The 142d Fighter Wing Remembers its Missing In Action (MIAs)

F/O Edwin S. Humphreys, 404th Fighter Squadron, struck a pose for the camera in his flying gear in this undated photograph.  He went MIA on 8 June 1944

F/O Edwin S. Humphreys, 404th Fighter Squadron, struck a pose for the camera in his flying gear in this undated photograph. He went MIA on 8 June 1944

Capt. George D. Pieck, Operations Officer of the 404th Fighter squadron, posed for a picture in the cockpit of his P-47D Thunderbolt.  He was the squadron’s first victor in aerial combat when he shot down a Luftwaffe ME-109 on June 8, 1944, which was the day when the 371st Fighter Group achieved its first aerial victories of the war.  He went MIA on 10 August 1944.

Capt. George D. Pieck, Operations Officer of the 404th Fighter squadron, posed for a picture in the cockpit of his P-47D Thunderbolt. He was the squadron’s first victor in aerial combat when he shot down a Luftwaffe ME-109 on June 8, 1944, which was the day when the 371st Fighter Group achieved its first aerial victories of the war. He went MIA on 10 August 1944.

F/O William Gorman, 405th Fighter Squadron, grinned for the camera from the cockpit of his P-47D Thunderbolt in this undated picture.  He went MIA on 7 August 1944.

F/O William Gorman, 405th Fighter Squadron, grinned for the camera from the cockpit of his P-47D Thunderbolt in this undated picture. He went MIA on 7 August 1944.

PFC Herbert Feit (standing), 406th Fighter Squadron, showed a relaxed pose in company with other enlisted men in the unit in this undated image.  Note the leather jackets, which undoubtedly came in handy during the cold winter of 1944-45.  He went missing on 1 April 1945.

PFC Herbert Feit (standing), 406th Fighter Squadron, showed a relaxed pose in company with other enlisted men in the unit in this undated image. Note the leather jackets, which undoubtedly came in handy during the cold winter of 1944-45. He went missing on 1 April 1945.

Capt. Uno A. Salmi, 406th Fighter Squadron, smiled for the camera in his flying gear next to a P-47 Thunderbolt.  He was one of the 406th senior pilots who conducted experimental takeoffs on a new advanced landing ground-style runway in England before the unit deployed forward to France.  Two takeoffs were safely made, each with a belly tank and two bombs; two 240-lb bombs the first time and two 500-lb bombs the second time, to make sure the new surface was safe for the group’s flight operations.  He went MIA on 16 June 1944.

Capt. Uno A. Salmi, 406th Fighter Squadron, smiled for the camera in his flying gear next to a P-47 Thunderbolt. He was one of the 406th senior pilots who conducted experimental takeoffs on a new advanced landing ground-style runway in England before the unit deployed forward to France. Two takeoffs were safely made, each with a belly tank and two bombs; two 240-lb bombs the first time and two 500-lb bombs the second time, to make sure the new surface was safe for the group’s flight operations. He went MIA on 16 June 1944.

PORTLAND AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Ore -- National POW/MIA Recognition Day gives us solemn occasion to remember those who served and sacrificed to defend our freedom and liberty. The 142d Fighter Wing's history reflects POWs and MIAs from both World War II and the Korean War. In this year's historical remembrance, we will focus on those who remain missing, all from the Second World War.

The 142d Fighter Wing's rich history includes service in both the European Theater of Operations and the China-Burma-India (CBI) Theater during World War II. In Europe, the 371st Fighter Group (redesignated to become Oregon's 142d Fighter Group after the war), flew the P-47 Thunderbolt in combat. In the CBI, the 35th Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron (before the war designated as the 123d Observation Squadron and after the war as the 123d Fighter Squadron), flew the Lockheed F-5E Photo Lightning in combat. There are men from both units still missing in Europe and in the CBI.

The 371FG was in action in Europe first, and after it was all over, X many were MIA. Many were discovered in the years after the war, but as of this date, five remain missing. These men are:

Private First Class (PFC) Herbert Feit, 371st Fighter Group, 406th Fighter Squadron, from New York, New York, went missing on April 1, 1945, near Metz, France; he went on pass in Metz and "...just never showed up again." He is remembered on the Tablets of the Missing at Lorraine American Cemetery, St. Avold, France.

Flight Officer (F/O) William Gorman, 371st Fighter Group, 405th Fighter Squadron, from Brooklyn, New York, went MIA on August 7, 1944, over St. Nazaire, France; he failed to return from a dive-bombing mission. He is remembered on the Tablets of the Missing at Brittany American Cemetery, St. James, France. He was awarded the Air Medal with six Oak Leaf Clusters.

F/O Edwin S. Humphreys, Jr., 371st Fighter Group, 404th Fighter Squadron, from Chicago, Illinois, went MIA on June 8, 1944, over France; he was separated from his flight during an engagement with ME-109's and did not return to base. He is remembered on the Tablets of the Missing at Cambridge American Cemetery, Cambridge, England. He was awarded the Air Medal and the Purple Heart.

Captain George D. Pieck, 371st Fighter Group, 404th Fighter Squadron Operations Officer, from Clarksdale, Mississippi, went MIA on August 10, 1944, over France; his plane was shot up by flak, he bailed out four miles east of Mayenne, France, and landed safely about 15 miles inside enemy lines, but was not heard from again. He is remembered on the Tablets of the Missing at Brittany American Cemetery, St. James, France. He was awarded the Air Medal with 13 Oak Leaf Clusters and the Purple Heart.

Captain Uno A. Salmi, 371st Fighter Group, 406th Fighter Squadron, from Lake Charles, Louisiana, went MIA on June 16, 1944, near St. Lo, France; he led his flight away from a flak concentration and disappeared into the clouds flying downward through overcast. He is remembered on the Tablets of the Missing at Cambridge American Cemetery, Cambridge, England. He was awarded the Air Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters and the Purple Heart.

On the other side of the world, the China-based 35th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron (nee 123d Observation Squadron) had four MIAs at the end of World War II, according to the squadron's official history from September, 1945. One has since been found and returned stateside; three are still missing and listed as such in the American Battle Monuments Commission database.

First Lieutenant (1st Lt.) Merroll J. "Jack" Berringer, 35th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron, went MIA on November 21, 1944; he was on a photo mission from Flight "H" at Suichuan, China. He is remembered on the Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery, Manila, Philippines. He was awarded the Purple Heart.

1st Lt. Phillip L. French, 35th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron, went missing on August 31, 1945; reported missing on an administrative flight from Chanyi to Chihkiang, China. He is remembered on the Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery, Manila, Philippines. He was awarded the Air Medal.

1st Lt. Franklin H. McKinney, 35th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron, went MIA November 5, 1944, on a photo mission from Flight "G" at Yunnanyi, China. He is remembered on the Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery, Manila, Philippines - there is a report from 2012 that McKinney's remains may have been found at an aircraft crash site near Chiang Mai, Thailand; we are still trying to confirm this report, although his status has not changed in official US channels as of this writing. He was awarded the Purple Heart.

So between the 371st Fighter Group and the 35th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron, there are currently eight missing men whose names are remembered by the 142d Fighter Wing on this National POW/MIA Recognition Day, Friday, 20 September 2013. May they yet be found, and in the meantime, may their service and sacrifice inspire those who serve today. There missing status serves as a stark reminder to us all that freedom isn't free.