ELLERBE, RICHARD UNION, JR., Technical Sergeant, # 34401915, USAAF
Richard U. Ellerbe Jr. was born on 21 April 1921 in Lakeland, Polk Co., Florida, to Richard U. Ellerbe (1895-1926) and Maude Leola (Griffin) Ellerbe (1904-2001). Siblings included Donald Elmo Ellerbe (1923-1957) and Jesse Carl Ellerbe (1925-2002).
He registered for the WW II draft on 16 February 1942, employed by the Lassere Motor Co., and described himself as 5’10”, 180 lbs, with brown hair and gray eyes. He enlisted in the USAAF at Camp Blanding, Nassau, Florida, on 16 September 1942. He was trained in the maintenance and repair of the mechanical and electrical parts of the B-24/C-109. He earned his crewman wings. He was sent overseas to 10th Air Force in India. On 28 August 1944, a B-24/XC-109, # 42-7221, assigned to Air Transport Command, 1327th Air Base Unit, departed the airfield at Tezpur, India, at about 0139 hours, on a cargo mission to Kunming, China. On 28 Aug 1944, at 1400 China ST, an aircraft crashed and burned on Fan Mili Chan Mountain in the Jun Lung District near Hsifang, China. Due to adverse conditions and extreme difficulty climbing to the crash site, it was reached 1 Sept 1944. The fuselage was totally destroyed by fire. The aircraft exploded when it crashed, scattering debris across the mountainside. The remains of the crew were recovered but because the remains were indistinguishable, they were buried in a common grave in Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, Lemay, Missouri, on 27 September 1949 (Sec. 82, Grave 52). He is listed on the Nassau County Memorial on Amelia Island, Florida.
His father, Richard U. Ellerbe, born 16 April 1895, served in the U.S. Army, WWI, a Corporal, # 814740 (# 1337390), Company K of the 53rd Infantry Regiment and Co. M of the Composite Regiment. He died on 16 May 1926, 31 years old (tuberculosis) in the V.A. Hospital, Oteen, North Carolina, and is buried in the Gapway Cemetery, Lakeland, Florida.
His brother, Donald E. Ellerbe, born on 6 October 1923, served in the U.S. Army Medical Corps during WW II, and enlisted on 10 October 1940 in Polk Co., Florida.
His brother, Jesse C. Ellerbe, born 23 March 1925, served in the U.S. Navy, during WW II, enlisted 12 August 1942, and in November 1943, aboard the U.S.S. Twiggs (DD-591), a plank holder, Gunners Mate 3rd Class, # 5667996, in June, 1945, on the U.S.S. Lauderdale (APA-179), a Gunners Mate 3rd Class, # 5567996. He died 5 June 2002 and is buried in the Oak Hill Burial Park, Lakeland, Florida. The U.S.S. Twiggs was a Fletcher-class Destroyer first launched 7 April 1943. It served as a training ship in Norfolk, VA, until May 1944. She escorted convoys between Oahu and Eniwetok. She was part of Destroyer Squadron 49 to the Admiralty Islands, then provided anti-aircraft support for the Leyte, Philippines, landings. The U.S.S. Lauderdale was a Haskell-class attack transport, used for transporting troops into combat. She took parts in landings of the 10th Army troops on Okinawa. She served as a ship for survivors of sunken or damages ships then later as a detention ship of enemy.