39th Fighter Squadron Homecoming

Welcome the Cobra’s Home

On December 7, 1941 the new Bellingham Airport was open to the public for the first time. As the locals drove around the airfield, the news of the attack on Pearl Harbor came over their car radios…The airfield was immediately closed to civilians, taken over by the Army and awaited the arrival of the 39th Pursuit Squadron – then one of only three combat-ready squadrons in the country. The 39th arrived near Christmas, having made a hasty departure from family and loved ones, bound for a remote air field in the far corner of the country. The pilots and crews recall being scared and a long way from home… and they remember how the community of Bellingham opened their arms to them; made them feel welcome, cared about, and not alone at Christmas.

The 39th Fighter Squadron went on to become one of the most-decorated squadrons of WWII in the South Pacific. They had a stunning 22 Aces by the end of the Korean War, four of whom where here in Bellingham ‘where it all began’!

HFM is pleased and proud to be hosting the 39th Fighter Squadron Association’s 2011 reunion in October! Activities will fall over our 15 October Fly Day – which will be the focus of our celebrations.  Join us in welcoming them ‘home’ for 70th anniversary of their arrival here in Bellingham!!

Homecoming Celebrations – Public Welcome!

  • Date: Saturday, 15 October, 2011
  • Time: 12-4pm (but feel free to arrive a little early to get ‘into place’ to welcome the squadron back!)
    • 12:00pm – 39th Fighter Squadron Association arrives at HFM
    • 12:10-12:30pm – Formal welcome by County Executive, Port Executive, HFM Founder Maj. Gen. Bill Anders & HFM Director Lt. Col. Greg Anders – just like in 1941!
    • 12:30-3:30pm – chat with members of the 39th past and present – including Col. Frank Royal (USAF, Ret) who was Commanding Officer of the 39th when they were here in Bellingham – also enjoy flying and static displays of HFM aircraft.
  • Admission: $5/person, Veteran’s & Active Military free
  • Location: Heritage Flight Museum ramp @ Bellingham Airport. Click here for a map.
  • Plans: We want to see the street lined with people holding flags and streamers, waving and welcoming ‘our’ squadron members and their families back to where it all began! Meet and greet some of the original pilots and crews who were here in Bellingham from December 1941 to January 1942, and their more current counterparts! HFM and visiting aircraft will fly and pose for photos! Current members and aircraft of today’s 39th Fighter Training Squadron will be in attendance as well.

After Action Report

What a great day! The weather was beautiful, the flying was plentiful, and everyone had a fantastic time! To our supporters, volunteers, visitors and special guests, thank you for making it such a special event. The members of the 39th FS Reunion Association went home happy, having had a great time in our fair city. Our new displays on Bellingham’s local aviation history and the 39th have finally been installed and look great. This page will soon transition to the Education/Projects section of the web site as we continue to tell the story of the 39th and how they fit into our community.

Press, photos & more

HFM’s Facebook page is a great place to find photos and shared stories of our 39th event, but there are other important links here:

  • 39thFS Association web site – www.cobraintheclouds.com – complete history of the 39th from WWII through the present. Information on reunions and association activities. Updates to the site coming soon.
  • 3 Wire Design – www.3wiredesign.com – created the beautiful 39th FS ‘Cobra in the Clouds’ banner that now adorns the 39th wall in our hangar. Banners & smaller versions available at www.3wiredesign.com/World-War-II.html
  • Bellingham Herald photo gallery of 39th Homecoming event – photos by Herald photographer Andy Bronson
  • ‘Injury Slight, Please Advise’ – www.injuryslight.com/ – the amazing story of 39th pilot Charles Sullivan after being shot down over Papua New Guinea. DVD available.
  • ‘Over & Out; Sam’s Story’ – Link to order at Barnes & Noble – Recently published, this book is the diary kept by Captain Samuel Cutler of the 39th, and highlights their activities in the South Pacific from 1942-1944.
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