CALDWELL, ROBERT EARL, Second Lieutenant, # 0-685925, USAAF


Robert E. Caldwell was born on 3 September 1922 in Riverside Co., California, to Walter Brown Caldwell (1886-1946) (MA) and Marina Elizabeth (Pew) Caldwell (1890-1978) (CA). Siblings included Walter B. Caldwell Jr. (1910-    ), Paul Arnold Caldwell (1911-1979), Charles Wesley Caldwell (1916-1990), and Clarence Harold Caldwell (1919-1978). Living with them in 1930 were Thomas Hudson Pew (1856-1930) (OH) (widowed – Emma J. (Roripaugh) Pew (1860-1920) and Clarence Merrill Pew (1901-1958) (CA).


He enlisted in the USAAF at Gardner Field, Taft, California, on 22 January 1942. He completed dual schools as a navigator and bombardier for the B-25 Mitchell. He earned his commission and pilot wings. He was sent overseas to 14th Air Force in China. On 18 March 1944, a B-25H, # 43-4216, assigned to 14th Air Force, 341st Bomb Group (Medium), 722nd Bomb Squadron, departed the airfield at Yangkai, China, on a bombing mission over Nanning, China. It was shot down by enemy anti-aircraft fire at about 1030Z, near Vinh, Annam (then French Indochina invaded by the Japanese; later North Vietnam). The crash was seen by Sgt G.L. Dailey, 36431505, and PFC T.J. Milarowitz, 18068315. Sgt Dailey reported: Before 1stLt Smith crashed, he was flying parallel with the target, over the river. He lost altitude and his left wing hit first and the B-25 flew to pieces. After circling, no crewmen could be seen on the surface. After recovery, his remains were buried in the Golden Gate National Cemetery, San Bruno, California (Sec. D, Grave 436). He was awarded the Air Medal and the Purple Heart.


His brother, Paul A. Caldwell, born 2 November 1911, served in the U.S. Army, a Sergeant, from 11 August 1942 to 24 December 1945. He died 9 October 1979 and is buried in the Riverside National Cemetery, Riverside, California (Sec. 7, Grave 710d).


His brother, Charles W. Caldwell, born 26 September 1916, served in the U.S. Army, a Corporal, from 21 May 1943 to 11 March 1946. He died 24 October 1990 and is buried in the Riverside National Cemetery (Sec. 3, Grave 966).


His brother, Clarence H. Caldwell, born 15 June 1919, served in the USAAF from 14 February 1942. He died 11 May 1978 and is buried in the San Jacinto Valley Cemetery, San Jacinto, California.