15th AF The Fifteenth Air Force 15th AF

6649th Navigational Aids Squadron

Doolittle decorates White

Courtesy of Roy White

Doolittle Decorates Bronx Officer: Lt. Donald P. White, 1445 University Ave., the Bronx, has been awarded the Legion of Merit by Maj. Gen. James H. Doolittle, commander of the Fifteenth Air Force, for having "concieved, organized, trained and commanded a signal system of great assistance to aircraft."
The citation said Lieutenant White, "supplied with a minimum of personnel, equipment and transportation, selected station sites, installed interstation communications and welded an efficient organization in a remarkably short time."
NEW YORK WORLD-TELEGRAM, FRIDAY, DECEMBER 10, 1943

Personnel Roster

The 6649th Navigational Aids Squadron, known throughout the NAAF theatre as “Big Fence” prosecuted an estimated 16,000 requests for assistance from Allied aircraft between April 1943 and June 1945.  The 6649th filled several critical needs of the Fifteenth Air Force, all of which depended on fixing the position of aircraft seeking aid.

Big Fence began operations atop a 3000 foot peak near Constantine, Algeria in March of 1943.  The outfit moved twice within North Africa and twice more again within southern Italy, finally locating at Castel del Monte where it remained until cessation of hostilities.

Being a VHF system, Big Fence was particularly valuable to fighters, which only had VHF radios.  The bombardment groups could often rely on other navigational aids that were at their disposal.  Unfortunately, these methods were all fairly ineffective in bad weather.

Big Fence from YANK Magazine