Looking for help with my late great uncle

Discussion in 'Uniforms, Medals, and More' started by bhickle, Mar 19, 2017.

  1. bhickle

    bhickle New Member

    Hello

    I have a question regarding my late great uncle Donald Showman. He was a member of the 431 Squadron 11th Bomb Group 7th Army Air Force. When Uncle Don was on the island of Guam, he and some guys were working on the B-24's and getting them ready for a bombing mission. While they were working, someone yelled and Uncle Don turned around and saw a bucket of gasoline had caught on fire.He ran over and grabbed the bucket and ran with it to get it away from the planes. The gasoline exploded all over his legs and hands. That ended his military career and he passed away not long after being discharged. My question is, how do I get him recognized for that?

    I have been told the army wont do anything because I'm not considered next of kin, even though all he has living are nieces and nephews.

    Thank you

    Brett
     
  2. Lucky Partners

    Lucky Partners Well-Known Member

    Brett,

    This is a sad situation but certainly not unique during the war. Men who died on the ground are largely lost to history except in the memory of their families. On April 21, 1944 there was a massive explosion while a B-17 in my fathers Bomb Group was being prepared for a mission. 14 men, all ground crew, were killed. Several aircraft and service vehicles were destroyed, even a nearby house was severely damaged. Unless you scoured the records you would not find anything about this incident beyond maybe a short footnote. In my many years of doing this type of research I have never seen any sort of recognition for the men who were injured or killed in ground accidents. As far as you being "told that the Army won't do anything" I would think that the reason for this is that there is nothing they could do, regardless of your relationship. Perhaps another Forum member has further insight on this. From my point of view the best thing you could do to honor you great uncle is to keep his memory alive in your own family.
     
  3. terveurn

    terveurn Active Member

    In England there is the George medal but do not think the United States has a similar medal for enlisted personnel. I am sure if he was an officer, he would have been given an award.
     
  4. 25Kingman49

    25Kingman49 Well-Known Member

    Brett,
    With regret I concur with both Hal and Dave above. If an award was not authorized for your great uncle Cpl. Donald Hurst Showman, ASN: 33277808, by his commanding officer at the time of this incident there is certainly no course of action for an award at this late date for official recognition of his heroism this day regardless of your none NOK relationship. The 7BG did not start operations from Guam until 25 October 1944 so this incident would have happened after this date.

    Perhaps already in your records your uncles NARA draft record is here https://aad.archives.gov/aad/record...l&tf=F&q=33277808&bc=&rpp=10&pg=1&rid=3757828 entering service on 27 June 1942 from Pennsylvania. I would appear you initiated a findagrave memorial for your uncle here https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=58023751 the bio is rather brief and could be expanded to honor his service. Photos of him in the AAF, 11BG, VII AF would surly add to this memorial if you have any in your possession.

    Unfortunately the 11BG records http://11thbombgroup.org/crewsupdate2102012.html are far from complete even for the combat crews but contact here http://11thbombgroup.org/feedbackformupdate.html might help in documenting this explosion incident if you have not pursued this avenue. Ground and Service commands are hardly documented which is actually common even for the Bomb Groups who documented their combat echelon elements well. There might be more data of interest for you at AFHRA, Maxwell AFB, Archive; searching holdings by squadron here http://airforcehistoryindex.org/search.php?q=SQUADRON/0431/BOMBARDMENT+ and by group here http://airforcehistoryindex.org/search.php?q=+GROUP/0011/BOMBARDMENT+
    Good luck and good hunting,
    Scott
     
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  5. Lucky Partners

    Lucky Partners Well-Known Member

    Good point Scott. There may at least be some mention of the incident in the Squadron microfilms at your first Air Force History Index link. Brett would still need a close approximation of the date of the incident in order to obtain the film that might include the event. But even then it's really going to be pot luck.
     
  6. Lucky Partners

    Lucky Partners Well-Known Member

    For what it's worth I could find no mention in the microfilm for the 447th BG of the incident I posted above.
     
  7. Airwar

    Airwar Well-Known Member

    Two articles
     

    Attached Files:

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  8. Lucky Partners

    Lucky Partners Well-Known Member

    Jaap,

    Very interesting. The second article pretty much confirms who we are discussing here. The first article puts a twist on the manner of his death, an auto accident which may or may not be connected in some way with the injuries he suffered in the AAF.
     
  9. 25Kingman49

    25Kingman49 Well-Known Member

    The auto accident is noted in the extremely brief findagrave page for Donald Hurst Showman, occurring 17 August 1951; highly unlikely related to his Pacific War burn wounds. A rather sad story for all involved, perhaps the OP can shed some light here but in general this is moving off topic to the OP's original query which seems already answered to me.
     
  10. bhickle

    bhickle New Member

    Thank you everyone. Dorothy Jean Showman, was my grandmother. Uncle Don and his father were coming home from a restaurant on the early morning hours of August 17th, 1951. One story that their cousin was her father went to work and when got there the watchman said "Hey what are you doing here?" My grandmother's uncle said "Im scheduled work." The watchman said "You didnt hear? Youre brother and nephew were killed an hour ago in a car crash." I did receive word yesterday that he is to receive a flag. Ill will try to post some photos of him. Again thank you


    Brett Hickle
     
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  11. bhickle

    bhickle New Member

    Here are some photos of Uncle Don from his time in the service. The first one was at the Naval Hospital on Guam, the second one was at Kessler Air Base in Mississippi and the third one im not sure where it was taken
     

    Attached Files:

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  12. Airwar

    Airwar Well-Known Member

  13. 25Kingman49

    25Kingman49 Well-Known Member

    Unfortunately BBW attributes all of these images to B-24, 42-100223. The artwork looks different to me and might be two different planes. The image in Jaap's last links appear to be a match, to the starboard side photo provided by Brett.

    Ah, according to fold3 the artwork was revised https://www.fold3.com/image/55703957?ann=a885bb00-6fe3-11df-4143-1124165d567e some details about the art change here https://books.google.com/books?id=G...100223&pg=PA107#v=onepage&q=42-100223&f=false

    B-24J serial 42-100223 "The Sunsetter" of the 431st Bomb Sq, 11th BG; taken at Kwajalein July 1944
    B-24J serial 42-100223 [The Sunsetter] of the 431st Bomb Sq, 11th BG.jpg

    Also see https://www.fold3.com/image/5566634 & https://www.fold3.com/image/55666351
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2017 at 5:05 PM
  14. Airwar

    Airwar Well-Known Member

    Some articles about Don Showman and an article about The Sunsetter
     

    Attached Files:

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  15. bhickle

    bhickle New Member

    Thank you for the information on the plane, Im putting that with the photo in his photo album and I had never seen those articles on Uncle Don before
     

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