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Thomas Clayton Cargill was born in Montgomery, Alabama on June 6, 1919, the son of Romeo Ernest and Louise Martin Cargill. He attended grammar school in Montgomery, but moved to Columbia, South Carolina which he called his hometown. He graduated from high school there, and was excellent in sports. He went to Clemson University on a athletic scholarship and played football and ran track. While there, he set a record for the 440 yard dash.
He left school and enlisted on October 1, 1941 He was accepted for the Aviation Cadet program, and entered flight training. He took basic flight training at Augusta, Georgia, and went to Turner Field, Georgia for advanced training. He graduated and was commissioned on May 20, 1942.
His first assignment was to the 61st Troop Carrier Group, based at Pope Field, North Carolina. He learned to fly the C-47 aircraft, and was soon assigned to the 15th Troop Carrier Squadron. This unit was sent to Lubbock Field, Texas for instruction and training on towing gliders. On November 1942, Cargill was promoted to 1st Lieutenant.
The unit returned to Pope Field and on April 17, 1943, Cargill was promoted to Captain. In May 1943, the unit deployed to Algeria where they trained on dropping paratroopers. Moving to a base in Tunisia, Cargill was appointed Operations Officer. On July 9, 1943, the squadron dropped troops from the 82nd Airborne into Sicily.
On July 11, 1943, they attempted another drop, but were mistakenly identified as hostile by Navy observers. Several aircraft were shot down, with the loss of all crew and troops aboard. On September 2, 1943, the 15th Squadron moved to positions at Licata, South Sicily and continued dropping paratroops.
In February 1944, the unit was transferred to Barkston Heath, England to prepare for D-Day. In April 1944, Cargill was promoted to Major. On June 6, 1944, D-Day and Cargill's 25th birthday, the 15th Troop Carrier Squadron dropped paratroopers at St Mere Eglise, France.
On December 18, 1944, Cargill was given command of the 14th Troop Carrier Squadron, following the battle death of its commander. On March 13, 1945, the unit moved to Abbeville, France.
On March 24, 1945, the 14th Troop Carrier Squadron participated in a troop drop near the Rhine River at Wiesel, Germany. Major Cargill dropped his troops, then dove to pick up airspeed. As he made a large turn to get on the return route, flak and ground fire hit the aircraft on the left wing and in the cockpit. He dropped down to clear the formation. Observers saw one parachute at this time, but it impacted the tree line and was only partially open.
Flames roared through the aircraft as it descended. One wing tip hit a house, and then the nose hit, tearing open the fuselage. The tail half crashed into trees by road, while the remaining wreckage burned , with black smoke pouring from the cockpit area. All the crew was killed.
Major Cargill's body was recovered and buried in the Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial in Margraten, Holland. He lies in Plot P, Row 3, Grave 3. There is a memorial marker for him in Oakland Cemetery in Montgomery, Alabama.
NOTE: Several items have been changed after the profile was posted, at the request of family members. Official records and sources were used to initiate the profile, but family member information must be used if requested. (August 6, 2015)
Major Thomas C. Cargill was pilot of C-47A # 42-93798, assigned to the 14th Troop Carrier Squadron.
Missing Air Crew Report 13507 was issued. There is one erroneous account that gives the number as 13755, which is actually for another aircraft loss, an F-13A in the Pacific Area.
Records and the MACR give the crew as:
Maj Thomas C. Cargill p
2 Lt John B. Rothrock c-p
Cpt George A. Tovey nav
TSgt Olen K. St. John crew chief
SSgt Earl K. Straley r/o
Rothrock and Tovey are buried on either side of Cargill at Margraten. Records indicate Sgt Straley is buried in Ardennes American Cemetery in Belgium. Sgt St. John was returned to the U.S. and is buried in Hot Springs Cemetery, Sierra County, New Mexico.
NOTE: The photo of him at the control tower at Barkston Heath was taken shortly after he was made Commander of the 14th Troop Carrier Squadron.
Service photo source: