Gary Velasco and B/Gen Tommy Hayes
Signed by; B/Gen. Chuck Yeager,
Col. C.E. "Bud" Anderson, Maj. John Kirla, Cpt. Charles Weaver
Col. Arval Roberson and B/Gen. Thomas Hayes
The 357FG also known as the "Yoxford Boys", comprised of three squadrons, 362nd, 363rd and 364th. With 595 aerial and 106.5 ground victories, they are 2nd to the 56th Fighter group flying P-47's. Flying out of Leiston, England, the 357th produced many Aces of notable character. One such ace is the then Lt. Col. Thomas Hayes Jr.. Born in Portland, Oregon on 31 March 1917. After the Pearl Harbor attack his P-40 unit was sent to Java in the Pacific. Hayes was credited with 2 ground victories and subsequently shot down. During recovery he was promoted to captain and returned to the states to train pilots. He was assigned as commander to the newly formed 364th squadron of the 357FG. Flying new P-51's they were transferred to England in August 1943. Frenesi was his second P-51, an early D model. His total score came to 8.5 aerial kills and 2 ground. Remaining in the Air Force he rose to the rank of Brigadier General before retiring in 1970.
Another famous ace from th 357FG was the then Cpt. Chuck Yeager of the 363rd squadron. One of only a few men to shoot 5 enemy aircraft down in one day. He is better known for being the first man to exceed the sound barrier in the Bell X-1 on 14 October, 1947. Yeager was also promoted to Brigadier General in 1969 before retiring in 1975. He continues to fly firstline aircraft as an Air Force consultant.
To commemorate the 357FG, Velasco
Enterprises attended one of their reunions on May 29, 2000, Memorial
day with the signing of a Limited production of 100 P-51 panels.
Kirla - 11.5
Yeager - 11.5
Hayes - 8.5
Weaver - 8
Roberson - 6