Perry John "PJ" Dahl

USAAC & USAF  -  Colonel

Silver Star, Legion of Merit Medal, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star,
Meritorious Service Medal x2, Air Medal x4, Air Force Commendation Medal, etc.

Born 18 February 1923 in North Battleford, Saskatchewan
Enlisted in the Washington National Guard on 17 June 1940
Entered the Army Aviation Cadet program on 26 Sept. 1942
Commissioned & Winged at Williams Field on 22 June 1943
Did P-38 conversion training then posted to the Pacific
Joining the 432 FS of the 475 FG
He is credited with destroying 9 & damaging 1 enemy plane
He returned to the US in June 1945
Joined the Air Force Reserve on 29 November 1945
He also earned his Master's Degree from Colorado State U.
He was recalled to active service on 16 Feb. 1951
Serving in numerous capacities at bases throughout the US
He was posted to Vietnam, June 1970 to June 1971
Serving with the 19th Tactical Air Support Sq. at Bien Hoa
He then served as Deputy Commandant of the Cadet Wing &
as Vice Commandant of Cadets at the AF Academy
In 1974 he went back to Vietnam to Command the 56th SOW

  Perry Dahl


Silver Star Citation

... for gallantry in action while serving as Pilot of a P-38 fighter airplane of the 432d Fighter Squadron, 475th Fighter Group, FAR EAST Air Forces,  in action off the coast of French Indo-China on 28 March 1945. Captain Dahl led a squadron of eight P-38 aircraft escorting bombers on an attack against an enemy convoy. Preceding the bombers to the rendezvous, he searched for the convoy and, after 45 minutes, discovered it. He circled the vessels at a dangerously low altitude, made observations at the risk of being hit by accurate anti-aircraft fire and reported the position of the convoy to the B-25's. Shortly afterwards, he noticed that an accompanying fight of P-38's, their pilots apparently unaware of some 20 enemy fighters above, was attacking a few hostile planes at a lower altitude. Unable to communicate with the endangered flight, he pulled up to intercept the enemy fighters as they dived to attack it. After dispatching part of his own squadron to pursue another attacking fighter, he continued the uneven engagement with the aid of only four other P-38's. As pairs of enemy planes dived in rapid succession, he attacked each pair in turn, forcing the pilots to break off the attack and destroying one of the enemy fighters. The lower flight of P-38's finally rose to engage the enemy after he and his flight had carried on a 20-minute battle. Leaving the target area, he was again attacked by six enemy fighters. With a dangerously low gasoline supply he had to fight his way through the interception and, unable to get to his own base, succeeded in reaching another airfield with only 10 to 20 gallons of fuel reserve. The outstanding leadership, courage and flying skill displayed by Captain Dahl during this flight represent the highest type of service to be rendered to the United States Army Air Forces.


Victories Include :

9 Nov 1943
22 Dec 1943
23 Jan 1944
3 Apr 1944
8 Jun 1944
10 Nov 1944
5 Mar 1945
28 Mar 1945
one unk e/a
one unk e/a
one unk e/a
two unk e/a
one unk e/a
one unk e/a
one unk e/a
one unk e/a

9 / 0 / 1


'Satan’s Angels' Gather to Fondly Recall War

The Associated Press, SUNNY ISLES - Many have lost their hair, and what’s left on others is mostly gray. But the enthusiasm of youth was in their voices as "Satan's Angels" recalled their World War II exploits.
The 475th Fighter Group — comprised mainly of college-age pilots — flew 24,701 sorties, 3,012 missions and shot down 551 Japanese planes while losing only 56 of the P-38s they flew during two years of combat in the South Pacific.
About 150 of the original 1,000 men who made up the three squadrons in the 475th assembled here over the weekend. Rainy weather failed to dampen their oceanside reunion, mainly spent reliving war adventures and renewing acquaintances.
The favorite topic was the airplane they flew — a twin-engined fighter distinctive with twin tails and a cluster of devastating weaponry in its nose.
To the U.S. Army Air Corps pilots who flew them, they were "Lightnings," but to the enemy they were the dreaded “Fork-tailed Devils.”
"The P-38 made the difference," said Col. Charles MacDonald, the group's second commanding officer. Soft-spoken, he’d rather talk about his comrades and the "Lightnings" than the 27 enemy aircraft he shot down. Retired since 1961 after 23 years of service, MacDonald has found an affinity with sailing and now lives in Pass Christian, Miss.
"We had the best airplanes, well- trained men and great leadership," explained Maj. Gen. Frank Nichols, the first commander of the group’s 431st Squadron.
Retired in El Paso, Texas, he recalled the 475th was formed May 14, 1943, in Australia — the only group to be activated outside the United States.
"After three months of training, we were ready to go," added Nichols, who shot down five Japanese planes, had four probables and sank a 5,000 ton Japanese transport. "Today, it takes 1½ to 2 years to get a group ready."
The pilots who made up the 475th were very young.
"I was an ace (five planes shot down) by the time I was 20," said Col. Perry J. Dahl, now retired in Islamorada, Fla., after 37 years in the military. He ended World War II with nine enemy planes to his credit and then flew two tours of duty in the Vietnam War.
"I was one of the old ones," laughed Col. Fred Champlin of Marietta, Ga., recalling he was 25 when he joined the group. He destroyed nine planes in that war, served in the Korean conflict and then flew F80s and F84s in Vietnam.
These Veteran pilots remember near-daily missions, with no limit to the number.
"I flew 283 missions," remembered Dahl. "There was no rotation in those days."
Asked to describe what it means to be a fighter pilot, MacDonald said without a smile: "It’s the biggest sport in the world with the highest stakes."
Nichols agreed there was a certain amount of glamour and sportsmanship in being a U.S. fighter pilot in World War II.
"In our day, it was like boxing — eyeball to eyeball. Man will always fight — for food, women and power," he continued.
The P-38 was a good weapon to fight with. It had four .50-caliber guns that spit out 900 rounds per minute each and a 20-millimeter cannon.
"At 300 feet, those bullets hit within a six-foot circle," said Dahl proudly.
They praised the enemy pilots they faced while fighting over such places as Luzon, New Guinea, Solomon Islands, China and Indochina.
"Japanese pilots were well- trained, particularly their navy pilots," said Dahl. "They put the best in the Pacific theater and the Zero was a fast airplane."
Japanese aircraft always outnumbered the American planes.
"I remember many times when a group of 18 P-38s would run into 350 Zeros and they were always above us which was an advantage," said Dahl.
The basic tactic used by 475th pilots was "hit and run."
Maj. Amos “Doc” Wainer was the group's flight surgeon and remembers the conditions the men fought under.
"There was malaria, dysentery, rat tick fever and battle fatigue," recalled Wainer, a retired physician living in Philadelphia. He added that pilots of that era had no G- suits to protect them against gravitational strain, and that they sometimes blacked out.
But the major complaint cited about their war days was a short ration of beer and whiskey.
Wainer said each pilot received two ounces for each mission flown.
"Some of us would save it until we got a quart and then drink it in one night," said Dahl.
They fondly recalled Maj. Thomas B. McGuire of the 431st Squadron. He shot down five Japanese planes on his first two contacts with the enemy. Within 16 months, he shot down 38 planes in air battles over New Guinea and the Philippines. Only Maj. Richard Bong, with 40, had more than him.
On Jan. 7, 1945, he tried to make a hazardous maneuver with his P-38 while trying to help a fellow pilot in danger and crashed. He was 24.


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On these pages I use Hugh Halliday's extensive research which includes info from numerous sources; newspaper articles via the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation (CMCC); the Google News Archives; the London Gazette Archives and other sources both published and private.

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