William T. Beckler

Picture of William Beckler WILLIAM T. BECKLER was born Dec. 3, 1920, Sneedville, Tenn. Graduated high school, Morristown, Tenn. Later moved to Knoxville, Tenn. Attended University of Tennessee. While at UT received flying training under the Civilian Pilot's Training program, earned a commercial license and instructor's rating, qualified as Army Primary flight instructor.

Elected the Army Air Corps entered active duty as Cadet on Jan. 10, 1943 in Class 43-I at Nashville, Tenn As a Cadet, Beckler trained at Maxwell Field, Ala., Jackson, Tenn., Walnut Ridge, Ark. and final training at Dothan, Ala., where commissioned Oct. 1, 1943, then on to RTU training on the P-40 Warhawk at St. Petersburg, Fla.

Combat assignment began March, 1944 with the 324th Fighter Group, 316th Squadron, at Cercola, Naples, Italy. Flew a total of 108 missions in Italy and France, 93 in the Warhawks and 15 in the Thunderbolts. Most missions were fighter-bomber missions together with patrol, escort and reconnaissance. Missions included close support targets at Anzio, Monastery Hill at Mt. Cassino, Operation Strangle and the invasion of Southern France.

In July, 1944 Beckler exchanged his P-40 for a P-47N Thunderbolt. Missions in the Jug covered Northern Italy and Southern France. These included escorting medium bombers. The Bombers, based in Southern Italy, would be escorted to France by Thunderbolts based on Corsica. Shortly before target the Jugs would pull ahead of the bombers and bomb the enemy gun positions. Beckler's activities while participation in three major campaigns earned him the DFC, two Air Medals and two Presidential citations.

After completion of combat in August, 1944, Beckler returned to the States and instructed on P-51 Mustangs at Venice, Fla. until discharge in Sept. 1945. After the war Bill spent a year as flight instructor for a Knoxville flying school then back to the University of Tenn. and marriage.

He spent three years as fingerprint expert with the Knoxville Police Dept. then entered the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Feb. 1951. Will retire from the FBI in Jan. 1981 with 30 years service. Remained in the Air Force Reserve after WW II and retired in 1971 with the rank of Lt. Colonel. Charter member of the Civil Air Patrol at Knoxville having joined the CAP shortly after its inception in 1942. Received several awards for his activities with the CAP and is still active as mission pilot and emergency services officer.

Bill married the former Elsie Dyer, Knoxville, in 1948 and they have two children, Mark and Lisa.

List of all P47 Pilots:
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Pilot Name Biography Summary
John Abbotts P-47 transition followed at Pocatello, Idaho and Greenville, Texas after which he was assigned to the 56th Fighter Group in England. When the news of his arrival reached Berlin, Hitler retired to his bunker with his cyanide capsule and revolver. Eva found the news equally depressing.
Asa A. Adair He returned to the States in August of 1944 after participating in the invasion "D" Day. He flew P-63's, P-51's, F-80's, T-33's, F-84's, T-38's, P-47's in numerous assignments during the following twenty years in in, Japan, U.S.A. and Europe before retiring after twenty-six years of Active Duty.
Edward B. Addison The 507th Fighter Group, equipped with P-47N's, won the Presidential Unit Citation for destroying 32 Japanese aircraft in the air on one mission to Seoul, Korea. The average flying time for raids to Korea and Japan would be 7 to 9 hours flying time. In a total of 31 months, the 507th not only provided top cover for B-29's, but also dive-bombed, napalm-bombed and flew low-level on strafing missions.
Levon B. Agha-Zarian It is rumored that he, took his primary training on a flying rug. He flew Spits, briefly, in England, but as the, war moved to the East, he was sent to India as a Sgt. Pilot and first saw action from Ceylon, flying the Curtiss P.36, the Brewster Buffalo, and the Hurricane. At this point he might have opted for the rug! This was at the time of the fall of Singapore and the sinking of the Prince of Wales and the Repulse.
George N. Ahles Posted to A-20 light bomber squadron Barksdale Field, Louisiana. . Group moved to Hunter Air Base Savannah, Georgia. Qualified for Pilot training November 1940. Entered Aviation Cadets January 1942. Presented wings November 1942 class of 42-J. Married Mary Louise while in Advanced Pilot Training at Craig AFB, Selma, Alabama, September 1942.
Roy J. Aldritt Shortly after the group moved to France he ran into some unseen flak and was forced to make a nylon descent behind the lines; some evasion and a lot of luck had him back with his unit in 24 hours.
Eugene J. Amaral After graduation from Stonington High School he enlisted as an Aviation Cadet in December 1942 and was called to active duty in March, 1943. He received his wings and commission at Spence Field, Georgia as a member of the Class of 43-C.
Talmadge L. Ambrose Flew 84 missions thru VE Day, was downed by 22mm ground fire over Siefried Line. He destroyed 11 enemy aircraft, 9 known confirmed in air and on ground, including 4 FW 190-D's in one afternoon over Hanover, Germany, April 8, 1945. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal, 17 man, Oak Leaf Clusters, Good Conduct Medal, Pacific Theatre and European Theatre Meda1s with 5 Battle Stars and Unit Citation Medal.
John C. Anderson After P-47 transition he was assigned to the 406th Fighter Group, 512th Fighter Squadron. (E.T .0.) He flew 56 missions through January, 1945 destroying supply routes, bridges, and railroads; he also flew close support missions with the ground forces, with attacks on tanks, artillery and enemy positions.
William Anderson It was not always flak,two ME-109's beat the hell out of me one day. The central controller called me and said "Basher-Red Leader do you have contact Bandits," I replied, "I sure do, I'll bring them over the field in 3 minutes, they're chasing me home." Got all the usual medals including two Belgium and two French but one I'm most proud of is the Silver Star -it is the greatest.
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