BYRD, CLEO WILLIAM, Second Lieutenant, # 0-2058102, USAAF
Cleo W. Byrd was born on 17 September 1922 in Lakeview, Hall Co., Texas, to Luther Herbert Byrd (1897-1968) (MS) and (1) Ivy M. (Wiley) Byrd (1900-1932) (TX) and (2) Marie (Thimm) Byrd (1898-1995). Siblings were Herbert Clarence Byrd (1917-2002) (TX) and Clyde Joe Byrd (1919-1929). He was married to Thelma Louise (Akin) Eicher nee Byrd (1924-2014)
He registered for the WWII draft in 1942, employed by Reed Mulkey Magnolia Pet Co., resided at 111 W. 6th, Roswell, Chaves Co., NM, and described himself as 6’ ½”, 185 lbs, with red hair and blue eyes. After enlisting in the USAAF in New Mexico, he completed flight instruction through advanced school and was multi-engine rated to fly the Curtiss C-46 Commando. He earned his commission and pilot wings. He was sent overseas to India and assigned to fly to and from China across the Himalayan mountain range (the Hump). On 9 February 1945 a C-46A Commando assigned to 10th Air Force, 1333rd AAF Base Unit, Chabua, India, departed the airfield at Kunming, China, on a cargo mission to Chabua through the Himalayan mountain range (the Hump). It crashed enroute. He is remembered on the tablets of the missing in the Manila American Cemetery & Memorial, Philippines. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal.
His brother, Herbert C. Byrd, born 9 July 1917, graduated Alburquerque High School and graduated Spring Hill College, served in the U.S. Army, Lieutenant Colonel, Infantry, # 0-1293367, (a) from 17 January 1941 to 27 December 1945 and (b) from 20 November 1950 to 15 October 1970. He served in the 2nd Infantry Division, 23rd Infantry Regiment, Service Company, Captain, Operations & Training Staff Officer – he was awarded the Silver Star Medal, the Purple Heart, and the Bronze Star Medal, by 24th Infantry Division and the Combat Infantry badge, American Defense Service Medal; he served in the European-African-Middle Eastern War Theater. He was wounded at Normandy on 25 July 1945. He died 23 September 2002, Saint Petersburg, Florida.