Last Known Activity
James Marion Hair was born in Gatesville, Texas on November 28, 1918. He was the son of Bird Marion and Jennie Fowler Hair. The US Census 1920 has the family in Gatesville, where Jennie is recorded as "Eugenia." The US Census 1930 shows the family in Gatesville, but Hair's mother is recorded as "Jennie."
After graduating from high school, Hair attended Independence College in Kansas for 1 year. Then, he enrolled at Texas State Teachers College in Huntsville, Texas. While there, he learned to fly and obtained a private pilot's license. Graduating in 1941 with a Bachelor of Science degree, he joined the US Army Air Forces as an aviation cadet. His enlistment record states he had completed 4 years of college, and was working s a general office clerk.
He took and completed pilot training at Luke Field in Arizona, graduating as a 2 Lt in February, 1942. He was promoted to 1 Lt that same month, and was assigned to the 301st Bomb Group. He deployed to England with this Group, and began combat missions in March, 1942. According to 301st records, he completed 25 missions, mainly over France.
He was transferred to North Africa in November, 1942 when the 301st sent aircraft and crews to the 12th Air Force. On March 22, 1943, he and his crew were assigned a bombing mission over Palermo, Sicily, aiming for the harbor docks and shipping within the harbor. Over the target, the aircraft was hit by flak in the left wing, setting the fuel tank afire. The flames spread to the interior and the engineer and co-pilot attempted to battle the blaze. The aircraft then exploded, throwing part of the crew out into space.
Documents associated with the Missing Air Crew report indicate that five crew members were killed in the crash. Two of the crew were injured severely upon landing in parachutes. According to reports, they were captured by the Italians but ignored. German medical corpsmen attended their wounds three days later in a German hospital at Triponi Air Field in Sicily.
Lt Hair's body was recovered and buried in a local cemetery in San Vito, Italy. In 1950, it was returned to the U.S. and buried in a common grave with another crew member at Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio, Texas. The Internal Control Cad for Interment in National Cemeteries states in part " 2 sets of remains - 2 caskets. Buried in 1 grave."
Lt Hair lies with his co-pilot in Plot G, Site 108 at Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio, Texas. There is also a memory stone for Hair in the Gatesville Cemetery in Gatesville, Texas.
NARA Enlistment Records
Internal Control Record Cards
US Census 1920
US Census 1930
Lt James M. Hair was the assigned pilot of B-17F #42-5179, named
'Junior," according to records, assigned to the 352nd Bomb Squadron.
Missing Air Crew Report was issued for this aircraft/crew loss. Mission loading lists state the crew was composed of:
1 Lt James M. Hair p
1 Lt Lonnie L. Miers c-p
1 Lt Alexander Yonych nav
1 Lt Emmet Cook bomb
TSgt Louis F. Partiquin eng/tt gun
Sgt Ervin E. Byrnes r/o
SSgt Andrew Seman btg
Sgt Jimmie McLaughlin wg
SSgt Douglas Upton tail gun
Ranks and grades as of mission date.
In the crew photo of "Holy Joe" following the Lille, France raid of November, 1942, Lt Hair is 6th from the left.
In this photo, Lt Hair is pointing out damage to a B-17 to King George VI of England.
Service photo source: