SSgt William Heath Neff
Cenotaph

SSgt William Heath Neff

Birth
New York, New York County (Manhattan), New York, USA
Death 10 Feb 1944 (aged 24)
Kachin State, Myanmar
Cenotaph Manila, Capital District, National Capital Region, Philippines

* A structure erected in honor of someone whose remains lie elsewhere.

Plot Tablets of the Missing
Memorial ID 56771116 · View Source
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Entered the service from Illinois.

Also remembered in the Rock Island National Cemetery. Please see this memorial for family links.
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William H Neff was born 12 May 1919 to Ruth M (Heath) Neff and Dr. Emery B Neff in Manhattan, New York City, New York. At the time his father was serving rank of Major in the U.S. Army, after WW I as a doctor in the Medical Corps stationed in west central Germany at Coblenz/ Koblenz. William and his mother voyaged to Europe to be with Maj. Neff while deployed, beginning 25 April 1920. By the 1930 Census the family was living in Moline, Illinois. According to the 1940 Census William was still living with his parents in Moline, now attending his first year of college.On 15 January 1943 Neff was enlisted into the Army, Army Serial Number: 36443151. After basic training Neff was selected for the enlisted pilot training program. Upon graduation he was promoted to Staff Sergeant as were all graduates of this enlisted pilot training along with transfer into the Army Air Forces.S/Sgt Neff was assigned to the 5318th Provisional Air Unit, which in late March 1944 was re-designated the 1st Air Commando Unit. Neff then deployed to the China-Burma-India (CBI) Theater. Here he served as a liaison pilot operating a Stinson L-5 light aircraft primarily in an air ambulance role, assigned to Able Company, 1st Air Commando Unit. On 10 February 1944 he was based at an airfield at Ledo, India. A radio request was received to evacuated injured personnel of Merrill’s Marauders located at Shingbwiyang, Burma (now Shin Bway Yang, Kachin, Myanmar) about 50 miles southeast of Ledo. Four L-5 aircraft were dispatched for this evacuation mission. As this formation approached the landing area near Shingbwiyang. Burma the propeller of S/Sgt Ngon Ting Tom cut into the tail of the L-5 being piloted by S/Sgt William H. Neff causing his plane to crash killing him. The body of S/Sgt Neff was not discovered until 4 days later, with his remains buried beside his crashed L-5 somewhere near Shingbwiyang, Burma and of this date [17 July 2018] his remain are still not recovered.For unknown reasons the remains of S/Sgt William Heath Neff were never recovered from his initial burial grave, once next to his L-5 aircraft. Perhaps the jungle during or after the war swallowed this grave, making it not recoverable.The memorial to S/Sgt William H Neff at the Rock Island National Cemetery, Rock Island, Illinois is a memorial cenotaph. S/Sgt William H Neff is also listed on the Tablets of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery, Manila, Philippines.S/Sgt Neff continues to be listed with DPAA; remains not recovered (identifier here is India, seems the search should be in Burma/ Myanmar)


  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: War Graves
  • Added: 8 Aug 2010
  • Find a Grave Memorial 56771116
  • Vindicator I
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for SSgt William Heath Neff (12 May 1919–10 Feb 1944), Find a Grave Memorial no. 56771116, citing Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Manila, Capital District, National Capital Region, Philippines ; Maintained by War Graves (contributor 6) .