Tomorrow is Memorial Day, the day we remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. I'm proud of my family's military service. Being a genealogist, I have found that we've had family members engaged in every military operation since the French and Indian War. Many have served, a few have given their lives for their country.
My great-uncle 2nd Lt. Kenneth Russell was involved in operations ahead of the D-Day invasion. He was 6'4" and they called him "Shorty". He died long before I was born, but his story is told at every family gathering. He and all my great uncles and grandfather served during World War II. He's the only who didn't come home.
As ground troops awaited orders to cross the English Channel thousands of plane raids by both American Army Corps and the English Royal Air Force were frequent.
Lt. Russell was a bombardier on the lead B-24, named Robin The Cradle, piloted by Lt. Eugene Hicks. On May 28, 1944, they took off from Sudbury, England to bomb a synthetic oil plant at Lutzkendorf, Germany. This was the 6th mission and 3rd plane for this crew.
As they approached their target, they were hit by flak and lost the #3 engine. They dropped their bombs in a railway storage yard and limped back to base. The Sudbury tower received notification they were south of Leige, Belgium. The craft made the coast, but over the English Channel they lost the #4 engine.
Ten crewmen successfully bailed out, and Lt. Hicks crashed in the sea and died on impact. Three of the crew were picked up by Germans and taken as POWs. Seven others were seen and reported but never found. Lt. Russell was listed as KIA.
I’m proud of my family’s military service, and though I never met my great uncle, I’m thankful for his service and the service of all who gave their lives in service to our country.