Monday, May 27, 2002
Bomber pilot, crew coming home
Lloyd Herbert and the bomber crew he piloted will be coming home.
The remains of the 10-member crew, which included Second Lieutenant Herbert of Frederick, are scheduled to be interred in Arlington National Cemetery sometime this year. The men were killed when their B-24 was brought down on a bombing run over Germany on May 19, 1944.
“This was only his second mission,” said Lt. Herbert's sister, Barbara Herbert Kline, of Frederick. “His squad was immediately attacked. The fighter planes that were supposed to be protecting them were late in leaving” England.
Lieutenant Herbert grew up in Frederick, graduating from Frederick High School and working for Potomac Edison before earning a commission in the U.S. Army. Leafing through a scrapbook dedicated to her brother, Mrs. Kline stopped on a page with pictures of him appearing in a play at Hood College.
“He was very handsome, very bright,” she said a few days before Memorial Day. “He was very well liked and had a marvelous sense of humor.”
In a photo showing the crew, the faces are young. “Even though he was 22 or 23, they called him the old man because almost everyone else was 18,” Mrs. Kline said.
She was only 12 years old when her brother was killed. The family received notification from the War Department that he was missing in action and two years later he was officially declared dead. His name appears on the World War II monument in Frederick's Memorial Park.
“Mother couldn't take it in,” Mrs. Kline said, although she had a stone for her son placed in the Lutheran Church cemetery in Middletown.
That seemed to be the final chapter to the story until a chance encounter on the Internet three years ago between Enrico-Rene Schwartz in Germany and a couple from California. The woman was seeking information on the crash because her grandfather, the radio operator, was on board.
“We were touched by their story,” Mr. Schwartz said, especially since his grandfather also was never located from the war.
“We devoted any spare minute,” Mr. Schwartz said. He located the crash site and talked to a few eyewitnesses. He also went through German and U.S. files, including the National Archives, working with Don Singer who “was very helpful and very kind” about getting him information in a timely manner.
Mr. Schwartz said the 10 men on the doomed flight became “like family” and he worked to find out all he could about them.
Mrs. Kline said relatives of each member of the crew were found. “I think that's pretty amazing. It happened in 1944, that's a long time.”
Fighting government red tape, Mr. Schwartz also was finally able to have the crash site excavated.
In addition to some human remains, the dig also uncovered a few personal items such as an ID bracelet and tag, a ring and a religious medal.
Mrs. Kline said the plane “went in head-first. It was badly incinerated.”
The Army has informed family members of the planned interment in Arlington, and has agreed to provide travel arrangements, although the exact date hasn't been set.
Some members of Mrs. Kline's family believe Mr. Schwartz should be included on the list, especially because of his determination and hard work to recover the remains.
“The Army says it has to be a family member,” Mrs. Kline said.
She hasn't decided if she will attend the ceremony when it happens. “The person who would have gotten the most out of it was my mother and she's gone.”
Lloyd H. Herbert
- Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army Air Forces
- 858th Bomber Squadron, 492nd Bomber Group, Heavy
- Entered the Service from: Maryland
- Died: May 20, 1945
- Missing in Action or Buried at Sea
- Tablets of the Missing at Netherlands American Cemetery Margraten, Netherlands
- Awards: Air Medal, Purple Heart
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Michael Robert Patterson was born in Arlington and is the son of a former officer of the US Army. So it was no wonder that sooner or later his interests drew him to American history and especially to American military history. Many of his articles can be found on renowned portals like the New York Times, Washingtonpost or Wikipedia.
Reviewed by: Michael Howard