NINTH AIR FORCE HQ, FRANCE, Sept. 24—For their “tireless efforts” in harassing and obliterating large numbers of enemy vehicles and troop concentrations ahead of Lt. Gen. George S. Patton’s troops, pilots of the 19th Tactical Air Command, one of the fighter-bomber components of the Ninth Air Force have received the formal thanks of the Third Army.

A Third Army spokesman in a commendation sent to Brig. Gen. O.P. Weyland, 19th Commander, declared that “the superior efficiency and co-operation afforded this army by the forces under your command are the best example of the combined use of air and ground troops I have ever witnessed.”

19th tactical air command

9th Air Force P47 Thunderbolts take off for a mission

At the same time, an announcement was made of the award to Weyland of the Bronze Star, given for meritorious performance against the enemy.

Asserting that information passed directly to the head of ground columns from the air had saved time and lives, the Third Army spokesman said: “I am voicing the opinion of all the officers and men in this army when I express to you our admiration and appreciation of your magnificent efforts.”

Existence of the 19th TAC was made known when the presence of the Third Army in France under Patton was announced. The two forces, however had been operating together since Aug 1, when Patton’s blitz started at Avranches. Today the ground-air support extends over a front of more than 500 miles, including a southern tip of more than 400 miles.

The command includes Thunderbolt and Mustang groups which have wrought incalculable damage in thousands of sorties. One group, that of Col. William I. Curry, of Raleigh, N.C., alone is credited with the destruction of 543 motor transports in a single day, and another group commanded by Col. George R. Bickell, of Nutley, N.J., has destroyed 550 enemy planes in the air.

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