Friday, 18 September 2015. National POW MIA Recognition Day in the United States.
“Observances of National POW/MIA Recognition Day are held across the country on military installations, ships at sea, state capitols, schools and veterans’ facilities. It is traditionally observed on the third Friday in September each year. This observance is one of six days throughout the year that Congress has mandated the flying of the National League of Families’ POW/MIA flag. The others are Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day and Veterans Day.
The flag is to be flown at major military installations, national cemeteries, all post offices, VA medical facilities, the World War II Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the official offices of the secretaries of state, defense and veterans affairs, the director of the selective service system and the White House.”
On this day, Frisky remembers the P-47 Thunderbolt pilots of the 371st Fighter Group who became prisoners of war in the European Theater of Operations during World War II:
Augarten, Rudolph, Capt., 404FS. Shot down by flak on 10 June 1944 near Monteille, France, while flying P-47D-20-RE serial number 42-76365. Bailed out four miles east of Lisieux, France, last seen running to farmhouse and waving to P-47’s above. Captured, POW briefly. Escaped, evaded, and returned to unit on 14 August 1944. (MACR 5686)
Canup, Luther P., Capt., 405FS. Shot down by flak on 8 July 1944 near Vire, France, (or Cambernon, France) on armed recce mission, while flying P-47D-20-RE serial number 42-76454. Reported as POW on 14 February 1945, returned to military control after end of war in Europe. (MACR 6646)
Gamble, Robert M., 1st. Lt., 405FS. Shot down in aerial combat on 2 January 1945 while flying P-47D-28-RA, serial number 42-28858. (MACR 11617)
Hooper, Leon L., 1st. Lt., 405FS. Experienced mechanical difficulty over enemy territory in P-47D-25-RE serial number 42-26551. (MACR 14107)
Jack, William A., Capt., 406FS. Flying P-47D-30-RA serial number 44-33036 (4W-O, named “Virg”) on 20 April 1945 when aircraft was damaged by trees while strafing. He came down in the vicinity of Greding, Germany and was taken prisoner. He was probably the last POW of the 371st Fighter Group. (MACR 14092)
Johnson, Glenn H., 1st. Lt., 404FS. On 14 February 1945 while flying P-47D-21-RA serial number 43-25551 collided in mid-air with P-47D flown by 1st Lt. Darrel G. Shumard. He came down in the vicinity of Kirkel, Germany and was captured. (MACR 12389)
Kirkland, Edward R., 1st Lt., 405FS. Shot down while flying P-47D-30-RA serial number 44-32961 on 18 March 1945 near Birkenfeld, Germany. Captured, escaped, captured, escaped and evaded back to advancing Allied Forces, joining up with the 4th Armored Division of Patton’s Third Army before returning to his unit on 27 March 1945. (MACR 13132)
LaRochelle, Joseph E., 2nd. Lt., 404FS. Shot down by flak and seen to bail out on D-Day, 6 June 1944, just off the coast of Normandy near St. Pair-sur-Mer while flying P-47D-20-RA serial number 43-25278. First POW of the group. (MACR 5540)
Marks, Robert L., F/O, 405FS. Shot down in aerial combat on 5 January 1945 near Herschberg, Germany, while flying P-47D-28-RA serial number 42-28964. (MACR 11598)
Martin, Russell M., 1st. Lt., 405FS. Shot down in aerial combat on 2 January 1945 near Brenschelbach, Germany while flying P-47D-28-RA serial number 42-28617. (MACR 11600)
McCoy, Jefferson M., 2nd. Lt., 404FS. Shot down by flak on 25 February 1945 near Kohlhof, Germany while flying P-47D-11-RE serial number 42-75462. (MACR 12729)
McDowell, Gildas D., 2nd Lt., 405FS. Shot down by flak on 14 October 1944 while flying P-47D-15-RE serial number 42-76219. Seen by 371FG Capt. Emott in London late May 1945. Had returned to military control 29 Apr 45. (MACR 9647)
McDuff, Lee E., 2nd. Lt., 405FS. Shot down in P-47D-22-RE serial number 42-26341 by flak on 20 September 1944 about two miles east of Cobern, Germany, bailed out behind enemy lines, formally reported POW as of 14 January 45. (MACR 9175)
Schleppegrell, William, 2nd. Lt., 405FS. Shot down by flak on 1 January 1945 in the vicinity of Völklingen, Germany, while flying P-47D-28-RE serial number 44-20122. (MACR 11615)
Shumard, Darrel G., 1st. Lt., 404FS. On 14 February 1945 while flying P-47D-27-RE serial number 42-27262 (9Q-V) collided over enemy territory with a P-47D flown by 1st Lt. Glen H.
Johnson and ended up as a POW. (MACR 12388)
Simmons, George R., 2nd. Lt., 405FS. Shot down by flak on 26 December 1944 near Haslach, Germany, while flying P-47D-25-RE serial number 42-26664 (8N-P, named “Snuffy II”). (MACR 11610)
Sullivan, John B., 1st Lt., 405FS. Shot down by flak on 14 October 1944 near Ersingen, Germany, while flying P-47D-15-RE serial number 42-76230 (named “Peggy Woo”). Initially carried as MIA, status changed to POW in April 1945. Seen by 371FG Capt. Emott in London late May 45. (MACR 9648)
Tait, Harry H., Jr., Capt., 406FS. Shot down in an aerial engagement 20 October 1944 near Fribourg-en-Brisgau in P-47D-27-RE serial number 42-27343. (MACR 9787)
Wolcott, Robert S., Maj., 404FS. His aircraft P-47D-28-RA serial number 42-28629 damaged by flak on 8 October 1944, he bellied in east of Stuttgart, Germany and became a POW; he returned to military control 29 April 1945 as Allied forces advanced into Germany. (MACR 9824)
In another interesting 371FG prisoner experience, Capt. Harry W. Hohl, Jr., 404FS, was shot down in aerial combat on 8 June 1944 near Cormeilles, France, while flying P-47D-21-RA 43-25567 and “captured” by French guerrillas of dubious loyalty. These guerillas apparently debated to whom they might sell Hohl and some other American, British and German “captives” for the highest price, either the Germans or Americans! Left unguarded momentarily, Hohl and an American P-51 pilot took off, bringing the two Germans in the group with them, and found their way to friendly lines. (MACR 5872)
In addition to those from Frisky who were POWs, we remember the men of the group who never came back from the war. There are five who remain missing in action to this day. These men are:
Private First Class (PFC) Herbert Feit, 371st Fighter Group, 406th Fighter Squadron, from New York, New York, went missing on April 1, 1945, near Metz, France; he went on pass in Metz and “…just never showed up again.” He is remembered on the Tablets of the Missing at Lorraine American Cemetery, St. Avold, France.
Flight Officer (F/O) William Gorman, 371st Fighter Group, 405th Fighter Squadron, from Brooklyn, New York, went MIA on August 7, 1944, over St. Nazaire, France; he failed to return from a dive-bombing mission. He is remembered on the Tablets of the Missing at Brittany American Cemetery, St. James, France. He was awarded the Air Medal with six Oak Leaf Clusters.
F/O Edwin S. Humphreys, Jr., 371st Fighter Group, 404th Fighter Squadron, from Chicago, Illinois, went MIA on June 8, 1944, over France; he was separated from his flight during an engagement with ME-109’s and did not return to base. He is remembered on the Tablets of the Missing at Cambridge American Cemetery, Cambridge, England. He was awarded the Air Medal and the Purple Heart.
Captain George D. Pieck, 371st Fighter Group, 404th Fighter Squadron Operations Officer, from Clarksdale, Mississippi, went MIA on August 10, 1944, over France; his plane was shot up by flak, he bailed out four miles east of Mayenne, France, and landed safely about 15 miles inside enemy lines, but was not heard from again. He is remembered on the Tablets of the Missing at Brittany American Cemetery, St. James, France. He was awarded the Air Medal with 13 Oak Leaf Clusters and the Purple Heart.
Captain Uno A. Salmi, 371st Fighter Group, 406th Fighter Squadron, from Lake Charles, Louisiana, went MIA on June 16, 1944, near St. Lo, France; he led his flight away from a flak concentration and disappeared into the clouds flying downward through overcast. He is remembered on the Tablets of the Missing at Cambridge American Cemetery, Cambridge, England. He was awarded the Air Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters and the Purple Heart.
Let us always remember the brave warriors of the 371st Fighter Group who fought against and defeated fascism in World War II. On this day we honor the 20 former POWs and five missing men of the 371st Fighter Group. May we always honor them and those today who serve and sacrifice for our country, because freedom isn’t free. Hand Salute!
National POW/MIA Recognition Day, poster, at: http://www.dpaa.mil/Families/Posters.aspx