2LT Kenneth Cameron Lobdell
Army Air Corps, 99th Bomb Squad, 9th Bombardment Group
Killed in Action 30 March, 1945
Tinian Island, Marianas, South Pacific
-- Joy Mary Wallace --
My Father, Kenneth Cameron Lobdell, died March 30, 1945, three months
before I was born. My parents met when my Dad came to Seattle to be
trained as a flight engineer for the B29. One weekend they both attended a
USO-sponsored ski trip where their paths crossed. They fell in love and
had a big military wedding on May 14, 1944, in Seattle, before moving to
Denver, where my Dad helped train more men to fly B29s. When he was sent
to Tinian, my Mother moved back home with her parents in Seattle. He died
months later. My Mother never skied again, and under the circumstances, I
have always been surprised that she named me Joy.
Daddy Ken (my Mother's name for him) was the only child of Eva and Gershia
Lobdell and grew up in Lebanon, NH, where there is a memorial to him in
the Congregational Church. He was born March 24, 1919. He attended the
University of New Hampshire, played in the band there, and received his
engineering degree in 1941. In 1943, he enlisted in the Army Air Corp,
went to officers training at Yale where he received his commission on Feb.
24, 1944 and his wings in August 1944.
My Mother told me that after he went overseas, he wrote to her about
problems (malfunctions) they were having with the B29s. Before his death,
he completed five bombing missions over Japan. On March 30, 1945, his
plane took off and started having problems. They crashed before they could
turn around and land. He died 6 days after his 26th birthday. James
Landgraf, radar operator, was the only man to survive the crash. When the
war ended, he visited all the parents of the dead crew members.
My Father was first buried in the American Cemetery on Tinian Island. His
body was returned to the United States in 1948, when my Grandparents had
him buried in Hartland, VT.
I know that my Father was well educated for his time. He was an artist,
creative woodworker, a musician and generally a clever man. I know that he
was the love and light in my Mother's life that was never replaced by
anyone else. Although she remarried when I was one year old, that special
place in her heart for Daddy Ken always remained. She wrote at least once
a week to his Mother, until my Mom died in 1978.
I was lucky to have Grandma Eva, Daddy Ken's mother, in my life because
she helped me to see him as a person. Someone I wish I had known and with
whom I lived. There was a part of Grandma that never healed from loosing
her only child. She talked about my Dad as if he died yesterday, instead
of years ago. We often went together to visit his grave in the small
cemetery in Hartland, VT. She told me many stories about his childhood,
growing up, college days, his short life as a professional engineer in
Delaware, and his enlistment into the Army Air Corp. Because she saved
everything, I now have letters from my Dad, school report cards, piles of
pictures, and other artifacts from his life. I pray that Grandma Eva is
finally with him again now. My life would have been so different if he had
returned home to us.