Signal honors came today to James J. Curran, local attorney and chairman of the Norwood War Finance Committee, when he was notified of his appointment as an Honorary Lieutenant of Lee’s Lieutenants, famed fighter group of the ETO Commander by Norwood’s own Col. George T. Lee.
“James Curran, having shown the qualifiés of aggressive leadership, determination. for complete victory, and an exemplary spirit of cooperation with the Army Air Forces, is hereby appointed an honorary Lieutenant of Lee’s Lieutenants, 86th Fighter Group,” reads the certificate which bears the signatures of Col. Lee and, Major Percy G. Fauskin, adjutant.
In an accompanying note, the kingpin of Norwood’s war loan efforts in World War II was extended a “most cordial welcome” by all air and ground personnel.
To bring the Honorary Lieutenant up to date on his new “outfit,” Headquarters, 86th Fighter Group, now stationed at Gross Gerau, Germany, also sent along the following outline of the history of Col. Lee’s intrepid fighter group:
Lee’s Lieutenants, officially the 86th Fighter Group, is an attack force of outstanding P-47 Thunderbolt pilots supported by a well-knit ground echelon. Commanding: officer is Colonel George T. Lee of Norwood, Mass., the ETO record holder of 258 combat missions.
This aggressive fighter-bomber group flew its last mission on the morning of V-E Day, ending more than two years of service in the Mediterranean and European theaters. It has flown under the 12th Air Force, the 1st Tactical Air Force, and is now based at Gross Gerau, Germany, under the 9th Air Force pending redeployment.
During their two years of dodging- in and out of flak alleys Lee’s Lieutenants have become specialists at dive-bombing and strafing enemy targets their attacks meshing like gear teeth with Allied ground forces below. They’ve flown 3625 missions comprised of 28550 sorties. Their record of destruction and damage includes 1114 locomotives, 10,420 railcars, 515 enemy planes, and 9960 motor transports plus an overflowing bag of enemy bridges, ammunition dumps, barges, rail centers and similar strong points.
Sixty-one of Lee’s Lieutenants lost their lives attacking enemy targets and 61 are missing in action. During combat, the enemy destroyed 200 planes and damaged 800; practically all these losses were from flak.
On a single day during the Rome-Arno campaign, Lee’s Lieutenants’ destroyed or damaged 462 enemy vehicles, inflicted a great many casualties, silenced gun positions, and interdicted several highways used by the Germans. For this outstanding performance the War Department commended the entire group with an official citation.
Lee’s Lieutenants are now recommended for two additional War Department citations. One is for their low-level firebombing during the Allied attack in Italy which captured the key positions on Monte Belmonte and Monte Grande in October, 1944. Before these assaults, they pioneered, then rehearsed the best techniques for low-level firebombing, a dangerous feat but devastating to enemy materiel and morale.
The second recommended citation is for the group’s dawn-to-dusk operations during the 7th Army offensive in southern Germany. In one day — April 20 of this year — Lee’s Lieutenants destroyed or damaged 91 planes, 181 motor transports, 36 railcars, 28 buildings, and rounded out a perfect day by exploding an ammunition dump.
The original complement of officers and enlisted men are now authorized seven battle stars.