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
1944-1947, Medical Units
Service Years
1928 - 1947
USAAFOfficer Collar Insignia
Brigadier General

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

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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.

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.
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:



  1931-1939, US Army (USA)
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To Month/Year
- / 1939
US Army (USA) Unit Page
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Base, Station or City
West Point
New York
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Parent Unit
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Created/Owned By
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Last Updated: Nov 3, 2019
Memories For This Unit

Other Memories
He was an assistant football coach.

My Photos For This Unit
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62 Members Also There at Same Time
US Army (USA)

Bohannon, Richard Leland, Lt Gen, (1933-1967) [Other Service Rank]
Braemer, Fred Anthony, Capt, (1935-1966) [Other Service Rank]
Delashaw, Robert Lee, Maj Gen, (1933-1969) [Other Service Rank]
Dieter, William John, SSgt, (1936-1942) [Other Service Rank]
Eierman, Jacob, Maj, (1935-1957) [Other Service Rank]
Milton, Theodore Ross, Gen, (1934-1974) [Other Service Rank]
Mucci, Henry Andrews, 2nd Lt, (1929-1947) 00 [Other Service Rank]
Parrish, Noel Francis, Brig Gen, (1930-1964) [Other Service Rank]
Stapleton, Carl William, Maj Gen, (1935-1973) 00 [Other Service Rank]
Whiteman, George Allison, 2nd Lt, (1939-1941) 00 [Other Service Rank]
Williams, Adam Ray, MSgt, (1938-1945) [Other Service Rank]
York, Edward Joseph, Col, (1930-1966) [Other Service Rank]
Youngblood, Lucian Nevelson, Maj, (1936-1949) [Other Service Rank]
Zoeckler, John Lewis, Maj Gen, (1939-1969) 00 [Other Service Rank]
Hanley, Thomas James, Maj Gen, (1915-1952) Major General
Walton, Leo Andrew, Maj Gen, (1915-1949) Major General
Blackburn, Thomas Welch, Brig Gen, (1917-1952) 11 Brigadier General
Mucci, Henry Andrews, 2nd Lt, (1929-1947) 01 Colonel
Wood, Wilson Roe, Col, (1939-1967) 112 1121Z Colonel
Broadhurst, Edwin Borden, Lt Gen, (1937-1965) 11 Lieutenant Colonel
Armstrong, Harry George, Maj Gen, (1918-1958) A31 AAF MOS 3162 First Lieutenant
Sweeney, Walter Campbell, Gen, (1926-1965) A29 AAF MOS 2260 First Lieutenant
Sweeney, Walter Campbell, Gen, (1926-1965) First Lieutenant
Blake, Gordon Aylesworth, Lt Gen, (1931-1965) 01 Second Lieutenant
Griffin, Thomas Carson, Maj, (1939-1959) Second Lieutenant
Jones, David Mudgett, Maj Gen, (1930-1973) Second Lieutenant
Milton, Theodore Ross, Gen, (1934-1974) Second Lieutenant
Mucci, Henry Andrews, 2nd Lt, (1929-1947) 01 Second Lieutenant
Murphy, John Byrd, Col, (1939-1964) Second Lieutenant
Parcell, Bruce Fraley, Lt Col, (1939-1944) Second Lieutenant
Rogner, Harris Edward, Col, (1934-1951) 01 Second Lieutenant
Scott, Robert Lee, Brig Gen, (1927-1957) Second Lieutenant
Seawell, William T., Brig Gen, (1937-1963) 00 00 Second Lieutenant
Short, Robert B., Col, (1937-1970) A23 AAF MOS 1024 Second Lieutenant
Stapleton, Carl William, Maj Gen, (1935-1973) Second Lieutenant
Truesdale, Francis Carlton, Capt, (1942-1943) Second Lieutenant
Wilson, Russell Alger, Brig Gen, (1924-1944) Second Lieutenant
Woods, Sidney Sterling, Col, (1937-1962) 01 Second Lieutenant
York, Edward Joseph, Col, (1930-1966) Second Lieutenant
Cooper, Paul Ray, MSgt, (1934-1961) Technical Sergeant
Mitchell, Obie D., TSgt, (1939-1944) 00 Staff Sergeant
Ayer, Elliot Dean, Capt, (1939-1952) Sergeant
Bruno, Sam, Col, (1935-1963) Sergeant
Cooper, Paul Ray, MSgt, (1934-1961) Sergeant
Deterding, Floyd, M., Lt Col, (1936-1958) 00 Sergeant
Horton, Edwin Weston, MSgt, (1935-1958) A06 AAF MOS 590 Sergeant
Scott, Eldred Von, Lt Col, (1924-1959) 00 Sergeant
Skinner, John, 1stSgt, (1933-1955) Corporal
Andrew, Stephen Wallace, Lt Col, (1935-1951) Technician 5th Grade
Borgelt, Harold William, Cpl, (1938-1941) Corporal
Bovey, Charles D., Sgt, (1939-1945) 100 Corporal
Brown, Charles Lester, Lt Col, (1939-1965) Corporal
Laban, Theodore H., MSgt, (1935-1956) A13 AAF MOS 677 Corporal
Sanchez, Sator S., TSgt, (1939-1945) A13 AAF MOS 677 Corporal
Skinner, John, 1stSgt, (1933-1955) Private First Class
Baumler, Albert John, Maj, (1932-1965) Private First Class
Carroll, Darwin J., 2nd Lt, (1940-1944) A06 AAF MOS 188 Private First Class
Dunn, William Robert, Lt Col, (1943-1973) Private First Class
Gause, Damon Jesse, Maj, (1934-1944) A06 AAF MOS 604 Private First Class

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