by Larry Hume, VFW Post 8904, Center, Texas
In September 2012 Mr. & Mrs. Ben Samford of Center came into my shop with a couple of photos they wanted copied. One of the vintage photos was of a handsome young aviator dressed in flying gear and the other was of a WW II B-24 bomber crew sitting in front of their aircraft with nose art that said “Shack’s Shack”. It depicted a hillbilly running out of an outhouse as a bomb is about to destroy it.
When I saw the photos naturally my interest grew and Mrs. Samford told me the aviator was Charles Frame and he was a crew member in the other photo. I asked her if he was from Shelby County and she said he was but that he had been killed in action during WW II. I immediately checked to see if he was listed among the names our VFW and Auxiliary read each Memorial Day and found that he was.
I inquired about relatives and Mrs. Samford said the only one he had was a nephew, Gary Frame who lived in Center. Mrs. Samford was not a relative but had the photos as Charles Frame and her sister Carrie Lucas were engaged at the time of his death. I found that Ms. Lucas never married and passed in August of 2000. She is buried at Oaklawn Memorial Park.
Back on the home page there was another link to 485th KIA. Going to this link revealed Charles’ name among many others including three of his fellow crew members. The contact us link on the site gave me the email address of the association historian Jerry Whiting whose father Wayne was a tail gunner on a crew in the 831st. I emailed him that I had a photo of Shackleford’s crew and would email it if they would like to put it on their web site. Jerry was eager to have the photo and stated at one time he had a photo of the crash site that killed Charles Frame and a copy of the accident report that he would send.
I then moved on to finding where Charles was buried and found the American Battle Monuments Commission website. This commission was established by Congress in 1923 and is the guardian of America’s overseas commemorative cemeteries and memorials. I searched their WW II data base by putting in his name and bingo there it was showing he was buried at the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery in Nettuno, Italy. I also visited the website of the cemetery and printed out some information for the family.
In the meantime Jerry had emailed me stating that he couldn’t find the crash photo but did have a copy of the accident report attached and a narrative mission report dated January 9th, 1945. Obviously at the time they were classified documents but had since been changed to unclassified. Evidently after each mission these reports were submitted about what happened and what went on. Paragraph 1 of the report stated that 25 B-24 aircraft took off at 0809 hours on January 8th, 1945 to bomb a primary target in Austria. Paragraph 2 said the group assembled over the home base at 3,300 feet at 0823 hours and aircraft # 95460 crashed on the field during the assembly. Six crew members parachuted safety and the remaining four crew members were killed in the crash.
Jerry said in his email that there was a lot of speculation at the time about sabotage but the accident report ruled this out and concluded it was pilot error due to “faulty technique”.
Earlier while on the website of the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery I asked them if they could provide me with a photo of Charles’ grave and within a couple of days they did.
After my research I was in touch with Charles’ nephew Gary Frame and asked him for any family information that he might have. Gary provided me the following and gave me permission to include it in this story.
“As I can remember, here is a brief family history of what I can recall. My grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. W M Frame, moved to Center somewhere in the late 1920's to build a bottling plant. They had three sons, John Bill Frame (my father), Charles Frame, and Gladney Frame. As you know, Charles was in the Army Air Corps, Uncle Gladney was a Merchant Marine, and my father was in the Navy. Uncle Charles died in the service unmarried with no children. Uncle Gladney had one daughter who passed away and she had two children but I do not know them. Daddy had one daughter, Gayla Bright who lives in Arkansas and two sons, my brother Greg who passed away without any children and myself. I have one daughter, and two sons, and am proud to say just had my first grandson which puts us at 5 generations of Frames. Myself, my sons, and my grandson are the only remaining Frame males to carry on the family name. I greatly appreciate all that you have done but if possible, could you find or show me how to find more information on my daddy's career in the Navy? It would give me great honor for you to do a story about my family. Again, I can't thank you enough for this information.”
I do not know Charles’ exact date of birth but he is listed as 6 years old on the 1930 Shelby County census which would have made it 1924. He enlisted in 1942 so he was approximately 18 years old then and was killed probably before his 21st birthday in January 1945.