1Lt. John D. Crouchley: B-24 Pilot Saved His Crew, Lost His Life
Remains recovered 73 years After WW2
1Lt. Crouchley and his crew were bombing targets in Romania when their B-24 Liberator (Miss Yankee Rebel) bomber was struck by flak causing two engines to catch fire and the plane to enter a 30 degree dive towards the ground. Hanging onto the controls, he directed the crew to escape while they could, giving them time to bail out. As the bailout hatch was in the rear of the plane, it is thought Crouchley didn't have time to get out before the plane crashed in a tiny village in Bulgaria. His crew survived and were captured but all survived the war: 1Lt. Crouchley did not as he was killed on impact. Local Bulgarians buried his body and due to the Cold War, his remains were not recovered until 2018, positively identifying his wedding ring with his wife’s initials on it. In his final moments, at age 26, he did not consider his own life above those of his crew and 9 men survived.
Our fathers were not fearful men, but men of Valor. Valor is in you. Set it free.