Lt. George W. Owen, Jr., 1922-1944

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Lt. George W. Owen, Jr., 1922-1944

Lt. George W. Owen, Jr., 1922-1944This Tombstone Tuesday is about Lt. George W. Owen, Jr., who was shot down with his air crew over Wackersleben in 1944.

My father’s best friend and cousin married George’s sister. My mother was helping me with that side of the family and mentioned that they had a good friend who was killed in the war.

There are a lot World War II records, so I was able to find out what happened. George was born in Chicago on 11 Aug 1922. He enlisted in Chicago the day after Pearl Harbor and was eventually assigned to the Mighty 8th Air Force, 493rd Group, 863rd Squadron in England.

On 12 Sep 1944, he and a crew of eight departed from Great Yarmouth:

  • Owen, George W. – pilot
  • Blaydes, Edgar E. – co-pilot
  • Fahey, Donald – navigator
  • Tipton, L.C. – bombardier
  • Trunzo, Peter M. – radio operator
  • Fiore, Roy F. – engineer
  • Gialloreto, Charles C. – ball turret
  • Gray, James B. – waist gunner­
  • Jorg, Luther J. – tail gunner

Their target was Magdeburg, Germany. Over Wackersleben, near Magdeburg, enemy aircraft shot down the Flying Fortress and its nine young men.

The Missing Air Crew Report (MACR) states Owen, Blaydes, Trunzo, and Gray were killed when the plane went down. I haven’t yet discovered what happened to the rest of the crew. 

Update: the rest of the crew were taken prisoner, but survived the war. The World War II Prisoners of War, 1941-1946 database at Ancestry says each were “Returned to Military Control, Liberated or Repatriated.”

Blaydes’s and Owen’s bodies were repatriated and reinterred together on 15 Feb 1950 at Camp Butler National Cemetery in Springfield, Sangamon, Illinois. It’s often said that genealogy makes history personal, and this is an excellent example. The sacrifice Lt. Owen and his crew made is not forgotten.

About the Author:

Nancy Loe has an MA in American History and an MLS in Library Science and Archives. She has appeared on PBS’s American Experience, at Rootstech, SCGS Jamboree, and state and regional genealogy conferences. Her website was featured in Family Tree Magazine's “Social Media Mavericks: 40 to Follow.”

5 Comments

  1. Jen 27 July 2010 at 3:07 PM

    Since you have his MACR, have you looked into obtaining his IDPF (Individual Deceased Personnel File) from the National Archives? Since he died during the war, there should have been a report on him which would possibly include information about his burial overseas; disinterment; sending of remains home; maybe correspondence from the family; etc. I obtained the Accident Report file with photos and the IDPF for my Army Air Force relative who died during WWII.

    Just send a letter to: Military Textual Reference Branch (NWCTM), National Archives,
    8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD 20740-6001, requesting Michael’s Burial File. The letter began Pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act, I hereby make a request for the “Burial File” for, and included his name, branch of military, military service number (if known), Division, Date of Birth, Date of Death, Burial Site in the U.S. and relationship to deceased.

  2. Sassy Jane Genealogy 28 July 2010 at 1:05 PM

    Thanks for the tip on IDPFs, Jen. So it’s only military service records that were in St. Louis and burned?

  3. Jen 30 July 2010 at 4:33 AM

    Yes, only military service records. I just reread my comments – for an IDPF (WWII) change my “Burial File” to “IDPF” above.

    I have a Burial File for my WWI Ancestor Michael Kokoska. It even has hand written letters from his father. I have a WWII IDPF for a WWII cousin who died in France again with a handwritten letter and some other info such as personal items he had. And another who was killed in a plane crash in Florida in Dec 1942 while conducting training exercises. I’m waiting on another IDPF for a different cousin and it has been about 6 months.

    Definitely send in a letter but expect to wait a long time. Totally worth it though.

  4. Nicole 12 October 2010 at 8:51 AM

    My grandfather was the ball turret gunner in this crew, Charles Gialloreto. He lived until January of 2008.

  5. Sassy Jane Genealogy 12 October 2010 at 1:51 PM

    Thanks for posting that, Nicole. Did you talk to your grandfather about the crash? Was he taken prisoner?

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