Sunday, July 16, 2017

WW2 Fallen - B-26 tail gunner Wetzel Kimball

Sgt. Wetzel Kimball, his crew mates, and the last plane he flew, the Five by Fives. 

Wetzel O. Kimball never had a chance to reach 100 years old today. Instead, he sacrificed his life for our freedom.

He was born on July 16, 1917 in West Virginia. His parents were also both born in West Virginia. His father worked as a teamster and later as a road laborer. Wetzel had three younger brothers and a younger sister. By 1940 Wetzel had completed three years of college, was living at a boarding house and working as an elementary school teacher.

He enlisted in the army on June 9, 1942. At that time two of his younger brothers, Coy and David, were POWs in the Philippines. They would survive the war.

He served in the Army Air Corp as a staff sergeant in the 557th Bombardment Squadron, 387th Bombardment Group, 9th Air Force.  He was trained as a turret gunner. The 387th BG was equipped with Martin B-26 B/C Marauders. It deployed for England in June 1943. It specialized in bombing enemy airfields and V-weapon sites. It flew missions in support of the Normandy invasion in the summer of 1944. By September it had moved its airbase to France.

Sgt. Kimball was returning from his seventieth mission (yes 70!) over France in the tail gunner position when his plane, nicknamed Five by Fives, crashed near La Neuville-Housset.

His grave is at the Hollywood Cemetery in Jackson, Tennessee.

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

On behalf of the fallen, if you would like to see more people become aware of this project to honor the WW2 fallen, be sure to share with others on Twitter, Facebook, etc. Thanks for your interest!

To mark having over 100,000 visits to my project to honor the fallen of WW2 on their 100th birthdate, I created this video to share.

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Join the public Facebook group WW2 Fallen 100

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