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Norman Banks Bassett
24 May 1945 | Tokyo Bay, Japan
Born Norman Banks Bassett on 6 May 1922 at Buffalo, New York. In 1941, graduated from the Hill School in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. Left Cornell University in his second year and enlisted in the Army Air Corps on 31 March 1943 at Keesler Field near Biloxi, Mississippi. Graduated from Navigation School at San Marcos Army Air Field, Texas and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant on 20 May 1944. Underwent B-29 aircraft transition and combat crew training at Pyote Army Air Field, Texas. In March 1945, deployed to the Central Pacific Theatre of Operations and was assigned to 20th Air Force, XXI Bomber Command, 73rd Bomb Wing, 500th Bombardment Group (VH), 881st Bomb Squadron stationed at Isley Field on Saipan in the Mariana Islands. During the night of 23-24 May 1945, he flew as the Navigator aboard a Boeing B-29 Superfortress, Tail Code: Z-Square-7 (serial #42-63486). It was one of 520 aircraft launched in multi-wing group formations to bombard the urban-industrial area south of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan. After bombs away, the plane’s right wing was set afire by flak from anti-aircraft artillery. While departing the target area, the plane was hit with flak in the rear fuselage that destroyed all the flight controls including the intercom. During aircrew bail-out the plane exploded in mid-air and fell into Tokyo Bay. He was declared KIA on 24 May 1945.