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John Leard Elder Jr


"John Elder joined Army Reserves after Pearl Harbor and commissioned as Second Lieutenant following pilot training completion at Victoria Field, Texas. Interestingly enough Bert Marshall, Jr – a future fellow squadron commander for the 355th FG was his instructor. He joined the 50th FG which became the 355th FG in May 1942 and shipped overseas with the group in July 1943.

Elder became 357FS Operations Officer, deputy to Szaniawski, and shot down his first Fw 190 in a P-47 on February 21, 1944. After Szaniawski was shot down by flak, Elder became 357FS CO in July, 1944 and remained CO until the end of the war in Europe. Elder became the 355th FG’s 13th ace when he shot down two Me 109’s SE of Hildesheim on August 16, 1944. He scored one in the air and five on the ground at Wernigerode A/D on November 2, 1944.

Elder got his eighth and last aerial victory on January 14, 1945 in the Munster area. Twelve Mustangs of combined 354/357FS engaged 20 plus 109’s and 190’s, claiming 11 for no losses, with Elder getting one Me 109.

He destroyed a total of 13 on the ground, scoring his last four on April 16, 1945 near Linz. At the end of hostilites, Moon Elder was 3rd highest total combined scorer for the 355th FG behind Brown and Kinnard.

He became Deputy Group CO when Marshall became Group Commander, then was promoted to 355th FG CO in October, 1945 until 355th disbanded in 1946.

Elder remained in USAF Reserve until 1966 when he retired.

His final tally was 8 destroyed and one damaged in the air, 13 destroyed and 6 damaged on the ground." (Profile compiled by Bill Marshall).

02/08/44 ditched in Channel. Rescued.

Aircraft Flown:
– P-47D-2RA 42-22784 OS-R “Moon”
– P-47-5RE 42-8544 OS-R “Moon”
– P-51B- 42-106732 OS-R “Moon”
– P-51D-20 44-63633 OSR “Moon”
– P-51D-25 44-73065 OS-R “Moon”


Units served with


  • 42-8544

    P-47 Thunderbolt

  • 42-22784 'Goona' 'Moon'

    P-47 Thunderbolt
    Assigned to 376FS, 361FG, 8AF USAAF. Transferred to 357FS, 355FG, 8AF, became war weary and a training aircraft for squadron. Transferred to 5th Emergency Rescue Squadron.


Event Location Date
Born Ebensburg, Pennsylvania 8 April 1919
Died 27 July 1996
Buried Ebensburg, PA 15931, USA

Lloyd Cemetery
Ebensburg, Cambria County, Pennsylvania, USA


Date Contributor Update
03 August 2018 10:30:48 general ira snapsorter Changes to events

Additional biographical details from

Date Contributor Update
03 August 2018 10:30:46 general ira snapsorter Changes to events

Additional biographical details from

Date Contributor Update
03 August 2018 10:27:08 general ira snapsorter Changes to middlename, suffix, service number, highest rank, biography, awards, events, unit associations and aircraft associations

Merged with duplicate entry to include details from:
- Ted Damick, VIII Fighter Command pilots list.

Additional details added courtesy of Profile compiled by Bill Marshall.

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:16:22 AAM AAM ingest

Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia / Fighter Aces of the U. S. A. and Mustang Aces of the Eighth Air Force