In the background I have been doing some research into Paul Sabo the pilot of this aircraft. Here is what I've found out.
Paul J Sabo was recorded in the US census of 1930 as living in Farrell, Pennsylvania. He was born in 1919.
I have no information on him until his army service, when on Mar 7, 1942 - Class 42-C, containing 93 airmen, he graduates from Kelly and Ellington Fields as first enlisted pilot group trained under Public Law 99. Sgt Paul Sabo was one of the first “Flying Sergeants” trained by the USAAF in WWII.
Syscom3 has posted a little history of the Flying Sergeants on this board located here.
He converted to P-38’s in April 1942 along with a group of pilots destined for the 97th Fighter Squadron 82nd Fighter Group. He is pictured here sometime in April/May 1942 at Muroc or possibly Long Beach AAF. (Picture: Phil Taback collection)
His assignment after conversion to P-38’s is unkown to me at this time, although it is likely that he was used as a ferry pilot. On the 6th March 1943 that is recorded as pilot in command of P-38D 40-774 at Muroc CA when this aircraft had an accident. 40-774 was the first production P-38D.
Pic of actual aircraft 40-774 (USAF).
During 1943 all “Flying Sergeants” were promoted to “Flying Officer”.
He was assigned to the 20th Fighter Group in 1943 and flew with the 77th Fighter Squadron. He attained the rank of Captain during his time with the Group and flew this aircraft (Photo: Kevin Floyd C/ - 8th Air Force Fighter Group - Littlefriends.co.uk)
77th Fighter Squadron P-38J 42-67523 “Ione”. This a/c was at one time flown by Capt Paul Sabo and coded LC-S. It was force landed on the Normandy beachhead by Lt Walter F Kuemmerle on 12 June 1944. It not certain that its guise as "Ione" was as Capt. Sabo's assigned a/c. Information courtesy of David Knight.
On the 5th February 1944 is scored his first victory against a Fw200, and I have been lucky enough to be given the unit history and combat reports relating to this by Art Sevigny, and another photo of Paul Sabo with the 20th FG.
Captain Sabo finished his tour with the 20th FG on the 17th March 1944, and from this point it is not certain when he joined with the 370th Fighter Group. Around this time the 370th had arrived in England and were converting to the P-38. In the US they had trained on P-47’s, but these were not available to the Group at that time.
He initially was a Flight Leader in the 485th Fighter Squadron. The 485th flew over the beach head on the 6th June 1944 on rotation. Usually and as part of the Ninth Airforce they were assigned to ground targets, but not this day.
Photo from Jones "370th Fighter Group in WWII"
I haven’t been able to confirm his participation on this day, but I do have an excerpt from his combat report dated 31st July 1944.
With 485th Fighter Squadron 370th Fighter Group
“I was leading Blue Flight circling the target area giving Red Flight Top Cover as they were dive bombing the target. Circling above us at about 12,000 feet were 12 Me 109s. I kept watching them; then 8 of them half rolled and got behind my flight. I gave the order to jettison our bombs and break. I dropped flaps and started in a tight Lufberry. When I had completed one turn I was alone, and at that time I saw an Me 109 in a vertical turn coming in front of me so I started firing at him at a 90 degree deflection shot. He flew right into the pattern and I saw strikes on him from nose to tail. The plane seemed to shudder and slow down. I was about 200 yards when I started to fire. The Me 109 then made a 90 degree turn to the left and started to climb as if he was going to loop. I followed him, closing to about 100 yards, fired and saw strikes all over his canopy, fuselage and tail surfaces. As he was about at the top of his loop and almost on his back, I saw what looked like his canopy come off, as the plane seemed to hang there. It looked like I had wounded the pilot during the first 90 degree deflection shot and he was rolling it over on his back to jettison his canopy and bail out.
About that time I looked in my rear view mirror and saw an Me 109 on my tail. I dropped flaps and turned into him. He half rolled and went down. As I rolled out I saw an Me 109 coming down in front of me. I opened up again and gave him a 90-degree deflection shot. He ran into my pattern and I saw strikes all over the plane. I followed him and kept firing from directly behind him, seeing strikes on his tail surfaces. Then he proceeded to go down in a wild dive from about 5000 feet. I looked back in my mirror again, because all during this time I was still alone. My flight had left me. I saw another Me 109 coming in on my tail. I dropped flaps, leveled out and turned into him. He automatically went into a steep climb and I lost him in the sun. When I looked I saw no more enemy and called my Flight to join me.”
Captain Sabo made his first and last "full" confirmed combat claim on the 20th October 1944 with one Fw190 destroyed. This brought his official score to 1.33.
In November 1944 he was promoted to Major and took command of the 485th Fighter Squadron. He led the squadron and sometimes the Group on missions, and one of the last flown as group lead was on the 15th March 1945 over Pirmasens, Germany. He was awarded the Silver Star about this time.
After the war he did not maintain contact with his squadron and did not appear to have attended any reunions or gatherings. Jay Jones the author of the book “The 370th Fighter Group in WWII” did try to trace Paul Sabo when researching his book, but was unsuccessful. It would be great to hear from any family members who could add to this information.
Photo from Jones "370th Fighter Group in WWII"