J. Rayburn Bertrand

J. Rayburn Bertrand was born and reared in Louisiana. He finished high school at Lafayette, Louisiana and received a B.S. degree in Accounting and Economics in 1941 from the University of Southwestern Louisiana (formerly SLI) having also attended LSU in Baton Rouge.

He received his Air Force wings and officers commission at Craig Field, Alabama in October 1942 (Class 42.1). Primary and basic flying training were Decatur, Alabama and Greenville, Mississippi. After a short duty assignment at Drew Field, Tampa, Florida, Bertrand was assigned to the Eight Air Force (E.T .0.). First station was Atcham Air Base, Shrewsbury, England in December 1942.

Next assignment was in January 1943 with the 84th Fighter Sqn. 78th Fighter Group then at Goxhill. They moved to Duxford Air Field south of Cambridge, England and flew their first combat mission in April 1943 in P-47 Thunderbolts. In late May 1943 Bert flew his 89th combat mission after completing an additional volunteer tour. As with most of the 8th Fighter Command the combat missions were varied and consisted of bomber escorts, fighter sweeps, dive bombing, drive bombing, strafing etc.

He was awarded 2 Distinguished Flying Crosses, seven Air Medals and 2 Presidential Unit Citations. He is credited with destroying one enemy air craft (F. W. 190) and damaging several enemy air craft, bridges trains and vehicles. Last assignment with the 84th was operations officer.

Upon separation from the service in December 1945 with the rank of Lieut. Colonel he opened a real estate and insurance agency office in Lafayette and remained active in this field until 1960 when he was elected Mayor of the City of Lafayette, a position he held for 12 years being elected times, once without opposition. In 1972 he chose not to seek reelection but to enter the banking business.

He joined Guaranty Bank & Trust Company, Lafayette and serves on the board of directors as well as Executive Vice President. He and his wife Julie Burgin have one daughter, Cheryl Whittenberg, and two grandsons, Mike 13 and John 12.

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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