ANC Website Top BANNER 2
United States Army Air Corps Crew
World War II - 7 November 1942
Missing WWII flier comes home at last 
23 January 2005
Carmina Danini
Courtesy of the San Antonio Express-News

Until the day they died, Winnie Mae Carver and her husband, Ples Stell "Ike" Carver, believed that one day "Scootie," their only son, would return home to Eagle Pass, Texas.

On November 7, 1942, they received a telegram from the War Department saying Second Lieutenant James Walter Carver's plane was reported missing in action in the southwestern Pacific.

"They always said they were hopeful that maybe he was in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp," said Kathryn Cunningham, a resident of Quemado and Scootie Carver's niece.

Ike Carver died in 1953; his widow in 1979.

More than 60 years after he disappeared, Scootie Carver is coming home. On Saturday, he will be buried at the foot of his mother's grave in the family plot of the City Cemetery in Eagle Pass with full military honors and a flyover by jets from Laughlin AFB in Del Rio. 

June Carver Hansen, his only remaining sibling and Cunningham's mother, will not be able to attend. At 86, she suffers from a number of ailments, including glaucoma, and lives in a nursing home in Del Rio.

"When I told her he'd been found, my mom had a look of pure joy," Cunningham said. "None of us ever expected it."

Carver's other sister, Margie Carver Hawkes, who lived in Midland, died in 2002.

The casket carrying Carver's remains arrived at San Antonio International Airport on Saturday morning from Honolulu and was transported to Eagle Pass.

It's a long journey from Papua New Guinea, where a villager searching for beetle nuts in 1998 discovered the wreckage of the long-lost American bomber plane.

The next year, a recovery team from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command in Hawaii took custody of the remains and artifacts found near the crash site. It would take a few more years before excavation and identification were completed.

Carver's remains were identified through the use of mitochondrial DNA, from a blood sample taken from Cunningham.

Carver's dog tags, navigation kit and cigarette lighter with his initials also were recovered by investigators.

Carver turned 22 just a few weeks before his plane disappeared while en route to Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, after a night raid on Rabaul, a key base for the Japanese on New Britain Island.

Assigned to the 30th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), 19th Bombardment Group, Carver was a navigator but substituted as co-pilot on what turned out to be his last flight.

"The regular co-pilot was sick and didn't make the flight," Cunningham said.

Seven other men, among them another Texan, were on board. Of those, the remains of only six were identified by JPAC's Central Identification Laboratory.

The other pieces of bone were not large enough to be identified and will be buried later this year at Arlington National Cemetery. The headstone will bear the names of all the crew.

Carver was a sophomore majoring in petroleum engineering at Texas A&I College in Kingsville, now Texas A&M University-Kingsville, when he joined the Army Air Corps in January 1942.

Like most South Texas kids, he played football he was co-captain of the team at Eagle Pass High School and enjoyed hunting, fishing and roping.

To pay the tuition at A&I, Ike Carver sold Scootie's horse, Ernesto.

"My mother says Scootie cried and told my grandfather, 'But Daddy, I love Ernesto as much as you love Mama,'" Cunningham said.

Carver wanted to be a pilot, but the Army Air Corps needed navigators, and his background in math made him a perfect candidate.

Sent to navigation school at Mather Field in California, Carver graduated third in his class.

He was sent to Australia and assigned to a B-17, a heavy bomber known as the Flying Fortress.

Carver, who was promoted to First Lieutenant and awarded the Purple Heart while missing in action, flew about 19 missions before he was killed.

Letters and telegrams he sent home didn't reflect much of what he was going through, but there were a few clues.

"I'm ready to come home and sleep in a good bed and take a bath every hour," he wrote in one of the last letters his family received.

A ceremony honoring the crew will take place at Arlington National Cemetery on 28 April 2005.


Posted: 27 January 2005  Updated: 12 April 2005

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Robert H. Burns
Sergeant, U.S. Army Air Forces
Service # 6999729
30th Bomber Squadron, 19th Bomber Group, Heavy
Entered the Service from: Pennsylvania
Died: November 7, 1942
Missing in Action or Buried at Sea
Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery
Manila, Philippines
Awards: Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal, Purple Heart
Pennsylvania State Flag

Silver Star MedalDistinguished Flying CrossAir MedalPurple Heart Medal

James W. Carver
First Lieutenant, U.S. Army Air Forces
Service # 0-725946
30th Bomber Squadron, 19th Bomber Group, Heavy
Entered the Service from: Texas
Died: November 7, 1942
Missing in Action or Buried at Sea
Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery
Manila, Philippines
Awards: Air Medal, Purple Heart
Texas State Flag
 

Air MedalPurple Heart Medal

Edward R. Cipriani
Sergeant, U.S. Army Air Forces
Service # 13012501
30th Bomber Squadron, 19th Bomber Group, Heavy
Entered the Service from: Pennsylvania
Died: November 7, 1942
Missing in Action or Buried at Sea
Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery
Manila, Philippines
Awards: Air Medal, Purple Heart
Pennsylvania State Flag
 
 

Air MedalPurple Heart Medal

Mac S. Groesbeck
Sergeant, U.S. Army Air Forces
Service # 19011114
30th Bomber Squadron, 19th Bomber Group, Heavy
Entered the Service from: Utah
Died: November 7, 1942
Missing in Action or Buried at Sea
Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery
Manila, Philippines
Awards: Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal, Purple Heart
Utah State Flag
 

Distinguished Flying CrossAir MedalPurple Heart Medal

John S. Hancock
First Lieutenant, U.S. Army Air Forces
Service # 0-417619
30th Bomber Squadron, 19th Bomber Group, Heavy
Entered the Service from: Oklahoma
Died: November 7, 1942
Missing in Action or Buried at Sea
Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery
Manila, Philippines
Awards: Silver Star with Oak Leaf Cluster, Purple Heart
Oklahoma State Flag
 

Silver Star Medal 2 AwardsPurple Heart Medal

Curtis T. Longenberger 
CORPORAL, U.S. Army Air Forces
Service # 6890994
30th Bomber Squadron, 19th Bomber Group, Heavy
Entered the Service from: Pennsylvania
Died: November 7, 1942
Missing in Action or Buried at Sea
Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery
Manila, Philippines
Awards: Air Medal, Purple Heart
Pennsylvania State Flag
 

Air MedalPurple Heart Medal

Raymond A. Maxwell 
Sergeant, U.S. Army Air Forces
Service # 18037760
30th Bomber Squadron, 19th Bomber Group, Heavy
Entered the Service from: Texas
Died: November 7, 1942
Missing in Action or Buried at Sea
Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery
Manila, Philippines
Awards: Air Medal, Purple Heart
Texas State Flag
 

Air MedalPurple Heart Medal

Hiram D. Wilkinson 
CORPORAL, U.S. Army Air Forces
Service # 16014049
30th Bomber Squadron, 19th Bomber Group, Heavy
Entered the Service from: Michigan
Died: November 7, 1942
Missing in Action or Buried at Sea
Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery
Manila, Philippines
Awards: Air Medal, Purple Heart
Michigan State Flag
 

Air MedalPurple Heart Medal

Aircrew: 7 November 1942 Gravesite PHOTO
Photo Courtesy of Roxsanne Wells-Layton, August 2006

Posted: 27 January 2005 - Updated: 12 April 2005 Updated: 25 August 2006