Photos by George Strock, LIFE Magazine October 15, 1942
These photographs were originally captioned as “Decoration of 19th Bomb Group” and were released in February 1943. They were taken at Mareeba Airfield in Queensland, Australia. In attendance was Major General George C. Kenney (C.O., 5th Air Force), Brigadier General Kenneth N. Walker (Commanding General, 5th Bomber Command, wearing sunglasses) and Lt Colonel Richard H. Carmichael (C.O. 19th Bombardment Group, holding cane). The men are from the 19th Bomb Group who flying combat missions since the start of the Pacific War from the Philippines, Java, Australia and New Guinea. The Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) is being awarded to airmen who flew fifty missions or performed “heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in an aerial flight”. Parked in the background are the group’s B-17E Flying Fortresses that were based at the airfield. Thanks to Steve Birdsall for additional information. Kenney’s biography General Kenney Reports page 122 notes:
“On the 15th [October 1942], on the way to Port Moresby, I stopped at Townsville and Mareeba and pinned over 250 decorations on that many proud chests. The ceremony at Townsville took nearly an hour and the one at Mareeba over two hours. By the time I got through, I had worn most of the skin off the thumb and forefinger of my right hand. It was a great show.”
Enlargements of Brigadier General Kenneth N. Walker at the ceremony.
January 5, 1943 by 5th Combat Camera Unit [5th CCU]
These photographs were taken by a photographer aboard one of the six B-17 Flying Fortresses from the 43rd Bombardment Group, 64th Bombardment Squadron during the inbound flight to the Rabaul area over the target area. One of the aircraft visible is B-17F “San Antonio Rose” 41-24458 with General Walker aboard as an observer. These images are the last photographs of the bomber before it went Missing In Action (MIA).