Edward "Porky" Cragg

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Edward "Porky" Cragg
Born (1919-09-08)September 8, 1919
Mt Vernon, New York, United States
Died December 26, 1943(1943-12-26) (aged 24)
Borgen Bay, Cape Gloucester, New Britain, Papua New Guinea (MIA)
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch US Army Air Corps Hap Arnold Wings.svg United States Army Air Forces
Years of service 1940 – 1943
Rank US-O4 insignia.svg Major
Commands held 80th Fighter Squadron
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Distinguished Service Cross
Silver Star
Distinguished Flying Cross (5)
Purple Heart (2)
Air Medal (7)

Edward "Porky" Cragg (September 8, 1919 – missing in action December 26, 1943 – finding of death January 16, 1946 ) was a triple ace (15 kills) and a Major in the United States Army Air Forces.

Biography[edit]

Pre-World War II[edit]

Edward Cragg was born at Mount Vernon, New York, on September 8, 1919. He spent his youth in the Greenwich / Cos Cob area of Connecticut, graduating from Greenwich High School in the class of 1936. In September 1937, he enrolled in the School of Commerce, Accounts and Finance at New York University, New York. He was working towards a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting. In September 1940, he withdrew from the University to enlist.

World War II[edit]

He enlisted as a flying cadet on November 30, 1940. He received his elementary training at Albany, Georgia, his basic training at Gunter Field Alabama from February to April 1941, and his advanced flying training at the Air Corps Advanced Flying School, Craig Field, Selma, Alabama. He was appointed a second lieutenant, Air Reserve on July 11, 1941, and was ordered to active duty on the following day.

Upon graduation from Advanced Flying School, he remained at the school until July 1941 when he was ordered to the Panama Canal Zone, for duty as Assistant Squadron Engineering Officer and later becoming Engineering Officer of the 28th Pursuit Squadron in the 37 Pursuit Group, stationed at Albrook Field. While there he was promoted to first lieutenant on September 5, 1942.

In spring 1942, he was reassigned to what was then designated the 80th Pursuit Squadron, part of the 8th Pursuit Group, Fifth Air Force in the Southwest Pacific area. Both the squadron and group were soon redesignated from "Pursuit" to "Fighter". Initially, the squadron flew P-39 Airacobras. Cragg named his "Porky", and soon acquired the nickname of "Porky". He was promoted to captain on December 17, 1942

On April 8, 1943, he became the commander of the 80th. Among his first actions was giving the Squadron the name "The Headhunters" after the local New Guinean headhunter tribes who hated the Japanese and helped to rescue downed pilots. He also commissioned crewchief Yale Saffro, a former Walt Disney Studios artist, to design the 80th's patch, the likeness of the proud Papuan Chief of New Guinea. This original design can be seen "here". . Squadron lore credits him with arranging the equipping the squadron with the new P-38 Lightning aircraft. He named his "Porky II".

During his tenure with the squadron he compiled an air-to-air combat record of 15 confirmed kills and 2 probable kills. He was promoted to major on July 6, 1943.

He served as commander of the Headhunters until he was reported missing in action over New Britain December 26, 1943. During that final mission he shot down his final kill. He was succeeded in command of the Headhunters by fellow squadron member and ace Major Jay "Cock" Robbins.

Aerial victory credits[edit]

Date Location Credits Comment
May 21, 1943 In the vicinity of Salamaua, New Guinea 1 (Oscar) .
July 21, 1943 Near Bogadjim, New Guinea 2 (Oscars) Awarded 1st OLC to DFC
July 23, 1943 Over Bogadjim, New Guinea 2 (Oscar, Tony) Awarded Silver Star, ace status
August 20, 1943 Near Wewak, New Guinea, 2 (Oscar, Tony) Awarded 2nd OLC to DFC
August 21, 1943 Near Wewak, New Guinea 1 (Oscar) Awarded DSC
September 4, 1943 Between Lae and Salamaua, New Guinea 2 (Zeros) Awarded 3rd OLC to DFC
October 24, 1943 Over Rapopo Strip, Rabaul, New Britain 2 (Zeros) Received Purple Heart
October 29, 1943 Over Vunakanau, New Guinea 1 (Zero) .
December 22, 1943 Over Wewak, New Guinea 1 (Tony) .
December 26, 1943 Over Borgen Bay, Cape Gloucester, western New Britain 1 (Zero) Never Returned - Declared MIA.

Posthumously awarded 4th OLC to DFC, 1st OLC to Purple Heart

Decorations[edit]

The citations for the first three of the above awards can be seen "here". 

References[edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Air Force.

External links[edit]

Porky Cragg at aceesofww2.com