Christian, Thomas J. J., Jr., Col

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Last Rank
Last Primary AFSC/MOS
AAF MOS 1065-Fighter Unit Commander
Last AFSC Group
Pilot (Officer)
Primary Unit
1943-1944, AAF MOS 1055, 361st Fighter Group
Service Years
1939 - 1944
USAAFOfficer Collar Insignia

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Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by SSgt Robert Bruce McClelland, Jr. to remember Christian, Thomas J. J., Jr., Col.

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Casualty Info
Home Town
San Francisco, California; Tompkins, New York
Last Address
RAF Bottisham (AAF 374), Cambridgeshire,

Casualty Date
Aug 12, 1944
KIA-Killed in Action
Air Loss, Crash - Land
World War II
Location of Interment
Faubourg-d Amiens Cemetery - Aras, France
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Not Specified

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  1943-1944, AAF MOS 1055, 361st Fighter Group

From Month/Year
February / 1943
To Month/Year
August / 1944
361st Fighter Group Unit Page
AAF MOS 1055-Pilot, Single-Engine Fighter
Several US bases then RAF Bottisham (USAAF 374), Cambridgeshire, England
United Kingdom
 361st Fighter Group Details

361st Fighter Group


group  nose color

Assigned 8th AAF: 30 Nov. 43

Wing/Command Assignment

VIII FC: 30 Nov. 43.
VIII FC,66 FW: 12 Dec. 43.
VIII FC,67 FW: 11 Mar 44.
VIII FC,65 FW: 8 Aug. 44.
2 BD,65 FW: 15 Sep. 44.
9 AF, XIX TAC: 24 Dec. 44.
VIII FC: 1 Feb. 45.
2 AD, 65 FW: 10 April 45

Combat Aircraft:

P-47D Dec. 43-15 May 1944.
P-51B from 12 May 1944;
P-51D and P-51 K.


BOTTISHAM 30 Nov. 1943 - 26 Sep. 1944
LITTLE WALDEN 26 Sep. 1944 - 4 Feb. 1945
ST. DIZIER 25 Dec. 1944 - 15 Apr 1945
CHIEVRES 15 Feb. 45 - 9 Apr. 1945
LITTLE WALDEN 9 April 45 - 3 Nov. 1945

Group COs

Col Thomas J. J. Christian Jr: 10 Feb. 1943-12 Aug. 1944, KIA
Col Ronald F. Fallows: 14 Aug. 1944-30 Aug. 1944
Lt Col Roy B. Caviness: 31 Aug. 1944-20 Sep. 1944
Lt Col Joseph J. Kruzel: 20 Sep. 1944-2 Nov. 1944
Lt Col Roy B. Caviness: 3 Nov. 1944-2 Dec. 1944
Col Junius W. Dennison Jr 3 Dec. 1944-1 5 Apr. 1945
Lt Col Roy B. Caviness: 15 Apr. 1945-29 Jun. 1945
Col John D. Landers: 29 Jun. 1945-unkn

First Mission: 21 Jan 1944
Last Mission: 20 Apr 1945
Total missions: 441
Aircraft MIA: 81

Claims: Air 226 Ground 105.
Major Awards:


Unit Claims to Fame

Last P-47 group to join 8AF.

Early History:

Activated on the 10th Feb. 1943 at Richmond AAB, Va. They trained at air bases in eastern USA during spring and summer of 1943; Langley Fd, Va. from 26 May 1943; Millville AAFd, NJ. 20 Jul. 1944; Camp Springs AAFd, Md. 28 Aug. 1943; The unit returned to Richmond AAB on 20 Sep. 1943. Equipped with P-47s. Moved to Camp Shanks, in NY. on the 12 Nov. 1943 to prepare for overseas duty. They Sailed on the Queen Elizabeth on 23 Nov. 1943 and arrived in Clyde 29 Nov. 1943.

Subsequent History:

Unit remained in the UK until Nov. 1945. Many personnel transferred and aircraft where sent to depots in Sep. 1945. The remaining personnel sailed on the Queen Mary from Southampton on the 4 Nov. 1945 and arrived in New York on the 9 Nov. 1945. Group was then established at Camp Kilmer, NJ. and inactivated there on the 10 Nov. 1945.
Group was redesignated the 127 Fighter Group and allotted to Mich ANG in 1946. Later the group was redesignated a tactical reconnaissance unit flying RF-84F as 127 Tactical Fighter Wing.

Aces were :
(scores in the group only- some scored victories while flying in other groups or squadrons)

374th FS
375th FS
376th FS
Hopkins, W.E. (4)
Drew U.L. (6)
Spencer, D.F. (9.5)
Kruzel, J.J. (3.5)
Kemp, W.T. (6)
Beyer, W.R. (9)
Merritt, G.L. (5)
Vanden Heuvel, G.R. (5.5)
Sykes, W.J. (5)
Bocquin, V.E. (4)

E2-D N167F 44-73877 'DETROIT MISS' '473877'
Mr. Drew is one of only two men to receive the Air Force Cross for actions performed during World War II. The recommendation for the Distinguished Service Cross was turned down because of insufficient confirmation. The gun camera had jammed and 2LT Robert McCandliss, the Number 2 man, had been shot down by flak and became a Prisoner of War until the end of hostilities. Thirty-nine years later, the total story was confirmed by both the German Luftwaffe archives and the American Air Force archives. The Air Force Board for the Correction of Military Records recommended that Mr. Drew and his wife were flown in an Air Force C-141 from Johannesburg, South Africa for the ceremony. The honorable Verne Orr, Secretary of the Air Force, presented the medal on May 12, 1983.

Urban L.Drew was born in Detroit, Michigan on 21 March 1924. He entered the USAAF in October 1942 and graduated in Class 43-I from Marian, Florida. Lieutenant Drew was assigned to the replacement base at Bartow, Florida and after completion of the course he was retained as an instructor in P-51’s. In May 1944 he was given an overseas assignment, sailing the Queen Elizabeth for England. Drew was assigned to the 375th Fighter Squadron, 361st Fighter Group based at Bottisham, Cambridgeshire. Later the group moved to Little Walden, Essex. During his tour with the “Yellowjackets”, Drew completed 75 missions, rising to command of “A” Flight and the 375th Squadron. Among his victories, most notable were the two Messerschmitt 262’s on 7 October 1944. This combat made Ben Drew the first Allied airman to destroy two German jets in aerial combat, and years later he received the Air Force Cross for the event. Also, with two wingman, he destroyed the only Luftwaffe six-engine flying boat at Bug Se aplane Base in Northern Germany. At the completion of his ETO tour, Drew was transferred to various training bases in the U.S. In 1945 he was assigned to the 413th Squadron, 414th Fighter Group, flying P-47’s at Iwo Jima in the Bonin Islands. After the war Drew helped organize the 127th Fighter Group, Michigan Air National Guard. He became deputy group commander and later was appointed the first Air Adjutant General of the State of Michigan. He completed his military service with the rank of major and established an aviation business in Britain and South Africa.

Sadly CPT.Drew passed away this year

Seated in his P-51D "Detroit Miss", 44-14164, coded E2:D, 375th Ace Lt. Urban L. Drew signifies the pair of Me262s he destroyed over Achmer on 7 October 1944. As ever, he receives critical acclaim from Lt. Bill Kemp. Even so, Lt. Drew finished his tour with six aerial victories plus one on the ground

Station Callsign:
Lakepress (Bottisham) Darkfold (Little Walden)
Group Callsign:
Wildcat to 22 April '44 then:
Cheerful (A Group) - Glowbright at Little Walden
Marble (B Group) - Filly at Little Walden
Maltese (C Group) - Magpie at Little Walden
(No Squadron Callsigns in C Group)

F/O. John W Johnston. 375th Fighter Squadron. P-51D 44-14460 E2-Y closest to the camera. Next in line is 44-13339 E2-S with the third visible a/c being Maj. Milton F Glessner Jr's 44-14085 E2-G.

Lt. Col. Wallace E Hopkins. 374th Fighter Squadron. P-51D 44-13704 B7-H_ "Ferocious Frankie".

Lt.Col. George R Rew. 374th Fighter Squadron. P-51B 42-106763 B7-R_ "Scarlet Kate".

Lt.Col. Thomas J. J. Christian. Group Commanding Officer. P-51D 44-13410 E2-C "Lou IV". Other a/c pictured are 44-13926 E2-S of Lt. Abe P. Rosenberger but said to be flown on this occasion by Lt. Urban L Drew; 44-13568 E2-A "Sky Bouncer" of Capt. Bruce W. Rowlett and P-51B 42-106811 E2-H "Suzy G" of Capt. Francis T Glanker.

Lt. Francis T Glanker. 375th Fighter Squadron. P-51B 42-106811 E2-H "Suzy G".

Lt.Ernest V Rizzio. 374th Fighter Squadron. P-51D 44-15358 B7-R "Lil Mil"

P-51D Mustang - Lt. Harry Chapman, 376th Fighter Squadron, 361st Fighter Group


Combat - Fighter Units
Parent Unit
Fighter Units
Created/Owned By
Not Specified

Last Updated: Dec 10, 2019
My Photos For This Unit
VIII Fighter Command leaders
11 Members Also There at Same Time
361st Fighter Group

Glessner, Milton Fagen, Col, (1941-1951) A23 AAF MOS 1055 Major
Beyer, William Rockafeller, Capt, (1942-1945) A23 AAF MOS 1055 Captain
Guckeyson, John William, Capt, (1941-1944) A23 AAF MOS 1055 Captain
Richards, Vernon, Capt, (1941-1944) A23 AAF MOS 1055 Captain
Chapman, Harry Moulton, Brig Gen, (1942-1974) A23 AAF MOS 1055 First Lieutenant
Drew, Urban Leonard, Maj, (1942-1950) A23 AAF MOS 1055 First Lieutenant
Eason, James Armstead, 1st Lt, (1942-1944) A23 AAF MOS 1055 First Lieutenant
Christian, Thomas J J, Col, (1939-1944) Colonel
Kruzel, Joseph John, Maj Gen, (1940-1970) Lieutenant Colonel
Armsby, Sherman, 1st Lt, (1942-1944) First Lieutenant
Zieske, Clarence Eugene, 1st Lt, (1942-1944) First Lieutenant

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