2nd Lt Clark E Swanson, USAAF, died 3 January 1943 because somebody else screwed up. It's bad enough to die in combat because of your own mistake, but to be killed because some other guy misjudged something, didn't follow the operational plan or just "screwed the pooch" is something all service personnel try to avoid.
Swanson was the co-pilot of B-24 #41-23806, known as "Bat Outta Hell." The 68th Squadron of the 44th Bomb Group were the second element of a bombing strike against the submarine pens at St Nazaire. The first element was a squadron of B-17s. The plan of the 68th was to follow the B-17's home after the drop. The lead navigator of the B-17s mis-identified the Irish Sea as the English Channel and took up a course that, when it was too late, was obviously wrong. The B-24's had taken off with less than a full load of fuel in order to increase the flight performance of the element. Once over Wales the aircraft of the squadron began to look for airfield, or any clear pasture, in which to land. "Bat Outta Hell" didn't reach an airfield and a forced landing was the result. The cockpit crew took the brunt of the impact onto rough terrain. Swanson died immediately. His pilot and navigator died the next day in hospital and the seven crewmen in the back of the airplane survived with bumps and bruises.
The loss of Pvt Lavern Patton, US Army is a bit gruesome to describe. He was a "tanker" of the 1st Platoon of C Company, 712th Tank Battalion, 90th Infantry Division. The unit was involved in an action at Hill 122 near Le Plessis, France, when he was killed in action on July 10, 1944. The 30 year old Oregon resident was one of nine soldiers of C Company to die that day. Their tanks were hit by 88 MM artillery shells, each explodiing and burning the occupants that had no chance to escape. After the war a memorial was placed on a roadside by grateful residents of Le Plessis.
AMM1 James D Whittinghall, US Navy, went missing in action on 19 October 1944. He was flying as the turret machine gunner aboard a TBF "Avenger" torpedo bomber. The aircraft of Torpedo Squadron 13 had been making sorties from USS Franklin (CVE-13). Online resources show he was married, his wife Myrtle was living in Burbank, California.
The Stallard family appears to have some roots in Haney County, but Pvt Lorenzo Stallard, US Army, was living in Klamath Falls before enlisting in January of 1944. Known as "Len" to friends and family, he was killed in action near Verdenneon, Belgium, on 26 December 1944 while serving with 84th Infantry Division, 333rd Infantry Regiment.
PFC Ralph G Williams, USMC, fought with Company A, 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, Third Marine Amphibious Force. Killed in Action 9 June 1966 atr Quang Nam Province, South Vietnam.
There are many other Harney County sons listed here, but tiime prevents me for relating more of their stories. Maybe one of you reading this has something to share about these men? Drop me a note with their story...