John Volney Cyrus, Captain, 0-747222, was the pilot of a A-20 Havoc bomber during WW II. He was stationed out of Coullomiers (This city’s name is not spelled correctly in the War Department documents. It should be Coulommiers. See below for more information about this city and airport during WWII.) France. The crew of the flight on January 2, 1945 was George William Epperson: 1st lieutenant, Bomber-Navigator, 0-750129; Robert Arthur Fowle, Armorer-Gunner, Staff Sergeant, 35049974; Charles Denman Rushmore, Mechanic-Gunner, Staff Sergeant, 38463021. They departed Coulommiers bound for Gouvy, Belgium about 170 NM to the NE. They made their first bomb run with the rest of the 645 Squadron of A-20s. As they turned to return for another run enemy flack hit the A-20 (nick-named LingDooley Ranch Santa Paula, Cal) and killed Cyrus. The remainder of the crew bailed out and eventually were captured and released (I would imagine at the end of the war, later that year).
Robert Converse's (my husband) mother’s first husband was John V. Cyrus. He was killed in action during WW II on January 2, 1945. I searched for John Cyrus and found the MACR for his flight. According to the records he was the pilot of a A-20 Havoc (a small bomber). They flew from Coullomiers, France (just East of Paris) to Gouvy, Belgium to bomb either the railway yard or the rr line b/w St. Vith and Gouvy. Or even perhaps the missile launch site just South West of Gouvy. According to a history of the area during WW II the RR line b/w Gouvy and St. Vit was so obliterated that it no longer exists. The other rr lines are still there and during WW II times they carried cars containing material to make steel. http://www.crwflags.com/fotw/flags/be-wlxgo.html
So anyway, after the initial bombing run John Cyrus turned back with the other bombers to make a second run and "caught flak" from the defending troops on the ground. He, in the cockpit, took the majority of the hit and was apparently killed at that point because the crew could not reach him on the radio. The crew bailed out and were eventually returned home (all were US). One had a sprained ankle. The action report has a detailed map and 2 or 3 eye witness reports of the bomber being hit and where is eventually crash landed.
The very unusual fact is that Robert's mother, Dianna Converse Cyrus Bixby, also was killed while flying the same type of aircraft, exactly 10 years later, Robert was just shy of 2 years old.
It is also interesting that this bombing was part of a bigger plan (battle of the bulge) for the Americans to re-capture St. Vite, which is just North East of Gouvy. American forces retook the town on January 23, 1945 and Cyrus was bombing on January 2, 1945.
Notes for John Volney Cyrus:
Social Security Number: 456-28-0733
John Volney Cyrus
age 15 in 1936
flight school 1942 King City California AAFFD
Army Advanced Flying school
La Junta, CO
class 43E graduated 5/20/43
645th Bombardment Sq (L)
410th Bombardment gr. (L)
Will Rogers Field OC OK Sept 1943
Having been asgd to this sqdn per par 7 SO#29, Hq 410th Bomb Gp (L) as 2nd Lt. John V. Cyrus, 0-747709, (TEP), is hereby asgd to Flt "B" as Pilot (PRIN Dy).
Flew an A-20 attack bomber
Address: 3011 University Dr.
Ft. Worth TX
Went to Robert Lee Paschal High School
graduated June 1, 1939
1937 T.C.U. Freshman Squad
Brother E.M. Cyrus Graduated Medical Doctor
"will be physician at a navel base hospital age 27.
More About John Volney Cyrus:
Burial: 03 Feb 1945, Henri Chapelle Cemetery, near Herze, Belgium.172
Record Change: 18 Jan 2002 Eventually moved to a cemetary in Texas, USA probably in Fort Worth.
More About John Volney Cyrus and Dianna Converse:
Marriage: 08 Sep 1943, Lingdooley Ranch Santa Paula CA.