Hometown: Sharpe, KY (High)
Position: G Playing Height: 6-3 Playing Weight: 180
Date of Birth: September 30, 1919
Date of Death: February 24, 1944
Additional Photos: (1) (2) (3) (4) (5)
Action Photos: (1) (2) (3) (4) (5)
Game by Game Statistics
Kentucky Career Notes:
Multi-Sport Player [Baseball]
1940-41: All-SEC [Second Team]; All-SEC Tournament
1941-42: All-SEC [Second Team]; All-SEC Tournament
Post-UK Career Notes:
Served in the Military
Biography - "K" Men Who Died In World War II, Kentucky Game Program (December 9, 1950)
KING, 2nd Lt. James Libern, 24, Agr. 1938-42, son of Mr. and Mrs. Sol H. King of Benton, and husband of Mrs. Helen Moore King of Parksville.
Center on the Wildcat varsity basketball team for three years, he entered the Army Air Corps on August 20, 1942. He trained at various air fields in this country an arrived in England the first of December, 1943.
Lt. King had participated in one raid over enemy territory when he was killed. He lost his life February 24, 1944, near Gotha, Germany, when the B-24 on which he was co-pilot was shot down.
Four brothers and four sisters survive besides his wife and parents.
44th Bomb Group Roll of Honor and Casualties (pdf)
24 February 1944
This was a very successful mission with excellent bombing results as the 44th BG led the 14th Combat Bomb Wing. T/Sgt. Kipnes made this evaluation: “Enemy fighters were with us all the way into and out of the target. We fought off at least 40 fighters. Attacking planes were Me 109s and FW 190s. But our formation was tight and few could break through.” However, the 44th BG did have two losses – one each by the 66th and 68th Squadrons.
. . .
68th Sq., #41-24225 T, Bell - FLAK ALLEY - MACR #2922
68th Squadron Crew:
|BELL, PHILLIP W.||0-742832||Pilot||POW||2nd Lt.||St. Joseph, MO|
|KING, JAMES L.||0-681117||Co-pilot||KIA||2nd Lt.||Parksville, KY|
|SCHROEDER, JAMES A.||0-678513||Navigator||POW|
|2nd Lt.||Pittsburgh, PA|
|HALL, GEORGE W.||0-686193||Bombardier||POW|
|2nd Lt.||Ann Arbor, MI|
|FREEBURGH, CHARLES H.||14150973||Engineer||POW||S/Sgt.||Philadelphia, MI|
|MILILLO, ANTONIO||31158071||Radio Operator||KIA|
|HAMMONTREE, JAMES A.||14161472||Ball Turret||KIA||Sgt.||Paiton, GA|
|HAYNES, WILEY W. Jr.||34572318||RW Gunner||KIA|
|SULLIVAN, KENNETH E.||35562810||LW Gunner||KIA||S/Sgt.||Hammond, IN|
|GLEASON, ROBERT J.||13049367||Tail Turret||KIA||Sgt.||Washington D.C.|
The MACR includes the following information: Just after the target this aircraft was caught in a prop wash and fell out of formation, with two props on one side running away. Enemy aircraft immediately concentrated their attacks on this plane and it began to straggle. Much of the damage to the aircraft was to the left side. Sgt. Kenneth Sullivan, left waist gunner, was seriously wounded as well. Sgt. Wiley Haynes was told to contact the others in the rear of the ship and then to bail out. This he did but he was so badly wounded that he died soon after landing.
About 1330 hours and 21,000 feet, five minutes flying time south of Gotha, crew bailed out. Six parachutes were seen to come out of this aircraft before it exploded. The pilot, Lt. Bell, knew of eight men bailing out, but only four of them survived. Lt. Bell said that he had been told that all of his men had jumped prior to his leaving the ship, but later was told that Sgts. Hammontree and Gleason, both from the rear of the plane, did not jump. However, in another portion of the MACR it states that both Gleason and Hammontree did bail out (or were blown out by the force of the explosion) but too soon as both men were dead before getting down to the ground. (The MACR reported that Gleason and Hammontree froze to death.
Lt. George W. Hall, bombardier, and Lt. Schroeder, navigator, bailed out of nose wheel door; Sgt. Charles H. Freeburg bailed out of bomb bay doors. James L. King, co-pilot, bailed out, but was wounded by a 20-mm shell and died a few minutes after hitting the ground. He had had three previous missions. Sgt. Sullivan was seriously injured, captured as soon as he hit the ground, was taken to a schoolhouse near Gotha, but died soon afterwards in a hospital. It was his second mission.
Radio operator Milillo was only slightly injured at the time that he bailed out, but his chute did not open or he failed to pull his ripcord soon enough. He died on the ground.
Lt. James A. Schroeder, navigator, was badly wounded, bailed out and was later repatriated by the Germans back to the U.S. about 25 September 1944.
Four from this crew were buried temporarily in the Pferdsdorf/Rhon Cemetery:: Lt. James L. King (grave #202), Sgt. Anthonio Milillo (grave #203), Sgt. James A. Hammontree (grave #204), and Sgt. Wiley W. Haynes, Jr. (grave #205).
Their plane, the famous “Flak Alley”, with 41 previous missions successfully completed, crashed in a small village south of Gotha, Germany.
Lt. Schroeder reported that he could not run due to seven holes in his back. Freeburgh tried to escape and the last glimpse Schroeder had of him he was running and his helmet flaps were flapping. Schroeder said that Hall, the bombardier, was wounded in both eyes, probably from shards of steel from exploding shells. He lost one eye, but the other was saved by a German doctor, who used magnets to remove slivers of steel from it. Lt. Hall died many years ago.
Schroeder said that this crew had been up five times, but had only two missions credited. Just a couple of days earlier they had aborted, in Flak Alley, when the props ran away. On this mission, they went over the target but when swinging around to return, two engines on the same side had the props run away again. The pilots tried to counteract this strong torque with all their strength but could not do so, fell out of formation, and apparently were attacked by fighters, finishing them off.
Schroeder was caught by civilians and farmers who started to beat him with pitchforks. He started to resist but decided to appeal to them with sign language and assure them he had no weapons and they then took him prisoner. Shortly after Lt. Schroeder parachuted safely, a German citizen, Mr. Irbrukker, took him to his home for treatment of his injuries. Later he was befriended by a German soldier who spoke good English who said his brother was in Texas. He was taken to the wreck of his plane which had both the nose and the tail sticking up from the ground. He believes that he was taken prisoner near Isenburg, placed in a church for a while, and then was sent to POW camps.
Witnesses on the ground reported that the aircraft had been shot down by an Me 109. They also said that a man from the village pulled one of the crewmembers from the burning bomber. This man was later abducted after the war by the Soviets and never heard from again.