Capt. Clair E. Buskirk
Capt. Clair E. Buskirk
338th FS - States - 06 January 1945 (Prisoner of War)
P-38H CL- "Diving Eagle"
First tour - 79 Missions
|Score Detail||05 January 1944
26 November 1944 (.5)FW-190 damaged (ground) Vorden A/F
|Notes||Born in Parkersburg, West Virginia, 8 January
Known as "Buz"
ASN - T-1369 & O-2045059
31 December 1943 - Awarded the Air Medal
28 January 1944 - Awarded an Oak Leaf Cluster to the Air Medal
05 February 1944 - Awarded an Oak Leaf Cluster to the Air Medal
26 February 1944 - Bailed out at Meldon, England, while on single engine. Suffered instrument failure in weather.
07 March 1944 - Awarded an Oak Leaf Cluster to the Air Medal
24 June 1944 - Awarded an Oak Leaf Cluster to the Distinguished Flying Cross
13 December 1944 - Awarded 7th Oak Leaf Cluster to Air Medal
06 January 1945 - Missing in Action
15 January 1945 - Awarded 8th Oak Leaf Cluster to Air Medal
Buz Buskirk relates his experiences: In October 1943, Tom Knudson, Art Baranick and myself travelled to Fort Hamilton, New York and then cruised to England on the Queen Mary. After Combat Indoctrination and a case of pneumonia I was assigned to the 55th Fighter Group, 338th Fighter Squadron, based at Nuthampstead, fondly called MUDhampstead, located south of Cambridge. Colonel Jack Jenkins was then group commander. Within a few weeks of flying combat in P-38 Lightnings over Europe and into Germany escorting B-17 and B-24 bombers and strafing ground targets, I'd shot down one German Me-109, flown my P-38 back to England on one engine after being hit by flak over Kiel, and made an emergency bail out of my P-38 over England.
During the past months I had promotions from flight officer to 2/Lt. and then to 1st Lieutenant. My last P-38 combat mission, my 79th, was flying with a crew member, bombardier 1 /Lt. William Stroud in our P-38, glass nosed, Droop Snoot, CL-X. (CL designated the plane as belonging to the 55th Ftr. Grp., 338th Ftr. Sqd., and the X designated that particular airplane.) We dropped some bombs on a target in France and that mission completed my first combat tour of 300 hours.
Tom Knudson and Art Baranick were both killed in action early in 1944. The 55th Fighter Group had the second highest loss of fighter aircraft in the 8th Air Force during WW II, 181 lost. After 30 days in the States I returned to my squadron, and was promoted to captain. We were now based at Wormingford, west of Colchester, England. I was to fly my second combat tour of 200 hours in a P-51 Mustang.
On January 6, 1945, on my 106th mission, our 338th Ftr. Squadron was flying home from a bomber escort mission. As we flew over the German airdrome of Giebelstadt at about 5000 feet, my squadron commander instructed me to take my flight of four P-51Ds and strafe the airfield. On this strafing run my plane was hit by ground fire. My wingman, Richard Herbst, flew on up to 5000 feet with me, then he continued on up to make a radio contact for a fix home. My engine started smoking and losing power. After a few minutes I was at just a few hundred feet altitude. I bailed out once again with my trusty old back pack parachute. That completed my 425th hour of combat.
The Germans captured me right away and I finally ended
up in Stalag Luft I, Barth, Germany as a POW, "Kreigesgafaganon", until
May 13, 1945 when the Russian army liberated us. Our B-17 bombers arrived
at Barth and flew us into France and we were rehabilitated at Camp Lucky
Strike, near Le Havre. After a few weeks we took a troop ship cruise to a
port in the Good Old USA.
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Ground Crew - S/Sgt. Kanapacki, Cpl. Willard and T/Sgt. Phil Dwyer
Capt. Buskirk next to his P-38 (Robert M. Littlefield)
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