The Mobile Unit that Modified "The Stars Look Down" Mustang
The 461st Air Service Squadron provided vital support services to the 354th Fighter Group other units that helped make the "Pioneers" unbeatable included the 326th Service Group, 1593rd Ordinance Supply and Maintenance Company, 1176th Quartermaster Company, Detachment A of the 1091st Signal Company, Detachment A of the 2456th Quartermaster Truck Company and the Chemical Warfare Section, all components of the unit, arrived and began to function. The officers and men of the Service Group shared many of the same experiences, the hardships and tribulations of the "Pioneers".
These men preformed their jobs so well in keeping the planes of the 354th in combat that they were awarded the Meritorious Unit Citation. And in appreciation of their sterling efforts the pilots of the Pioneers dedicated their 500th plane victory to these men. "Truly to them belongs a large share of the glory that was won by the 354th".
Members of the 461st Air Service Squadron - Front Row (left to right): Miller, Blacketer, Donald Carson, Frank Suchy, Jim Quinlan, Nello Barone, Stephen Hubai, and Ed Jones. Back Row (left to right): William "Bill" Hall, Ed Igielski, John Durdick, Prudhomme, John Kilgore, Cates, Wilson, and Ralph Mathiesen.
I was looking through a military album that we have of my grandfather, William Andrews Hall, who was a member of the 461st Air Service Squadron. Their squadron repaired planes for the 354th Fighter Group in Boxted and in a letter that he wrote to my grandmother he said that they "began flying missions so fast that we were in it before we knew it. The planes were new to us and we were getting them so fast we had to work just about all the time."
461st unit member posing with "The Stars Look Down". This photograph provides a nice close-up view of the lettering painted on the modified Mustang.
My grandpa's Mobile Unit adapted the P-51B Mustang for General Eisenhower's historic flight. My grandfather said that "Jack Prudhomme, the head sheet metal worker on Mobile Unit I, removed one of the fuel tanks and replaced it with a seat for Gen. Eisenhower." My grandpa is the one who actually painted the lettering, "The Stars Look Down" on the plane.