Flight Officer Richard S. Brock never made it to the battlefields of World War II, but he died trying.
The Lima pilot was killed during a training accident in the mountains of South Carolina. But while his life ended on that March 10th day in 1943 without him ever going overseas, the wings he proudly wore on the lapel of his uniform have been flying in combat 60 years later.
It’s a story researched and shared by Tim Mosher, a former Shawnee fire chief/paramedic who is a distant relative of Brock. It is a tale ever so fitting for this Memorial Day as we honor those who gave their lives in service to our country.
When Uncle Sam called, Richard Brock was ready to go. He was especially proud to be selected to learn how to fly a B-25, the bomber used by Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy Doolittle when he and 15 other pilots gave American forces a much-needed lift in spirits by attacking mainland Japan just four months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. That moment of history forever will be remembered as “Doolittle’s Raid.”
What happened to Brock underscores how dangerous it was to fly one of those bombers.
On the night he died, Brock departed Greenville Army Air Base at 8:10 p.m. and was heading to Meridian, Mississippi, as part of a nighttime training mission, according to military records. The weather was cloudy and visibility was believed to be bad. Brock’s plane didn’t clear the trees at the top of a mountain, shearing off the left wing of the B-25 and causing the plane to crash, killing Brock, co-pilot Earl Monroe. navigator Philip Graziano, radio operator Michael Paren and engineer Harvey Capellan.
The search for the wreckage took days. It eventually was found in a thickly wooded area by a boy named Seab Crane.
Two months before his death, Richard Brock wrote a letter to his sister, Martha Brock, who later would become well known for her work at the Lima/Allen County Library. He told about the excitement of flying about 10 feet above the ground at about 250 mph. “We passed a small town and almost took the roofs off of houses,” he noted. He ended the letter by saying “I hope I’ll be seeing you soon.”
Tim Mosher would visit the scene of the crash years later. He found no remnants of what happened but did get to talk with some townfolk who remembered that deadly day.
Mosher would later come into possession of the lapel “wings” that Brock wore during flights.
“About 10 years ago I asked a brother-in-law of mine, who is an Air Force pilot, to fly with those wings on his lapel during combat missions in the Middle East at that time,” said Mosher. The brother-in-law, Jeff Banker, received permission to do so from his superiors. Those wings have since flown in 60 combat missions on a C-17 in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Mosher believes Richard Brock would have liked that.
“I think it is cool to have the wings that never made it to Europe fly in combat 60 years later.”
© 2019 The Lima News (Lima, Ohio)
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