. George B. Green, command was assumed on December 28, 1943 by Maj. Clifford J. Tichenor from the 56th Fighter Group. Squadron Surgeons would operate as duty medical officers in the Group dispensary as well as with their Squadrons.
Chaplain: Group Chaplain Capt. Steerling F. Wheeler joined the Group shortly before they travelled to England and remained with them for the duration of their time overseas.
American Red Cross: Field Director assigned to the Group was Harold F. Stanton. The most familiar face to the men however would be the Aeroclub director Miss Jane Salley (also the future Mrs John B. Rose – see Air Inspector below), assisted by Marian Mapes (also the future Mrs Glenn E. Duncan) until March 1944. Miss Martha Buch served as assistant from that date. Club director changed to Miss Helen Crun in September 1944 and then Miss Muriel Coykondall in October 1944. The last club director was Miss Francis Williamson from April 1945.
Public Relations: Capt. Arthur B. Canaday was assigned to run the 353rd publicity machine releasing stories and photographs to radio and newspapers in the States, paying particular attention to GI’s hometowns.
Special Service: 1st Lt. Aubrey Ison was assigned to the 353rd to cater for much of the men’s recreational needs both on and off base. He also organised shows and entertainment bookings.
RAF Liason: Flt Lt. ‘Chappie’ Chapman was assigned to the Group to deal with any equipment or other requirements from the RAF and to ensure smooth contact between the two services.
Adjutant: 1st Lt. Ralph A. Johnson was Adjutant to the 353rd dealing with administrative records for Group personnel. Each unit assigned to the Group also had its own adjutant.
Weather: Personnel of the 18th Weather Detachment were assigned directly to the 353rd. Officer commading was Lt. Walter W. Parker.
Trial Judge Advocate: The office of the Trial Judge Advocate served the entire station run by 1st Lt. Frederick Crollard from the 351st Squadron.
Photographic: Although the department was responsible to the Group photographic officer (a pilot), Lt. Leonard Arnold ran it on a day to day basis. It comprised of personnel from the 79th SV Gp and all three Fighter Squadrons and served as a centralised department for processing all gun camera footage and photographs.
Chemical Warfare Section: The section was responsible for maintaining gas protection equipment and warning devices around the station. It was also responsible for the establishment of a chemical defence plan and ensuring the men knew what to do in the event of a chemical attack. Initially set up by 2nd Lt. Robert E. Kitchak of the 79th SV Group, the section was staffed by M/Sgt. Robert H. Berner, S/Sgt. David Berkeley, Cpl. William S. Carey and Pfc. William B. Paxton (on arrival at Metfield Lt Kitchak was assigned to the Officer’s Club and Sgt. Berkeley was attached to the Fire section. They did not return to the section until the Group moved to Raydon. Pfc Paxton later transferred to 66th Fighter Wing and was replaced by Pvt. Leo Silverman.
On August 22, 1943 the Chemical Section of the 43rd Station Complement Squadron arrived and took over command of the Group Chemical Section under 2nd Lt. Herman L. Quinn. Other section members were: Pfc. James Madden, Pfc Gilbert B. Lloyd Jr, Pvt James A. Rauch and Pvt Harry H. Wisniski. Wisniski was later transferred to the 1259th MPs and replaced by S/Sgt Carl A. Montgomery. They were assisted temporarily by three Chemical Warfare officers: 1st Lt John A. Walters, 2nd Lt James E Draughtridge and 2nd Lt Leo Margolin.
Station Defence: Every airfield had to plan for its defence should it be attacked. Maj. Hugh B. Speir commander of the 43rd Station Complement Squadron maintained and adapted this plan. Regular exercises were held and a station Alert detachment was set up during the invasion period.
Plans and Training: Maj. Hugh B. Speir headed the department responsible to ensuring necessary training courses were organised as the men required them.
Air Inspector: The office of the Air Inspector was commanded by Maj. Aaron J. Yauger of the 378th SV Squadron and then Major Charles T. Bruett from mid 1944. It was divided into two sections; technical and administrative. Its primary role was to inspect the actual servicing work being carried out on planes, vehicles and equipment and also ensure that records of this work were being correctly maintained. In addition a claims and damages department investigated accidents.
Utilities: Capt. Frank S. Vukan of the 43rd Station Complement Squadron ran the department in liason with the British Clerk of works to ensure all facilities on the base were maintained and in working order.
Finance: All finance matters were under 2nd Lt. Leo C. Gismegen.
Mess: Consolidated Mess officer was 2nd Lt. Cecil Linneberger.
Station Transportation: The Station motor pool had a varied remit and eventually became responsible for all vehicles on the base. It was commanded by Capt. Robert B. Ott.
Armament: Group armament was part of S-4 supply until early 1944. It was commanded by 1st Lt. Richard S. Schweet.
Communications: At Third echelon level Group communications performed work that the Squadrons were not able to carry out. Run by Capt. Wilbur J. Berge and Lt Rosenthal they also held overall responsibility for the D/F homing equipment and other base communication equipment.
Engineering: All Third Echelon work required on station was performed by the section commanded by Maj. William S. Woolsey and his assistant W/O James E. Lent. The section operated shops for the Hanger, Hydraulics, sheet metal, paint and signs, electric, machine, engines, parachute, welding, propeller, instruments and carpenter.
Flying Control: Under Senior flying Control Officer Capt. Henry H. Zielinski a fully regulated flying control was operated in accordance with British procedure. Responsibilities included providing a control room, airfield control van, alert crew and flarepath party, communications crew and crash crew.
As of June 1944 the Control Staff were:
Officers: Capt. Henry H. Zielinski (Senior Flying Control Officer), 1st Lt. Karl R. Ulrey, 1st Lt. Saul Jaffe, 2nd Lt. Francis B. Mills.
Airfield Controllers: S/Sgt Matt M. Mwaida, Cpl. Harvey P. Christensen, Cpl. Isadore Rovinsky, Pfc Joseph Price, Pfc William J. Skonieczny, Pfc Marrion L. Berry.
Control Clerks: Sgt. Carl M. Mangold, Cpl. Carmine E. Ciampa, Cpl Lawrence J. Rogers, Pfc. Victor G. Maresca, Pfc. William C. Taylor, Pfc. Clifford G. Townsend.
Flarepath Party: Cpl. Herman Jacobsen, Cpl. Henry C. Jiminez (later served with Alert Crew), Pfc. Walter P. Sekcenski, Pfc. Darrel A. Benson, Pvt. Anthony J. Rentmeester, Pvt Emil Vicansky.
Crash Party: Cpl Cleve L. Goodman Jr., Cpl Henri A. Tessier, Pfc. Haskell L. McMath, Pfc. James A. Rauch, Pfc James W. Hale, Pvt. James E. Moss.
Alert Crew: T/Sgt. George A. Little, Sgt. Leroy Barry, Cpl, Laurence N. Campbell, Cpl. Stanley J. Teagan.
Communications: S/Sgt. Harold H. Kamboltz, Sgt. Charles A. McCray, Cpl. Jospeh J. McMohn, Cpl. John T. Rios, Cpl. Donald M. Keim, Sgt. Claude J. Lane, Cpl. John H. Loveski, Cpl. Otis L. Phillips.
S-1 Administrative: Group statistics for the many reports compiled and maintained were the responsibility of S-1 under Capt. Leo S. Shamblin of the 79th SV Group. Personnel of the 353rd and 43rd Station Complement Squadron were also assigned.
S-2 Security and Intelligence: Intelligence work was carried out by Capt. Washington G. Balph and his successor Maj. Henry ‘Hank’ Bjorkman. They also performed the role of station security officer until Lt. Edward McNulty took over and was himself succeeded by Capt. Harold P. Lattin on June 9, 1944.
S-4 Supply: Originally organised by Maj. Eugene C. Iverson of the 79th SV Group, Maj. Noble H. Hodge commanded for most of the war.