Friday, January 01, 2016

World War II hero comes home …

Here is my niece Wendy who came down from NY City to be with me for the Holidays this year. We were visiting the Gilliam-McConnell Airfield in the neighboring town of Carthage, NC. It is amazing to me that this tiny spot is home to such wonderful war time memorials, including that of 52nd LT Robert Hoyle Upchurch. He flew his last mission in World War II as a member of the famed “Flying Tigers. The plane seen here, (lovingly built by Zeb Harrington of Chatham County, NC) is a replica of the one Robert would have flown.

The year was 1944 and America, at that time, was actually protecting China from the Japanese air attacks. When the Chinese townspeople saw the crash they hiked 4 days to get to the site and when they realized Robert was dead they wrapped him in red silk, took him back to town and buried him after a solemn ceremony. As far as his family knew he was missing in action and presumed dead and that's how it remained for many years.

Nearly six decades later the “cold case” was solved when rumors revealed that a Flying Tiger pilot was possibly buried in Hunan province, China. Army investigators were led to the grave where they found bone fragments, buttons and other paraphernalia that positively identified him.

2nd LT Robert “Hoyle” Upchurch was home at last !


Blogger kenju said...

How interesting! I will have to try and see that when I am in Carthage next. Glad you had a nice Christmas and company for it.

5:12 PM  
Blogger Marie Smith said...

Love the story of Upchurch and how he was found, a mystery solved for his family. How wonderful. It must have been a lovely Christmas for you. Happy New Year.

5:44 PM  
Blogger possum said...

How great that your niece was down for a visit.
You are so fortunate to have such a nice family.

5:04 AM  
Blogger troutbirder said...

Most interesting story. Thanks...:)

8:01 AM  
Blogger NCmountainwoman said...

It's always heartwarming when a war hero finds a final resting place here at home. Lovely story.

9:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Important to remember these guys who are rapidly leaving us. We had a Flying Tiger friend in the fellowship, named Doyle and now gone. He probably knew this fellow.. So many former pilots in AA here in our area they have their own 'pilots' meeting.

11:26 AM  
Blogger possum said...

I have a friend who is a former pilot who told me that pilots were not allowed to go to regular AA meetings, at least while they were still flying or under contract to some airline. They have their own groups and website -
In many areas teachers and other professionals are not allowed to attend public AA meetings.
Around here, many professionals drive across the Bay (1 1/2 hr drive + tolls) or up into Maryland, also an hour and a half away to attend meetings.
Apparently Anonymity is a problem as is the fear of a lawsuit by someone claiming their kid's teacher is an alcoholic, their doctor is an alcoholic, etc.

7:40 AM  
Blogger Beatrice P. Boyd said...

While it's never good to read of someone who has died in the service of his country, it is nevertheless comforting to Lt Upchurch's family that he is back home with all the honor he so fittingly deserved.

6:04 AM  

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