Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 3303: Grouping of Property from a Pilot in the 62nd Fighter Squadron

Auction Date: May 15, 2022

Grouping of Property from a Pilot in the 62nd Fighter Squadron in World War II, Including Medals and a Rare Leather Unit Patch

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $3,000 - $5,000

Grouping of Property from a Pilot in the 62nd Fighter Squadron in World War II, Including Medals and a Rare Leather Unit Patch

Manufacturer: None
Model: None
Type: Other
Item Views: 366
Item Interest: Average
Catalog Page: 176
Class: Other

Established in January of 1941 as the 62nd Pursuit Squadron and redesignated a fighter squadron in 1942, the 62nd started its war service as an air defense unit in the American Northeast before heading to England in 1943. Operating the P-47 Thunderbolt, the 62nd spent the war operating out of Royal Air Force stations, providing fighter cover for B-17 and B-24 bombers on deep penetration bombing missions, sweeping areas of heavy Luftwaffe activity to provoke them into battle, and similar activity. The 62nd's parent unit, the 56 Fighter Group (aka Zemke's Wolf Pack for its commander, Colonel Hubert "Hub" Zemke), received the Distinguished Unit Citation for action during "The Big Week", aka Operation Argument, a concerted effort to cripple the Luftwaffe, engaging them heavily in the air while also striking at their supporting industry, culminating in some of the first air raids on Berlin to force the Luftwaffe into decisive battle. With the invasion of Normandy in 1944, the 56th began splitting its time between bomber escort and ground attack, both interdicting German back-line logistics and providing close support for the advancing Allies. At the close of the war in Europe, the 56th would be credited with 665.5 kills, producing 39 aces and 3 "aces in a day", with the 62nd Squadron responsible for 219.5 of those kills and 16 of those aces. The contents of this lot are the property of Wiley Hendrix "Hink" Merrill, Junior, an officer and decorated aviator with the 62nd Fighter Squadron. Born in 1920 in Lubbock, Texas, Merrill was a 1941 graduate of Texas A&M with a mechanical engineering degree when he joined the Army Air Force, serving with the 62nd in Europe. Returning to civilian life in Texas after the war, he was the co-owner of a trucking company and manager of automobile dealerships in the Irving and Dallas areas, passing on in 2004. At the center of the grouping is a shoulder patch for the 8th Air Force (the 56th's parent organization) and a white leather patch for the 62nd Squadron, 5 inches in diameter prominently featuring the "boxing bulldog" logo of the squadron, with the text "Zemke's Wolfpack" and "62nd/Fighter Sqdn." in black. The included medals are the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal, Purple Heart, European/African/Middle East Campaign, American Campaign, and the World War II Medal, with ribbons for the Distinguished Unit Citation (1 oak leaf), Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross (1 oak leaf), Air Medal (3 oak leaves), Purple Heart and European/African/Middle East Campaign (3 silver stars). Also present is a pair of silver flight wings, marked "VANGUARD NY" on the rear and a silver ID bracelet bearing Merrill's name and service number. Provenance: The Putnam Green/Sycamore Collection

Rating Definition:

Very good overall. The patch shows stitching holes around the border, with some light cracking and fading of the paint. The medals and 8th Air Force patch are all very good, with some wear on the ribbons, and the wings and bracelet show a mixed aged patina.

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