PYKA, JAMES MATTHEW, Flight Officer, # T-137630, USAAF
James M. Pyka was born on 28 January 1922 in Fredericksburg, Gillespie Co., Texas to Valentine Blasius Pyka (1891-1949) and Theresa Helen (Knopp) Pyka (1896-1985). Siblings were Robert Valentine Pyka (1925-2005), Bernice Theresa (Pyka) Schaetter (1928-2004). He was married to Roberta Jean “Bobby” (Mines) Schneider nee Pyka (1924-2001) in 1944 in Lincoln, Lancaster Co., Nebraska. They had a daughter. Roberta was living in Funk, Phelps Co., Nebraska, in 1945, with her family, father Robert Mines (1896-1976) and mother Glays M. (Hastings) Mines (1904- ).
He registered for the WWII draft on 30 June 1942, resided at 207 S. Edison St., Fredericksburg, TX, and described himself as 5’11”, 208 lbs, with brown hair and blue eyes. He was an outstanding outfielder for the Fredericksburg Giants. He enlisted in the USAAF at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, on 17 September 1942. After enlisting (enlist # 38250031) in the USAAF, he attended flight school as an aviation cadet at the San Antonion Aviation Cadet Center (nine-week course) and was appointed a Flight Officer at Lubbock Field on 20 November 1944, and trained to fly the North American Aircraft B-25 Mitchell as a multi-engine rated pilot. He was sent overseas through India to China. On 19 June 1945 a B-25D-36NC, # 43-3663, assigned to 14th Air Force, 10th Weather Group, 2nd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, at Chengtu, China, departed the airfield at Hsinching, China, on a flight to Hsian, China. Last contact was by radio at about 0245 Zulu near Hunchung with Tower Operators Sgt John A. Stekel, 13273411, Cpl Arthur L. Kahn, 32507551, and Cpl Larence M. Epstein, 32877589. The location was east of Kwangyuan, China near a mountain and north-northeast of Langchung, China. Search was led by 1stLt Harold B. Terhune, 0-815783, Flight Leader of Flight “C”, 2nd Weather Reconnaissance Squadrom (Medium) and the Air Rescue and Chinese Rescue teams were alerted. He is remembered on the tablets of the missing in he Manila American Cemetery & Memorial, Philippines. A memorial was placed in the Saint Marys Cemetery, Fredericksburg, Texas. He was awarded the Purple Heart.