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History of BYRD-WALLACE VFW Post 4351

Staff Sgt. Jimmie Cook Byrd

Staff Sgt. Jimmie Cook Byrd, 21 year old son of Mr. and Mrs. F. M. Byrd died in the crash of his Liberator bomber over northeastern France on March 18, 1944.  Sgt. Byrd was reported missing in action on March 18, but his death was not officially confirmed until June 24.  He had previously been awarded the Air Medal.   Tail gunner on a B-24 Liberator, Byrd had many bombing missions in his flight log before the huge bomber crashed while returning from a bombing mission over Germany.    

Jimmie  was one of the most popular graduates of the Fernandina High School class of 1942 and in September he enlisted in the Army Air Corps. 

Birth: Oct. 8,  1922
Death: Mar. 18,  1944, Germany
US ARMY AIR FORCES WORLD WAR II Gunner S/Sgt. Jimmie C. Byrd  KIA Hometown: Mother, Ora L., Amarillo, Texas Squadron: 578th BS 392th Bomb Group Service #18090074 Awards:  Purple Heart Pilot 1st/Lt. Clifford L. Peterson POW
Target:Friedrichshafen MISSING AIRCREW REPORT: #03328 Date Lost: 18-Mar-44 Serial Number: #42-99981  Aircraft Model B-24 Aircraft Letter: “U-Bar” Aircraft Name: “B.T.O.”   28th Mission Location:Territory of Ettenheimmuenster, (30) kilometers north of Freiberg, Germany. Cause: German fighters Crew of 10 5KIA 5POW
The mission this day would see the 392nd suffer its heaviest losses, both aircraft and aircrew members, of any individual raid ever flown during its combat experience in World War II. Before the mission was completed, (14) aircraft and crews would be lost and (9) other ships damaged by fighters and flak, all totaling (154) casualties. General briefing for (28) aircrews was conducted between 0400-0530 hours.
MISSION LOSS CIRCUMSTANCES: The only eye-witness accounts were brief from returning crews: “Aircraft last seen in a power dive about 2,000 feet; one chute seen”. Pilot Peterson’s later account after repatriation from POW status noted that their aircraft came under heavy fighter attacks after departing the target area, and he estimated they left the Group formation about (30) kilometers east of Strasburg, France where those crewmen who did survive managed to bail out of their gravely damaged plane. German Report #KU1243 from Air Field Command Freiburg to Dulag-Luft Oberursel/Frankfurt, dated 21 March 1944 at 1850 hours reported the crash location of the Peterson aircraft as in the Territory of Ettenheimmuenster, (30) kilometers north of Freiberg, Germany.
INDIVIDUAL ACCOUNTS OF CREWMEN FATES: Lt. Peterson’s later report summarized the information as follows: That he and (4) other members did finally manage to bail out of this aircraft which was totally uncontrollable; all landed within a one mile radius of each other, and he about (300) feet from where their plane had crashed; that to the best of his knowledge the Tail Gunner, two Waist Gunners, Ball Turret Gunner and Bombardier were all either mortally injured or dead at their positions while in the air, and crashed with the ship. He noted that the Tail Gunner was reporting enemy fighter attacks, then suddenly ceased. Another crew member’s account in completing an “Individual Casualty Questionnaire” on the Tail Gunner’s fate and the other Gunners in the waist section to U.S. authorities later stated that he believed their plane was struck by a German fighter just in front of the tail section causing the ship to go into a spin immediately which most likely prevented any member in the rear from bailing out. This report continued on the Bombardier’s plight which stated that a German captor related to the Radio Operator subsequently that Lt. Brown’s body was found in the nose turret at the crash site. The Bombardier had been calling out previous fighter passes, but it was noted that he did not fire his guns on the final attack indicating he may have been killed at that time. (Note: It is surmised that this final head-on enemy attack resulted in this fighter striking the plane’s aft fuselage section). The German Report cited above included attachments which also summarized the crew members ultimate situations and fates on the ground later: it noted the capture of (4) crewmen as Peterson, Hinshaw, and Moorehead at the village of Ettenheimmuenster at 1600 hours the same day; the hospitalization of a wounded member, Co-Pilot Vrieling, who was taken to the PW Hospital in Strasburg/Alsace and admitted the next day, 19 March; and the recovery of (4) other dead crewmen, Harrell, Hancock and Byrd with Hunter in the crashed plane. The ship was fully identified by correct tail number, 578th Squadron, 392nd Group, and Base of Wendling.  This German reporT also picked up data on the 5th member captured, that of Sgt. Rosko who was admitted to the PW Hospital in Strasburg, France also. The identification tags of all (10) crewmen were also recorded in this enemy report which also gave full information on each member’s next-of-kin names and home addresses. This enemy reporting covered a number of updates under the same report number to German higher echelons of air command. The last and concluding account dealt with the finding of the 5th deceased crew member’s final whereabouts, Sgt. Masters, over four months later on 31 July 1944 when local berry-pickers found his remains and ID tags. Crew missions flown including this one were given as (16) to (19) combat missions for various individual members from the survivor accounts.
BURIAL RECORDS: German accounts on initial burial were contained in the above report attachments, as follows: The (4) members found together at the crash site were interred in the town Cemetery of Ettenheimmuenster in a common grave on 21 March. Sgt. Masters was reported later as being buried in the same communal cemetery, special Grave #2, on 31 July1944 the day his remains were recovered. The five deceased crewmen were returned to the U.S. for burial. Known interment sites are: T/Sgt Hancock at Ft Rosecrans National Cemetery, Sec J Site 243 (he is buried next to 2/Lt Bandura (MACR 3329, another casualty of this mission); 2/Lt Brown at Golden Gate National Cemetery Sec O Site 72; and S/Sgt Byrd at Ft Bliss National Cemetery Sec E Site 9742.
The “B.T.O.”  crew 1st/Lt. Clifford L. Peterson  Pilot POW 2nd/Lt. Russell I. Vrieling  Co Pilot POW 2nd/Lt. James C. Moorehead  Navigator POW 2nd/Lt. Edmund J. Brown Bombardier KIA T/Sgt. Hugh M. Hinshaw  Engineer POW T/Sgt. Eugene M. Rosko Radio Op. POW S/Sgt. Ora L. Harrell Gunner KIA S/Sgt.Leon G. Hancock Gunner KIA S/Sgt. Enoch E. Masters Gunner KIA S/Sgt. Jimmie C. Byrd Gunner KIA
Burial: Fort Bliss National Cemetery El Paso El Paso County Texas, USA Plot: E, 0, 9742

    jimmie c byrd




 Corporal Levi (Buck) Wallace

Corporal Levi (Buck) Wallace, was born December 29,1917 and was 26 years old when he was killed in action in France on August 22, 1944. Prior to entering military on March 21, 1941, he was employed by The Rayonier Corporation for three years.  He received his basic training at Camp Blanding and went overseas with an artillery unit about July 12.  Corporal Wallace was survived by his widow Rachel, his parents, brothers and sisters.


Name: Levi W Wallace
Birth Year: 1917
Race: White, citizen (White)
Nativity State or Country: Georgia
State of Residence: Georgia
County or City: Emanuel
Enlistment Date: 21 Mar 1941
Enlistment State: Florida
Enlistment City: Fort Barrancas
Branch: Branch Immaterial – Warrant Officers, USA
Branch Code: Branch Immaterial – Warrant Officers, USA
Grade: Private
Grade Code: Private
Term of Enlistment: Three year enlistment
Component: Selectees (Enlisted Men)
Source: Civil Life
Education: Grammar school
Civil Occupation: Semiskilled welders and flame cutters
Marital Status: Single, without dependents
Height: 65
Weight: 154








VFW Post 4351 would like to thank Jim Wormhoudt for providing information about Staff Sgt. Jimmie Cook  Byrd   and Corporal Levi (Buck) Wallace.   If anyone has additional information about Byrd or Wallace, please contact VFW Post 4351.



Taking in the view from the screened back porch at the new VFW Post #4351 are, front row from left, Fred Engelhardt, Sue Melogy and Bill Wright, and back row, Post Commander Gary Money, Guy Price and Joe Flood. 

By Heather A. Perry, News-Leader

After years of meeting at Kraft Athletic Club and other locations since its inception in 1945, the 239 members of the Byrd Wallace Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #4351 are elated to finally have their own digs near the former Down Under restaurant beneath the Shave Bridge.

Post Commander Gary Money has big plans for the new location.”We have room for offices, meeting rooms and events, which hopefully will mean an increase in attendance and membership.We did a lot of refurbishing and built all the picnic benches and stuff,” said Money, adding that members are looking forward to utilizing the screened back porch overlooking the marsh for barbecues and other get-togethers.Although they enjoy having fun, the VFW members are serious about serving their community.

They have received an Outstanding Community Service Award for six years running from VFW headquarters.”We’re very proud of the essay program in the schools,” said Money, “and of the other community service we perform.”

Post 4351 donates to various youth programs including Voice of Democracy, Patriot’s Pen, Eagle Scout of the Year and JROTC.  They also donate to veterans’ hospitals, rest homes and assisted living facilities, as well as active duty VFW programs such as Operation Uplink, which provides phone cards to overseas active duty vets. They also send “care packages” to U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“We have fundraisers to help pay for programs, visit VA hospitals and work with other veterans’ organizations to assist veterans and their families,” said Money.

Veterans of the Spanish-American War and the Philippine Insurrection founded the VFW in 1899 as the American Veterans of Foreign Service, with a mission to “honor the dead by helping the living.”

Today there are 2.2 million members of VFW and its auxiliaries located in 8,100 posts around the world. To be eligible to join the VFW, one needs to have either a campaign medal for overseas service, have served 30 consecutive days or 60 non-consecutive days in Korea, or have received hostile fire or imminent danger pay.

Post #4351 is in the process of forming a Ladies Auxiliary, which is open to wives, widows, mothers, foster and step-mothers, daughters, grandmothers, granddaughters, foster and step-daughters, sisters, half-sisters, foster and step-sisters (who attained that status prior to the age of 16) of those who were or are eligible for membership in the VFW.

There is also a Men’s Auxiliary that is open to men and boys 16 and older who are the husbands, widowers, fathers, grandfathers, sons, grandsons, brothers and half-brothers of eligible VFW members.


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