was young, only 26 years old, when he gave up his life to save others.
An honored member of a group that has recently become known as "The Greatest Generation,"
1st Lt. Loye James Lauraine, Jr. made the ultimate sacrifice during World War
II. He was a hero and was posthumously awarded this nation's second highest honor,
the Distinguished Service Cross.
Lauraine had roots in Gonzales,
Texas, his parents Lt. Col. and Mrs. L.J. Lauraine lived there. And on May
31, 1945, The Gonzales Inquirer contained an article that described the
courageous exploits of Lt. Lauraine, and how he won the DSC.
Young Lauraine was a member of the 487th Bomb Group and frequently
flew his B-17 Flying Fortress, named "The Tweacheous Wabbit," on
missions into Germany. According to information found on the internet, the 487th,
its men known as the "Gentlemen from Hell," was based at Station 137
in Lavenham, England. Part of the famous Eighth Air Force, the 487th
flew 185 missions from May of 1944 to April of 1945. It was on one of those missions
that Lt. Lauraine lost his life, while saving the lives of his crew and avoiding
a crash into populated areas on the ground.
to the Inquirer article, Lt. Lauraine's plane had just finished dropping
it's bombs on an oil refinery in Merseburgh, Germany, when it was hit by
a burst of flak from enemy anti-aircraft guns. The newspaper piece contained the
following: "With masterful airmanship, the Texan piloted the crippled bomber back
to England and ordered his crew to bail out."
Lauraine had brought his crippled ship all the way back from Germany and across
the English Channel, but there it ended and the massive bomber was destined to
prepared to bail out, the plane went into a steep dive and was headed toward a
densely populated military installation. Instead of jumping out, which he could
have done, the brave pilot went back to the controls and regained altitude. By
his actions Lt. Lauraine saved the lives of many on the ground but he lost
his own, as the B-17 went into a violent spin and crashed in an open field.
Loye James Lauraine, Jr. was typical of the men and women who served in World
War II. It seems as if they were always looking out for one another, without regard
for their own safety. Lauraine's DSC citation put it this way; "The extraordinary
heroism and devotion to duty displayed by Lt. Lauraine on this occasion reflect
highest credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of the United States."
DFC wasn't the only honor won by Lauraine. He also held the Air Medal with
three Oak Leaf Clusters. Toward the end of the Inquirer article, a
little background information was included about Lt. Lauraine. It said that he
was married to the former Miss Evelyn Francis McKinney and her residence
was given as Mount Calm, Texas. The story also stated that Lauraine was
a graduate of the Schreiner Military Institute at Kerrville,
Texas, and he joined the Army Air Force in 1942.