Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Edwin Allen Rodeheffer (1923-1945) - "52 Ancestors"

52d Bomb Sq, 29th Bomb Gp, WWII
I decided to add one more story today. This one is in remembrance of the veterans who have fought and died to keep our country free.

The picture to the left is of the 52nd Bomber Squadron, Group 29, US Army Air Force during WW II. The man standing in the center of the photo is 2nd Lt. Edwin Allen Rodeheffer, Jr., my wife's second cousin 2 times removed. Edwin was born on 7 April 1922, the son of Rev. Edwin Allen Rodeheffer and Edna M Knierem. His father was a methodist preacher. Edwin had three siblings, Twila, Calvin and James. Since he was the son of a preacher he moved fairly frequently. He was born in Monroe, Ohio. In 1935 he was living in Toledo, Ohio and in 1940 he was living in Paulding, Ohio.

Edwin attended college and in 1942, after three years of school, he enlisted in the military to serve his country during WW II. Edwin was assigned to the 52nd Bomber Squadron and served in the Pacific theater. He served as a 2nd Lieutenant and Navigator on a B-29 bomber. On the evening of 19 June 1945, his plane, along with 122 other B-29s took off from Guam air field on a mission to bomb the city of Shizuoka, Japan. It was a clear night and visibility was perfect for their flight. This was to be a nighttime incendiary raid. As the 123 B-29s approached the city and began dropping their bombs, the city below began to glow with fires and the heat caused turbulence in the air along with blocking visibility due to the amount of smoke. During the confusion, Edwin's plane (#44-69881) collided with another B-29 (#42-65373). Both planes went down near the city and all 23 airmen were killed in the crash. The remaining 121 B-29s returned to their base after a successful mission.

A resident of the town, Fukumatsu Ito, found the wreckage of the bombers and buried the US airmen and built two monuments at the location. One of the monuments was a memorial to the more than 2,000 residents of the city that were killed that night. The other was a monument to the 23 airmen that lost their lives. Since 1972, there has been an annual memorial service at the site to remember the victims of this event. In 2008, the ceremony was attended by members of the Bomber Squadron who placed a headstone with the names of the fallen airmen at the site.

In 1949 the airmen were repatriated to the US and buried in Zachary Taylor National Cemetery, Louisville, Kentucky.

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