Ralph K De Loach

Ralph K De Loach

Saint Petersburg, Pinellas County, Florida, USA
Death 22 Sep 2007 (aged 88–89)
California, USA
Burial Burial Details Unknown, Specifically: Unknown burial, likely in California.
Memorial ID 216391645 · View Source
Suggest Edits

Ralph K. De Loach was born in 1918 in Georgia and grew up in Saint Petersburg, Florida. He completed two years of college, was single, and listed his profession as an actor before he joined the military.

On August 18, 1941 he enlisted in the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as an aviation cadet with serial number 14052305. He attended flight school, earned his wings, and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant with serial number O-440981 and was sent overseas to the South West Pacific Area (SWPA) during World War II.

Assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 43rd Bombardment Group (43rd BG), 63rd Bomb Squadron (63rd BS) as a co-pilot on Lieutenant Herbert Derr’s crew, usually flying B-17F "Tuffy" 41-24574.

He flew his first mission as pilot with his own crew on June 10, 1943 aboard B-17F "The Mustang" 41-24554.

On July 11, 1943 he took off piloting B-17F "Black Jack / The Joker's Wild" 41-24521 on a bombing mission against Rabaul. Returning, the bomber was caught in a violent storm and ditched into the sea off Cape Vogel. Afterward, the crew was rescued by a Seagull and PT Boat then returned to duty.

After the July 11, 1943 ditching of "Black Jack", he was awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in action. De Loach resumed flying on August 15, 1943 in B-17E 41-2665. He flew seven more B-17 missions before a final weather reconnaissance in "Tuffy" on September 6, 1943.

Returning to civilian life, Ralph continued to live larger than life: In 1956 he became part of one of the most successful advertising campaigns in history as a “Marlboro Man”, appearing nationwide in Time, LIFE, Sports Illustrated, The Saturday Evening Post and The New Yorker. He made movies in Mexico and spoke of flying in a Mi-25 Hind with Daniel Ortega as if it was an everyday occurrence.

In 1986, he traveled to Papua New Guinea and his journey back to Cape Vogel and to see his former B-17 is documented in "Black Jack's Last Mission" by Steve Birdsall. His photograph appears in National Geographic Vol. 173, No. 4 – April 1988.

De Loach passed away on September 22, 2007 in California.

Note, some sources spell his surname "DeLoach" (one word).

NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Ralph K. De Loach

Pacific Wrecks - B-17F "Black Jack / The Joker's Wild" 41-24521

Black Jack's Last Mission - Pilot Ralph K. De Loach

Black Jack's Last Mission

Gravesite Details Seeking information on his burial.

Sponsored by Ancestry


See more De Loach memorials in:

Sponsor and Remove Ads


  • Created by: PacificWrecks.com
  • Added: 5 Oct 2020
  • Find a Grave Memorial 216391645
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Ralph K De Loach (1918–22 Sep 2007), Find a Grave Memorial no. 216391645, ; Maintained by PacificWrecks.com (contributor 47280833) Burial Details Unknown, who reports a Unknown burial, likely in California..