WITHERS, RUDOLPH STATLER, JR., Flight Officer, # T-185799, USAAF

 

Rudolph S. Withers Jr. was born 1920 in Florida to Rudolph S. Withers (1890-    ) (MD) and Marie Cook (Kenney) Withers (1891-1985) (PA) (married 22 June 1916, Fayette, PA). Siblings included Mary Jane Withers (1919-    ), Nancy Marie (Withers) Goff (1925-    ), and Kenney Withers (1928-    ). His father was a retail druggist in 1930. Living with them in 1940 was his paternal grandfather, Asbury E. Withers (1861-1945) (MD) (widower of Emma P. (Statler) Withers 1863-1932) (PA).

 

He registered for the WWII draft on 1 July 1941, employed by Sears Roebuck Co., resided at 1230 Willowbranch, Jacksonville, FL, and described himself as 6’, 170 lbs, with brown hair and blue eyes. He enlisted in the USAAF on 4 August 1941 in Jacksonville, Florida. He completed flight schools and was multi-engine rated. He earned his commission and pilot wings. He was sent overseas to India. On 29 October 1943 a C-47 Skytrain, # 41-38702, assigned to 10th Air Force, 1st Troop Transport Group, 2nd Troop Carrier Squadron, departed the airfield at Dinjan, India, on a food supply drop mission in Burma and crashed into a mountainside. All aboard were killed. The last to have radio contact was SSgt Ison (NMI) Olant, 32323214. USAAF Capt. Ferie A. Larson, Operations Officer, 2nd Troop Carrier Squadron, reported that he flew a search sortie and found β€œit crashed and burning about 200 yards below target # 3 at 95° 50’ East, 27° 05’ North. Observation revealed a mechanical failure caused a forced landing in the wash just under the target, which has vicious down-drafts. There were no survivors. An investigation by ground was requested. Fire consumed all but the wing tips and the tail. Adjutant Capt. Coy T. Sevier wrote that the transport approached due West following the valley into the field and began to climb but an engine failed. The pilot banked left sharply to his left. The left wing hit trees which caused the C-47 to swing and fall into the jungle. An observer noticed an engine burst on several seconds before the crash. A ground team reached the crash site but could do little because of intense heat from burning gas. No survivors were found. Eight bodies were found in the wreckage but were unidentifiable. The bodies were buried at the crash site and marked. After recovery from Burma, crew remains were buried (Box, Haut, Montisano, Phillips, and Rigney) in the Zachary Taylor National Cemetery, Louisville, Kentucky on 8 November 1949 (Sec. E, Graves 195-196).