Hopkinton Veteran Departs - Robert F. McGraw

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Bob’s picture was taken in 1943, with “his” Boeing Stearman PT-17 “Kaydet” training aircraft. Training was at Raymond-Richardson Air School that was operational from October 1941 until December 1944. More than 1000 World War II pilots were trained in basic flight skills. It is now Douglas (GA) Municipal Airport.

Following training, Bob was assigned to the 11th (Army) Air Force at Elmendorf Air Base, near Anchorage, Alaska.

Japanese bombing in the eastern Aleutian Islands, and occupation of Attu and Kiska in early June 1942, incited the 11th AF to launch air offenses on the two islands. Attu was re-taken in May 1943, and the Japanese withdrew from Kiska in late July.

The Aleutian Campaign ended with the re-occupation of Kiska on 15 August 1943. Primarily an air war, it was the only WW II campaign fought on North American soil. The 11th AF flew 297 missions and dropped 3,662.00 tons of bombs. One hundred fourteen men were killed in action, 42 were missing in action, and 46 died from accidents.

Thirty-five aircraft were lost to combat, and another 150 to operational accidents. It was the highest American combat-to-operational loss ratio of the war. Weather was the prime culprit.

The 11th AF accounted for approximately 60 Japanese aircraft, one destroyer, one submarine, and seven transport ships destroyed by air operations.

Toward the end of the war, the 11th AF flew bombing and reconnaissance missions against Japanese military installations in the northern Kurile Islands from Attu and Shemya Islands. The first land based bombing mission of WW II against the Japanese home islands was launched from Attu on 10 July 1943.

by Hank Allessio