The next-of-kin were:

                                       Savoie              Mrs Adelaide N Savoie, W, 131 Brittany Drv, San Antonio, TX

                                       Lutz                 Mrs Malie T Lutz, M, 1236 Weaver Lane, PO Box 3082, Honolulu, Hawaii

                                       O’Brien           Mr Daniel A O’Brien, F, 233 Le Cato Ave, Audubon, NJ

                                       Wedel              Mrs Inez M Wedel, W, Box 146, Hereford, TX

                                        Stelmach          Mrs Joseph Stelmach, M, 4320 W Haddon Ave, Chicago, IL

                                        Geyer               Mr Bertram B Geyer, F, 435 E 52nd St, NY, NY

                                        Brundage         Mrs Florence A Brundage, M, 64 Wood Ave, Pittsfield, Mass.

                                        Alspaugh         Mrs Elizabeth J Alspaugh, W, Rockford, OH

                                        Beckham         Mrs Kathryn M Beckham, M, 6 West Plafea Plc, C/O Capt. Charles Well,

                                                                                   Greenbelt, MD

                                        Adams             Miss Majorie V Adams, S, Messick, VA

                                        Heffernan        Mrs Pearl M Heffernan, M, 509 N 7th St, Appollo, PA

                                        Meehan            Mrs Virginia Meehan, W, 3262 Ormond Rd, Cleveland Heights, OH

In a short-wave radio broadcast by the enemy on 23 August 1944, the announcer read and spelled the names of Capt. Wedel and the other five of the crew who jumped early. He said, “We are very happy to have these brave American fliers with us. They were rescued by us after their plane crashed into the sea.” SSgt Meehan returned to the U.S. in September 1945 after being liberated from a Japanese prison camp on Japan. He was a POW from 20 August 1944. SSgt Brundage, Lt.Col. Savoie, Capt. O’Brien, 1stLt Lutz, and 1stLt Stelmach returned to the squadron on 15 November 1944 and were returned to the U.S. for reassignment 7 Dec. 1944.

WEDEL, LOUIS KARL, Captain, # 0-726095, USAAF

 

Louis “Louie” K. Wedel was born on 30 April 1916 in Herefore, Deaf Smith, Texas, to Henry Theodore Wedel (1876-1969) and Pauline Christine (Hagge) Wedel (1875-1963). Siblings included Anna E. Wedel (1904-2004), Clara P. Wedel (1907-    ), Henry Theodore “Hank” Wedel (1910-1989), Ralley Wedel (1911-    ). He was married to Inez Mary (Miller) Wedel (1918-1980) on 6 July 1943 in Tucson, Pima County, Arizona. They had a son.

 

He enlisted in the USAAF at Lubbock, Texas, on 17 September 1940. He was selected for training as a bombardier. When the B-29 Superfortress was brought into service in the war, he was selected for bombardier on a B-29 crew. On 20 August 1944, a B-29, # 42-6264, “O’Reilly’s Daughter,” of 20th Air Force, 468th Bomb Group, 792nd Bomb Squadron, Khargpur AAF, departed Pengshan, China, on a combat mission to bomb the steel works at Yawata, Japan. Last believed to be near the coast of China at 1930 hours. Likely lost due to mechanical difficulty with # 2 and # 3 engines. Lt.Col. Savoie was 792nd Bomb Squadron Commander. The B-29 crashed in the vicinity of Hu-To-Chen, Kiangao Province, China. The bail out order was given. Everyone in the tail bailed out; no one saw the tail gunner bail out but, it is assumed he did. Up front, the bombardier, Capt. Wedel, the radar operator, TSgt Beckham, bailed out, but the remaining six crewmen stayed to try for land. The remaining crew bailed out at about 7,000 feet. They later learned that SSgt Meehan, who was one of the last to jump, had been captured by enemy sympathizers and turned over to the Japanese. The B-29 crashed about 150 miles North of Shanghai, China, and about 40 miles West of the coast of China. Capt. Wedel is remembered on the memorial at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Philippines. The family placed a memorial marker in the West Park Cemetery, Hereford, Texas. He was awarded the Air Medal and the Purple Heart.