CUNNINGHAM, LEROY D., Captain, # 0-431945, USAAF

 

Leroy D. Cunningham was born on 27 June 1914 in Los Angeles Co., California, to George Tellford Cunningham (1874-1935) and Emma A. (Stein) Cunningham (1885-1972) Siblings were George T. Cunningham Jr. (1908-2001), Emma Aline Cunningham (1909-    ), Joseph Allan Cunningham (1911-2005), Ross Allison Cunningham (1916-1992), Martha L. Cunningham (1919-    ), and Helen J. Cunningham (1921-    ). He completed four years of college. He was married to Carolyn E. (Cheney) Cunningham on 23 August 1942 in Yakima Co., Washington, by U.S. Army Chaplain Ira B. Allen.

 

He enlisted in the USAAF as an aviation cadet at March Field, Riverside, California, on 22 April 1941. He completed flight instruction through advanced schools to fly the B-24 Liberator. He earned his commission and pilot wings. He was sent overseas to India and China. He was the squadron commander of the 373rd. On 15 September 1943 a B-24J Liberator, “Daisy May,” # 41-24218, assigned to 14th Air Force, 308th Bomb Group, 373rd Bomb Squadron, Yangkai, China, departed the airfield to bomb Haiphong, French Indochina (Annam or Vietnam). He had a very experienced crew. The flight of five of seven B-24s (two were unable to take off) were to bomb the cement plant. Planners were unaware of enemy fighters that had been brought in and were nearby. The B-25s had no fighter cover and were attacked by about 50 enemy fighters over Haiphong at about 8,000’ altitude. A crew reported that they saw 41-24218 going down in a spin, its bomb bay door close, and no parachutes were seen. Capt. Don B. Smith, 0-793188 reported that he saw the B-24 flip inverted and crash into the Bay [Gulf] of Tonkin. There was an explosion when it impacted the water. The body of TSgt Pershke was recovered by French who saw the crash. The rest of the formation parted and dropped their bombs in the Gulf of Tonkin to improve their chances of escaping the many enemy fighters. He is remembered on the tablets of the missing in the Manila American Cemetery & Memorial, Philippines. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal and the Purple Heart.

HJORTH, RICHARD PAUL, First Lieutenant, # 0-730120, USAAF

 

Richard P. Hjorth was born on 30 January 1915 in Devil’s Lake, North Dakota to Paul Wendelbo Hjorth (1892-1965) and Agnes N. Hjorth (1894-1972) (married 3 April 1914). Siblings were Victor N. Hjorth (1914-1974), Lillian Loana (Hjorth) Webb (1917-1945), Esther Hjorth (1919-    ), and Marjorie Eleanor Hjorth (1923-    ). He was married to Hellen Laura Galland (1921-2011) in 1942 in Pasadena, California.

 

He registered for the WWII draft on 16 October 1940, a Theology student of the Bible Instruction Institute of Los Angeles, resided at 558 S. Hope, Los Angeles, CA, and described himself as 5’ 10 ½”, 180 lbs, with brown hair and blue eyes. He noted that he had a 2” diagonal scar on his left outer forearm, a right cheek mole, flat feet, and a scar on his right palm and thumb. He enlisted in the USAAF in Los Angeles, California, on 28 January 1942. He completed flight instruction through advanced schools to fly the B-24 Liberator. He earned his commission and pilot wings. He was sent overseas to India and China. On 15 September 1943 a B-24J Liberator, “Daisy May,” # 41-24218, assigned to 14th Air Force, 308th Bomb Group, 373rd Bomb Squadron, Yangkai, China, departed the airfield to bomb Haiphong, French Indochina (Annam or Vietnam). The flight of five of seven B-24s (two were unable to take off) were to bomb the cement plant. Planners were unaware of enemy fighters that had been brought in and were nearby. The B-25s had no fighter cover and were attacked by about 50 enemy fighters over Haiphong at about 8,000’ altitude.