A Place of Honor for Special "Bastards"
May 6, 2007
Over its 7 year history many virtual pilots have joined the 352nd, most have stayed. In its earliest days the 352nd grew rapidly in size and, as befalls many groups, members were drawn in different directions for varying reasons. The remaining core of the 352nd form the backbone of the group and the ranks have grown as many fine virtual pilots, gentlemen, and bastards all have put on the blue-nosed colors. Although real life takes its toll, most members have remained with the group over the years. Of those who have left several have stood out, towering over the others. The Group determined to honor those giants in a Hall of Honor especially created as a place of respect for their personalities and contributions.
On May 6, 2007 at the virtual base of Bodney the 352nd Virtual Fighter Group held a inauguration ceremony complete with a "missing man" fly-over in recognition of the recent passing of Marion "Dee" Johnson, a veteran of the 352nd Fighter Group and an honorary member of the 352nd Virtual Fighter Group.
In July 352nd Sgt.Booze created a movie of the event which is available for downloading here. The movie is 433 megs in size.
At the conclusion of the fly-over the group gathered while the following announcement was read:
The Command Staff of the 352nd Virtual Fighter Group has formed a "Hall of Honor" to recognize former 352nd VFG members of unusual accomplishment. It is with great pleasure that I am able to announce the "charter" induction of three members.
-- oOo --In May of 2000, 7 years ago this month, Bill "Razor" Ross together with Clay Pigeon formed the 352nd Virtual Fighter Group flying the then "cutting edge" computer combat flight simulator, what we all know as Microsoft's CFS. The group quickly grew and became one of the web's premier squadrons making huge contributions to the enjoyment and development of CFS.
Real life took Razor from the group in the following year but his spirit, skill, and organizational abilities left a permanent legacy which we follow to this day.
No "Hall of Honor" would be complete, or appropriate, without Razor as a charter member. It is an honor in itself to be able to announce that Bill "Razor" Ross, the founder and former CO of the 352nd Virtual Fighter Group, is the first member to be placed in our "Hall of Honor".
-- oOo --One of the earliest 352nd Virtual Fighter Group members was also one of its very best, most skillful, most helpful, and most dedicated to improvement. Joining the group in August of 2000, Gator quickly became a leader and one of the most talented combat flight simulator pilots. When the 352nd reorganized in 2001 Gator was one of the cornerstones of the group and helped the reconstituted Command Staff keep the Squadron together and on course. As with Razor, the 352nd Virtual Fighter Group wouldn't be what it has become without Gator's unique personality and contributions.
Real life has taken Gator away from us, although we hope that he will someday be able to return. In the meantime, we honor his uniqueness and the qualities he imparted to our Squadron by making him the second "charter member" of the 352nd Virtual Fighter Group's "Hall of Honor".
-- oOo --On April 17, 2005, exactly 60 years (plus one day) to the day, the 352nd Virtual Fighter Group flew a mission that re-created an actual mission flown by the 352nd Fighter Group. Lieutenant Marion "Dee" Johnson, Rooster's father, participated in the actual mission. The mission description from "The Bluenosed Bastards of Bodney" reads, in part:
".. the Bluenosers renewed operations from Bodney airfield on April 16, 1945 .. in a big way. The Group made its rendezvous with the 1st Air Division B-17s and escorted them uneventfully through the target area. Then half of the 352nd (24 ships) broke off escort and began patrolling the area in search of airdromes. They discovered approximately 70 enemy planes dispersed around the perimeter of Goenecker airdrome and prepared to attack. ?. One section drew flak, another busted flak, and the third acted as top cover. The flight leader took his flight across first from southwest to northeast, not firing, and 15-20 guns opened up. After four or five passes most of those were neutralized by the flak-busters and a gunnery pattern was set up."
During the next thirty minutes the Bluenosers worked the field over and left it burning wreckage. The group claimed a total of 40-0-27 planes in the attack."
Dee Johnson lead our re-created mission and attack on the IL2 Goenecker airfield. In the actual mission Dee received credit for destroying two aircraft and damaging two more. In our re-created mission he destroyed and damaged many more. It was an honor to fly with him, and in my own personal case to fly his "wing".
Dee Johnson was a wonderful man and added a unique flavor to our Squadron; it is the rare group indeed that can say it had, as a participant, a member of the actual veteran's group whose colors we wear.
In November of 2003 our Squadron was recognized as an "official" virtual squadron by the 352nd Fighter Group Association. We were appropriately both honored and awed by the status bestowed upon us. To have Dee Johnson fly with us, especially in a re-created mission he himself actually flew, was truly extraordinary. To a pilot we are blessed to have been able to participate with and to have known Dee. It is in his honor and remembrance that we flew the "missing man formation" this evening.
It is indeed a rare privilege to announce that the third "charter member" of the 352nd Virtual Fighter Group's "Hall of Honor" is Marion "Dee" Johnson.
Fellow Bastards, and Gentlemen,
That is all.