Robert Samuel Russell
Radioman / Gunner
|HOME OF RECORD
1420 Jefferson Street, Burlington, IA
|NEXT OF KIN
Parents, Dale & Clara Russell
|DATE OF BIRTH
September 11, 1921
November 22, 1940
|DATE OF LOSS
September 6, 1942
|CAMPAIGN / AREA
Missing In Action
Declared Dead September 7, 1943
|CIRCUMSTANCES OF LOSS
Corporal Robert S. Russell served as an aviation radioman and gunner with VMSB-232, a Marine dive bomber squadron operating out of Guadalcanal.
On 7 September 1942, Corporal Russell participated in a strike on Japanese installations at Gizo Harbor. No aircraft were lost in the attack, but a heavy storm blew in on the return flight, causing the formation to scatter and downing two bombers. Russell’s aircraft (SBD-3 BuNo 03356) was last seen falling out of control towards the sea.
Neither Brown nor his pilot, Major Fletcher L. Brown, Jr., were seen again. Both men were declared dead on 7 September 1943.
Air Medal, Purple Heart
|LAST KNOWN RANK
|STATUS OF REMAINS
Manila American Cemetery
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My dear Mr. and Mrs. Russell:
It is my painful task to write you some of the circumstances of Robert’s loss. I hope that you have by now received official notification that he was reported as missing in action. Please understand that this letter in no way constitutes an official communication but reflects my high personal regard for Corporal Russell and the desire to furnish those closet to him with some information from those of us who fought with him against the common enemy.
It was on the 6th of September we lost Robert and his pilot, Major Fletcher L. Brown, Jr., my executive officer. Robert was serving as radioman-gunner with Major Brown. Returning from a bombing mission the flight encountered violent storm conditions. You will understand how difficult it is to be sure of what happened, but other pilots believe that from the last seen attitude and altitude on Major Brown’s plane it was out of control and could not have recovered. I believe that you would prefer to have the facts as we know them rather than cling to a hope we do not feel could be consistent.
Robert was one of our best men, strong, reliable, conscientious, and working with zeal to perfect himself for the arduous nature of his duties. His loss is a blow to all of us and particularly to the other radioman-gunners in the squadron who trained so hard with him to perfect our combat organization which has rendered useful service so far in this area.
I hope some day that it may be possible for me to call upon you and tell you further of the life here. Robert’s loss is in line of duty, in service of his country, for a cause which must demand or some the supreme sacrifice.
With deepest personal regrets, I am yours very sincerely,
R. C. Mangrum
Lieut. Colonel, U. S. Marine Corps
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