Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Gil Cook: The Other Men on His Plane

This is the eighth post in a series about my Grandma's cousin, Lawrence Gilbert Cook.

Gil was not the only young man lost on October 28, 1943.  There were nine airmen on his plane.  Here is the the complete list of those who died that day.

James M. Reese, 1st Lieutenant
The son of Mr. George H. Reese and Mrs. Annabelle Reese of Petersburg, Virginia.  James "Jim" Mackintosh Reese was the eldest of his parents' children and their only son.  His sisters were Alice, Frances and Annabelle Reese.  Jim's father was a physician who ran a private practice in Petersburg.  Jim attended the University of Virginia, where he was a member of Phi Kappa Sigma, and graduated in 1939.  In April 1943, he became engaged to Jane Luce*, of Kansas City, Missouri, whom he planned to marry upon his return from active service.

Lawrence G. Cook, 2nd Lieutenant
The son of Magdelene Barrett Rutherfurd of Henderson, Nevada (formerly Los Angeles and Long Beach, California).  He was his parents' only son.  Born in 1918, Gil was 25 when he died.  See my previous posts for more details about Gil's life and military service.

Charles L. Davis, Jr., 2nd Lieutenant
The son of Mr. Charles L. Davis, Sr. and Mrs. Bertha S. Davis of Charlotte, North Carolina.  His father, Charles Sr., was an accountant for the local utilities service.  Charles was born in 1921.  He had two siblings, Lida and Frank Davis.

Joseph A. Zofco, 2nd Lieutenant
The son of Mr. Martin Zofco and Mrs. Mary Zofco of Warren, Ohio.  Joe was born in 1919 and was one of six children born to his parents. His siblings were Susie, Steve, John, Andrew and Mike Zofco.  Joe's parents were immigrants from Czechoslovakia and his father worked in a steel mill in Ohio.  Joe and Gil seem to have been close friends, as Gil's journal entries mention him frequently.

Edward J. Perrin, T/Sgt
The son of Mr. John J. Perrin and Mrs. Margaret Perrin of Dover Plains, New York.  Edward was born in 1919 and was the youngest of five children.  His older siblings were Miriam, John, William and Margaret Perrin.  Edward's paternal grandparents had been Irish immigrants to New York.  A memorial headstone for Edward stands near his parents' graves in St. John's Cemetery, Pawling, New York.

Charles Chouteau

Charles P. Chouteau, Private
The son of Mr. Charles P. Chouteau and Mrs. Lavinia Chouteau of Tulsa, Oklahoma.  He was born July 1, 1924, making him the youngest of the men on the plane and just 19 at the time of his death.  Charles was one of six children and his siblings were Jennieve, Charlotte, Mary Jane, Barbara and Nell Marie Chouteau.  His mother's parents had been immigrants from Finland and Sweden; his father's family was from Kansas.  Charles' nickname was "Sonny" and he was the radio operator on board the plane.  A letter addressed to his mother was found in Charles' belongings after his death.  In it, he expressed that he was not afraid and believed in what he was fighting for.  (After communication from Charles Chouteau's family, I have corrected a few details in this paragraph, including his date of birth and the names of his siblings.)

William Jerabek, S/Sgt
The son of Mr. William Jerabek and Mrs. Sophia Jerabek of St. Paul, Minnesota (later Los Angeles, California).  He was born in 1921 and was his parents' only child.  His father's parents immigrated from Czechoslovakia and his mother immigrated from Vienna, Austria.  His father was a baker in St. Paul.

Donald P. Morris, S/Sgt
The son of Mr. John T. Morris and Mrs. Nellie Morris of Arlington, Massachusetts.  Donald Peter Morris was born in 1923, making him twenty years old at the time of his death in 1943.  Donald was the second of his parents' eight children.  His siblings were John, Rita, Richard, Eileen, Ann, Edward and Robert.  His father was a laborer who worked in road construction.

John P. Wood, T/Sgt
The son of Mr. James Franklin Wood and Mrs. Lillie Pearl Wood of Angelina County, Texas.  John was the youngest of four children.  His siblings were Franklin, Janie and Calvin.  His father was a farmer in their East Texas town.  A memorial headstone for John can be found in Huntington Cemetery, Huntington, Texas.

Nine young lives; nine families shattered.

* I would also like to say a word about Jane Luce, fiancee of the plane's 1st Lieutenant, Jim Reese.  After reading her letter to Gil's mother Magdalene, so full of hope that Jim and the other airmen had survived, I felt like I needed to know what happened to her once the truth became clear.  Jane, the daughter of Lorenzo and Alice Luce, was a graduate of Skidmore College and active in Kansas City society.  After Jim's death, she did post-graduate work at Mills College and earned an MBA from University of Missouri - Kansas City.  She became Vice President of her family's luggage manufacturing company, serving in that role for 30 years.  Her real passion was animals, and she was deeply involved in local and national horse and dog groups during her lifetime.  After Jim's death, Jane continued to visit his family in Virginia for several years.  She never married.  She died in 1992, 49 years after Jim's plane went down over Burma.

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