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Cecil Claude McKinney
24 April 1945 | Florida
Born 20 September 1919 in Ghent, West Virginia. Graduated from Stoco High School in Coal City, West Virginia. Received an A.B. degree (Bachelor of Arts) from Berea College in Kentucky. And after attending the University of Virginia for a period, he enlisted as a Private in the Army Air Corps on 20 June 1942 at Fort Jackson near Columbia, South Carolina (ASN: 14123289).
In April 1943, he completed basic flight training at Thompson-Robbins Field near West Helena, Arkansas; and was commissioned a 2nd Lt in the U.S. Army Air Forces (ASN: O-811107).
He deployed to the European Theatre of Operations at RAF Thurleigh and was assigned to the 8th Air Force, 1st Bombardment Division, 306th Bombardment Group (H), 369th Bomb Squadron, where he flew 50 B-17 combat missions over Germany.
Selected for Boeing B-29 aircraft transition and assigned to the 326th AAF Base Unit Combat Crew Training Squadron, 323rd Combat Crew Training Wing (VHB) at MacDill Field near Tampa, Florida.
On 24 April 1945, he flew as the Instructor Pilot aboard a B-29A-10-BN Superfortress, serial #42-93922. It was on a scheduled cross-country navigational training flight from MacDill Field, Florida west to a point over the Gulf of Mexico, then east to Borinquen Field, Puerto Rico.
The B-29 aircrew departed MacDill Field at 0753 hundred hours heading west. At 0845 hrs, at an altitude of 10,000 feet, a slight oil leak was observed in the #3 engine. By 0906 hrs, the #3 prop ran away, and smoke was reported from the #3 engine. Attempts to feather #3 prop failed. At 0908 hrs, the engine erupted in flames and both fire extinguishers were brought to bear without any effect. At 7300 hundred feet, the crew began bail-out. The aircraft crashed approximately 100 miles southwest of Key West, Florida.
The Bombardier (Lt. Matthews) and Navigator (Lt. Jiler) were rescued the next day when they were spotted by the U.S. Navy Blimp K-54 (piloted by Lt. Campbell, Zeppelin Patrol Squadron Twenty-one), which directed rescue ships to the crash site at a geographic location of 23-29N 83-01W. The body of the Radio Operator (Cpl. Phillips) was also recovered, and taken to the Key West Naval Hospital. All other B-29 crew members were initially declared MIA.