WESTBERG, WAYNE ROBERT, Captain, Service # 0-732792, U.S. Army Air Force
Wayne R. Westberg was born 10 January 1921 in St. Louis, Washington County, Minnesota (Cert # DC-83894), a son of Harry Lawrence Westberg (1893-1936) and Velma Katherine (Schmidt) Hines nee Westberg (1896-1975). His father, a Baptist Reverend of the First Baptist Church of Blue Earth, Minn., died in an automobile accident 7 Sept., 1936, at age 43, when the car in which he was riding rolled down a 12-foor embankment near Jordan, Minn. Mrs. Westberg, her two sons, Wayne, 15, and Irwin, 13, suffered minor injuries. Rev. Westberg's funeral service was held at the First Baptist Church, Stillwater, Minn. He was born in Stillwater and commuted to Minneapolis to attend the Northwestern Bible School, graduating in 1933.
In 1940, they lived in Moline, Rock Island, IL, where his mother worked as a factory line assembler to support the family. Wayne enlisted 24 March 1942 in Galesburg, Rock Island, IL. At the time, he was 6'3" and 164 lbs. After training, he was sent overseas and assigned to the 434th Bombardment Squadron, 12th Bombardment Group, Medium, 10th Air Force. Trained as a navigator and bombardier, he was on a B-25J, Tail # 43-1896, and departed Kurmitola, India, enroute to bomb Mawlu, Burma, on 20 May 1944. The crew was comprised of pilot 1stLt John W. McCloskey, 0-796848, co-pilot 2ndLt Thomas W. Snee, 0-677300, Capt. Westberg, radio operator TSgt Edward F. Niland, 32251692, engineer SSgt Norman L. Snyder, 39828641, and armorer gunner SSgt Leland H. Waltrip, 39251861. All enlisted doubled as gunners. The aircraft was last seen making its bomb run at Mawlu at 0720 hours by 1stLt John N. Walker, 0-794999.
An intelligence report of SSgt. Waltrip, while recovering at March Field, Riverside, CA, said that Capt. Westberg died 22 August 1944 of starvation and dysentry while a POW in the Rangoon Cantonment. SSgt Waltrip personally prepared him for burial. His remains were recovered from grave # 205 by the Graves Registration team. McCloskey, Niland, Snyder and Waltrip survived imprisonment and were repatriated. 2ndLt Snee's parachute failed and the enemy found his body. Capt. Westberg was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air medal with seven Oak Leaf Clusters and the Purple Heart. His family placed a memorial marker in the Withrow Cemetery, Withrow, Minnesota.