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Joseph Vencil Kapr Jr


Joseph Kapr served as a fighter pilot with the 361st Fighter Group. Due to dropping oil pressure and an engine starting to smoke, he bailed out of his P-51 42-106741 on an escort mission on 4 August 1944 and landed in the sea near Heligoland, Germany. He is considered as having drowned and is commemorated on the Tablets of the Missing at the Normandy American Cemetery. He was posthumously awarded the Air Medal and the Purple Heart.
From Don Kufrin:
'My Uncle Frank Rudar (who passed away in 2009) was very close to Joe Kapr. My mother, Rose Rudar Kufrin, told me the only time she ever saw her brother cry was in 1944 when he learned about the loss of his best friend, Joe Kapr.'
'When I was a young boy growing up near Chicago my Mother would sometimes talk about World War II and she would often mention Joe Kapr's plane crashing into the North Sea. As a young boy I had vivid (but incorrect) images of a young pilot crashing a P-47 fighter in the dark and either drowning or freezing to death in the cold water.'
'My Mother was not a historian and I was too young to question the her account. Most of what she told me was factually incorrect. In 2008 I obtained a copy of Missing Air Crew Report (MACR) 7737 and was able to learn the actual circumstances of the loss of Joe Kapr.'
'Joe Kapr was lost in the daylight on a beautiful summer day, Friday August 4, 1944, when his P-51B fighter had a failure in the engine lubrication oil system and he bailed out at 18,000 feet at 4:06 PM near Helgoland, an island in the North Sea.'
'The other members of Joe Kapr's flight (a total of 4 planes) watched as he descended and struck the water. However neither Joe Kapr or his dinghy were sighted. The obvious conclusion is that Joe Kapr drowned.'


Units served with

  • 361st Fighter Group

    361st Fighter Group

    The 361st Fighter Group was the last P-47 Thunderbolt Group to join the Eighth Air Force. Between 21 January 1944 and 20 April 1945, the Group flew 441 missions, the majority in an escort role in support of bombers flying over occupied Europe. The...

  • 375th Fighter Squadron


  • 42-106741

    P-51 Mustang
    Piloted by Joseph Kapr on an escort mission in the afternoon of 4 August 1944, the aircraft saw its oil pressure dropping. Soon after the engine was seen smoknig and Kapr radioed at 18,000ft that he was going to bail out. He was seen to land in the...


Associated Place

  • Bottisham

    Military site : airfield
    The P-47 Thunderbolts of the 361st Fighter Group damaged the surfaces of the airfield so much in the first months of flying from Bottisham that American engineers were called in to lay a new runway. In January 1944 they constructed a 1,470-yard-long...


Event Location Date
Born 11 May 1921

in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Czechoslovakian-born Joseph V. and Annie Kapr

Lived in 1942

Cicero, Cook County, Illinois

Enlisted 21 August 1942

as a Private in the Air Corps, in Chicago, Illinois

Missing In Action (MIA)-Killed In Action (KIA) 4 August 1944

after bailing out of his P-51 42-106741 and landing in the sea, about 2 miles North of the island of Heligoland, Germany. He is presumed to have drowned.

Memorialized on the Tablets of the Missing

at the Normandy American Cemetery, near Bayeux, France


Date Contributor Update
16 February 2019 14:27:06 ED-BB Changes to middlename, suffix, service number, biography, events and mission associations

MACR 7737
NARA WWII Enlistment records
ABMC website

Date Contributor Update
12 September 2016 17:12:22 Lucy May Changes to biography

Don Kufrin: 'My Uncle Frank Rudar was best friends with Joseph Kapr. My Mother Rose Rudar Kufrin related the devastating impact which the loss of Joseph Kapr had on my Uncle Frank. '

Date Contributor Update
05 July 2016 12:21:19 Lucy May Changes to service number, role, biography, awards, events and place associations

ABMC record:

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:17:34 AAM AAM ingest

Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia / MACR 7737 / Paul Andrews, Project Bits and Pieces, 8th Air Force Roll of Honor database