Aleron (Rudder) H. Larson

Eau Claire Army Pilot Wounded in Pacific War
Aleron Larson Gravely Injured During Action
First Lieutenant Aleron H. Larson has been seriously wounded in engagements with the Japanese in the South Pacific, according to word received from the War Department by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Raymond A. Larson, 1419 Badger Avenue.

Lieutenant Larson, last known to be stationed in Australia, is a pilot in the Army Air Corps.

The War Department announcement received here yesterday stated:

"We regret to inform you that First Lieutenant Aleron H. Larson has been seriously wounded in the South Pacific War Theater."

The notification added that his parents would be kept informed of his condition.

Lieutenant Larson, this spring sent a cablegram to his parents, notifying them that he had been promoted to a First Lieutenant. He received his training at Kelley and Randolph Fields, TX and received his commission as Second Lieutenant in May 1941.

At the outbreak of the war, Larson spent six weeks in Hawaii and was then sent to Australia.

Lt. Aleron Larson Given Silver Star for Valiant Deed

ALLIED HEADQUARTERS,  in Australia, May 25— The Commander of the Allied Air Forces in the Southwest, Lieutenant General G. C. Kenny, has presented a Silver Star to First Lieutenant Aleron H. Larson of Eau Claire, WI.

Lieutenant Larson was awarded the star for a gallant, but unsuccessful effort to save his B-26 medium bomber in New Guinea last August.  When 24 enemy bombers raided the field, he took off with a skeleton crew, but three bombs exploded within a few yards of his plane and seriously wounded him.

Lieutenant Larson, who visited his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Ray Larson of this city, is now in El Paso, TX General Hospital, where he underwent a major operation about two weeks ago.  His condition is reported as very good.  He recently wrote his mother that the motion picture, Air Force, soon to be shown here, contains many scenes filmed at the base at Port Moresby, New Guinea, where he received his wound.

Lt. Aleron Larson Returned Today for Month's Leave

First Lieutenant Aleron Larson, son of Mr. And Mrs. Ray Larson of 1419 Badger Avenue, who was one of the first men from Eau Claire to be injured in line of duty, returned to the city this morning for a thirty-day sick leave which he will spend with his parents.

Lieutenant Larson, a member of the Air Corps serving in New Guinea, received serious injuries to his left arm in a battle on August 17.  For a time, his life was despaired of but, eventually, he recovered sufficiently to be returned to the United States for hospitalization.  He arrived in San Francisco on December 26 and was immediately sent to the Army Hospital at El Paso, TX.  He will return to Texas for further hospitalization later.

Cadets Welcomed in Convocation at Teachers College

Is Presented with DFC
Aleron "Rudder" Larson of Eau Claire is shown here (right), as he received the Distinguished Flying Cross at Truax Field, Madison. A former Captain, he wore his Army Air Forces uniform for the presentation, which was made by Lieutenant Colonel Charles C. Green (left), Supervisor for Maintenance at the Army Air Forces Training Command Field. (Official Photo, USAAF by AAF Training Command)
MADISON, WI.—Aleron "Rudder" Larson, 27, of Eau Claire, one of the first pilots to fly Gran' Pappy, the Army's first B-26 Marauder, has been presented with the Distinguished Flying Cross at Truax Field for his "courage and devotion to duty" as a bomber pilot in the South Pacific. 

The former Captain was retired from the Army in March 1944 because of wounds suffered in action against the Japanese, and Gran' Pappy is used at Truax Field for training of radio mechanics attending the Army Air Forces Training Command's School at Truax Field. 

Larson, who also has been awarded the Purple Heart, Group Citation, Silver Star, Pacific Theater Ribbon, American Theater Ribbon, and pre-Pearl Harbor Ribbon, has been a law student at the University of Wisconsin since his retirement. He said yesterday that he plans to leave soon for the University of Southern California where he will continue his studies.  

"Rudder" is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Ray A. Larson of 1419 Badger Avenue, Eau Claire, and is married to the former Peggy Thurston of El Paso, TX, who also is residing here. 

A graduate of Eau Claire Teacher's College, where he received his Bachelor's Degree, Larson was a member of the famed 19th Squadron of the 22nd Bombing Group while serving in the South Pacific. He was wounded at Port Moresby in New Guinea during an air raid and spent several weeks in a hospital for treatment of his left arm and left side. 

He received his flying training at the Spartan School of Aeronautics. Muskogee, OK and at Randolph and Kelly Fields, TX. Before going overseas, where he spent a, year, he served as an Army test pilot at Wright and Patterson Fields, OH and also flew on coastal defense patrols.

Eau Claire Men Are Mentioned in War Books
Two Eau Claire men are mentioned in two of the new books now in circulation at the Eau Claire Public Library. They are Lieutenant Colonel John L. Richardson, now at McDill Field, St. Petersburg, FL, son of Mr. and Mrs. John Richardson, Sr., and Captain Aleron H. Larson, son of Mr. and Mrs. Ray Larson. Both men were among the first American flyers to take part in the campaign in the Pacific. The books which include their exploits are

Southwest Passage, by John Lardner, is a report of the Yanks in the Pacific and the peoples the Yanks found there, especially the Australians. Humorous, informal style, which will be enjoyed or its own sake, as well as for its local connection. 

Fight for New Guinea, by Pat Robinson, is an account of MacArthur's fight to keep the Japs from Australia. Intimate incidents of Kokoda Trail, Gona, and Buna. 

Other new books on the army and personal accounts from the battle fronts now at the library are 

Our New Army by Marshall Andrews, considered a "must book" for those enlisting. Andrews shows how a democracy that hates war, because of necessity, is training an "army as tough as any on earth." 

Battle Is the Pay-Off by Ralph Ingersoll. Although this is an eye-witness account of one engagement in Tunisia, the theme of the book is that success in battle is the culmination of right training before the men go overseas. After you have read this, you will realize why "tough training'' is necessary. 

Here Is Your War by Ernest Pyle. A report from the fox holes of Africa. The author calls it a "worm's-eye view" of the daily life and death of the soldiers in the North African Campaign. 

God Is My Co-Pilot, by Robert Scott, is an intensely interesting book by an American flyer who fought against the Japs in Murma [Burma?] and under Chennault. 

Assignment to Nowhere, by Lowell Bennett, is a breezy tale of the war in North Africa. Also considers diplomatic aspects and civilian life there. 

Ambulance in Africa by Evan Thomas. Experience with the British armies in Syria. 

East Coast Corvette by Nicholas Monsarrat. East coast of England where the patrol corvettes have "bombs for breakfast, E-boats for tea . . . and danger all day long." Author says of the food wasters and "petrol wranglers," "We bring the stuff in ... for the comfort of stupid people who cannot visualize the price in blood of what they are wasting." 

Lady and the Tigers by Olga Greenlaw. Author's husband was Chief of Staff for Chennault. A close-up of those daring aviators whose exploits are already almost a sacred legend. 

Battle Hymn of China by Agnes Smedley. The author, a field member of the Chinese Red Cross Medical Corps for four years, lived at the front. Conditions of the people and political affairs in China from 1928-1941.

Through Japanese Barbed Wire by Gwen Priestwood, an English woman, who escapes from Hong Kong and makes a thousand- mile journey to safety. Humorous spots lighten the tension; real adventure, skillfully told.

Underground from Hongkong by Benjamin Proulx. The battle, the surrender, and the author's escape from prison.

Written by Harold (Diz) Kronenberg

Those servicemen who participated in early air combat in the South Pacific faced physical challenges hard to imagine. Most fighting was done at high altitudes where pilots had to breathe pure oxygen. A few hours of breathing this oxygen was debilitating; it dried out the nose and throat and burned the fuel of the body at a much faster rate than at sea level. 

In addition, air fighters experienced the physical fatigue of daily combat, the heat of the South Pacific, an often poor diet, emotional stress and inability to sleep. It was no wonder that most flight crews were ready to collapse after three or four weeks. 

In the early stages of the war, crewmen did not have the luxury of being sent to a rest camp when combat fatigue set in and, in the South Pacific, their problems were magnified by diseases, such as dysentery and malaria.

A notable Air Corps pilot from Eau Claire who triumphed over these conditions was John L. Richardson of 1205 Graham Avenue, a star football player at the University of Nebraska before joining the Army Air Corps in 1938. He was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in 1939 and went to Randolph Field at San Antonio, Texas for training. Richardson spent 16 months of action in the South Pacific.

In 1942, he was the first in a small group of American fliers who met and halted the headlong rush of the Japanese army and navy just short of the Australian continent. Incidentally, Richardson thought the Japanese navy fliers were far superior to those from the Japanese army—more skillful, reckless and daring.  

Captain Aleron "Rudder" Larson, another Chippewa Valley pilot flew with Richardson as he guided flights of B-26 medium bombers (called "flying coffins") against the Japanese stronghold at Rabaul, New Britain. Fellow American airmen called this a "suicide mission."

Afterwards, Richardson remained in the combat zone, as the Allies gradually took control of the air and sea around New Guinea, Guadalcanal, and other vital areas. During this time, Richardson was promoted to the rank of Major.

While in New Guinea, Major Richardson bombed most of the Japanese bases in that area—Lae, Salamaua and Milne Bay were pounded regularly. The occupation of Milne Bay took place under perfect weather cover for the Japanese. Because they could not be seen from the air, they escaped Allied air attack until they were already established. It was a different story, however, in the Bismarck Sea. There, the entire Japanese convoy was wiped out by Allied bombers when the weather unexpectedly cleared.

After service in New Guinea, Major Richardson was made Group Operations Officer, with headquarters in Australia. He was at that assignment when ordered back to the United States for a well-deserved rest.