SGT Ernest Gilbert Radcliff
55th Troop Carrier Squadron,
375th Troop Carrier Group
Lost 5/26/45 between San Marcelino, Luzon and Peleilu
-- Patricia Arlene Temte --
Ernest Gilbert Radcliff was born at home in Dexter, Kansas on November 22,
1912, to Jessie Brown Radcliff and John Harrison Radcliff. He was the oldest
in a family of 4 children, brother Mel and sisters Fran and Nadine.
He grew up in Dexter and graduated from Cedar Vale High School. The family
was blessed with musical talent, and Ernie sang and played the violin. My
uncle and aunts tell me that he loved popcorn and Western novels, and that
he had a beautiful smile. He was a caring son and big brother, much loved
He married Bessie Arlene Walker of Bluff City, Kansas on September 5, 1938
at his parents home in Wichita, Kansas. Patricia Arlene Radcliff, his only
child, was born July 16, 1939.
Ernie joined the Army Air Corps on February 10, 1943. He wanted to become a
pilot like his younger brother Mel, but at 30, Ernie was too old for pilot
training. Instead he entered the glider training program and was assigned to
the Glider Pilot Replacement Squadron, Hondo, Texas until that program was
discontinued. He earned his wings as a radio operator at Sedalia Field,
Missouri and was assigned to the 55th Squadron of the 375th Troop Carrier
Group. In February 1945, he was sent to Biak, New Guinea, and then to San
Marcelino, Luzon and finally to Porac near Clark Field, Luzon.
What happened to my father will probably never be known. Doug Davis, his
tent mate, told me that he volunteered for the routine flight on May 26,
1945. The C46 took off at daybreak bound for Peleilu. It never arrived. The
aircraft was not found, and in February 1946, my father was officially
From the squadron history, May 1945: "Gloom was cast over the squadron with
the required submittal of a report listing the first 55th casualties of this
war -- through the loss of a crew of five, 2nd Lts. William B. Pemberton,
Edward Y. Ong, and Thomas J. O'Brien; S/Sgt. James J. Lyerly, and Sgt.
Ernest Radcliff, missing on an operational flight, 26 May, from Luzon to
Peleliu." The men of this crew were the only casualties of the 55th Squadron
My father is listed on the Wall of the Missing, Manila American Cemetery,
Philippines. A memorial marker next to his parents' graves at Mt. Hope
Cemetery, Topeka, Kansas, bears his name. So much was lost when that plane
went down - Ernie Radcliff - husband, son, brother, father, uncle, now
grandfather and great grandfather. And four other young men whose families
will forever grieve.
My father touches our life and the lives of our daughter and grandchildren
each day. In them we see his face, his personality and his great love of
people, life and creation. God bless you Ernie Radcliff, how I wish I could
have known you.