Enlisting and training
Mr. Homer Leroy (Jack) Young was born on August 1, 1920 in North Fox, Lincoln County, Oklahoma. He had 3 sisters and 2 brothers.
In 1940, Homer worked from home as a surveyor at the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC); a part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal program to get unmarried men to work.
On January 6, 1942, Homer Leroy Young joined the Army Air Corp in Oklahoma City - gets Reg. O-676705 and his training to become a fighter pilot in class 43-E on Brooks Field Texas.
March 1944 - USAAF Station AAF-347
At the end of March 1944, Lt Young and his P-47 squadron mates arrived on board of the Queen Mary in Scotland. From there they went by train to Ibsley, then USAAF Station AAF-347, in the south of England. There they immediately started to prepare for the invasion. They continue the rigorous training program so that they can use their P-47s in all its qualities as fighter-bomber.
In the following months their number of flights increases steadily and on April 20, 1944 the squadron flies its first combat mission; a boring flight over the French coast that was then still occupied by the Germans.
June 1944 - D-day
The P-47’s of 493 FS are also present at the invasion of France on D-Day, 6 June 1944. They bomb bridges, artillery batteries and railway lines, they machine gun trains and make reconnaissance flights for the advancing infantrymen.
Lt Young manages to shoot down his first Luftwaffe plane on June 12th. He does that together with another American pilot and they are each credited a "half victory".
First continental air base: Deux Jumeaux
Shortly thereafter - on the 18th June 1944 - Young lands on the European mainland for the first time. His provisional base at Deux Jumeaux (ALG A-4) is near the famous American landing beach ‘Omaha Beach’.
The 1500 meter long runway is made of ‘Square-Mesh Track’, a mesh that is simply rolled over the meadows.
From Deux Jumeaux they support with their Thunderbolts with the letters "I 7" the ground operations of the American 1st Army when it fights it way in our direction. To recognize each other in the air - and also from the ground - his P-47 had a red checkered cowling (color characteristic of the 48th Fighter Group) and a blue tail fin (color characteristic of the 493rd Fighter Squadron).
On the 29th of August the front of the American 1st Army moved so far that they can start and land in Villacoublay; an existing airport that is just south of Paris. This is followed by the airport in Niergnies near Cambrai in northern France on September 16th.
Lt Young and his squadron supported the airborne landings near Nijmegen and Arnhem in September 1944, possibly also bombed the bunkers on the Worm near Rimburg in preparation of the advance into Germany and also flew support flights during the subsequent battle for Aachen.
With all his flights, he certainly contributed to the rapid end of the war in our region. Thanks to his efforts, the Germans finally are out of the south of Limburg at the end of September 1944.
Crash on 28 October 1944
But the war continues "as usual". And that is why his P-47 is ready again on Saturday 28 October fueled and loaded with ammunition and bombs at the Sint-Truiden air base. He is going to perform a "dive bombing and strafing mission" in Germany that day; throw bombs and attack the enemy on the ground with his rockets and machine guns. For this purpose he has 3,400 rounds of ammunition for his eight machine guns, 10 rockets and 900 kg bombs on board; it all fits in and onto his very strong Thunderbolt. And it is finally good flying weather again and it is high time to get back on it and support the American ground troops.
Between Geilenkirchen and Immendorf, Young flies to a crossroads to bomb it, but things go wrong there. He gets a broadside from a German FLAK-group on the ground and then tries to fly his crippled P-47 back west to liberated territory. He barely succeeds, because his plane eventually crashes around 9.30 am in the middle of Chevremont; fortunately without any casualties.
Gregor Brokamp writes in his “liberation diary” - which is included in "Kerkrade Onderweg III" - that the plane crashed "behind the Wetzelaer shop and past the concert hall of widow Sporken”.
Brokamp also reports in his diary that the pilot had landed injured with his parachute on Olmenplein*. And also that the plane wreck burned for a while and the on-board ammunition exploded.
The American MP’s helped to get the injured Young to a lazaret and later that the burned-out wreck is cleared away.
That injury is a broken leg. Young is taken to the 15th General Hospital in Liège and on 31 October to a hospital in Paris and returns to his unit after healing. This 15th General Hospital was located in the Belgian military hospital in the former Laurentius abbey in Liège.
*) As Kerkrade was near the front line, the Olmenplein was used to park the Piper Cubs of the artillery observation pilots. Did he land with his parachute in between these ‘Cubs’?
On page 205, the book “Kerkrade en de tweede werelsoorlog 1937-1947”, published in 1994, lists incidents after the liberation. It says that on 28 October 1944 an American aircraft crashed in Noorderstraat and the bombing in Krichelbergsweg.
The matching archive item at the Kerkrade Municipality describes the crash location (in Lückerheidestraat and partly in the garden of the Widow Wetzels’ concert hall), the time (9.40 am) and the pilot's rescue with his parachute.
In old notes, the Noorderstraat is also mentioned as a crash location. This street is a part of the current Nassaustraat; between the Toupsbergstraat and the Van Gronsveldstraat (which is called Steegstraat in October 1944).
Other facts of Mr Homer Leroy Young's life
He leaves the Air Force as captain pilot on April 29, 1946.
A year earlier, October 14, 1945, he married Betty Jo Mitchell in Brownsville, Cameron County, Texas. It is not certain whether children were born from this marriage. From the photo on "Findagrave" you could conclude that there is at least one child; because the flower arrangement on Homer Young’s grave is for "DAD".
Mr. Young died at the age of 73 on February 1, 1994 in Enid, Garfield County, Oklahoma and is buried at the Black Cemetery in Stroud, Lincoln County, Oklahoma.
Units served with
The Group moved to England in March 1944 and were stationed at Ibsley where the pilots trained in P-47s in preparation for the Allied invasion of Normandy. The wartime motto was in Latin 'vulneratus non victus' (Unconquered even though wounded).
Military site : airfield
Built during 1940-41 as a fighter base satellite for RAF Middle Wallop, Ibsley opened in 1941 when incomplete. It eventually had three concrete runways, 18 hardstandings plus 18 double pen dispersals, and two Bellman plus 12 blister hangars, after...