Sunday, February 11, 2018

In honor of Army Air Corps 2nd Lt. Howard M. Oden

Jack Williamson, of Winter Park, Florida --- but originally from Williamson of course --- decided recently to entrust four items related to his late uncle, U.S. Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. Howard M. Oden (1922-1943), to the Lucas County Historical Society.

These arrived safely Saturday afternoon --- on one of southern Iowa's coldest and most snow-covered days --- in two huge FedEx cartons. We're delighted to have them and they will go out to the museum on Monday, after the driveway is cleared. In the meantime, I have custody. My photographs of of the items --- propped on chairs in the living room --- are not the best; I'll do better at the museum.

In addition to the portrait of Lt. Oden, Jack shared the three-star service banner that was displayed in the home of his grandparents, Preston H. and Olive (Cain) Oden, in honor of their three sons in the service --- the gold star represents the sacrifice of Howard Oden; the blue stars, the service of  U.S. Army 1st Lt. Loren F. Oden and U.S. Army Sgt. Donald B. Oden. Lt. Oden's aviator crush cap and a depiction of the cockpit of a B-24 Liberator like the one he was aboard when he was killed complete the collection.

Lt. Oden, born May 18, 1922, at Chariton, was a 1939 graduate of Russell High School who attended Parsons College for two years and then worked in Washington, D.C., for a year before enlisting on April 10, 1942, in the U.S. Army Air Corps.

He was deployed to North Africa with the 448th Bombardment Group on Nov. 20, 1943, flying a B-24 Liberator. On 8 December 1943, he and other airmen were killed when their plane exploded during a training flight near Marrakech, Morocco. Recovered remains were repatriated during 1949. Ten --- including Howard --- share a common grave at Zachary Taylor National Cemetery in Louisville, Kentucky.

The Chariton Leader, Aug. 23, 1949

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