56th Fighter Group’s first ace
On Aug. 19, 1943, Capt. Gerald Johnson, 61st Fighter Squadron, was the first 56th Fighter Group pilot to claim and be credited with five kills, thus becoming its first ace. Much later, it was determined that one of his Aug. 17 kills was also claimed by 1st Lt. Frank McCauley, also of the 61st FS. They both officially received a half credit taking Johnson to 4.5 kills as of Aug. 19. As a result, Johnson did not officially become an ace until Oct. 10 of that year. This meant that on Oct. 4, 1943, Capt. Walker “Bud” Mahurin, 63d FS, officially became the group’s first ace.