F/O Howard E. "Frenchy" LeCompte, Jr.
8th AAF, 306th Bomb Group, 367th Bomb Squadron
Died 4/14/45, Isle of Man
-- Sylvia Ann LeCompte Torbett --
Howard Edgar LeCompte, Jr., the only son, born September 19, 1920, to Josephine and Howard LeCompte. Born and
raised in Baltimore, Maryland, he graduated from the Baltimore Polytechnic Institute in 1939 and was employed
in a machine shop at Sparrows Point.
He enlisted in the Army Air Corp. in 1943 and was sent to Kutztown, PA for College Training Detachment with the
338th. He was then sent to Ellington Field, Texas for Navigational school, and met his soon to be bride, Sybil Parker.
On the day he graduated and was commissioned a Flight Officer, August 26, 1944, they were married. Howard was sent
to Tampa, Florida to be assigned with an air crew for training in the B-17 for 3 months, he was assigned with Walter
"Bud" Brasch and Robert Grunska, who were pilots, and Dick Weishar who was a bombardier.
They finally made it to New York, where they sailed on the "Isle de France" bound for England and their new home at
Thurleigh. "Frenchy," as he had been named by friends, was stationed with the 367th Squadron of the 306th Bombardment
Group. He flew 27 missions before being stood down until his promotion orders came through. He wrote home often and
with good reason; his new bride was pregnant with their first child and due in June, 1945.
"Frenchy was an upbeat, friendly outgoing type of guy. He was a hard worker, was an excellent navigator and frequently
would volunteer for missions he was not scheduled to fly, because you gained points by flying missions and the sooner
you got a predetermined number of points, the sooner you went home, which was his primary goal." -- Robert Grunska in
a letter dated August, 2000.
On April 13 he wrote home once again, considerably upset at the Army for not letting him fly missions until his
promotion came through, but was happy that he would be meeting with his boyhood friend, Sgt. Robert "Speed" Jones
of the 339th Squadron, 96th Bomb Group, for a little R & R in Black Pool soon.
On April 14, 1945, a crew was put together to take some of the squadron officers to Ireland for an R & R trip. A quick
briefing took place to discuss the weather conditions and flight plan. They were to leave Thurleigh at 1500 hours and
fly at 5000 feet, above the bad weather pattern, and arrive at Langford Lodge, Ireland at 1700 hours.
"Combined Operations" #42-37840 departed Thurleigh as scheduled, but never made it to their destination; at 1630 hours
the bomber, flying at an altitude of 350 feet, crashed on the Isle of Man, killing all 11 aboard:
A memorial service took place at Madingley Cemetery in Cambridge, where the burials took place. Included in the 11
killed was one Red Cross civilian whose casket was adorned with flowers. Frenchy's boyhood pal, Robert, attended the
services and sent pictures back to the family.
- 1LT Robert A. Vieille, Pilot
- 2LT Collins E. Liersch, Co-Pilot
- F/O Howard E. LeCompte, Jr., Navigator
- S/SGT Chester F. Smalczewski, Radio
- T/SGT Ernest E. Gallion, Engineer
- 2LT Austin J. Parrish
- M/SGT Derrell S. Jones
- T/SGT William C. Starbuck
- CAPT George E. Cubberly, Squadron Executive Officer
- CAPT Wilbur B. Butterfield, Squadron Operations Officer
- Emily H. Rea, Red Cross
On June 17, 1945, Howard's only child was born, Sylvia Ann. The family never discussed the accident or Howard, the
thoughts were too painful for everyone. So now, almost 50 years later, we have started our own search for answers and
friends. This pays tribute to him; Father, Grandfather, Great-Grandfather and HERO!