Last Known Activity
Wilbert Abshire was born in Kaplan, Louisiana on May 23, 1920, the second child of Jeneus and Alecia Simons Abshire. He attended and graduated from Indian Bayou High School, where he was studious and participated in athletics, in 1938. He enrolled at the Southwestern Louisiana Institute (present-day University of Southwest Louisiana) but after a few months dropped out because of lack of financial means. He returned home and worked on the family farm.
On January 5, 1940, Abshire joined the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and after orientation was sent to Farmersville, Louisiana for radio operator training. There, he also operated the camp canteen and was pitcher on the camp'e softball team. He was discharged from the CCC on June 14, 1942, and returned to help with the family farm.
He tried to enlist in the military but was found to be underweight. After a time, he tried again and was accepted in early 1943. He was sent to Lake Charles, Louisiana for basic training, and then to Keesler Air Field, Mississippi for training on service and maintenance of the B-24.
In July 1943, he was assigned to the Flexible Aerial Gunnery School at Laredo, Texas. He graduated September 5, 1943, and was promoted to the rank of Sergeant. He served 2 short-term tours at Gowen Air Base, Idaho for flying training and assistant engineer ground school.
In October 1943, he and others were assigned to the 755th Bomb Squadron, and became a crew under the command of 2LT Mattson. The crew picked up a new B-24 at the factory and flew the Southern Ferry route to England, arriving in January 1944.
Abshire's first combat mission was flown on March 3, 1944, with the target Berlin. The aircraft developed trouble in the pilot''s oxygen regulator and the plane's mission was aborted. After a March 6, 1944 raid on the Daimler-Benz Werke at Genshagen, Mattson was relieved of duty, and 1 Lt Olney took over. The crew then went on to fly some 25 combat missions.
On May 27, 1944, a pick-up crew was needed, so Abshire was picked to go with Lt. Lester Martin's crew. During assembly, this aircraft collided with another. Martin called "bail out" at which time the engineer salvoed the bombs and jumped. Abshire also jumpred. Neither survived. The aircraft, although damaged, was returned to base safely.
SSgt Wilbert Abshire fell into the North Sea, and his body was never recovered. His name is listed on the Walls of the Missing in Cambridge American Cemetery, and his name is inscribed in the Book of Remembrance in Central Library in Norwich, England.
NOTE: Full details and description of the collision and events are given along with pertinent crew data and references on the profile of Sgt Norman J. Picard.
Most of SSgt Abshire's mission were flown on B-24H #41-29359, nicknamed "Tail Wind," first under Lt Mattson, then Lt. Olney. However, he was on Lt. Martin's "Briney Marlin," B-24 # 95183 when he was killed.
The crew of "Briney Marlin" that date was listed:
2 Lt Lester C. Martin p
2 Lt Frances S. Thompson c-p
2 Lt Robert T. Craig nav
2 Lt Charles L. Gribi bomb
SSgt Chester R. Carlstrum eng/tt gun
TSgt Garland O. Meadows r/o
SSgt Wilbert Abshire tail gun
SSgt George E. Hoesfel gun
SSgt Warren S. Cohlmeyer gun
SSgt Roy A. Cassady gun
Missing Air Crew Report 5632 was issued, and indicated Abshire and Carlstrum had jumped but did not survive. Lt Martin credits Carlstrum with quick thinking in salvoing the bombs as that action assisted him in regaining control of the aircraft.
Picture labeled Assignment, Abshire is third from left, front row.
Picture labeled Abshire, Abshire is 4th from left (or on right)
Picture Tail Wind Crew, Abshire is middle, front row
Picture labeled Matson Crew, Boise, Abshire is right, front row.