Cunningham, William J., Jr., 1st Lt

 Service Photo   Service Details
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Last Rank
First Lieutenant
Last Primary AFSC/MOS
AAF MOS 1091-Pilot, B-17
Last AFSC Group
Pilot (Officer)
Primary Unit
1943-1943, AAF MOS 1091, 353rd Bombardment Squadron, Heavy
Service Years
1942 - 1943
USAAFOfficer Collar Insignia
First Lieutenant

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

Home State
New York
New York
Year of Birth
Not Specified
This Military Service Page was created/owned by CMSgt Don Skinner-Deceased to remember Cunningham, William J., Jr., 1st Lt.

If you knew or served with this Airman and have additional information or photos to support this Page, please leave a message for the Page Administrator(s) HERE.
Casualty Info
Home Town
Not Specified
Last Address
353rd Bomb Squadron
St. Donat, Algeria

Casualty Date
Aug 17, 1943
Hostile, Died while Missing
Air Loss, Crash - Land
World War II
Location of Interment
American Cemetery - Rhone, France
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Plot D, Row 8, Grave 4

 Official Badges 

 Unofficial Badges 

 Military Associations and Other Affiliations
World War II Fallen
  1943, World War II Fallen

 Photo Album   (More...

 Ribbon Bar

Pilot Badge

 Unit Assignments/ Advancement Schools
Aviation Cadet Flight School301st Bombardment Group, Heavy  353rd Bombardment Squadron, Heavy
  1942-1943, Aviation Cadet Flight School
  1943-1943, AAF MOS 770, 301st Bombardment Group, Heavy
  1943-1943, AAF MOS 1091, 353rd Bombardment Squadron, Heavy
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1943-1943 World War II/European-African-Middle Eastern Theater/Tunisia Campaign (1942-43)
  1943-1943 World War II/European-African-Middle Eastern Theater/Air Offensive, Europe Campaign (1942-44)
  1943-1943 Air Offensive, Europe Campaign (1942-44)/Operation Strangle
 My Aircraft/Missiles
B-17 Flying Fortress  
  1943-1943, B-17 Flying Fortress
 Additional Information

Last Known Activity
William J. Cunningham, Jr was born in New York in 1919, according to his military enlistment papers. His parents were William J., Sr. and Marguerite Cunningham. The US Censuses 1920 and 1930 show the family in the Bronx, while the US Census 1940 shows them in Buffalo.

Cunningham enlisted as an aviation cadet in New York on January 16, 1942 in Buffalo, New York. His enlistment file shows he had completed 4 years of high school, and was a machinist.

He received training as a pilot. When this course of instruction was completed, he was awarded wings, commissioned, and transitioned into multi-engined aircraft. He was sent to North Africa in 1943, and flew missions in North Africa, France, and Italy.

On August 17, 1943, in support of the 8th Air Forces' "deep-penetration raids" on Regensburg and Schweinfurt, Cunningham's unit sent 40 bombers to attack German airfields in southern France, outside Marseilles.

The air bases were bombed successfully, and no enemy fighters were observed. The flak, however, was intense and accurate, One shell hit the nose of Cunningham's B-17, severely damaging the plane, and killing part of the crew. The aircraft then exploded. Observers stated several parachutes were observed.

Six bodies were recovered from the wreckage of the fallen aircraft. Evidently, these dead were buried in local cemeteries and retrieved after the war. In 1953, the remains of Lt. Cunningham were sent to the Rhone American Cemetery in Draguiguan, France and buried in Plot D, Row 8, Grave 4.
US Census 1920
US Census 1930
US Census 1940
NARA Enlistment Records


Lt William J. Cunningham, Jr. was the assigned pilot on B-17F # 42-30314, named "Beautiful Baby," assigned to the 353rd Bomb Squadron.

Missing Air Crew Report 407 was issued for this loss. Mission loading lists agree with the crew listing as shown in the MACR. The crew consisted of:

1 Lt William J. Cunningham  p
2 Lt Lewis E. Howard  c-p
2 Lt Robert L. Michael  nav
2 Lt Milton W. Miller  bomb
TSgt Samuel Barnett  eng/tt gun
Sgt  Harold J. Jacobson  r/o
SSgt Sebastian C. Smith  btg
SSgt Alvin W. Roberts  wg
TSgt  Charles E, Van Buren  tail gun

Ranks and grades as of mission date.

Jacobson, Roberts, and Van Buren survived, but were taken POW.


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