RUGGLES, LEO ARTHUR, JR., Staff Sergeant, # 19171256, USAAF
Leo A. Ruggles Jr. was born on 26 May 1924 in Inglewood, Los Angeles Co., California, to Leo A. Ruggles (1903-1967) and Mary Elizabeth (Chance) Ruggles (1902-1941). Siblings included Marion Louise (Ruggles) Hiatt (1928-2007), Betty Joe (Ruggles) McIntosh (1930-2000), Charles Henry Ruggles (1931-1992), Barbara Jean Ruggles (1933-1973), and another brother. His family resided at 2014 Perry Ave., Redondo Beach, California, in 1949.
After being drafted into the USAAF 26 October 1942, he was trained as an armorer and gunner, responsible for the maintenance and function of the weapons (excluding bombs), on the B-24 Liberator and earned his crewman wings. He was sent overseas to India. On 5 November 1944, a B-24L Liberator, # 44-41440, assigned to 10th Air Force, 7th Bomb Group, 493rd Bomb Squadron, departed the airfield at Pandaveswar, India, on a bombing mission over coordinates 17º 42’ North & 92º 02’ East. All of the crew were killed in the crash of the B-24L. It was last sighted by 1stLt William T. Makovic, 0-696478, 2ndLt John M. Crowley, 0-712085, and 2ndLt George J. MeNamera, 0-869350. 1stLt Makovic reported that at 1840 hours (IST) he last saw Lt. Cheaney’s B-24. Lt. Cheany was at 2,000’ on a course of 190º at about 160 MPH. Makovic was flying parallel to Cheaney and was about 3-4 miles to Cheaney’s right. The weather worsened for a few minutes. It cleared and at the same moment, Lt. Cheaney’s B-24 veered across in front of him at about an 80º angle and disappeared into clouds to Makovic’s right. It was dark and Cheaney had his lights on. Cheaney’s turn was irregular because the flight plan was to continue on course for another 15 minutes before their first turn, which would be left, not right. There was no distress call and nothing appeared abnormal as to Cheaney’s B-24. A search with Capt. Louis A. Butler, Jr., 0-558867, commanding, was by eight planes on 7 November 1944. After recovery, his remains were buried in the Pacific Crest Cemetery, Redondo Beach, California. He was awarded the Air Medal and the Purple Heart.