George R. Hutchison never had a chance to reach 100 years old today. Instead, he sacrificed his life for our freedom.
He was born on July 2, 1917 in Pennsylvania. His parents were also both born in Pennsylvania. His father worked as an interior decorator and later owned his own store. George had one younger brother who served in the navy during the war. By 1940 George had completed four years of high school and was living at home while working as a salesman. He married his wife Eleanor on October 10, 1941.
He enlisted in the army and became a first lieutenant in the 17th Bombardment Squadron, 16th Bombardment Group, 20th Air Force. The 16th Bombardment Group flew the B-29B which was specially designed for higher speed, unescorted missions. It got to Guam in March 1945 and starting bombing Japan in June.
On the morning of September 2, 1945 Lt. Hutchison plane was grounded for repairs so he volunteered to join two other pilots and their crew to fly another B-29B on a mercy mission to drop supplies to American prisoners of war in Osaka. Meanwhile, other planes from the 16th Bomb Group participated in the surrender ceremony by flying over Tokyo Harbor in formation at the exact time the surrender documents were signed on the USS Missouri.
A few hours into the flight, Lt. Hutchison's plane developed mechanical problems so it turned around to return to base on Guam. Once above the island it circled the airfield for a few hours to burn off fuel making it safer and easier to land. The landing appeared to be executing normally but at the last moment the plane swerved and a wingtip hit a tree. The B-29 broke in half and the front part of the plane burst into flames. All those in the front section perished, including Lt. Hutchison. The three men in the back section survived, but one of them died of injuries a few days later.
Tragically, the war was officially over when Hutchison died. Had he decided to go with the planes that participated in the surrender ceremony instead of the POW mercy mission, he would have survived to come home to his family.
His grave is at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu. His widow remarried after his death. She died in 2003.
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