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 James Andrew Raley

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James Andrew Raley

Birth
Henderson, Henderson County, Kentucky, USA
Death
28 Apr 1999 (aged 82)
Burial
Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, USA
Plot
Section 66 Site 5609
Military
LT COL, US AIR FORCE
Memorial ID
1102059 View Source

Sgt. James A. Raley of Henderson, KY, served as a tail gunner in the 353rd Bomb Squadron, 301st Bomb Group, Fifteenth Air Force. He was on a bombing mission to Piraeus, Greece, on January 11, 1944, when his aircraft collided mid-air with another B-17 in heavy cloud cover. The tail section was severed, and Raley was caught in the wreckage. In a 1944 newspaper interview, Raley said, "When the crash occurred 19,000 feet in the air, there was a terrific impact, and I was thrown face down on the floor toward the rear of the fort. I had an immediate sensation of falling as the plane spiraled downward, twisting to the right in a tight circle. My first thought was to grab my parachute and get out of the plane, but the spinning made it impossible for me to move."

Raley recited prayers during the descent. "I must have been spiraling downward for 10 to 15 minutes," he said. The tail came to rest in a clump of treetops. Raley realized he had just survived a fall from 19,000 feet. He was worried the aircraft might catch fire or explode and was anxious to clear the wreckage. He made his way to the bulkhead door, but the rest of the aircraft was gone when he opened it. Eight members of the crew died in the tragic accident.

Raley suffered back injuries and a small cut on the chin but miraculously survived. He was awarded an Air Medal and a Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster. Despite his near-death experience, Raley continued to serve in the military. He served in the Korean War and the Vietnam War, attaining the rank of Lt. Col. in the US Air Force. Raley passed away in 1999.
Contributor: GPoppa (46925364)

Sgt. James A. Raley of Henderson, KY, served as a tail gunner in the 353rd Bomb Squadron, 301st Bomb Group, Fifteenth Air Force. He was on a bombing mission to Piraeus, Greece, on January 11, 1944, when his aircraft collided mid-air with another B-17 in heavy cloud cover. The tail section was severed, and Raley was caught in the wreckage. In a 1944 newspaper interview, Raley said, "When the crash occurred 19,000 feet in the air, there was a terrific impact, and I was thrown face down on the floor toward the rear of the fort. I had an immediate sensation of falling as the plane spiraled downward, twisting to the right in a tight circle. My first thought was to grab my parachute and get out of the plane, but the spinning made it impossible for me to move."

Raley recited prayers during the descent. "I must have been spiraling downward for 10 to 15 minutes," he said. The tail came to rest in a clump of treetops. Raley realized he had just survived a fall from 19,000 feet. He was worried the aircraft might catch fire or explode and was anxious to clear the wreckage. He made his way to the bulkhead door, but the rest of the aircraft was gone when he opened it. Eight members of the crew died in the tragic accident.

Raley suffered back injuries and a small cut on the chin but miraculously survived. He was awarded an Air Medal and a Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster. Despite his near-death experience, Raley continued to serve in the military. He served in the Korean War and the Vietnam War, attaining the rank of Lt. Col. in the US Air Force. Raley passed away in 1999.
Contributor: GPoppa (46925364)


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