Last Known Activity
John H. Person was born in Wisconsin in 1915 to Charles A. and Ethel A. Person. The US Census 1930 shows the family living in Memphis, Tennessee.
Person enlisted as an aviation cadet in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on October 8, 1941. The NARA enlistment file shows he had completed 2 years of college (unnamed), and was working as a semi-skilled inspector.
He received navigational training, and upon completing the course, was commissioned and awarded wings. He was assigned to the 301st Bomb Group, deployed to England, and began flying missions over France. In October, 1942, the 301st transferred a number of aircraft to North Africa to engage targets there, and later, Italy.
On April 18, 1943, the crew was tasked to participate in a raid on the railway marshalling yards at Palmero, Sicily. Approximately, 20 miles from the target, the formation was attacked by German fighters. The aircraft in which Person was in was attacked by 2 ME-110 fighters. The #2 engine was set ablaze, and the aircraft crashed into the sea. No parachutes were seen.
Lt Person is remembered on the Walls of the Missing in the North Africa American Cemetery and Memorial at Carthage, Tunisia.
NARA Enlistment Records
Lt John H. Person was the assigned navigator on B-17F #41-24371, named "Devils from Hell,: assigned to the 353rd Bomb Squadron.
Missing Air Crew Report 16508 was issued, but contains little past a crew listing, aircraft identification, and that the aircraft crashed into the sea. Mission loading lists agree the crew were:
1 Lt Bobby M. Godwin p
1 Lt John W. Houck c-p
2 Lt John H. Person nav
1 Lt Virgil E. Hope bomb
Sgt Robert B. Imler eng/tt gun
Sgt Robert S. Littrel r/o
Sgt Arthur L. Nilges btg
Sgt Frank Patafore wg
Sgt William M. Hawkins tail gun
Ranks and grades as of mission date.
Some sources state Lt Hope was the co-pilot, but 301st BG records clearly show Lt Houck was co-pilot.
NOTE: On October 5, 2015, a dive team discovered the wreckage about 4 miles from Palermo, Sicily in 75 feet of water. Nothing can be taken from the site, including human remains, as it has been declared "a war grave."
Service photo source: