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Merle R Capp


Lt Merle R. Capp was destined to join the list of high-scoring pilots of the 78th FG with a tally of 2 air and 2.5 ground 'kills'. The youngest of three sons of a Colonel in the regular Army he was currently attending the University of Carolina when he enlisted. The first record we have of him is a cutting from the Washington D.C 'Times Herald' dated May 14 1944 (his father was then serving in the Adjudant General's office in Washington) reporting an incident over Germany. It was also picked up by the 'Evening Star'.

Lt. Capp apparently arrived in England sometime in March '44 and was posted to the 82nd Squadron at RAF Duxford in May. By D-Day - according to the 'Washington Post'- Capp had flown 22 missions mostly escorting bombers over Germany and, as reported on 19th June, was credited thus far with the shooting down of an ME109 and an FW190. In December 1944, by now promoted 1st Lt. he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross ' for extraordinary achievement as a fighter pilot in aerial combat over Germany and German occupied Continental Europe'.

There is no further mention of Lt Capp until a communication of 7th March 1945 posting him to Foster Field Texas for a six week Instruction in Fixed Gunnery course, seemingly a common destination for fighter pilots who've completed their tour and for which he would receive '2 dollars per day'. Following which from 1st May Capp would be based at SCAAF Westhampton Beach N.Y, although a further order dated 25th May '45 orders him to 30 days at First Fighter Command Gunnery School commencing 28th May.

He was still at Westhampton Beach in November of that year when he was selected to take part in a 'Wings for Victory' exhibition because - according to his commanding officer - of his 'superior ability as a fighter pilot and the fact that his appearance, bearing, zeal and love for flying made him the best representative for us in the demonstration'.

From the account in the local newspaper dated November 9th 1945:

'1st Lt Merle R, Capp 23, and five other Army Air Force pilots were killed instantly yesterday when two planes of the Treasury Department's 'Wings of Victory' armada collided in mid-air over Chemung airport at Elmira N.Y......The crash occurred shortly after the planes, a B-25 Mitchell bomber with a crew of five and Lieutenant Capp's P-47 Thunderbolt fighter had taken off from the airport side-by-side to fly to Stewart Field at West Point. As they reached the north end of the field, at an altitude of about 100 feet, one of the planes nosed into the other and they crashed on the runway'.

78th FG 84th FS. Distinguished Flying Cross awarded 23rd September 1944 for extraordinary achievement as follows:

“MERLE R. CAPP, 0-812770, 1st Lieutenant, 78th Fighter Group, Army Air Forces, United States Army. For extraordinary achievement as fighter pilot in aerial combat over Germany and German occupied Continental Europe. The courage and skill with which Lieutenant Capp flew his aircraft and engaged attacking enemy fighters have on many occasions assisted heavy bomber formations to reach their targets and return to their bases with a minimum of loss. The devotion to duty displayed by Lieutenant Capp on these escort flights and his disregard for personal safety in exposing himself to the hazards of low-level flying on strafing missions reflect the highest credit upon himself and the Army Air Forces.

By command of Major General Partridge

Captain F E Fitzpatrick, Air Corps Acting Ass. Adjutant General

Awards: DFC, WWII Victory, EAME, PH.


Units served with

Associated Place

  • Duxford

    Military site : airfield
    RAF Duxford, now a museum and still a working airfield, was operated by the USAAF from 1943 to 1945. The base was briefly the home of the 350th Fighter Group in late 1942, but it was not until April 1943 that it became a fully American station when the...


Event Location Date
Born Ohio, USA 24 October 1922

Son of George Raymond and Cleon [Rowley] Capp.

Based Duxford 29 April 1944 – 14 July 1944

Assigned to 82FS, 78FG, 8AF USAAF.

E/A Destroyed Germany 12 May 1944

E/A destroyed Germany. 12-May-44.

E/A Destroyed Germany 19 May 1944

E/A destroyed Germany. 19-May-44.

Promotion Duxford, Cambridge CB22 4QR, UK 4 July 1944

Promoted to 1st Lieutenant.

Transferred Duxford, Cambridge CB22 4QR, UK 14 July 1944 – 19 September 1944

Transferred to 84FS, 78FG, 8AF USAAF.

End Tour of Duty (ETD) England, UK 19 September 1944

Ended Tour of Duty (ETD).

Crashed Francis S. Gabreski Airport, S Perimeter Rd, Westhampton Beach, NY 11978, USA 21 September 1945

Take Off Accident Suffolk County AAF NY 1Lt Merle R Capp, 21-Sep-45.

TP-47D 44-90462 - 132AAFBU 1AF

Buried 1520 Harry Wurzbach Rd, San Antonio, TX 78209, USA November 1945

Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery
San Antonio
Bexar County
Texas, USA

Died Elmira, NY, USA 8 November 1945

Fatal Mid Air Collision 5 Miles NW Elmira, NY Cat 4 damage 1Lt Merle R Capp, 8-Nov-45.

P-47N 44-88940 - 132BU 1AF.


Date Contributor Update
25 May 2018 08:34:57 Carl Changes to biography

Information collated from IWM file on Lieutenant Capp by historian and volunteer Helen Millgate.

Date Contributor Update
04 October 2017 18:19:25 Al_Skiff Changes to highest rank, role, biography, awards, events and unit associations

Date Contributor Update
24 May 2015 12:34:52 Lucy May Changes to role and events

Combined two entries for Merle R Capp. This entry now includes information from the following source:
Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia / EAGLES OF DUXFORD, The 78th Fighter Group in WW2 by Fry, p132

Date Contributor Update
17 February 2015 13:33:17 Anne Hughes Changes to biography

Commendation award detail

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:20:05 AAM AAM ingest

Ted Damick, VIII Fighter Command pilots list