Thursday, February 9, 2017

WW2 Fallen - Smith J. Young, B-17 Waist Gunner

Sgt. Smith J. Young is standing second from left.
Smith J. Young could have been 100 years old today. 

He was born on February 9, 1917 in North Carolina. His parents were also both born in North Carolina. His father was a laborer and then a miner in the feldspar industry. Smith had an older brother and sister and four younger brothers and a younger sister. Curiously, only Smith had the uncommon first name. His brothers were Jack, Robert, William, Harry, and Bill. By 1940 he had completed high school and was working as a carpenter while still living at home with this parents in Crabtree.

Smith enlisted in the Army Air Corp on May 7, 1941, six months to the day before the war started. During the course of the war he advanced to the rank of Staff Sergeant and was part of a B-17 crew. He served in the 351st Bomber Squadron, 100th Bomber Group aka the "Bloody Hundredth", so named because it suffered horrendous rates of losses. The popular 1949 movie Twelve O'Clock High was based on the experiences of this bomber group.
Keith Ferris painting depicting bombers from 100th Bomb Group

The period from October 8 to October 14, 1943 became known as Black Week, with costly missions over Bremen, Munster, Marienburg, and Schweinfurt (which alone saw 60 bombers downed).

On October 10, 1943, when Sgt. Young was in the waist gunner position on the mission to bomb Munster. another damaged B-17 struck the tail of Young's plane during the bombing run. The pilot ordered all men to bail. Half of the crew survived and became prisoners of war, but not Sgt. Young. Young's body was recovered from the Waal river the next day.
Damage similar to this caused Sgt. Young's plane to crash.

His remains were returned to be buried at Will Young Cemetery in Yancy County, North Carolina.

Thank you Smith for your sacrifice. Let's Earn It for Smith.

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