Last Known Activity
Norman Banks Bassett was born on May 6, 1922 in Buffalo, New York. His father owned the Buffalo Meter Company, and the family was relatively well-off. Bassett spent his summers on Lake Erie, Canada, where he became an avid boatman. In 1942, the family moved to a larger home in Buffalo, and Norman began practicing playing drums. He formed a band, and was lead singer. He was reported to be an excellent tennis player.
He attended Pottstown High School in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, graduating in 1941. He had an outstanding record in both academics and athletics. He attended Cornell University, but quit after his second year in February, 1943. He joined the Army Reserve in Geneva, New York. Accepted for flight training, he trained in Biloxi, Mississippi; Tampa and Boca Raton, Florida; and Houston and Peyote, Texas. However, because of bad eyesight, he was terminated and sent to Navigator School for the 18 week course. He graduated and was commissioned on May 20, 1944, and soon found himself assigned to the 881st Bomb Squadron of the 500th Bomb Group on Saipan Island.
He began flying missions against Japanese targets, and had completed 12 missions. On May 24, 1945, his aircraft was part of a multi-plane raid on the Japanese home islands. After bombing the Tokyo dock area, his aircraft was shot down over Tokyo Bay, with only one survivor.
After the war, remains taken from a military cemetery and marked as "Unknown" were identified as this crew. All remains were buried in a common grave at Zachary Taylor National Cemetery, and a plaque erected over the grave site although it is not certain who is buried there.
A War Memorial window was donated by his father to the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Buffalo. Twelve other men are memorialized in addition to Bassett. A carillon bell was donated to Cornell University in his name, and his name is on the World War II memorial in Anabel Taylor Hall at Cornell.
It was reported that his father offered to finance an expedition to find and recover his remains immediately after the war, but no documentary proof of this has been located.
Lt. Norman B. Bassett was the navigator on B-29 #42-63486, unnamed, but known as "Z Square 7" for its organizational code. This aircraft was lost on a mission over Japan on May 24, 1945. Missing Air Crew Report 14488 applies.
A full listing of the events of the loss of this aircraft, plus a full listing of the crew is posted on the profile of Captain Eugene M. Thomas, Jr. and will not be repeated here.
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