|2nd Lt. Kenneth Grady Russell and S/Sgt. Ralph Forrest Russell
Brothers who served in the United States Army Air Corps
|Kenneth Grady Russell was born November 15, 1916 in Independence, Missouri, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Mark K. Russell.
Kenneth attended McCoy Elementary School and graduated from William Christian High School in Independence on May
Kenneth moved to California on May 23, 1934 and lived in Claremont for a short time. He attended Pomona City College
while working in a gas station and serving as part owner in another gas station. Kenneth joined the United States Army on
March 11, 1941. It is known through letters in his grouping that he was initially part of the regular Army, serving as an
Military Police officer at Fort Worden in Washington, often spending time in nearby Port Townsend on his off time.
In 1943, Kenneth is finally accepted as an Aviation Cadet and enters the Army Air Corps flight training program. Kenneth
spent the majority of his aviation training preparing to be a fighter pilot, later finding himself in the cockpit of a heavy
bomber. Kenneth graduated with class 43-H from Luke Field Advanced Flying School on August 13th, 1943, and was later
assigned to a bomber squadron stationed in Hawaii.
Kenneth Russell was the co-pilot of a B-24 (serial #42-41257) which was lost over Wake Island on May 18, 1944. Army Air
Corps reports indicate anti-aircraft fire struck the right wing of the aircraft, causing the right wing to peel away and the
aircraft to dive into the ocean. There were no survivors.
|This page displays items from two groupings in my private collection, relating to two brothers, Kenneth and Ralph Russell, each of whom served in the United States Army Air Corps during WWII.
Both brothers saw combat in different theaters of the war, only one returned.
These groupings contain private letters, military paperwork, photographs and other items that provide a detailed glimpse into the world of a patriotic family who sacrificed and served in defense of
our nation. Private letters from both Kenneth and Ralph show a devoted and loving family, constantly striving to remain in contact despite being separated by war and military service.
Although not every single item from these groupings can be displayed, the items shown provide us with some insight into who these two young men were, their devotion to country and family,
and their brave military service.
|In looking through the paperwork and letters among Kenneth's grouping, one can see in
his writings a loving son and brother, who kept in constant contact with his family during
his service time. Kenneth and Ralph appear to have written to each other on a continual
basis up until Kenneth's passing. In October of 1941, Kenneth responds to one of Ralph's
letters about having been involved in an accident. Below is a Western Union "Kiddie
Gram" sent to Ralph by Kenneth, wishing him a speedy recovery following the car
accident. Found in the words among the letters he wrote is a caring young man who had
a tremendous amount of love and caring for his family, always upbeat, constantly
providing help and advice to his younger brother, and always concerned for the well
being of his mother and family.
|S/Sgt. Ralph Forrest Russell
824th Bomb Squadron, 484th Bomb Group, 15th Air Force
|2nd Lt. Kenneth Grady Russell
431st Bomb Squadron, 11th Bomb Group, 7th Air Force
|Ralph Forrest Russell was born on July 6, 1922 in Independence, Missouri. Ralph moved with his family to Claremont,
California in 1934. Ralph enlisted into the United States Army Air Corps on November 16, 1942, just a day after his
brother attempt to enter into the flight training program before eventually being accepted and moving forward with his
military training. Ralph would find himself classified as a gunner and would go on to serve as both an assistant engineer
and an aerial gunner with the 824th Bomb Squadron, 484th Bomb Group, 15th Air Force in Southern Italy.
In the large number of letters among his grouping, one can see that Ralph was no different than his brother Kenneth.
Ralph was a loving son and brother who always made time to sit down and write to his family and keep them close,
despite being so far away and while receiving exhausting training.
Following the death of Kenneth in combat in the South Pacific, Ralph expresses deep emotion in memory of his brother,
while maintaining a determination to get overseas and do his part in the war. The letters show an extremely patriotic
family, determined to do their part and help win the war against the Axis.
|The Western Union telegram Ralph received from his mother, advising him of his
brother's death over Wake Island on May 18, 1944.
|Two photographs from the ceremony of the 484th Bomb Group receiving the Presidential Unit Citation.
The photograph to the left shows General Twining (Commanding Officer of the 15th AF) and an aide
applying the citation streamer to the colors. The photograph to the right shows members of the 484th BG
during the ceremony.
I am still researching Ralph Russell's military career. In looking among the large number of letters and military paperwork in the grouping, I have found several pieces of paper which show
that Ralph Russell flew with the following crew for an unknown period of time:
1st Lt. Kenneth W. Spieth - Pilot
2nd Lt. Dudley Bayne - Co-Pilot
Lt. John O. Ferris Jr. - Navigator
Lt. Albert E. Vroome - Bombardier
Cpl. Kenneth P. Benediot - Radio Operator
Cpl. Donald M. Logan - Asst. Radio Operator
Cpl. Gerry A. Rocheleau - Armorer-Gunner
Sgt. William A. Monerief - Engineer
Cpl. James A. Burroughs - Asst. Armorer/Gunner
Pfc. Ralph F. Russell - Asst. Engineer
If anyone has any additional information concerning Ralph or Kenneth Russell, or any of the other crewmen listed here, please feel free to contact me, I would
enjoy hearing from you and adding to this story.
|Several photographs of the same B-24, showing a tail serial number of #449941. The B-24 shows the correct tail
markings for the 484th Bomb Group and is marked with "22" in several places on the fuselage. I am still looking for
additional information regarding this aircraft and determine if this was the aircraft Ralph Russell served on.
|Left: What the boys were fighting for! Three unknown
beauties in bathing suits lounging on the trunk lid of a car,
believed to be Ralph's civilian vehicle.
Above: Ralph and Kenneth's mother worked in the Douglas
Aircraft factory in Long Beach, California during the war.
Above is an "E" award, given to her during her time with
Douglas. The "E" award is still attached to its issue card and
is complete as shown.
|Ralph's 824th Bomb Squadron Enlisted Mens Club coupon book, showing
Ralph's rank at the time as that of S/Sgt. To the right is Ralph's Army
Exchange Service Ration Card, showing his assignment to the 824th Bomb
|This page is dedicated to the Russell family and their patriotic service and sacrifice to our
great nation during WWII. Also visit the page dedicated to the military service of Eloise Ann
Russell, Kenneth and Ralph's sister by clicking HERE.
Professional World War 2 and Korean War Casualty Search will
perform a full search of military records on any U.S. armed forces
veteran from the Army, Air Corps, Navy or USMC who were World
War 2 or Korean War casualties including killed, Missing in Action
(MIA), or Prisoner of War (POW).If you are looking for information
related to US airmen or a specific aircraft from WWII, contact
William L. Beigel at the link above for detailed research.
|Above left: The original Army Air Corps issued military police baton carried by Kenneth Russell while serving as a
military police officer. A special thanks to Bob at Vintage Productions (Huntington Beach) for locating this item for