12 June, 2008

Profile 6 - LITTLE SKUNK - flown by Charlie Price

"Squadron" and "Group" can be confusing. Simplistically, Sections fit into Squadrons.  Squadrons fit into Groups.  Groups fit into Air Forces and Air Forces fit into the giant AIR FORCE.  At least it works for The Air Force.  

Anyway, in WWII, the 352nd Fighter Group was a Group of three Squadrons that painted the noses of their P-51 Mustangs blue.  The three Squadrons, the 328th, 486th and 487th, painted their tails red, yellow and blue respectively.  Typically, fighter pilots in WWII identified themselves with a Group rather than a Squadron...and even then, the number was identified with a nickname.  In the case of the 352nd, the pilots and crew were proud to say, "I was a Bluenoser!"

Though Charlie Price arrived late enough in the war to not get a full tour of duty, he is no less passionate or proud of his association with one of the Air Force's most decorated and excellent units.  But, this pride isn't selfish or egocentric.  Instead, it's the kind of pride that includes and welcomes.  One night, over a beer Charlie explained how happy he was that people were so interested in history;  that playing a part in something bigger than oneself was vital.  One day, Charlie explained, the people of the 352nd would be gone.  What would remain would be all they stood for - excellence, service to others, duty to country. He asked us "young guys" if we agreed with those values.  As if there'd be any argument!  

We clinked glasses, drank to the 352 and winking, Charlie deemed us all worthy Bluenosers. But we knew he was just being gracious...