Remembering Sacrifices

On Memorial Day, we remember and honor those who gave their lives in military service. I’ve never had the inclination to grill out, throw a pool party, or go to the lake, as it seems those are the most popular explanations of “what we did for Memorial Day”. To be honest, growing up, my Memorial Day’s were usually spent at some soccer complex for some “Memorial Day Cup” with my teammates and parents, as were most weekends that people were doing fun things. I don’t regret that, but it has an impact on what I do with this day in my future.

After completing my graduate project, I have a newfound respect for those men who never made it home to see their families in war. For the 362nd Fighter Group, I saw the names and faces of these boys-turned-men as I searched through books, papers, photographs, and webpages, and I was saddened by how many did not make it home.

I was especially saddened when I saw how many men my grandfather knew and flew with personally that didn’t make it back. To know how close he was with them and how much they meant to him, I can get some inclination of how he felt to lose them.

So for this Memorial Day, in honor of the men of the 362nd who gave their lives, I want to list them here. This list is from the first couple of pages of “Mogins Maulers – the 362nd Fighter Group’s History of WWII.” The authors (a few of the men themselves and their families) make sure to note that this may not be a comprehensive list, that some may have been forgotten or lost. For now, these men are listed in their squadrons, in the order their lives were lost.

362nd Fighter Group Headquarters Personnel

Capt. Clough F. Gee, III
Major Berry Chandler

377th Fighter Squadron

Lt. Homer V. Waits
Capt. John E. Moist
Lt. Raymond J. Shea
Lt. John E. Hayden
Lt. Ralph D. Day
Lt. Walter J. Booth
Lt. Donald R. Gipple
Lt. Emory A. Riggs
Lt. Burleigh E. Curtis
Lt. Richard M. Hoff
Lt. Ralph E. Phillips
Lt. James P. Harris
P.F.C. John E. Goodale
Lt. Jack D. Conatser
Lt. Elroy M. Nangle
Lt. William H. Ort
Lt. Roy D. Christian
Lt. James G. Newman
Lt. Fred C. Ford
Lt. Robert E. Daw
Capt. Roy L. Barker
Lt. Archie E. Billings
Lt. Willard Nagelstadt
Capt. Darden W. McCollum
Lt. Asa W. Shuler
Lt. Cecil M. Gurganus
Lt. Virgil P. Kirkham
Lt. John B. Fisher
Capt. Kenneth Caldwell
Lt. Merrill E. Holland
Lt. Robert V. Mendenhall

378th Fighter Squadron

Lt. Burdick
Lt. Charles Armstrong
Lt. Richard Huber
Lt. William F. Hall
Lt. Maynard L. Cowles
Lt. Daniel A. Sipe, Jr.
Pvt. Robert Taft
Lt. Kevin Gough
Lt. Craig A. Gilbert
Lt. Leon R. Bentley
Lt. Alva D. Bessey
Capt. Harry R. Stroh
Capt. Leon Bilstin
Lt. Andrew Sunter
Lt. Richard Heyne
Lt. Alvin A. Johnson
Lt. Richard K. Grant
Lt. Joseph J. Maucini, Jr.
Lt. Robert W. Snell
Lt. Gordon J. McGrath
Lt. Vernon A. Post
Lt. Edward E. Smith
Lt. George F. Robinson
Lt. James W. Noland

379th Fighter Squadron

Lt. George S. Palmer
Lt. Kenneth K. Kitts
Capt. Hugh F. Houghton
Lt. Theodore D. Jensen
Capt. George W. Rarey
Lt. Robert G. Barnes
Lt. I. L. Taylor
T/Sgt. Arthur L. Hartman
Lt. Harold D. Wood
Lt. Harold Wellek
Lt. Warner H. Marsh, Jr.
Lt. Donald H. Wilson
Lt. Joseph T. Price
Capt. Raymond A. Mitchell
Lt. Louis A. Bauer
Maj. Carroll A. Peterson
Lt. Chester B. Kusi
Lt. John K. McMahon
Lt. Robert A. Sovern
Lt. Donald J. Kueffner
Lt. James H. Sheets
Lt. Philip P. Heelan
Lt. Jack C. Taylor
Capt. Timothy F. Ruane, Jr.

These men of the 362nd paid the ultimate price for their country and our freedom. They are just a small list among thousands, but they are important to me. The least I can do is remember them and their sacrifice.

Thank you, gentlemen.

12 thoughts on “Remembering Sacrifices

    1. Brett

      Lt. Merrill “Bud” Holland was my great uncle. He flew in the 362nd fighter group, 377th squadron. He was killed on June 18, 1945 near Pocking, Germany when Lt Robert Mendenhall collided with his plane during a training mission. If you would happen to have pictures of Bud or the plane he flew, I would love to see them.
      Thanks,
      Brett
      bkrell@hotmail

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      1. I’m afraid I do not have very much on the ETO. I think your best bet would be to contact the unit itself or a unit organization associated with the 362nd. There are a number of videos on-line about that group and a number of images.
        Wish i could be of more assistance, Brett.

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  1. obscureco

    Heavens to Betsy – I think I can help! I’ve been writing a book on the 362nd since (gulp!) 1998; every time I think it’s done, I run across a pilot, or a new source of material, and it balloons again. Shoot me an email at bucholtzc@aol.com and I’ll send you the manuscript (as it exists today) and any additional materials I have that may be helpful. I spoke to your grandfather once – but we didn’t complete an interview, which I will always regret. “Andy” Anderson asked me to build a model of the last 5 By 5 as a birthday gift, and I was in Dayton when the restored P-47 was unveiled; my late father and I were even at the Laughlin family reception, so we may have even met! You’ll probably want to see the Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/362ndFighterGroup/ – I started when the association disbanded a couple of years ago.

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  2. Filip Vojtasek

    Dear all, I have been writing a book on strafing operation of U.S. air force in then Czechoslovakia during WWII. The 362nd FG was very active – please drop me a line. I would like to share my findings with you. Regards, Filip

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  3. Joanne B VanHolstyn

    Thank you for your work in remembrance of the 362nd Fighter Group. My mom’s brother was Lt. Alva D. Bessey of the 378th Fighter Squadron. He went overseas in April of 1944 and only flew the P-47 for about a month before he was shot down and killed on June 22. I enjoyed your video also. Sincerely, Joanne

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    1. June and July 1944 were some of the deadliest for the 362nd. And the fact that so many of the newer pilots were lost so quickly is the reason they earned the moniker “The 362nd Suicide Outfit”. I’m sorry for your family’s loss, and I hope to continue to honor men like your uncle who never got to see their family again.

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  4. Robert H. McLaughlin

    Hello, my Dad (CMSgt Ralph E. McLaughlin) served during WWII in the 362nd Fighter Group as a mechanic on P-47’s. He made a career of the Air Force, but died at age 43 from kidney disease. He took pictures when he was in Europe on what appears to be an air base in France so I have them to share if anyone is interested. Also, he maintained the P-47’s that two Lieutenant’s flew on missions and was close to each of them. Their names are Lt. Early and Lt. Gaulding, however I have not seem their names or any reference to them on any websites dedicated to the 362nd. I know from what our Dad conveyed when he was alive that one of them was killed in action during a mission, but I’m not sure which one. I have 2 pictures of them standing next to and in-front of a P-47. I would like to have their names added to websites so their military service is properly recognized and their memories are recorded for eternity. Any help someone can provide would be greatly appreciated. Thank you, Robert

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    1. Thank you for letting me know, Robert. I checked the Mogin’s Maulers second edition and didn’t see either Lt. Early or Lt. Gaulding. I did see your father was in the 377th. I would love to see the photos your dad had, and I’m doing a preliminary “feeler” research to see who might have some info on them.

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      1. Robert H. McLaughlin

        Thank you for your reply! Let me know where to send the photos. I just had them converted from slides to jpeg’s so the file size of each is large, thus it’ll probably require either multiple emails or a zip file. Happy to hear you saw that my Dad was part of the 377th, but surprised neither Lt. Early or Lt. Gaulding were listed. I really want both to get the recognition they deserve so any help you can provide will be greatly appreciated. I’ll wait to hear back. Thank you again

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      2. Robert H. McLaughlin

        I discovered that Lt Early & Lt Gaulding did not serve in the 362nd. They were pilots and likely test pilots at Maxwell Air Base when my Dad was there for training. Hope that helps solve the mystery. Also, I’m in the process of sending the actual pics to the families of both pilots, but I have others pertaining entirely to the 362nd FG including one of the commanding officer as well as a few pics of B-24’s and one that landed on the tarmac with only one wing wheel operational I assume upon returning from a mission.

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