Col. James Beckwith’s 15th FG P-51D-25 Mustang “Squirt” at Iwo Jima, March-May 1944

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15th Fighter Group, 7th Fighter Command, 20th USAAF, “The Pineapple Air Force”

15th_fg_a42317_beckwith_sm Col. James O. Beckwith 15th FG, 7th Fighter Command, 20th USAAF at Iwo Jima, March – May 1945.

James O. Beckwith, born in Vermont, (no relation but a namesake to my father) began flying in 1929. Transferred by carrier to Oahu in February, 1941, he was one of the original members of the “Pineapple Air Force” as it was dubbed by Brigadier General Howard C. Davidson. The transfer was completed by carrier launch in their P-36s on February 21.

beckwith3 Beckwith resting on a Havard before the hostilities began.

By October, Beckwith was promoted to command the newly formed 72nd Pursuit Squadron, flying P-40s. On December 7th the 72nd Pursuit Squadron was destroyed on the ground. Their tent complex, housing the enlisted men of the 72nd, was struck by a Japanese bomb and had also been thoroughly strafed by the…

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