Last Known Activity
Matthew G. Aven, Jr. was born in Wichita Falls, Texas on January 8, 1924 to Matthew G. Sr., and Minnie Mildred Johnson Aven. The US Census 1930 lists the family in Wichita Falls, but the US Census 1940 shows then as residents of Tyler, Texas.
Aven was drafted, and inducted into military service in 1942. He was assigned to the Army Air Forces, and trained as an aerial gunner. Upon completing this course, he was promoted to Sergeant, and assigned to an operational unit for crew training. The crew deployed to England in 1944, and flew either 1 or 2 missions. (Records not clear.)
On march 6, 1944, this crew was selected as part of a bombing raid on the industrial complex outside Berlin, Germany. The formation was attacked by numerous German fighters. The inexperienced gunners were overwhelmed by the skilled Luftwaffe pilots, resulting , according to records, in 23 of 38 B-17s being shot down.
Aven's aircraft was raked by heavy machine gun and cannon fire. The bomb load exploded, killing all the crew at their stations. The wreckage fell near Haseluene, Germany, just outside the target area. The dead were evidently recovered and buried locally, because after the war ended, they were retrieved by Allied forces and moved to other cemeteries. SSgt Aven presently lies in the Rose Hill Cemetery in Tyler, Texas in Section A.
US Census 1930
US Census 1940
Headstone Application for Veterans Grave
SSgt Matthew G. Aven, Jr. was acting as a waist gunner on B-17G # 42-30278, named "Sly Fox," assigned to the 418th Bomb Squadron.
Missing Air Crew Report 3016 was issued, and applies to this loss. Crew listings state the crew consisted of:
2 Lt Zeb Kendall, Jr. p
2 Lt Edwin J. Loughran c-p
2 Lt William R. Thorpe,Jr. nav
2 Lt Clifford L. Gowen bomb
SSgt Melvin A. Hickman eng/tt gun
SSgt Leman E. Tutor r/o
Sgt Reginaldo Aguila btg
Sgt Matthew G. Aven, Jr. wg
Sgt Raymond L. Bridges wg
Sgt Victor Stoffregen tail gun
Ranks and grades as of mission date.
There were no survivors.
Service photo source: