39th Bomb Group (VH)



airmedal.gif [The Air Medal]

with 3

Unit Citation
and Awards

arpuc.jpg [The Presidental Unit Citation]


Service Awards

apcm.jpg [The Asiatic-Pacfic Campaign Medal]

star1.gif [Bronze Star]

amcamp.gif [The American Campaign Medal]

wwiivic.gif [The Victory Medal, World War II]

Click on the name of the Decoration, Service Award, or Ribbon Device to learn the criteria


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T/Sgt John J. Essig
CFC Gunner
I was drafted into the army and served basic training in the combat engineers attached to the eighth armored division. I was not happy in this branch of service and when a bulletin was placed on the bulletin board that applicants were wanted for cadets. I talked with the CO and was able to transfer to the Air Force. I attended three months training at Lubbock Texas Tech., and then went to Santa Anna for classification. At this time they had more people than needed for pilot, bombardier, and navigator. They were able to take the cream of the crop, and many of us washed out. We then went before a board, and were informed that we could return to our old units or stay in the Air Force. I think all of us stayed in the Air Force. I don't remember anyone wanting to return to their old unit. I went to Lowrey Field, Denver Colorado for armament training. Next I went to Fort Myers Gunnery School in southern Florida for training. I think it was the most fun I ever had in the service. We shot a lot of skeet while standing and riding around in a jeep standing up. We also so fired at targets pulled by another plane.
T/Sgt John J. Essig
at his station

Many of us thought we might crew up in the B-25 or the B-26. But we returned to Lowery Field for CFC training. The rumor going around we might crew up in the B-29 or maybe the Black Widow because both had remote controlled turrets. I was sent to crew up in a B-29 as CFC gunner. I crewed up with P-10. We could not have pictures of girls on our plane so our plane was named after the city where our pilot was from, the name "City of Maywood", Maywood being Maywood, IL. Also the name we added was "DOUBLE TROUBLE" because of the two bombays. After training here in the states and Cuba we were sent to Guam, where we flew all of our missions. We flew several bomb missions and several radar missions. We took several radar pictures of cities that were probably going to be bombed if the war progressed. We got credit for the longest mission flown we were in the air 23 hours. In briefing someone asked where we could go if trouble developed. The reply was Russia. We were told we would probably be interned for a time then returned to the USA. I guess the good Lord was with us. Not much happened except on the Northern most island of Japan, an airport turned on their landing lights thinking we were one of them and going to land. Also, all the blast furnaces were going full blast and we could see the fires from our altitude. I think we had about thirteen bombing missions and sixteen radar missions, a total of 29 missions. We had to land at IWO JIMA two or three times for repair of troubles. We received a few flack holes in the plane, a couple of times bombs hung up on the shackles, but we were able to dislodge them when we were over the ocean. On our last mission before we landed on Guam, we were informed that the peace terms were to be signed. Our last mission was lsesaki. There were many happy men at that time.

S/Sgt David Potters, LG
T/Sgt John J. Essig (R)

While on a training mission the blister over my head burst and tried to suck me from the plane. We were pressurized. I could feel I was being sucked out from the plane, but was able to wrap my feet around my seat in the plane and also there were mounts for the gun sight that my shoulders hit. I was lucky just a few scratches. The engineer called out over the intercom "what the hell is going on back there"? I informed him that my blister blew. He said that his dials were flying around like spinning top. The pilot came on and said that everyone put on their oxygen mask and check each other to make sure every thing was OK.

After my return home, I was able to return to my job at the B & O RR. I was an inspector for a few years then I took the postal exam and was a Railway Mail Clerk on the B & O RR. I worked at sorting mail in the mail cars on the railroad. I did this for about three or four years then transferred into the local post office here in Washington, IN.. After about Thirty years as a window clerk I retired, and been retired for about seventeen years. During my retirement I drive autos for auto dealers when they need someone to deliver an auto to another city or when they purchase an auto at a sale. I also am an amateur magician an put on magic shows for children and senior citizens. I usually keep pretty busy.

I am 78 years old married 51 years with one son, daughter in law and one grandson 8 years of age and one granddaughter 6 yrs of age, who live in Milford, Ohio, which is located on the east edge of Cincinnati, Ohio.

There are six of us remaining from P-10

Award of Air Medal by Col Frank Sturdivant
4 August 1945
L to R:
John J. Essig; T/Sgt Charles A. Castle, FE P-20

To read John J. Essig's combat diary click [here]

John J. Essig, 82 yrs old, took his final flight on 11 Feb 2006. Interment is at St. Johns Cemetery - The Washington American Legion and VFW conducted military graveside rites.


Source: John J. Essig