Joseph M. Forster





Joseph M. Forster was already in aviation at the time of Pearl Harbour. A pre-war mechanic, he applied to be a flying cadet and later trained on P-322s. He joined the group's 432nd Squadron with 330 hours total time in October 1943 and made his first claims a month later. Hailing from Gainesville, he named his Lightning Florida Cracker. Joe Forster flew into P-38 history with the Lightning's longest single engine flight over water. It was accomplished in October 1944 during a bomber escort to Balikpapan, Borneo. At the time, Forster had two confirmed and two probable, and he found ample new targets. In the target area, he saw a bogey at 9 o'clock, pushed over in a terminal-velocity dive and shot instinctively; he blew a Zeke (Mitsubishi A6M Zero) off a P-38's tail. Another Mitsubishi fired at him and hit his left engine, forcing him to disengage. Alone, Forster had to navigate around the city-s AA (Anti Aircraft) sites and limped home on one engine using manual prop control and manual lean. It turned into an epic struggle: an eight-hour, 20minute mission-possibly the longest ever logged in a Lightning. He finished the War as a captain with nine kills.