Son of Harry & Flora Stephens who resided in Indiana.
Thomas served as a Second Lieutenant and Pilot on B-24J "Maxwell House II" #43-73245, 373rd Bomber Squadron, 308th Bomber Group, Heavy, U.S. Army Air Force during World War II.
He resided in Marion County, Indiana prior to the war.
He enlisted in the Army on February 17, 1942 at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana. He was noted, at the time of his enlistment, as being employed as a Industry Clerk and also as Married.
B-24J #43-73245 took off on November 27, 1943 from Pandaveswar Airfield, India on a bombing mission over Insein, Myanmar (Burma). They were attacked by Japanese fighter planes which damaged their engines and the B-24 crashed approximately 150 miles northwest of Rangoon, Myanmar (Burma). At least eight parachutes were seen during bailout.
Those who were able to bail out included 2nd Lt Butterfield, Sgt Cook, S/Sgt Hart, Sgt McClung, 1st Lt Meredith, 2nd Lt Rich, 2nd Lt Stephens, and S/Sgt Temples.
Before reaching the ground, five of the crew were reportedly either shot while parachuting down or killed once they hit the ground. They included Sgt Cook, S/Sgt Hart, 1st Lt Meredith, 2nd Lt Stephens, and S/Sgt Temples.
2nd Lt Butterfield, Sgt McClung, and 2nd Lt Rich were all captured and taken to the Rangoon POW camp in Myanmar (Burma).
Sgt Pero, 2nd Lt Ryan, and S/Sgt Smeal where either killed while still in flight or were killed in the crash.
Thomas was "Killed In Action" while parachuting out the his B-24 during the war.
He was awarded the Air Medal and the Purple Heart.
He was originally interred overseas and was later repatriated here on July 15, 1949. Originally the plot next to him at Arlington was reserved for his wife.
Service # O-683542
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The above information on the crash and crew were provided by the only survivor of the crash, Sgt. Joseph C. McClung.
Historical Note: The Japanese Army "did not" report that they had a prison camp at Rangoon to the U.S. Military until after the war.
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Airmen who perished from B-24 #43-73245:
Butterfield, Royal D ~ 2nd Lt, Bombardier, NE
Cook, John F ~ Sgt, Gunner, WA
Hart, Fred W ~ Sgt, Radio Operator, NY
Meredith, Richard W ~ 1st Lt, Commander, IA
Pero, Charles E ~ Sgt, Gunner, NY
Rich, Joseph C ~ 2nd Lt, Navigator, ME
Ryan, Edward F ~ 2nd Lt, Co-Pilot, NY
Smeal, Thomas C ~ S/Sgt, Gunner, PA
Stephen, Thomas A ~ 2nd Lt, Pilot, IN
Temples, Ewell C ~ S/Sgt, Gunner, GA
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Airmen who survived from B-24 #43-73245:
McClung, Joseph C., Sgt, Engineer, AR
Bio & Crew Report by:
Russell S. "Russ" Pickett
Special thanks to:
John Evans for submitting this record for bio updates!
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