Ryder - #17
The Red Ryder
Standing R-L: Ryder, George N., Jr (P); Kretschmar, Wayne A. (CP); Isbell, Billy K. (N); Duval, Easton W. Jr. (B); McIntire, Robert D. (RWG)
Kneeling R-L: Armstrong, Bud W. (BTG); Doane, Charles F. (TTG); Williams, James H. (NTG); Bryson, Julius J. (TG); Bourgeois, Raymond H. (LWG)
On May 31, 1944, at around 1 p.m. in the afternoon, a US Army Air Force B-24 crashed into the Adriatic Sea, approximately 5 miles from the coast of the island of Vis. This aircraft was en route to its home at Torretta Field, Cerignola, Italy, returning from a combat mission over Ploesti, Rumania. There were 10 crew members aboard the aircraft, all members of the 461st Bombardment Group (Heavy), 764th Bomb Squadron (Heavy).
The aircraft had cleared the coast of Yugoslavia. Eyewitness accounts generally agree that the pilot feathered his number 3 engine, but maintained air speed of about 150 knots. The crew was seen throwing guns, ammunition and equipment out of the aircraft in order to maintain altitude. Other planes attempted to contact the crew by radio, but were unsuccessful. At about 5,000 to 6,000 feet, the crew began to bail out, and 10 chutes were seen to open. All landed in the water, and none were recovered alive.
The following information was received from Claiborne Duval, a 1st cousin of Lt. Easton Duval:
Claiborne Duval [email@example.com]
Wed 1/31/01 10:57 AM
Easton William Duval, Jr. was my first cousin. His body was recovered by a fisherman and, after the war, it was sent to my Aunt Helen and Uncle Easton in Austin, TX. He is buried in Austin. He was their only child. He was single but had a girlfriend. His picture is on his tombstone. I will send more information after I look up his genealogy that I worked up about 20 years ago. I had a card from him thanking me for making the gasoline that his plane used. I was a Chemical Engineer working with the Houdry Units at the Mobil [Magnolia Refinery at that time] and for six months during the war the Mobil refinery in Beaumont was the only refinery in the world making that particular, high rich mixture rated gasoline. Another refinery, Exxon in Baytown Texas, also had the ability to make that gasoline but a hurricane blew over their main fractionating tower and they were out of service for six months. It was a secret and we at Beaumont did not know it. We knew we frantically sent detailed reports every day to Washington for someone to read on the operation of the four Houdry units. His father, Easton William Duval, Sr., was an observer and/or bombardier in World War I, but returned home with only minor health problems caused by freezing of his feet and eyes in the open plane they used on that time. It sounds like they ran out of gasoline on May 31, 1944. It would be interesting to know how far they had to fly on that mission. Thanks for the information in http://www.thecoffeycousins.org/Military/The Red Ryder/b24.html and your E-Mail address firstname.lastname@example.org. I was unable to open the picture you sent but I will continue to work on it and let you know if I recognize him. Claiborne A. Duval, Jr., 1230 Nottingham Lane, Beaumont, TX 77706-4316 ; FAX 847-589-6468; telephone 409-866-1217
Fri 2/2/01 7:48 PM
Jack, I finally opened the picture on the ten men who jumped out of the airplane during WWII. My first cousin, Easton William Duval, is the second man from the left in the back row. He has red hair, which cannot be seen in this picture, but I am absolutely sure that is his picture. I wish this information could be printed in the Austin, Texas newspaper. His body was recovered by a fisherman and buried and, after the war, it was sent to my Aunt Helen and Uncle Easton Duval. He is buried in Austin and has his picture on his tombstone. He was not married but had a girlfriend in Austin. He was their only child and my only male first cousin. His father worked in the State Highway Department in Austin. His father served in the Air Force in World War I. Claiborne Duval
The following information was received Feb. 4, 2001 from Rep. William E. Kretschmar, ND House of Representatives
Wayne Kretschmar and I were first cousins and we both grew up in the small town of Venturia, North Dakota where I still reside. Both Wayne's and my parents are now deceased, but I do remember my Uncle Otto (Wayne's dad) receiving quite a bit of information after the war about the circumstances of Wayne's loss.
The Air Force suffered heavy losses on the mission of May 31, 1944. They would fly from Italy to bomb the oil fields near Ploesti in Romania to cut off the German Army's supply of fuel.
A former North Dakota legislator with whom I served and who served in that area of the war told me that there was quite a mix up on that particular mission and the US planes flew in too low and were subject to heavy damage by the German guns.
The following information was received Feb. 14, 2001 from Billie Langford, Cleveland Co., AR, home of Sgt. Williams
James Williams graduated from high school with my sister, she is not living now, but I called Marvin (Buddy) Hall, also in their class. He came this morning and identified James from the picture. James is kneeling in the center front. Buddy said that he remembered him well.
The following was received Feb. 20, 2001 from Col. Dan E. Duggan, Los Cruces, New Mexico
Without question my cousin S/Sgt Bud Armstrong is the first person kneeling on the right of the picture.
The following was received Feb. 26, 2001 from Mrs. Ethel Kirkman, Greensboro, North Carolina
S/Sgt Julius J. Bryson, Jr. was my sister's nephew.
And, from Mrs. Verna M. Bryson, sister of Mrs. Kirkman: All of Julius' aunts and uncles have passed on. My husband (Henry) and Buddy's Dad Julius J. Bryson were brothers.
From Fred W. Amos, Greensboro, NC: Julius J. Bryson, Jr. is in the front row, second from left. My brother Jack R. Amos, was a nose gunner on a B-24 and was shot down over land while bombing the same oil fields. He was on a different mission. Jack was brought home and buried in the family plot.
From Glenn H. Campbell, Greensboro: "Buddy" Bryson and I grew up together going to school and visiting with each other in our homes and also having a bicycle shop at my home during high school along with another friend who was killed in the Air Force named Jack Amos. We had the ABC bicycle shop and I was the only one to get back. I was in the Marine Corp from April 1942-Oct 1946. I was on the Peleliu Campaign and the Okinawa Campaign and went into China to accept the surrender of the Japanese. I got sick in China and spent one year in the hospital.
The following was received Mar 5, 2001 from Jim Isbell, brother of Lt. Isbell:
Billy Kirk Isbell, son of Roy and Emma Isbell, went by "Kirk". Attended Eastern Illinois University when he enlisted in the Air Force, September of '42. Was not married. Never returned on leave because he didn't want to leave again. Age 23 when he went down (born 11/3/20). Still living are sister Joy Keller 84 and brother Jim Isbell 67. Kirk is in the middle top row.
The information on the Red Ryder was gathered from the http://www.thecoffeycousins.org/Military/The Red Ryder/b24.html website with the permission of Jack Coffee (email@example.com), a relative of Raymond H. Bourgeois. Thanks, Jack.