Devil Dog Squadron keeps history flying

Devil Dog Squadron pilot Beth Jenkins, left, and crew chief Ernie Henderson with the plane at a recent event. (Eddie Harbour/Community Impact Newspaper)
Devil Dog Squadron pilot Beth Jenkins, left, and crew chief Ernie Henderson with the plane at a recent event. (Eddie Harbour/Community Impact Newspaper)

Devil Dog Squadron pilot Beth Jenkins, left, and crew chief Ernie Henderson with the plane at a recent event. (Eddie Harbour/Community Impact Newspaper)

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The Devil Dog is a modified B-25 Mitchell bomber that is part of the Commemorative Air Force and primarily flies in air shows and other special events. (Eddie Harbour/Community Impact Newspaper)
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While it does feature some modern upgrades, the cockpit of the Devil Dog offers the same view pilots over 75 years ago would have had. (Eddie Harbour/Community Impact Newspaper)
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The crews chief on the Devil Dog are listed as Ozzie and Georgia Parrish, who led the effort to restore the plane to its former glory. (Eddie Harbour/Community Impact Newspaper)
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The bomb bay doors of the Devil Dog feature the signatures of dozens of soldiers who went to war in similar planes acquired as the plane tours the country at air shows and other special events. (Eddie Harbour/Community Impact Newspaper)
For the last 24 years, the modified B-25 nicknamed “Devil Dog” has been under the eye of Beth Jenkins, the Georgetown-based volunteer commander of Devil Dog Squadron. The plane itself—technically a PBJ-1J, a version of the stock B-25 built for Marine Corps’ use—with its twin 14-cylinder engines and deep blue paint job make it hard to miss on the tarmac or set against a large white hangar.

Jenkins, who has owned and operated Pilot’s Choice at the Georgetown Airport for over 35 years, has worked with the Commemorative Air Force out of Dallas for most of that time, under which the Devil Dog Squadron stays airborne.

“It’s basically a flying museum,” Jenkins said of the nonprofit CAF, which operates nearly 250 planes in single-plane squadrons and multiplane wings.

Jenkins’ first foray in flying a historic vehicle came with the Yellow Rose, another Texas-based B-25, as part of the CAF’s Central Texas Wing based out of San Marcos.

But when the opportunity to take the reins of the Devil Dog opened up, she took it.


“I moved over to the Devil Dog in 1996, and since 2000 the airplane has been in my hangar most of the time, so it makes it convenient for me as I run my business six, seven days a week.”According to Jenkins, the plane was found in Rockdale, Texas and was one of five B-25s being used to transport nitroglycerine for use in South American mines.

From there, the CAF acquired it, and it became the passion project of Ozzie Parrish to restore it to its former Marine glory, replete with the mascot of the Corps, the Devil Dog, painted on its nose, an impracticality in wartime where light paint could reflect and give away a position.

During World War II, Parrish served with VMB 612, a Marine squadron, and had the number 3 painted on the Devil Dog to honor the No. 3-designated plane from his group that, after 22 successful missions that included the sinking of an Imperial Japanese ship and three supply ships, did not return from mission No. 23.

Now, the “Devil Dog” spends its time at air shows and other special appearances in an effort to educate and honor the legacy and place of the Marines in the history of flight.

According to “Devil Dog” crew chief Ernie Henderson, the plane flies about 100 hours a year, and flyers hope to get 1,000-1,500 hours of flight time out of each engine. For now, “Devil Dog” is winding down its year in preparation for its annual maintenance check with the Field of Honor flyover scheduled for Nov. 7, one of its last for the year. Henderson has his own connection to the plane as his father, Roy, flew one of the other 9,000 B-25s built for operation.

“My dad flew [a B-25] in World War II, so it means something to me to keep it flying,” Henderson said.

Devil Dog Squadron

512-869-1759

[email protected]

www.devildogsquadron.com
By Eddie Harbour

Editor, Cedar Park/Georgetown/Leander

Eddie joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2021 and has been a reporter and editor over the past two decades including lengthy stays at the Antelope Valley Press (Palmdale, Calif.) and Santa Barbara News-Press. He relocated to the Austin area in 2014 from his native California.



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