Major Don M. Beerbower and the 353rd Fighter Squadron – November 1942 to August 1944
From a small town in northeastern Minnesota to aerial combat with the Luftwaffe, The Oranges are Sweet is the life story of one of the 354th Fighter Group’s most important figures. When Don Beerbower died strafing a German airdrome in 1944, he was the leading ace in the Ninth Air Force and, at age twenty-two, commanded the 353rd Fighter Squadron. This unit knocked down more enemy aircraft than any other squadron in the USAAF in World War II. The Oranges are Sweet is a serious study of a major figure in U.S. military aviation history, and the men who fought with him. Spread throughout this 480 page hardcover book, the reader will find over 200 color and b/w images and 12 maps. Numerous primary source documents such as Beerbower’s diary, letters, encounter reports, family, pilot and ground crew interviews, newspaper accounts, etc., provide interesting new detail to a story about remembrance, courage, duty, leadership, and love.
The above video shows, along with other members of the 354th Fighter Group, Captain Don Beerbower receiving the Silver Star from General Brereton and also 2/3rds through the video it shows Capt. Beerbower starting up and moving his ride "Bonnie B' from under camouflage netting and then getting out of the cockpit.
I Had a Comrade: Stories about the bravery, comradeship, and commitment of individual participants in the Second World War.
Rising from the overcast on a mission from England to Bremen, Germany, on December 16, 1943, a pair of 353rd Fighter Squadron Mustangs flown by Flight Leader Don M. Beerbower and wingman, Lt. Wah Kau Kong, grace the cover of author Paul Sailer’s new book. Beerbower and Kong represent two of the ten stories in I Had a Comrade. Others include Willie Y. Anderson, Carl Bickel, James Cannon, Wally Kerley and others, including Technical Sergeant Foy Garren of the 326th Air Support Group, the unit that did the major repair work for the 354th’s damaged aircraft. The special focus of the book is comradeship.
The Foreword is by Colonel Richard E. Cole, famous as Jimmy Doolittle’s co-pilot when the pair launched from the USS Hornet bound for Japan in April 1942. Cole says in the Foreword, “Paul Sailer explores comradeship through stories of ordinary people who lived or died during World War II. All of them had their lives altered by that intense form of duty toward others that is exemplified in I Had a Comrade. These stories of courage and love are worthy of our remembrance.”
353rd Fighter Squadron after mission discussion!!
From left to right: Kong, Emmer, Beerbower, Bradley, Frantz and Cannon