WHITSELL, UHEL FAY, Staff Sergeant, # 38059093, USAAF
Uhel F. Whitsell was born on 24 March 1916 in Bolivar, Polk Co., Missouri, to Wilber Rankin Whitsell (1892-1968) and Elsie May (Pope) Whitsell nee Reynolds (1894-1987) (married 24 December 1913, Bolivar, Polk Co., MO). Siblings were Opal E. (Whitsell) Pugh (1914-1991), Dorothy Anita (Pope) Moore (1918-1994), Wilber Rankin Whitsell Jr. (1922-1996), and William Edgar Whitsell (1924-1976). He was engaged to marry Garnet Ruth Patterson, Angleton, Brazoria Co., Texas. Elsie May Pope was first married to Abraham Commodore Reynolds (1887-1956) on 6 October 1910, in Bolivar, Polk Co., MO, and they had a daughter, Verda Ethel (Reynolds) Cain (1911-2005).
He registered for the WWII draft on 16 October 1940, employed by Humble Oil Refinery Co., resided at 726 Main, Jeanette, LA (parents resided at 1032 McFadden, Beaumont, Jefferson, TX, and described himself as 6’ 2 ½”, 167 lbs, with brown hair and blue eyes. He enlisted in the USAAF at Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio, Texas, on 20 October 1941. He was trained to maintain the weapons (armorer-gunner) and fire the .50 caliber machineguns on the B-24 Liberator. He earned his crewman wings. He was sent overseas to India. On 14 November 1943 a B-24J, # 42-73194, assigned to 10th Air Force, 7th Bomb Group, 493rd Bomb Squadron, Pandaveswar, India, departed the airfield and joined a formation of other B-24s on a mission to bomb Pokokku, Magway, Burma; west of and very near the Irrawady River. Witnesses to the crash were 1stLt Leland G. Berlette, 0-661915, 2ndLt Glenn F. Stephens, 0-797631, and 1stLt William G. Clark, 0-662023. 1stLt Berlette reported that he saw that 1stLt McLoughlin’s B-24 was hit in one engine. The tail gunner saw 1stLt McLoughlin trying to make a crash landing. His left wing dropped and the B-24 hit nose down, bursting into flame immediately. It disintegrated on impact. No one saw any parachutes or survivors. After recovery from Burma and then India, Lt. Roger’s remains and those (indistinguishable) of other crewmen (Funderburg, Higgs, Litz, Swope & Whitsell) were buried in a group burial and ceremony in the Zachary Taylor National Cemetery, Louisville, Jefferson Co., Kentucky (Sec. E, Graves 163-164). He was awarded the Air Medal and the Purple Heart.
His brother, Wilber R. Rankin Jr., born 21 June 1922, served in the U.S. Army during WWII. He died 1 March 1996.
His brother, William E. Whitsell, born 1 January 1924, served in the U.S. Army from 3 January 1944 to 1 April 1946. He died 3 February 1976.