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Lee A Bevers


Lee Alfred Bevers was the eldest of eight children born to Arthur and Gladys (Daily) Bevers near Rauville,SD, in rural Codington County on April 22, 1920. He grew up on several farms in Codington and Hamlin Counties. He often remarked that he lived his entire life within 25 miles of his birthplace, with the exception of his military service. He graduated from Watertown High School in 1939, as a member of the largest graduating class at that time. He married his high school sweetheart, Vera Mae McFerran, at the Army Chapel in Pyote, TX, on July 2, 1943.

In June of 1941 Lee joined the United States Army Air Corps. After basic training he was sent to aircraft maintenance school at Chanute AFB IL. He applied for and was accepted for Army Air Corps pilot training graduating at Waco, TX, on April 22, 1943. He was stationed at various Texas bases as he trained to fly B-17 Bombers. By late summer he was ordered overseas and was assigned to the 96th Bomb Group at Snetterton Heath AFB in England. As pilot of his B-17 “Dear Mom” he made 13 bombing runs over France and Germany before his plane was severely damaged. All but one of his crew survived that mission as he flew the damaged plane at treetop level over the English Channel and slid it in on English soil. He was given a new B-17, which his crew named “Vera Mae” and continued to fly 13 more bombing missions. On the 26th mission April 13,1944 they were shot down after bombing Augsburg, Germany. Other than one slight injury, all of his crew survived and were taken prisoner. Lee and his co-pilot, Willis Jones, were sent to Stalag Luft 1 Prison Camp on the Baltic Sea in northern Germany. He was in prison camp 13 months, being liberated by the Russian Army in May of 1945 at the end of the War. For efforts above and beyond the call of duty. Lee was awarded the Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Silver Star and the POW Medal.

He was discharged with the rank of Captain in January, 1946 and returned to Watertown SD to work for Hubbard Implement Co. In 1947 Lee and Vera built a house on Park St. in Watertown which they sold the next year and bought a farm near Hazel, SD. A son, Alan was born to Lee and Vera while he was a POW. Alan, was an invalid all his life and died in 1964. Three more boys made up the family, and Lee remained on the farm until he retired in 1982. Vera died of pulmonary fibrosis in 1981. Lee married Ruth Thomas in 1982; she died in 1988. In 1989 he married Jeanne Lien, who died in 2001. In 2002, he married Jeann Beck in Mesa, AZ. They spent the next four winters in Arizona, returning to Watertown permanently in 2006. They took several cruises while in Mesa, traveled in Lee’s motor home, and in more recent years took bus tours. They met on the dance floor and continued dancing together for a number of years. Lee also enjoyed computer games, bowling, golfing, playing cards, shooting pool, sudoku puzzles, and daily games of cribbage with Jeann!

He was a member of New Hope Lutheran Church and 1st Congregational United Church of Christ in Watertown; the Hamlin County School Board during the consolidation of 4 area schools; and a founding board member of the Rural Water Association which brought water to all the farms in the area. He was a lifetime Member of the 8th Air Force Association; 96th Bomb Group Association; Ex-POW Association; American Legion Post 17; Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 750; Disabled American Veteran, Unit 4; Watertown Senior Citizens Center and longest active member of the Golden Age Service Club of Watertown.




  • Malcolm Breeze

    Military | Technical Sergeant | Waist Gunner | 96th Bomb Group
    Assigned to 338BS, 96BG, 8AF USAAF. Shot down 13-Apr-44 in B-17 42-31774 'Vera Mae. ' Prisoner of War (POW). MACR 3766 Awards: DFC, AM, PH, POW, WWII Victory, EAME.

Units served with


  • 42-31774 Vera Mae

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 12/12/43; Kearney 31/12/43; Assigned 338BS/96BG [BX-L] Snetterton 8/2/44; Missing in Action Augsburg 13/4/4 with Lee Bevers, Co-pilot: Willis Jones, Navigator: John Telefsen (wia & taken to hospital), Bombardier: Mack Long, Flight...

  • 42-3556 Dear Mom

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Denver 30/7/43; Grand Island 10/8/43; Assigned 338BS/96BG [BX-L] Snetterton 9/9/43; battle damaged Watten 13/2/44 with Lee Bevers, Co-pilot: Willis Jones, Navigator: John Tellefsen, Bombardier: Mack Long, Flight engineer/top turret gunner:...

Associated Place

  • Snetterton Heath

    Military site : airfield
    Intended to be an RAF bomber base, construction of Snetterton Heath started in Autumn 1942 but continued until mid-1943, because it was extended after allocation as an Eighth Air Force bomber base. It had eventually three concrete runways, 50...

  • Pyote Army Airfield

    Military site : airfield


Event Location Date
Born Revillo, SD 57259, USA 22 April 1920
Prisoner of War (POW) Germany 13 April 1944 – May 1945

Spent 13 months as a POW in Stalag Luft 1 in northern Germany. Was generally treated well by the Germans as officers were not forced to work.



Date Contributor Update
22 March 2018 06:05:42 TennyBelle Changes to place associations

added connection to Pyote AAF

Date Contributor Update
24 February 2017 06:01:06 cabevers Changes to events

Updated by Lee's son, Curtis Bevers of Madison, Wisconsin, USA

Date Contributor Update
09 September 2016 05:56:33 cabevers Changes to highest rank

Service rank updated by Curtis Bevers, Lee's son

Date Contributor Update
09 September 2016 05:54:59 cabevers Changes to biography and awards

Information added by Curtis Bevers, son of Lee A. Bevers

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:18:21 AAM AAM ingest

Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia / MACR 3766 / MACR 3766, Losses of the 8th & 9th Air Forces; Snetterton Falcons, pg 132 / Paul Andrews, Project Bits and Pieces, 8th Air Force Roll of Honor database