Last radio contact was at 2320 Zulu, that the B-24L was heading for coordinates 21° 10’ North and 107° 30’ East and intended to bail out there. Last position was off Tien-Yen, French Indochina, near Ka-Bao Island. The following radio messages were received: 2300 – 60 miles off coast. Bad fuel lead # 3 tank. Engine # 3 on fire. 9,000’ altitude; 2305 – heading for 21° 45’ N & 108° 00’ E, intending to bail out there; 2310 – trying to make it to “Darkhorse;” 2320 – heading for 21° 10’ N & 107° 30’ E, intending to bail out there. 1stLt William H. Stafford, navigator, was the sole survivor and returned to duty 5 March 1945. He is remembered on the tablets of the missing in the Manila American Cemetery & Memorial, Philippines. A memorial marker was placed in the Wharton City Cemetery, Wharton, Wharton Co., Texas.

STAFFORD, WILLIAM HUNT, First Lieutenant, # 0-805217, USAAF

 

William H. Stafford was born on 6 November 1920 in Providence, Rhode Island, to Joseph Hirst Stafford (1881-    ) and Clara (Hunt) Stafford (1887-    ) (married 18 November 1914, Rhode Island). Siblings were Joseph Hirst Stafford (1916-1917) and Dorothy J. (Stafford) Doughty (1918-2014).

 

He enlisted in the USAAF in Providence, Phode Island, on 11 March 1942. After enlisting, he completed navigator instruction through advanced schools and was assigned to navigate the B-24 Liberator. He was multi-engine rated and earned his commission and wings. He was sent overseas through India to China. On 11 February 1945 a B-24L, # 44-41448, assigned to 14th Air Force, 308th Bomb Group, 373rd Bomb Squadron, Luliang, China, departed on a night mission to bomb shipping in the Tonkin Gulf, French Indochina. Last radio contact was at 2320 Zulu, that the B-24L was heading for coordinates 21° 10’ North and 107° 30’ East and intended to bail out there. Last position was off Tien-Yen, French Indochina, near Ka-Bao Island. The following radio messages were received: 2300 – 60 miles off coast. Bad fuel lead # 3 tank. Engine # 3 on fire. 9,000’ altitude; 2305 – heading for 21° 45’ N & 108° 00’ E, intending to bail out there; 2310 – trying to make it to “Darkhorse;” 2320 – heading for 21° 10’ N & 107° 30’ E, intending to bail out there. 1stLt William H. Stafford, navigator, was the sole survivor and returned to duty 5 March 1945. He was captured by the Japanese and a POW. He retired from the USAF a Lieutenant Colonel. He died on 29 March 1914 and is buried in the Leavenworth National Cemetery, Leavenworth, Kansas. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters, and the POW Medal.