Diary of John P. Burns

December 10, 1941 

Took off at 9:00, went Rosales and Nichols. Alert at N.F. Patrol there, just coming in when Nips hit. Didn’t stay long, landed out of gas at Cabanatuan Field covered with barrels, wrecked plane.

Burns and squadron mate Gus Williams were flying a patrol over Nichols Field in late morning and low on gas were coming in to land about 12:40 when Zeros began to strafe. Williams managed to land and escape the attack, while Burns opted to head for Maniquis Field, at Cabanatuan, 60 miles north of Manila, instead. Out of gas, Burns did not wait for Filipinos to clear the field of obstacles–set up to deter a feared Japanese landing–and crashed through the drums. He was unhurt, but his ship was a complete wreck. Dyess had flown down to Manila and spotted the bombers unloading on the dock area, but his guns were not working and he landed at an auxiliary field. Lack of documentation leaves us in the dark about the activities of the other 21st Pursuiters this day.