All the Marine pilots of the Cactus Air Force, December, 1942 at Fighter Strip 2 on Guadalcanal. Most of the pilots are from VMF-121. VMO-251 pilots in the picture are: 1Lt Pete McGlothlin, 3rd from right, 2nd row; Harry Schwethelm, 4th from right, standing; Blaine Baesler, 3rd from left, standing; Marine Gunner Wendell Garton, 2nd from left, second row (with baseball cap. Roy Spurlock with head bandaged. According to Garton, Spurlock was struck on the head by a coconut while resting underneath a tree. Sitting in front with legs crossed (no cap) is Pat Weiland. Photo came from Wendell Garton's son David.
It's official. Contract has been signed with MacFarland and Company. Goes in the mail on Monday, July 21. VMO-251s WW2 history, A Squadron Born in War, is to be delivered no later than 1 June, 2016.
The map shows VMO-251's area of operations while flying out of the Piva Airfield out of Bougainville in 1944. To cover the squadron's operations during this period, operational records of ComAirPiva and VMO-251 Aircraft Action reports will be used.
I have just received word that MacFarland Publishers (http://www.mcfarlandbooks.com) has accepted the proposal for the book and I have been informed the contract is on the way. Book is to be delivered no later than 1 June, 2016.
The picture shows Fighter Strip 1 in October of 1943. This is the strip the squadron operated from while at Guadalcanal.
Here's an update on the book -- wrapped up events for August and September, 1942. The next two months - October and November -- will be difficult since no squadron records exist covering these months. I do have dates on certain events and these events will be highlighted. MAG-23s war diary, as well as Lundstrom's The First Team, will be consulted to provide historical background.
On a side note, I was contacted by the daughter of Eldon Railsback. As you may recall, Railsback created the squadron's first patch. She informed me her dad died in 2013 at the age of 96.
Final note -- I will be meeting Wendell Garton's son David to go over his father's papers from his 251 flying days. That date is set for August 8.