|Sgt. Edward Madigan painted the nose art on many bombers in the 347th Bombardment Squadron.|
Edward T. Madigan never had a chance to reach 100 years old today. Instead, he sacrificed his life for our freedom.
He was born on June 27, 1917 in Minnesota. His parents were also both born in Minnesota. Edward's father died on October 8, 1918, one of the millions who died from the worldwide influenza epidemic. Ed and his mother lived with her parents. His grandfather supported the family working as a house decorator. His mother was a telephone operator. Ed's grandfather died when Ed was ten years old. His mother remarried in the 1920s. His stepfather was a railroad switchman. Ed had one half-brother and one half-sister.
Ed was drafted into the army in 1942 and became a sergeant in the 347th Bombardment Squadron, 99th Bombardment Group and served as a B-17 flight engineer. The 99th Bomb Group's first missions were based out of North Africa in March 1943. During 1943 most of its targets were in Sicily and Italy. By December 1943 it moved its base to Tortorella, Italy.
Sgt. Madigan was a talented artist. In fact, before the war there was talk about him getting a job with the Disney Studios. He painted the nose art for many of the planes at his airbase.
On January 24, 1944 the 347th Bomb Squad was assigned a mission to Salon de Provence in France. Sgt. Madigan volunteered as a last minute crew member on the B-17 Stardust. The regular flight engineer was not available. Stardust was assigned to bomb a separate target about a mile away from the main target, so it was alone, without any fighter protection, when it was attacked by a number of ME-109s. In short time, only the #4 engine was working and the plane began a slow turning descent. The pilot ordered everyone to bail from the plane. The pilot and one of the waist gunners were able to evade capture with the help of the French resistance and escaped to Spain. Seven others of the crew were captured and sent to POW camps. Sgt. Madigan never jumped out of the plane (perhaps he was wounded) and died when it crashed.
His grave is at Fort Snelling National Cemetery, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
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