MERRILL, DONALD LEE, Corporal, # 37467476, USAAF


Donald L. Merrill was born 23 June 1919 in Smith Co., Kansas, to George Guy Merrill (1882-1972) (KS) and Margaret "Maggie" Leona (Shippen) Oberhelde nee Ellinger nee Merrill (1885-1965) (Auburn, Nemaha Co., NE) (Walter H. Oberhelde – 1881-1950). Siblings included Gladys M. (Merrill) Dalton (1904-1982), Everett R. Merrill (1906-1987), George Lorren Merrill (1914-2002). The Merrill family lived in Logan, Smith Co., Kansas, in 1920. Margaret Leona Ellington was living in Red Cloud, Webster Co., Nebraska, on 16 October 1940, when Donald L. and George L. registered for the WW II draft. Walter and Margaret Leona Oberhedle lived in Cape Girerdeau, Missouri, in 1958. A daughter was Wauneta Lee Merrill (1943-2008).


He registered for the WWII draft on 16 October 1940 and described himself as 5’8”, 150 lbs, with blond hair and blue eyes. He was trained to maintain and operate the radio on the C-47 Skytrain. He earned his crewman wings. He was sent overseas to India. On 23 June 1945, a C-47B, # 43-16195, assigned to Air Transport Command, 1st Air Commando Group, 319th Troop Carrier Squadron, Warazup, Burma, departed the airfield at North Myitkyina, Burma, on a troop carrier mission to the airfield at Ledo, Assam, India. Last contact was by radio with Cpl. Norval G. Turner, 39205418. The C-47B was forced down and crashed at 0840 hours at North Myitkyina, Burma. Twenty-one servicemen assigned to 3303rd Quartermaster Truck Company (served as air supply droppers – “kickers” – with 1st Air Comando) and five servicemen with the 1352nd AAF Base Unit, were aboard. The crew and all passengers died in the crash. After recovery from the American military cemetery in India, the crew and some passenger remains (Applin, Arnett, Blackston, Brown, Chapman, Cofield, Combs, Ellis, Gibbs, Henderson, Hoelswitz, Johnson, Karnes, Larson, McDonald, Meade, Merrill, Mitchell, Perry, Shreve, Sorrell, Speroni, Tennyson, Tindal, Vincent & Visor) were buried in a group burial ceremony in the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, Lemay, Missouri, on 29 March 1950 (Sec. 78, Graves 983F, G & H).


His brother, George L. Merrill, born 29 April 1914, served in the U.S. Army from 17 April to 13 September 1945. He died on 14 April 2002 and is buried in the Highland Cemetery, Jewell Co., Kansas.

SPERONI, JOSEPH G., Corporal, # 42024921, USAAF


Joseph G. Speroni was born 6 October 1923 in Salamanca, Cattaraugus Co., New York, to Eugenio Speronie (1885-1981) and Louise (Poggoli) Speronie (1895-1979) (both born Italy). Siblings included Peter J. Speroni (1917-    ), Fannie Speroni (1920-     ), Mary (Speroni) Dolecki (1926-2014), Irene Theresa Speronie (1931-    ), Frances A. (Speronie) Evers (1932-2010).


He enlisted in the USAAF in Buffalo, New York, on 31 October 1943. He was trained to maintain and repair (crew chief) the mechanical systems on the C-47 Skytrain. He earned his crewman wings. He was sent overseas to India.