National POW/MIA Recognition Day, 21 September 2012

This Friday, 21 September 2012 is the annual observance of National POW/MIA Recognition Day.   We should remember and honor the service and sacrifice of our nation’s Prisoners Of War and Missing In Action.  For more information on this observance see:  http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo/pow_day/

In World War II, the 371st Fighter Group flew the P-47 Thunderbolt in combat in the European theater fro  April of 1944 to May of 1945.  Given the high number of air-to-ground missions against the German Wehrmacht that the group flew, there were a lot of losses, POWs and MIAs.

Online sources indicate at least 17 of the group’s pilots became POWs.  The group’s yearbook, published in 1946, shows another 15 pilots as MIA.

One of those listed as missing when the war ended was 2Lt  Wayne L. Holm, from Portland, Oregon, who went MIA over Germany on January 2, 1945.  But he apparently survived the crash-landing of his stricken Thunderbolt inside Germany near Reifenberg, not far from the French border, after a dogfight with German fighters (see photo below).  Unfortunately, he did not survive his subsequent evasion effort.  2Lt Holm’s remains were found in 1946, in a heavily mined area along the Franco-German border.  He is buried in the Lorraine American Cemetery at St. Avold, France, in Plot D, Row 7, Grave 14.  2Lt Holm earned the Air Medal with two oak leaf clusters and the Purple Heart.

Crash-landed P-47 Thunderbolt of 2Lt Wayne L. Holm, 371FG/405FS after 2 Jan 1945 dogfight

Source of image and 2Lt Holm incident info at:

http://www.flugzeugabstuerze-saarland.de/html/zweibrucken.html

and

http://www.flugzeugabstuerze-saarland.de/html/body_usa_3.html

 

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