WWII history of the:

86th Fighter Group
May '44 - Mar '46

*When the Association was formed in 1980, the membership opted for the name 86th Fighter-Bomber Group Association as more descriptive of its role in the Mediterranean and European theaters of operation.
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Commanders of the 526th

Capt. Winters, Reginald D. = First Combat Commander, lead First combat mission from N. Africa to Sicily Jul-7-1943. Captain Winters was "KIA" on his Second mission to Sicily Jul-10-1943. His Grave was later found and Captain Winters had been Properly Buried in a suitable Place.

Capt.  Stell, Glenn A. = Squadron OPS Officer immediately replaced Winters Jul-10-1943. After 78 missions, Captain Stell was Transferred to 86th FG Hqts where he completed his 80 mission Tour and returned to the USA. Stell stayed in the Air Force and retired after serving his last 4 Years as Base Commander of Aviano, Italy.

Capt.  Harsh, John = Pilot from the 527th FBS replaced Stell Dec-4-1943/Feb-4-1944. Harsh led numerous missions on the Big Guns, guns in front of American Troops in the Mountains of Italy. He however, completed his 80 mission Tour and returned to the USA

Capt.  Dorris, Harry W. = Pilot already in the 526 Squadron replaced Harsh Feb-4-1944/April-21-1944. Captain Dorris had a good relationship with the Enlisted men and played a wooden box Drum in the make shift Band with Sgt's Gil Knecht and Rosen. Their theme song being The Sheik of Arabi. As a result of a big shake up in the Group, Captain Dorris got a Transfer to 12th Air Force Hqtrs with Gen. Saville. Doris went on to fly a tour in Korea and distinguished himself with numerous Flight Records.

Capt.  Weigle, Graham = Pilot with the 525 FBS, 86th FBG replaced Dorris Apr-21-1944/Spt-11-1944. On April 30, 1944 the Group moved from Pomigliano, Italy to Marcianise, Italy with 47 Officers and 230 Enlisted Men. It was the Era that "Operation Strangle" went into effect, whereas our planes started hitting bridges, Trains, and anything that could move supplies to the Enemy Troops at the Front. Captain Weigle received the French Croix De Guerre for the 526 Squadron Contribution

Maj. Benedict, Wm "Bill" P. = Squadron Cmdr from the 527th Fighter Sqdn, 66th FG replaced Capt Weigle Sep-11-1944/Dec-16-1944. Benedict originated with the British Royal Air Force flying Spitfires. He is noted in books, news media articles and was called the Red Head Terror of the Europen Theater of Combat. He stayed in the Air Force, Landed the first C-47 Transport at the North Pole and was killed by hitting a tree top while flying with California Forestry Service extinquishing Fires August 31, 1974.

Maj. Taylor, Richard = Replaced Benedict as the 526 Sq Cmdr Dec-16-1944 at Pisa, Italy on second Combat Tour, having been in the "AVG" (American Volunteer GP), he flew P40's & P38's from Australia & New Guinea. On Return home, Commanded a P47 Flying School in Baton Rouge, LA. Until joining the 526 where he flew Combat through Italy, France & Germany until getting Assigned to Oslo, Norway. Stayed in Service and retired to Coll, CA.

Capt. Hailes, Clyde H. = Called "Pappy", joined the 526 Sq, 86th FBG, July 1, 1944 along with 15 Total P47 Pilots at Orbetello, Italy. The 86th Gp. Changed from A36's to P47's and headed for The Island of Corsica Jul-10-1944 for the Invasion of South France Aug-15-1944. Hailes served as Officer with Buck Benny in Italy and Taylor in Italy, France and Germany until Taylor ran Off to Oslo, Norway, at which time Hailes replaced Taylor as the 526 Sqdn Cmdr. Hailes had 164 points, 3rd record in the 86th Gp, but could not get a trip home until "VJ-DAY" when All 86th Commanders were released Sep-22-1945. He retired to the River Pearl that divided LA. & MS., July 1980.