Saturday, May 23, 2015

SSG Jimmie Doyle

Not everyone can be a hero. Some people will never be given the opportunity to make a difference to untold millions. Some people will never have a chance at true greatness.

And then there’s Jimmie Doyle. Jimmie was a Texas boy who hailed from McKinney. When WWII broke out, Jimmie left his wife, Myrle, and 15 month old son, Tommy, and shipped out overseas. A member of the 307th Bombardment Group, 424th Squadron, U.S. Army Air Corps, Jimmy served in the South Pacific and was a nose gunner on a B-24J Liberator bomber. He, along with thousands of men like him, regularly squeezed inside a bomber in order to fly into the face of the enemy and into a hell-storm of anti-aircraft artillery. Once they dropped their pay load, they would return to base and await their next run.

By August 1944, the Japanese were being forced from tiny islands scattered through the Pacific Ocean and retreating closer to the Japanese mainland. The island of Palau was deep in enemy territory, and was defended by more than 35,000 troops and was the regional headquarters for the Imperial Japanese Navy. Furthermore, it was the focal point for General Douglas Macarthur and Admiral Chester Nimitz in a plan to rid the Japanese threat from the Pacific islands. The U.S. Marines were going to make an amphibious landing and take that island. As a member of the 307th, Jimmie’s flight squadron rallied and set out to soften up the target. Even with air support, Palau is remembered as the third bloodiest battle in the Pacific war and has been called “the forgotten corner of hell.”

On September 1, 1944, the men in Jimmy’s crew flew on a bombing run to the island of Koror. From the nose of the plane, Jimmy manned his .50 caliber machine gun and began battling his way across the ocean. Having reached their target, they dropped their payload. Within seconds, their plane was engulfed in a spray of anti-aircraft artillery. The left wing was severed and the plane began to spiral downward. Three parachutes were sighted by other American bombers as the plane splashed into the shallow waters near Palau. Immediately, a Japanese boat set an intercept course for the survivors.

At this point of the story, I must introduce a group called BentProp Projects.
According to their website, http://www.bentprop.org/index.htm, they are a group of friends, both historians and scuba divers, who “have gone looking for (and found) ships sunk throughout Micronesia during World War II. Early on, my story took a turn, when I switched from searching for ships to searching for planes - more specifically, American aircraft shot down by occupying Japanese forces during fierce combat over the Palau Islands between 1944 and 1945. Over the ensuing half century, these planes and their crews - and even the battles they fought in the Palaus - have become all but forgotten, except, perhaps, by family and the living veterans who flew missions with and knew these crews.” Patrick J. Scannon, MD, PhD, founder. These men and women have dedicated their lives to finding the remains of those honored dead and helping those soldiers return home for proper burial.
On Saturday, April 25, 2009, at 13:30 hours (1:30 PM), Staff Sergeant Jimmie Doyle was laid to rest in Lamesa, Texas. Aged 25 at the time of his death, Jimmie and 10 others in his crew were killed in that bombing run. The three men who parachuted to safety were picked up by the Japanese and were never seen again.

Among those who attended the funeral, Pat Mitchell was standing alongside Tommy Doyle, Jimmie’s only son. Pat Mitchell was a corporal in the Marine Corps who served a short distance from Palau in Okinawa during the war. Pat and Jimmie were related by marriage, although neither of them knew the other. Pat, who grew up in Lamesa, married Jimmie’s cousin, Nettie May Taylor in 1947. Pat’s story can be found here.

Since WWI, 88,000 Americans have disappeared at war, never to be seen again. The military services of America refuse to stop looking for them. It is the code of a soldier to “leave no man behind.” For more than 65 years, Jimmie was listed as Missing In Action, MIA, but he has returned home, thanks to the efforts of the BentProp crew. Take a moment on their website and watch the short video clip that honors SSG Doyle. Thanks to these volunteers, Jimmy is able to sleep under the West Texas stars, where he is at home.

Note: I borrowed heavily from an article found at: http://men.style.com/gq/features/full?id=content_6817&pageNum=1
Please visit this site and see the rest of the story.

4 comments:

Tracy said...

Thank you for sharing this. We owe so much.

gzusfreek said...

Ditto to Tracy. Nice!

Alison Bryant said...

This brought a lump to my throat and touched me deeply.

Ann Ellison said...

A very touching story. Thanks for sharing.