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James Porter Myers, Jr.
Sergeant, U.S. Navy
Branch of Service:
City: Johnstown
State: Pennsylvania
County: Cambria
Honored By:
Honored by Person 1, Honored by Person 2, Honored by Person 3
Military Service:

World War II veteran James Porter Myers, Jr. from Altoona, James was a member of the 8 the Army Air Forces. He served as a tail gunner on B-17 and B- 24 aircraft, then as a bombardier in the Pacific Theater and in Europe. He served 68 missions over Europe, including the attack on Merseburg Synthetic Oil plants, where the B-17 returned with two engines out.

349 Bomb Squadron 100th Bomb Group Army Air Force

Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7th 1941 and in less than 30 days, James P. Myers Jr. joined the Army Air Corps. He followed the patriotic path of his father who served in the 16th Infantry of the 1st division in WWI, where he earned the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star, and was awarded the Croix De Guerre by the country of France.

After his initial training in the US, James was sent to the Pacific theater of the war as a tail gunner on a B- 24. There he completed 68 missions over enemy occupied islands. He returned home for a 21-day leave and then received additional training on B-17’s to be tail turret gunner. It was then off to England where he was assigned to the 100th bomb group stationed at the Thorpe Abbotts Airfield.

James’s small size was the perfect fit to be the ball turret gunner, the most dangerous position in the B- 17. James flew on 33 missions and was inducted into the “ Lucky Bastards Club” for successfully completing 25 missions. (note: At one time once you reached 25 missions you were sent home; however as the war progressed to the end, they kept on increasing the number of missions).

The primary role of the ball turret gunner is to defend against enemy fighter planes and in this role James is credited with shooting down 2 German fighters and two probable kills. His worst mission was over the Merseburg oil refinery a key industrial target. Because of heavy flak, their plane lost 2 engines but with luck made it back to the Thorpe Abbotts airfield. In his 33 missions, he had one forced landing in France and two crash landings near the front lines. Of his original crew of 10 airmen on the B-17, 3 were killed and 2 were taken prisoner after being shot down.

After the war, James followed the typical path of those in the Greatest Generation. He got married to Lilia, got a civilian job with the US Post Office where his military discipline helped him win awards for exceptional performance and his dedication allowed him to rarely miss a day of work. He also traveled after the war. James and Lilia, along with their daughter Beverly, took on a 3 week trip from Altoona to California to visit Army buddies and friends. They also visited the recently opened Disneyland and their travels also included a long trip to Florida.

James along with his highly decorated father never missed a Memorial Day or Veterans Day parade to honor the military past and present. James and Lilia also left a legacy in their daughter, Beverly, two grandchildren Robert and James Eyer and two great grandchildren Benjamin and Christopher.

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