December 13, 1941 

Light straffing attack on C.F. early, bombs an hour later. Left for Man. Arrived in time for raid, but it was on N.F. 54 ships. One bomb fell in city near us. They mostly missed N.F. but really cleaned out the barrio.

Joe Cole and other 21st Pursuiters arrived with Burns from Clark Field during the raid. The bombs were missing Nichols Field, falling one block west, where two 3d Pursuit pilots were hunkered down. One of them, 1st Lt. Bob Hanson, was hit and killed by bomb fragments. Many of the bombs fell on Barrio Baclaren adjacent to Nichols Field, resulting in carnage among the Filipino inhabitants. 

December 11, 1941 

All day at Cabanatuan, no news from C.F. Been so long without food that I could hardly eat. Rested and wrote three letters, not happy ones, I’m afraid. Have a ride to C.F. tomorrow.

Due to the heavy losses of P-40Es the first three days, USAFFE Headquarters this day ordered the pursuiters to “avoid direct combat,” wanting to limit their remaining 22 ships to reconnaissance missions only. 

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.