Last Known Activity
Charles Edward Coleman, according to family history, was born in Kansas City, Missouri on July 30, 1923. He was the son of L.B. and Mabel Coleman. Evidently, the family moved often as a recounting of his educational history (by his wife) states he attended schools in Kansas City, MO: Atlanta, GA; Dickson, TN; Omaha, NE; and Chicago. IL before attending Carlisle Military School in Bamberg, SC for the 9th to 11th grades. He graduated from high school in 1940.
He enrolled in Clemson University with a major in Textile Engineering, and spent two years there before leaving to enlist. He enlisted in May, 1942 as a private in the Air Corps. Accepted for flight training, he served at several bases, among them Maxwell Field, AL; Pyote, TX; and Turner Field, GA. He was commissioned at Turner Field in September 1943. He married Betty Hunnicutt in October of that same year.
He was assigned to the 388th Bomb Group, located at Knettishall, England in early 1944. He was sent to the 563nd Bomb Squadron as the co-pilot on a B-17 crew headed by Lt L.L. Wilson. Coleman flew two missions, one of which was an abort. On March 23, 1944, he flew his second mission. It was a bombing raid on Brunswick, Germany.
The bomber formation was early at the escort pick-up point, and so had no fighter escort. Approximately 35-45 enemy aircraft, mostly FW-190s, engaged the bomber formation in vicious attacks. The enemy aircraft dove through the upper squadrons to target the lower squadron. In the melee, the B-17 of Wilson's was struck by an enemy aircraft. One wing fell off, and the B-17 spun into the ground. Observers state 4 parachutes were seen, but one was not open. Another version said three chutes.
Although it seems unlikely, one account in the Charlotte Mecklenberg County newspaper states Coleman's funeral was held in Arlington National Cemetery on March 24, 1944. This would have been the day after he was killed. Perhaps a mis-print of the date 1945?
Lt Coleman lies today in Arlington National Cemetery in Section 34, Site 4052.
USAAC-USAAF Aircraft Inventory Report
Charlotte-Mecklenberg newspaper as reported by Lt. Coleman's wife.
Charles Edward Coleman was the co-pilot on B-17G # 42-31103, nicknamed "Pegasus II," assigned to the 563rd Bomb Squadron.
Missing Air Crew Report 3594 was issued, and with mission crew listing, identifies the crew as:
2 Lt Lloyd L. Wilson p
2 Lt Charles E. Coleman c-p
2 Lt William Watts nav
2 Lt John L. Markert bomb
SSgt Ed S. Beesler eng/tt gun
SSgt Francis J. Seibel r/o
Sgt Edward Shaw btg
Sgt Claude C. Dearmond lwg
SSgt Gudalupe A. Sandoval, Jr rwg
Sgt Charles A. Gregory tail gun
Seven of the crew were killed. Various reports indicate 6 in the aircraft, and one found near the wreckage. Three crewmen (Watts, Beesler, and Gregory) were reported captured by the Germans. This may confirm the reports of one parachute not opening.
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