Irwin W. Fernandes (1944/08/05)
Irwin and his little P38 fighter protected the "heavies" [bombers] on their way to Pilsen.
The name Irwin W. Fernandes appears on the Santa Cruz Sentinel May 30, 1945, Roll of Honor, yet his relationship with Santa Cruz County appears to be minimal.
Irwin Fernandes was born in 1921. His mother's name was Catherine. Available records do not indicate his place of birth, his siblings, or information regarding his formative years. In 1942, he was living in Alameda County, had completed two years of college and was working in the entertainment business.
Irwin Fernandes enlisted as a private in the Army Air Force in San Francisco on April 20, 1942, and was sent to an air cadet training facility. In 1943 he had earned his wings, was commissioned as a second lieutenant and assigned to the 77th Fighter Squadron, 20th Fighter Group stationed at March Field, California.
Fernandes' squadron was sent to Europe and arrived in Northamptonshire, England, in August 1943. It was then stationed at Kings Cliff, England. Irwin began flying P-38 fighters on combat missions from Kings Cliff in November 1943 and during one of those missions, was credited with at least one enemy aircraft kill.
During an air engagement on August 5, 1944, the War Department reported that First Lieutenant Irwin W. Fernandes was shot down over Europe and was Killed in Action. His remains were buried in the Ardennes American Cemetery in Neupre, Belgium. His awards included the Distinguished Flying Cross with Oak Leaf Clusters.
(ABMC; NARA2; WIKI, 77th Fighter Squadron; SCSn April 16, 1945 1:1)