Thomas G. Cross never had a chance to reach 100 years old today. Instead, he sacrificed his life for our freedom. His kid brother did the same.
He was born on September 17, 1917 in Missouri. His parents were also both born in Missouri. His father worked as a farmer and later as a state highway patrolman. Thomas had an older sister and a younger brother, Robert, who became a B-17 tail gunner.
Thomas enlisted in the army on April 20, 1942. Two months later Robert, two years his junior, also enlisted in the army. Thomas decided to volunteer for the paratroopers and became a sergeant in the Headquarters Company, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division. Robert became a staff sergeant in the the 527th Bombardment Squadron, 379th Bombardment Group which flew B-17s.
Big brother Thomas was possibly not yet with the 82nd when they participated in the invasion of Sicily. We don't know if Thomas arrived in England in time to spend any leave time with his brother who was in England by late 1943.
On December 30, 1943, Robert's B-17 Judy was part of a mission of 710 bombers to bomb the chemical works at Ludwigshafen, Germany. Robert was the tail gunner. After successfully releasing its bombs, one of Judy's engines was knocked out by flak. The pilot tried to make it back to England as a straggler, but while flying over Oise, France, the damaged plane was attacked and shot up by three German fighter planes. Now uncontrollable, the pilot ordered everyone to jump. Three men did not get out and crashed with the plane, including Robert Cross.
Being the only remaining son, Thomas was most likely given the option of avoiding dangerous frontline duties. He chose to stay with the 82nd and jumped with his unit in the early hours of D-Day. Encountering heavy clouds, the 508th PIR troops were mostly scattered miles away from their drop zones. Despite being short on weapons, the 82nd Airborne kept the Germans from closing in on Utah Beach. Sgt. Cross was killed on D+4: June 10, 1944.
The Cross brother's graves are both located at Emery Chapel Cemetery in Bucyrus, Texas.
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!
I created this video to explain why I stated this project: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXt8QA481lY.
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