SSgt William Clyde Trout

SSgt William Clyde Trout

Urbana, Frederick County, Maryland, USA
Death 4 Dec 1943 (aged 22–23)
Papua New Guinea
Memorial Site* 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 56774250 · View Source
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William Clyde Trout was born 1920 in Urbana, Frederick, MD, the 4th child of Civil War veteran John Andrew TROUT (1842-1927) and his young second wife, Elsie May BURDETTE (1885-1945).

After the untimely death of his father in 1927 when William Clyde was only about 7 years old, William's now widowed mother Elsie struggled to care for her young family of 6 children, and keeping new born Evelyn at home with her, the rest of the children were distributed among friends and neighbors who were willing to take them in. Thus, young William Clyde bounced from farm to farm, working hard for his board and keep, and only rarely seeing his family. As he entered into his later teens, William twice struck out cross country, once for California, only making it as far as Wyoming, and once unsuccessfully for Jacksonville, Florida, each time returning home to Frederick County, Maryland when he quickly ran short of funds.

Not long after he came of age, and some three months before Pearl Harbor and the US entered WW-II, young William Clyde TROUT (age 21) journeyed to Baltimore, MD and enlisted 12 Sep 1941 as a Private in the US Army Air Corps. After a week of processing at Fort Meade, MD, he was sent to the Army Air Corps Training Center at Sheppard Field, TX (near Wichita), where he was assigned for a year as a cook. Not joining the Army Air Corps to be a "cook," young William soon made the fateful decision to sign up for duty as an Aerial Gunner and soon began a series of training and staging assignments at Army air fields in Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, Pueblo (where he was assigned his final squadron), and then on to Tucson where he also tried his hand at radio operator training. Now promoted to Staff Sergeant, as were virtually all enlisted bomber crew members, young Staff Sergeant William Clyde Trout was soon deployed with his unit, the 31st Bomber Squadron, 5th Bomber Group (Heavy), 13th Air Force for combat duty in the Pacific Theater.

S/Sgt William Clyde TROUT was assigned as the "ball gunner" manning the twin .50 caliber (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine guns in the glass ball revolving turret mounted on the underside of B-24 Liberator #AP 656. They had arrived for combat duty in early 1943 operating out of the newly captured Henderson Field on Guadalcanal, where the 31st Bomber Squadron soon earned the nickname "The Jungle Air Force" due to the primitive living and operating conditions on the island.

The 31st Bomber Squadron later moved to Carney Field, also on Guadalcanal, in late 1943, and it was from here that they were assigned a bombing mission on 4 Dec 1943 against the Japanese-held Chabai supply area, Buka Passage, on the north end of Bougainville Island, Papua New Guinea. This attack was a component of of Phase I, "Operation Cherry Blossom." As their formation neared the target area and prepared for their assigned bombing run, Caption Andrew J. Hughes (pilot of the 656) experienced problems with his #1 and #4 engines, but eventually struggled back up into formation. Just as they approached the bomb release line, #AP 656 took a direct hit of flak (anti-air craft fire) between the cockpit and the #2 engine, and now billowing black smoke, the 656 began it's death dive, sweeping down to the left. In an ever-falling series of stair-step stalls and shuddering recoveries, between 6-8 of the 11 crew members were seen to successfully bail out and parachute into the ocean below before the staggering B-24 Liberator finally nosed over and plunged in a vertical death dive into the ocean. Other B-24's in the formation circled for some time, but there was no sign of activity or survivors in the ocean waters below. Subsequent "Dumbo" (air sea rescue aircraft) missions also searched with negative results, with the exception of one unconfirmed sighting of a floating wheel at the crash location. The bodies of the missing air crew were never recovered, but fitting memorials have been erected in their memory.

Young S/Sgt William Clyde TROUT's status was eventfully changed from "missing" to "killed in action" and he was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and an Air Medal with Three Oak Leaf Clusters. His personal effects from Carney Field on Guadalcanal were returned to his grieving mother Elsie May BURDETTE TROUT who had by now re-married to become Mrs. William T.S. Mullinix.

S/Sgt William Clyde Trout's story is representative of so many brave young air crews lost in combat over the Pacific and we thank William for his patriotic service to Our Country.

Gravesite Details Entered the service from Maryland.
  • Maintained by: Craig H. Trout
  • Originally Created by: War Graves
  • Added: 8 Aug 2010
  • Find a Grave Memorial 56774250
  • Craig H. Trout
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for SSgt William Clyde Trout (1920–4 Dec 1943), Find a Grave Memorial no. 56774250, citing Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Manila, Capital District, National Capital Region, Philippines ; Maintained by Craig H. Trout (contributor 46822921) .