99th Fighter Squadron Discusses Air Action Over Anzio

In front of a Curtiss P-40L Warhawk, pilots of the segregated 99th Fighter Squadron, at the time of this photo attached to the 79th Fighter Group, discuss the action of January 27-28, 1944, over the Nettuno/Anzio beachhead. In sustained air attacks, German fighter-bombers attempted to destroy the transports unloading on the beach. Despite the fact that their P-40Ls were nearing obsolescence and some 80 miles slower than the Focke-Wulf FW-190s they were engaging, the 99th shot down some eleven Germans over the two-day period. Shown discussing the engagements are, left to right: Lieutenant (later Major) Herbert V. Clark (March 16, 1919-January 25, 2003) of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, Tuskegee class 42-F-SE. He was shot down over Ober Raderach Chemical Works, Germany, on August 16, 1944. Clark evaded capture and led a band of Italian partisans until he rejoined the 99th on May 7, 1945. Lieutenant (later Major) Leon C. Roberts (1921-July 11, 1944) of Prichard, Alabama, class 42-G-SE. On January 27, 1944, Roberts shot down one FW-190 over Anzio; the plane could have gotten away but turned to fight Roberts, who compensated for his Curtiss P-40L's lower speed with superior gunnery skills. One of three Tuskegee Airmen on the first air-to-air combat action on June 9, 1943, which resulted in no losses to either side. Killed in Action when his P-51C (#42-103913) lost oxygen and spun in. At the time, Roberts was the 99th's Operations Officer and the last original member, with 116 missions. His twin brother was an instrument instructor at Tuskegee. Lieutenant Willie H. Fuller (August 2, 1919-January 15, 1995) of Tarboro, North Carolina, class 42-G-SE, completed 70 missions with the 99th. Lieutenant (later Colonel) William Ayers Campbell (1917- ) of Tuskegee, Alabama, class 42-F-SE. On June 2, 1943, Campbell dropped the first bomb by a Tuskegee Airman on Axis forces. Shot down a Messerschmitt Me-109 while mounted in a P-51 on March 31, 1945. Stayed in the United States Air Force after the war. Lieutenant (later Lieutenant Colonel) Herbert E. Carter (September 27, 1919- ) of Amory, Mississippi, class 42-F-SE. Even with the responsibilities of Aircraft Maintenance Officer for the 99th, Carter flew 77 combat missions. He also stayed in the United States Air Force after the war. Lieutenant Erwin B. Lawrence (1919-October 4, 1944) of Cleveland, Ohio, class 42-F-SE. Killed in action over Tatoi, Greece when his P-51 struck a barrage cable on what was supposed to be his last mission. At the time of his death he was the commander of the 99th. The last man is unidentified. The 99th was joined into the 332nd Fighter Group, a segregated unit, in May 1944.
Caption Written By: 
Jason McDonald
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Archival Identifier: 
NARA NWDNS-208-MO-18H-22051
Date Photographed: 
Friday, January 28, 1944