Saunders, Laverne George, Brig Gen

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Last Rank
Brigadier General
Last Primary AFSC/MOS
AAF MOS 1060-Bombardment Unit Commander
Last AFSC Group
Pilot (Officer)
Primary Unit
1943-1944, AAF MOS 1060, 58th Bombardment Wing, Very Heavy
Service Years
1928 - 1947
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Brigadier General

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Home State
South Dakota
South Dakota
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by SSgt Robert Bruce McClelland, Jr. to remember Saunders, Laverne George, Brig Gen.

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Contact Info
Home Town
Stratford, South Dakota
Last Address
Aberdeen, South Dakota
Date of Passing
Nov 16, 1988
Location of Interment
Sacred Heart Cemetery - Aberdeen, South Dakota

 Official Badges 

 Unofficial Badges 

Pearl Harbor Memorial Medallion Cold War Medal Gold Star

 Additional Information
Last Known Activity:

Born in Stratford, S.D., in 1903, Saunders graduated from the University of South Dakota in 1924 and the U.S. Military Academy in 1928. It was there that his coal-black hair inspired his nickname. An All-America tackle at West Point, He was the football coach there from 1931 through 1939.
He began fighting as a pilot in WWII at Hickam Field the day it and Pearl Harbor were attacked by the Japanese. Later, he fought them at Midway, in the Solomons and on Guadalcanal. In 1944 he conducted the first land-based air attack on Japan.
On an administrative flight shortly before returning to the US in Sep 1944, his B-25 crashed. Gen. Curtis LeMay helped move an engine off Saunders' crushed ankle. He spent the next 2 1/2 years in the hospital and was medically retired Feb 28, 1947. 
(adapted from his USAF bio, see 2nd link below)
His son, 2nd Lt. Maurice Melvin Saunders, USAF, was killed in the crash of his A-26 bomber in TN on Jan 16, 1954. 

His Navy Cross citation:
Awarded for actions during WWII

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Brigadier General [then Colonel] Laverne George Saunders, United States Army Air Forces, for extraordinary heroism and distinguished service as Commanding Officer of the 11th Bombardment Group (H), THIRTEENTH Air Force, U.S. Army Air Forces, in action against enemy Japanese forces in the Solomon Islands on 18 November 1942. Brigadier General Saunders led his group of bombers in a daring daylight raid on enemy shipping in the face of severe anti-aircraft and enemy fighter opposition in the Buin-Tonolei area of the Solomon Islands. At least two 1,000-pound bomb hits were scored on enemy vessels and 12 enemy aircraft were destroyed. After his own airplane was badly damaged and it became necessary to land his plane in enemy territory, he skillfully accomplished a water landing near shore thereby permitting the remaining members of his crew to reach safety. Brigadier General Saunders' outstanding courage, daring airmanship and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Armed Service.

General Orders: Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin No. 313 (April 1943)

Action Date: 18-Nov-42

Service: Army Air Forces

Rank: Brigadier General

Company: Commanding Officer

Regiment: 11th Bombardment Group (H)

Division: 13th Air Force

Other Comments:



 Ribbon Bar

Command Pilot Badge
USAAF Observer Badge

 Unit Assignments
US Army (USA)23rd Bombardment Squadron, Medium12th Bombardment Group, Medium11th Bombardment Group, Heavy
XX Bomber Command58th Bombardment Wing, Very Heavy
  1924-1928, US Army (USA)
  1930-1931, 23rd Bombardment Squadron, Medium
  1931-1939, US Army (USA)
  1939-1941, 23rd Bombardment Squadron, Medium
  1941-1942, AAF MOS 1060, 12th Bombardment Group, Medium
  1942-1942, AAF MOS 1060, 11th Bombardment Group, Heavy
  1943-1944, XX Bomber Command
  1943-1944, AAF MOS 1060, 58th Bombardment Wing, Very Heavy
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1941-1941 WWII - Pacific Theater of Operations/Central Pacific Campaign (1941-43)/Attack on Pearl Harbor
  1941-1942 WWII - Pacific Theater of Operations/Central Pacific Campaign (1941-43)
  1942-1942 World War II/Asian-Pacific Theater
  1942-1942 WWII - Pacific Theater of Operations/Guadalcanal Campaign (1942-43)
  1944-1944 World War II/Asian-Pacific Theater
  1944-1944 World War II/China-India-Burma Theater
  1944-1944 World War II/China-India-Burma Theater/India-Burma Campaign (1942-45)
  1944-1944 World War II/China-India-Burma Theater/China Defensive Campaign (1942-45)
 Colleges Attended 
Northern State UniversityUniversity of South DakotaUnited States Military Academy, West Point
  1917-1919, Northern State University
  1921-1924, University of South Dakota
  1924-1928, United States Military Academy, West Point
  1938-1939, Air Corps Tactical School
 My Aircraft/Missiles
  1939-1941, B-18 Bolo
  1941-1943, B-17 Flying Fortress
  1942-1942, B-24 Liberator
  1943-1945, B-29 Superfortress
  1944-1944, B-25 Mitchell
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