9 January 1945 — Isley Field, Saipan, Mariana Islands
Walter Roland Young while at the University of Oklahoma, was named the outstanding Army Reserve Officers Training Corps cadet during a six-week summer course at Fort Sill in 1939. He enlisted as an Aviation Cadet in the Army Air Corps on 1 January 1941 at Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Completed military ground school and preliminary flight training at the Spartan School of Aeronautics in Tulsa. Then completed primary flight training at Brooks Field and basic flight training at Randolph Field in San Antonio before earning his wings on 15 August 1941, and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the Army Air Forces.
Flew the North American single-engine O-47A with the 118th Observation Squadron, 66th Observation Group stationed at Jacksonville Army Air Base, Florida. Graduated from advanced multi-engine training and flew the Lockheed twin-engine B-34 on anti-submarine patrols while assigned to the 433rd Bomb Squadron, 45th Bomb Group stationed at Galveston Army Air Field, Texas.
Served one tour of duty in Europe on B-24 Liberators and volunteered for the B-29 Program. Was selected to command “Crew A-5” during B-29 aircraft transition and combat crew training at Pratt Army Air Field, Kansas.
In October 1944, deployed to the Central Pacific Theatre of Operations and was assigned to 20th Air Force, XXI Bomber Command, 73rd Bomb Wing, 497th Bombardment Group (VH), 869th Bomb Squadron stationed at Isley Field on Saipan in the Mariana Islands.
On 9 January 1945, he flew in the left seat as the Airplane Command Pilot aboard a Boeing B-29 Superfortress nicknamed “Waddy’s Wagon” (Serial #42-24598) Tail Code: A-Square-5.
It was one of 72 aircraft launched in a multi-group formation to bombard the Musashino Aircraft Works and Nakajima Aircraft Engine Factory near Tokyo, Japan. After the bomb run, his aircraft was last sighted 10 miles east of Choshi Point off mainland Japan at 27,000 feet and descending to provide protection to B-29 A-Square-46 which was under attack from 15 Nakajima Ki-44 “Tojo” fighter planes.
His aircraft was forced to ditch at a geographic location of approximately 34 degrees North and 143 degrees East. The next day a B-17 “Dumbo” search plane was dispatched to the area, but no wreckage or survivors were ever found.
He was declared KIA one year later.
NOTE: The 869th Bomb Sqdn deployed to the Pacific Theater of Operations, with the ground echelon sailing 30 July 1944 on the SS Fairisle, passing through Honolulu and Eniwetok before arriving at Saipan on 20 September 1944. Upon arrival the squadron's personnel were engaged in construction. By mid-October most personnel were able to move into Quonset huts from the tents which they were assigned on arrival. The aircrews began departing Kansas on 6 October, ferrying their aircraft to Saipan via a 6500-nautical mile route, with the last B-29 arriving on 30 October 1944.