Paul E. Gardiner

Picture of Paul Gardiner PAUL E. GARDINER, born 24 May 1918 in Cherokee, Oklahoma. After graduating from the University of Oklahoma, he joined the Army Air Forces in April 1941 and attended the Aviation Cadet flying schools at Tulare, Taft and Stockton, California, receiving a Reserve commission with Class 41-I four days after the Pearl Harbor attack.

After assignments as Combat Pilot, 54th Fighter Group, Paine Field, Washington; Combat Pilot, 20th Fighter Group, Charlotte Field, North Carolina; and Flight Commander, 337th R.T.U., Tampa and Sarasota, Florida, where he flew the first model of the P-47 towing aerial gunnery targets in 1943, Paul became the first Group Operations Officer of the 405th Fighter Bomber Group which trained at Walterboro, South Carolina.

As a member of the advance party of the 405th, Paul arrived at Christchurch, England in January 1944. While waiting for the deployment of the Group, he flew 5 combat missions with the 56th from an East Anglia base. At Christchurch, Paul took one of the first four P-47D.16's (uncamouflaged) and alternated with the Commander and Deputy Commander as Group Leader on high altitude B-17 escort missions when the 405th became operational in March 1944.

A few weeks prior to D-Day, he was designated Commander of the 509th Squadron and was promoted to Major. His squadron was first off the ground from Christchurch on D-Day.

Twelve days later, he was shot down attacking a heavily defended ammo dump near St. Lo, France, on his 49th mission. With his plane on fire and the rudder controls shot out, he managed to get from the deck to 400 feet where the stick cables burned through. In attempting to bailout, his shoulder harness became entangled and he opened the back-pack chute while hanging half-out the cockpit; he landed on his rump, with both feet tangled in the shrouds of the chute and survived the lowest bailout reported at that time, with only broken ribs, dislocated shoulder and a leg wound.

After forty days as an evadee in the area around Cerisy la Salle, France, Paul was "uncovered" by advancing U.S. tank elements following the St. Lo breakthrough.

His second E.T.O. tour was with the XIX TAC as assistant A-3, where he helped plan Third Army support operations and flew experimental test flights of AIBR (automatic integrated bomb release) and TSP (target strike photo) equipment mounted in P-47's.

In 1947, after receiving a regular Air Force commission, Major Gardiner was assigned as Fighter Training Officer, Air Force Section, U.S. Military Mission for Aid to Turkey. There, with the help of one tech Sergeant and twelve TAF pilots who spoke English, he checked out three TAF P-47 groups in six months with only one major accident.

After his assignment as Tactical Unit Training Officer (P-47, B-26 and C-47), Paul took his last flight in a P-47 in December 1949.

Colonel Gardiner had his last fling with combat air support operations, flying A-l's with the South Vietnamese Air Force during 1965-66. When he was Air Force Advisory Team Commander at Bien Hoa and Director of Operations, Air Force Section, MACV, he had 41 combat missions in South Vietnam.

His military decorations include 2 Legions of Merit; Distinguished Flying Cross; 8 Air Medals; Purple Heart; Presidential Unit Citation; Joint Service, Army and Air Force Commendation Medals; Bronze Star; VNAF Flying Cross and Air Medal; Turkish AF and Chinese AF Commendation Medals.

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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