On 21 September 1942 the 39th Squadron began operations in their new P-38 Lightnings. General George Kenny, Commander of the Fifth Air Force, made a statement that he would personally present an Air Medal to the pilot that downed the first Jap in combat while flying a P-38. According to records, one day a gentleman from Missouri by the name of Faurot was on a mission over the Japanese Air Base at Lae, New Guinea. For days previous the American pilots had been radioing insults at the Japanese, trying to make them engage in combat. Faurot was leading a flight of four P-38s loaded with 500-pound bombs to be dropped on the airstrip at Lae. As the flight approached Lae, the insults to the Japs began again and Faurot observed a Zero starting to take off. He dived to intercept. Faurot remembered that he still had two bombs under his wings and could not engage the Jap Zero with them, so he quickly released the bombs and pulled back hard on the control yoke to escape the blast of the bombs. He then swung back around to engage the Zero. As he watched, the bombs hit the water and exploded just as the Zero passed over them. The Zero lurched crazily, “winged-over” and crashed into the ocean.
At a "medals" ceremony some time after reading Faurot’s submitted mission report, General Kenny (in his memoirs) had this to say, “I asked Faurot if he was going to claim the "FIRST NIP" in air combat in this theater by a P-38. Bob just grinned and asked if he was going to get the Air Medal for his official victory. I answered, “I want you to shoot them down, not splash water on them”. General Kenny, whose relationship with “his kids" was marked by the humor of a crusty father, presented Faurot with the Air Medal and whispered in Bob's ear as he pinned it on, “You had better keep this whole matter quiet."