Learn more about some of the brave men & women who will be honored with this Congressional Gold Medal.
John Gillespie Magee
Magee wrote the famous aviation poem “High Flight” just a few months prior to his death.
John Harvey “Crash” Curry
There is a very interesting reference to Jacqueline Cochran being recruited directly by Clayton Knight in the below article.
For a full list and the stories of the American women who flew in the ATA, see the link below:
Read about the RCAF Americans who were added to the Virginia War Memorial
William Dunn was America’s first WW II Ace.
Steven Spielberg’s sister, Nancy, made a documentary entitled “Above and Beyond” about Americans and Canadians who fly for the newly formed Israeli Air Force in 1948. That got me thinking that perhaps some of these same men might have heeded the call in 1939 to fight the Germans before the attack Pearl Harbor. Sure enough….. Milton Rubenfeld was one such individual. Recruited through the Clayton Knight Committee, Rebenfeld went to Canada, trained with the RCAF and ended up in Squadron 420. When the US entered the war, he transferred to the USAAF. After World War II, he joined the Israeli Air Force just as it was being created in flew in Israel’s War of Independence.
US Congressman Brian Higgins (D-NY) honors Sydney Cole’s wartime heroism.
WIVB article about Sydney Cole
Tom Withers Jr.
Tom Wither’s Jr. from Roseland, VA flew in the 405 Squadron in a Halifax bomber. He was Killed-In-Action on 27 July 1942 He rests now with his Canadian brothers-in-arms in the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery (CWGC) in Kiel, Germany. You can view his final resting place here CWGC Withers Jr..
In letter’s, he wrote:
“…to say goodbye to you was not an easy thing for me to do. However, I believe you both will understand that I could not well do anything else since everything that I, as well as both of you, believe in is now in a very precarious position. My training, inclinations, and whatever abilities I may have, seem best suited for the choice that I have made. And there is no question of serving Canada to the neglect of my mother country. He who serves Great Britain or any of its Dominions also serves the U.S. and vice versa. Our differences are in arbitrary boundary lines only.” …Love Tom.
To his Mother just after Pearl Harbour on Dec 16, 1941 from England
“…Keep it up Mom. We have to be brave and a little more so than the enemy. That is the way we will eventually win. It is more difficult in your job and Dad’s because you cannot be carried along by the excitement of contact. You can only wait. But in this determination to wait, to be cheerful and to carry along as usual lies the secret of the existence of organized decency. The British people waited and fought back while their homes and their families were destroyed. They waited determinedly, cheerfully. To them as much as to the sailors, the soldiers, and airmen we owe the existence now of the still fought-for ideal of freedom and decency. You and Dad will stay with us I know. To do this you must, as much as possible, carry along in the normal way. …” My love to all of you, Tom
To his Uncle, Philip “Light” Scruggs on May 12, 1942 from England
” Last week an order came out , that we could apply for transfer to the U.S. forces. But I shall not do so. There are reasons, good ones, for changing and for not changing. My real reason for remaining with the Canadians is that I started with them. They gave me my first chance to fight hence I will stay. “ Tom
James Blondeau wrote a musical tribute to Tom Withers and created a video: Tribute to Withers
“The RCAF’s American Dambuster”
Joe McCarthy, from Long Island, joined the RCAF in May of 1941. Read about Joe’s wartime experiences: Joe McCarthy
Alphonso C. Marchbanks
Charles D. Gellatly
Robert L Pewitt
Kenneth J. Yardley
J. Balmer, W.L. Floyd, J.C. Palms, E.A. Neale, V. Wysuki
Honor Roll of those Known to have been Killed in Action
More than 850 Americans are known to have been Killed in Action while in service in the RCAF, RAF and the supporting services like the ATA. They hail from all nearly every State in the nation.
John Stanley Parker, Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve (RNVR)
and his son
Frank Parker (The Black Watch)
One of the first Americans to join the Royal Navy was John Stanley Parker. Hailing from Boston, he attended Harvard and was well known around the Boston area yacht clubs. After hearing that the Royal Navy was in search of experienced yachtsmen to serve as naval officers, he travelled to Halifax to meet with British Vice Admiral Bonham-Carter (distant relative to actress Helena Bonham-Carter).
On June 7, 1941, Parker was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the RNVR, giving his age as 40. Parker was assigned to HMS Broadwater, a Lend-Lease ship that began her life as the USS Mason, one of the 50 destroyers that Roosevelt “lent” to the British when the Lend-Lease Agreement was signed.
The HMS Broadwater was assigned to convoy duty, escorting merchant ships from Canada to England. On October 18, 1941, while escorting eastbound convoy SC 48 (the 48th convoy having departed from Sydney, Nova Scotia), she was prosecuting an attack on a suspected U-Boat target. She was subsequently hit by torpedoes fired from U-101 and sank with 44 lives lost, including Lt. Parker.
Before John Parker joined the Royal Navy, his son Frank had already crossed the border and joined the Canadian Royal Highland Division otherwise known as The Black Watch. Frank survived the war but another son, John Jr. enlisted in the US Navy and was killed during the Battle of Okinawa in the Pacific.
excerpted from “Americans at War in Foreign Forces: A History, 1914-1918 by Chris Dickon
LT. Harold Albert Bowman, RCAF, USNR
LT. Harold Albert Bowman, the son of Mrs. Anna Margaret Bowman was born in Hillsboro, Ill on 17 June 1914. At some point, the family moved to Corpus Christi, TX.
From 1933 to 1936, Bowman served in the US Army where he attended The School of Aviation Medicine. Upon completion of a 3 year enlistment in the Army, Bowman was honorably discharged as a Private First Class.
In February of 1941, Harold Bowman went to Canada to join the RCAF and the fight for freedom. He received his flight training in the BCATP after which he was assigned to RCAF Squadron 423, part of Coastal Command. 423 Squadron was based at Oban, Argyll, Scotland. Bowman flew a British built Sunderland Flying Boat guarding the western approaches to Britain during the Battle of the Atlantic. With German U-Boats hunting and sinking Allied ships bringing supplies to Britain, it was the job of the Coastal Command to hunt for U-Boats on the surface and report their location.
In January 1943, Bowman resigned his RCAF Commission and joined the US Navy where he was commissioned as a LT. and assigned to fly a Consolidated Coronado flying boat. The design of the Coronado was very similar to the Sunderland which must have made the transition quite easy for LT. Bowman.
When the US successfully invaded Kwajalein Atoll in February of 1944, the Japanese seaplane base on Ebeye Island also came into US possession. The seaplane base was expanded and the US Navy began using it for Catalina and Coronado flying boats.
On February 12, 1945, Bowman was one of two pilots flying a Coronado to Ebeye. While making his approach in the waters next to Ebeye, the plane experienced a rough landing. It bounced several times before crashing nose first into the sea. Of the 18 men on board, 4 were KIA and 12 were saved. Sadly LT Bowman USNR and Lt. Cdr. Samuel O. Givens, Jr., USNR were listed as MIA. LT Bowman’s name is listed on the Tablets of the Missing at the Punchbowl National Military Cemetery in Honolulu.
At Kwajalein today, the effort to recover the MIA’s from WW2 continues through the efforts of the Kwajalein MIA Project. As part of American Legion Post #44 on Kwajalein, Dan Farnham and the other 20 members of the Project have been searching for a number of missing planes and the remains of the MIA’s in the Kwajalein Atoll lagoon for many years. Using a combination of side-scan sonar and investigative diving, they continue to search for lost planes and the men who flew them.
In 2015, the nose section of LT Bowman’s Coronado was verified by team divers of the Kwajalein MIA Project. The team does not do any remains recoveries, however all information pertaining to the plane and its location has been turned over to the U.S. Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency for follow-on action.
from Dan Farnham, Kwajalein MIA Project
A video recounting the search for LT. Bowman’s Coronado can be found on the video page of the Kwajalein MIA Project Web Site . The Coronado video is the 2nd one on the page.