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Eber Eugene Simpson

Military

Captain Eber E. Simpson, 24, son of Colonel and Mrs. George L. Simpson, Eau Claire, Wisconsin, was killed instantly Friday night, September 20, 1946, when the A-26 army airplane in which he was a passenger, exploded and burned after crashing into a forest of large trees near Godman Airfield, Fort Knox, Kentucky. He was on his way to Eau Claire for a few days leave after reporting at Washington, D.C.

Four officers and one enlisted man were aboard the craft when it left March Field, California, bound for Bolling Field, Washington. The pilot had set the plane down at Godman Airfield due to bad weather conditions over Bolling Field. After an hour at Godman Field, clearance was obtained for Columbus, Ohio. The plane had not gone more than five miles when the accident occurred. Reports said that the aircraft did not rise more than 200 feet from the ground when both engines stopped.

Captain Simpson was born in Eau Claire, December 3, 1921. He attended Eau Claire High School, the Columbian Preparatory School at Washington, D.C., and the Eau Claire State Teachers College for a year prior to his entrance to the United States Military Academy at West Point. He had won a competitive examination out of 122 applicants for a Congressional appointment. and was the third youngest member of his class. At West Point he was a regular member of the basketball team and a hurdler on the track team. He won two Army “A’s" in basketball. On June 1, 1943, he was graduated and awarded his wings as a pilot.

After a few months training at Brooks Field, Texas; Dale Mabry Field, Talahassee, Florida; Sarasota Field, Florida; and Harding Field, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Captain Simpson, then a lieutenant, left for overseas. His group was the first to be based in France, using Omaha Beach as a landing strip. Flying a P-47 fighter-bomber, he was one of the American pilots who helped maintain the beachhead, check German counterattacks, prepare for the breakthrough at Saint Lo, and give fighter cover to forces speeding across France. He was awarded the Silver Star for displaying exceptional courage and skill in breaking up a panzer attack at the Battle of the Ardennes Bulge, one of the turning points of the war.

Captain Simpson flew 102 missions, 193 sorties, in approximately seven months. He was entitled to wear the Silver Star, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with 18 Oak Leaf Clusters, the Presidential Unit Citation, the Belgian Fourragere, the American defense ribbon, the European Theater Ribbon with live battle stars, the American Theater Ribbon, and the Victory Ribbon.

Upon his return to the United States in 1945, Captain Simpson was stationed at the Lemoor Air Base in California and the Dover, Air Base in Delaware. At the time of his death, Captain Simpson was a P-80 pilot at March Field, California.

He was an outstanding athlete, attaining All-America rating in basketball. He was proficient in most sports. Besides playing on the West Point team, he was chosen as All-Southern forward of the Amateur Athletic Union in 1944 and played with the College All-Stars vs. the national professional champions in the Fall of 1945. He also played on the Fort Sheridan basketball team in 1945. He won the handball championship while stationed at March Field.

In addition to his outstanding work as a fighter pilot and athlete, Captain Simpson showed talent in literature. He wrote many poems of merit, among them some on courage and spirit. One was written to a fellow pilot who was killed on a raid in which they both participated in France.

He is survived by his parents and one brother, Captain George L. Simpson, Jr.

Five classmates, Major Robin Olds and Captains Ted Connor, Louis Nesselbush, Bob Hersberger and Dave Schwartz; and Lieutenant (s.g.) Robert Selmer, U.S.N., his prep school roommate, were pallbearers. Captain Lindsay Silvester, his West Point roommate, was the military escort. Twelve senior Wisconsin Reserve and National Guard officers were honorary pallbearers.

The funeral took place in the Christ Church Cathedral at Eau Claire on September 26 and was very largely attended by friends who had attended the local schools with him, war veterans, and friends of the family. Captain Simpson is buried in Forest Hill Cemetery in his native city.

Many letters gave testimony to his great lighting prowess, his worth as a soldier, his athletic ability, his splendid character, and his lovable and kindly personality. They came from young and old, men and women, classmates, fighting comrades, teachers, athletic teammates, boyhood friends, commanding officers and fellow officers.

His last Commanding Officer at March Field attributed, "Superior performance of duty” to him. A civilian employee in the Operations Section at Dover Air Base said, “Eber was a very special person to the many who knew him because he unconsciously added a lot to the prestige of his rank and to West Point by his fairness, common sense and ability. There were many opportunities to see how well he led the men and how genuine was their regard and liking for him. ‘Suitcase’ was a good friend; a fine, honorable officer”.

A combat flying companion wrote, “Captain Eber was one of the finest officers I have ever met and he leaves an exquisite military pattern which all of us can strive to follow. His combat record can only be described as superior and his fearless courage, superb leadership, warm personality, clean living and ambition cannot be surpassed.”

Another said, “I’ve never known a better pilot. He was a natural born leader. It was always a pleasure to fly with Eber in combat as it never would be an uneventful mission.”

The squadron commander adds, “Of the few men I picked out of the outfit to watch their progress through life after the war, I had given Eber the best chance to succeed”.

Eber was shot down twice and decorated 23 times. He participated in five campaigns. Twice he was recommended for a Majority.

A classmate wrote, “There is one thing of which I am sure, Eber always got the maximum enjoyment out of whatever we were doing. He derived infinite pleasure from all types of competitive sports. He was a sportsman in every sense of the world, foul play or an unfair advantage were things that simply never entered his mind. Of all the men and boys I have had the pleasure of associating with none were more “square-shooting" or cleaner living than ‘Eb’. I was told by an officer who served in combat with Eber that of all the officers he knew there were none whose men truly loved them and respected them as did Eber's. Eber was one of the very few officers who could be a ‘good Joe’ with his men and yet have them respect and obey him to the letter”.

A world champion athlete wrote, “We always think of him as such a vitally alive and joyful person.”

A classmate’s mother wrote, “My son said Eber was the finest, cleanest boy he had ever known.”

A teammate on the 1945 All-American basketball team stated, “Eber was one of the finest fellows and athletes I have ever known”.

A neighbor said, “I don’t know your son but my twelve year old boy is crushed. His heart is broken over the news that the man he idolizes has been killed. Whenever Captain Simpson was home on leave, Tom spent every available moment he could at your house. Eber taught him many wonderful things, mainly by example".

Another classmate wrote, “Eber was the perfect example of generosity, not only in words but in actions. He was very much a leader”.

Mothers of classmates said, “We loved him very much” and “He was Jim’s dearest friend. Everyone who knew Eber loved him”.

A fellow combat group member and classmate wrote, “Every thing I could admire about a man he possessed to a superlative degree. He was my best friend and as close as a brother”.

Eber’s roommate said, “Eber was my very best friend. I’ve often found myself imitating him.”

A renowned ace of his class wrote, “I consider having been a friend of Eber’s a distinct privilege. His spontaneous wit and good humor were a boon to all that knew him”.

The boy next door, a childhood playmate, added, “He was the finest".

Still another classmate wrote, “Eb was probably my best friend. Eber’s courage is a legend. His was a life of maximum effort in sports, war, aviation and comradeship, and an inspiration for all of us.”

A general officer included in a letter, “I considered that Eber was one of the most promising young officers in the Army. His splendid combat service together with his high intelligence and remarkable character, would have made him one of the highest ranking officers in the Army”.

A boyhood chum said, “Eber meant more to me than any other friend I’ve ever had, for not only was he the most likeable person in the world, but, also he ‘had so darned much on the ball’. He had added some intangible goodness to the lives of all his friends.” One wrote, “He was one of the grandest people I have ever known. He was outstanding in the number of his devoted friends”.

A college professor wrote. “Eber made a brilliant success of his life”.

Tug Wilson, Commissioner of Western Conference Athletics, wrote, “I think Eber was exactly the type of boy every American parent would like to have. The memory of boys like Eber should be an outstanding inspiration to our youngsters who are growing up.”

Among Eber’s effects was found scribbled on a scrap of paper as the conclusion of a poem:

I know what others may never know. I can never fool myself, and so Whatever happens, I want to be self-respecting and conscience free.

Service

Units served with

  • 366th Fighter Group

    366th Fighter Group

    Group
    The Group moved in England over the New Year of 1944, setting up home first at Membury and then at Thruxton. The pilots' first mission was a fighter sweep of the French coast in March 1944 and from then until D-Day that June the ground supported Allied...

  • 391st Fighter Squadron

Associated Place

Events

Event Location Date
Born Eau Claire County, WI, ארצות הברית 3 December 1921
Died 20 September 1946

Captain Eber E. Simpson, 24, Eau Claire, Wisconsin, was killed instantly Friday night, September 20, 1946, when the A-26 army airplane in which he was a passenger, exploded and burned after crashing into a forest of large trees near Godman Airfield, Fort Knox, Kentucky. He was on his way to Eau Claire for a few days leave after reporting at Washington, D.C.

Buried או קלייר, ויסקונסין, ארצות הברית 26 September 1946

Eber Simpson, 24, was buried in Forest Hill Cemetery, Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
12 March 2016 09:36:53 Gilad_Bashan Changes to biography and events
Sources

Kentucky, Death Record
westpointaog.org - http://apps.westpointaog.org/Memorials/Article/13954/
Find a grave - http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=93633018&ref=acom

Date Contributor Update
12 March 2016 07:56:02 Gilad_Bashan Created entry with surname, middlename, firstname, nickname, nationality, highest rank, role, events and unit associations
Sources

World War II Flight Training Museum

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