Saunders, Laverne George, Brig Gen

 Service Photo   Service Details
52 kb
View Time Line
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 

35 kb

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:



  1942-1942, AAF MOS 1060, 11th Bombardment Group, Heavy

From Month/Year
March / 1942
To Month/Year
December / 1942
11th Bombardment Group, Heavy Unit Page
AAF MOS 1060-Bombardment Unit Commander
Base, Station or City
Hickam Field, Terr. of Hawaii; Luganville Airfield, Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides (now Vanuatu)
 11th Bombardment Group, Heavy Details

11th Bombardment Group, Heavy

11th Bombardment Group Heavy (H) "The Grey Geese"
They were there on that infamous day, Sunday, December 7, 1941. They were around on September 2, 1945 when the Japanese surrendered. They are still here today only not as a combat unit. The 11th Bombardment Group (H) was organized and activated at Hickam Field, Territory of Hawaii, on February 1, 1940 as part of the 18th Wing of the Hawaiian Air Force. It included Headquarters, Headquarters Sq., 14th Bombardment Sq., 26th Bombardment Sq., 42nd Bombardment Sq. and the 50th Reconnaissance Sq. In February of 1942 it was assigned to the 7th Air. It's planes consisted of B-18 Bolos, B-17 Flying Fortress and B-24 Liberators.

Boeing B-17E "Typhoon McGoon II" (S/N 41-9211) of the 11th Bomb Group, 98th Bomb Squadron, taken in January 1943 in New Caledonia. Note the antennas mounted above the nose plexiglass used for radar tracking

The B-24 Liberty Belle Crew, 42nd Bomb Squadron, 11th Bomb Group (H), 7th Air Force 11th Bomb Group (H) - 42nd Bomb Squadron, April 1945 - Jan 1946.

"Thar She Blows"
B-24L-5-CO Liberator
s/n 44-41468
42nd Bomb Squadron, 11th Bomb Group, 7th Air Force.

"Miss Traveler"
B-24J-165-CO Liberator
s/n 44-40530
98th Bomb Squadron, 11th Bomb Group, 7th Air Force.
Photo taken on Guam,Marianas Islands on May 4,1945.

B-24J-1-CO Liberator
s/n 42-73004
98th Bomb Squadron, 11th Bomb Group, 7th Air Force.On YYThe photo of the nose art of the �??Wishful Thinkin�??.�?? That is my father�??s B-24M Liberator, S/N 44-41945, when he was on Guam and Okinawa in 1945 with the 431st Bomb Squadron. My father, 2LT Thomas Victor �??Vic�?? Hart, was the co-pilot of a B-24 crew that had been together since training at Muroc Army Airfield in California in late-1944. I literally grew up with that photo (undoubtedly the first topless woman I ever saw!) as I was born two months before my father came home from the Pacific. Thanks for including the photo maybe you know a little more about it now.

Steve Hart
Lakewood, CO

B-24J-5-CO "Lil Audrey Grows Up"
Unit: 431st BS, 11th BG, USAAF
Serial: 42-73016

431st Bomb Sqdn. 11th Bomb Group
Parent Unit
Bombardment Units
Created/Owned By
Not Specified

Last Updated: Dec 10, 2019
My Photos For This Unit
No Available Photos
18 Members Also There at Same Time
11th Bombardment Group, Heavy

Pharr, Marion Newton, Maj, (1936-1942) A23 AAF MOS 1060 [Other Service Rank]
Allen, Brooke Empie, Maj Gen, (1933-1966) A23 AAF MOS 1091 Lieutenant Colonel
Hall, Earl Oxford, Maj, (1934-1943) A23 AAF MOS 1091 Major
Sewart, Allan Jackson, Maj, (1937-1942) A23 AAF MOS 1091 Major
Owens, Hugh Warren, Capt, (1940-1942) A23 AAF MOS 1091 Captain
Castro, Joaquin, Capt, (1941-1943) A23 AAF MOS 1054 First Lieutenant
Lauer, Harold, 2nd Lt, (1941-1944) A23 AAF MOS 1024 Second Lieutenant
Hall, Emory Leonard, 2nd Lt, (1941-1942) A08 AAF MOS 1034 Second Lieutenant
Heilman, Raymond A., TSgt, (1937-1945) A01 AAF MOS 911 Technical Sergeant
Donart, Mathias E., SSgt, (1937-1942) A07 AAF MOS 611 Staff Sergeant
Natiello, Oreste George, SSgt, (1940-1943) A07 AAF MOS 509 Staff Sergeant
Novogrodsky, Nicholas P., Sgt, (1939-1942) 990 99000 Sergeant
Coats, Warren L., (1942-1945) [Other Service Rank]
Sweeney, Walter Campbell, Gen, (1926-1965) Lieutenant Colonel
Edmundson, James Valentine, Lt Gen, (1937-1973) Second Lieutenant
Pierson, Arthur Donald, 2nd Lt, (1942-1943) Second Lieutenant
Boles Jr., Harry, Sgt, (1940-1942) Sergeant
Powers, John Nelson, Sgt, (1940-1946) Sergeant

Copyright Inc 2003-2011