Last Known Activity
Ervin E. Byrnes was born on June 4, 1919 in Washington. No records as to his early life, parentage, or education have been located.
According to his NARA enlistment records, he enlisted on April 12, 1941 in Spokane, Washington as a private in the US Army Air Forces. He had completed 4 years of high school, and no indication of civilian employment is given.
He was evidently trained as an airborne radio operator, then sent overseas. The date he joined the 301st Bomb Group has not been established. However, he was a part of the Hair crew, operating out of Algeria in North Africa in November, 1942. (He is not in the crew photo in England, 1942.)
On March 22, 1943, the air crew was tasked to participate in a bombing raid on the Palermo, Sicily harbor, attacking docks, facilities, and shipping. Over the target, the plane was hit by flak, setting the left wing fuel tank on fire. The fire soon reached the interior of the aircraft, which exploded violently.
According to documents attached to the MACR, five of the crew were killed in the explosion. The bodies were recovered and supposedly buried in the cemetery at San Vito, Italy. Later, they were recovered, identified, and some returned to the U.S.
Byrnes is buried in the Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno, California. His grave is in Section N, Site 452.
NARA Enlistment Records
Sgt Ervin E. Byrnes was assigned as radio operator on B-17F # 42-5179, named "Junior," assigned to the 352nd Bomb Squadron.
Missing Air Crew Report 16153 was issued for this loss. Mission loading lists show the crew as:
1 Lt James M. Hair p
1 Lt Lonnie L. Miers, Jr. c-p
1 Lt Alexander Yonych nav
1 Lt Emmet Cook bomb
TSgt Louis F. Patriquin 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.