Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Bryant M. Loftis (1920-1943)

Bryant M. Loftis (1920-1943)

Jan 12, 2010 - 06:36:15 pm CST, The Caswell Messenger (Yanceyville, North Carolina)
Grateful to Meet: Wall Brings Researcher, Family Together

By Angela Evans (Managing Editor)

Memories. Pain. Closure. Pride.

News from long ago and far away brought mixed emotions to a family of Caswell natives gathered at Stratford House in Danville on Thursday. Members of the Loftis family, Kodell Loftis, Agnes Patterson, and Elree Loftis, along with a niece, Sandra Creighton (whose mother is the Loftis' sister), originally from Shady Grove Road, met with a student from the Netherlands to learn details of the death of their uncle Bryant Loftis, who died in a plane crash in 1943, during WWII. Elger Abbink, 28, of Groningen, in the Netherlands, explained the unusual circumstances spanning decades and thousands of miles that brought the group together. "I've always been interested in the second World War and history and before I came to visit Danville this week, I was browsing through a history book and saw a picture of the wreckage of a plane that crashed during the second World War," Abbink said. That plane, he later learned, crashed only about 15 miles from his home, and carried a crew member from Danville, Va.

Abbink was visiting Danville recently to see his girlfriend, Traci White, whom he met while she was studying abroad. He decided to go to the Veterans Memorial wall in Dan Daniel Park to look for the Danville crew member's name. There, he met Dave Newman, with the Veterans Memorial, who told Abbink he could probably set up a meeting with the soldier's relatives. Lawrence McFall, also of the Veterans Memorial, has researched all the names on the wall and assisted with confirming the crew member in question was Bryant Loftis, and setting up the meeting with Loftis' family. "We're trying to make these names come to life out there," Newman said. "To a history class going around, it's just another name on the brick or on the wall. "If we can tell these generations to come that this was a life, and he had a family; and he died to serve - we call it the price of freedom. This is what we are trying to perpetuate." "The wall has been the catalyst for all this," said McFall, explaining how his information, along with Abbink's brought closure to a family after nearly 70 years. "This is the ultimate, to get the researcher and the family together," he said. "This is the icing on the cake."

Abbink said he was able to tell the family what happened to the plane from a local historian's accounts of plane crashes during the war. "He wrote at least six or seven books about crashes in the area," Abbink said. "He tried to find out as much information as he could at the time, and that's before the Internet; so he was writing post cards to people to get information." Abbink said there is an eyewitness account of Loftis' crash in the book. His plane, Abbink said, was attacked by a group of German fighters. "It was on fire and a few seconds after that it exploded," Abbink said. "There were only two survivors and there were 10 men on board." Family members said they were grateful that Abbink would take the time to meet with them and share his findings. "He has a picture of the pilot that shot the plane down," Kodell Loftis said, fighting back tears as he explained that with the information, he now knows what his uncle went through. Abbink said he was happy to have the opportunity to express to the family how grateful he is for what men like Loftis did, and how much people in Europe appreciate all the effort that the allied soldiers made and the sacrifices that were made. "To me it really feels like it's the least that I can do," he said. "I don't think I could ever do what people like Bryant Loftis did."

North Carolina Birth Index, 1800-2000
Name: Bryant M Loftis
Date of Birth: 17 May 1920
Birth County: Guilford
Parent1 Name: D Filmore Loftis
Roll Number: B_C046_66001
Volume: 8
Page: 1444

1930 United States Federal Census
Name: Bryant M Loftis
Home in 1930: Stony Creek, Caswell, North Carolina
Age: 9
Estimated birth year: abt 1921
Relation to Head of House: Son
Father's Name: D Fillmore
Mother's Name: Annie W
Race: White
Household Members: Name Age
D Fillmore Loftis 59
Annie W Loftis 53
Curtiss W Loftis 14
Bryant M Loftis 9

World War II and Korean Conflict Veterans Interred Overseas
Name: Bryant M Loftis
Inducted From: Virginia
Rank: Staff Sergeant
Combat Organization: 331st Bomber Squadron 94th Bomber
Death Date: 21 May 1943
Monument: Ardennes, France
Last Known Status: Buried
U.S. Awards: Purple Heart Medal

WWI, WWII, and Korean War Casualty Listings
Name: Bryant M. Loftis
Death Date: 21 May 1943
Cemetery: Ardennes American Cemetery
Cemetery Burial Plot: Plot C Row 36 Grave 21
Cemetery City: Neupre
Cemetery Country: Belgium
WAR: World War II
Awards: Purple Heart
Title: Staff Sergeant
Rank: Staff Sergeant
Service: U.S. Army Air Forces
Service ID: 33120326
Division: 331st Bomber Squadron, 94th Bomber Group, Heavy
Data Source: World War II Honor Roll

Mentioned in the foregoing article were Kodell Loftis, Agnes Loftis Patterson, Elree Loftis, and Sandra Creighton, daughter of Alease Loftis Creighton. Kodell Joseph Loftis, Agnes E. Loftis, Percy Elree Loftis, and Alease E. Loftis are siblings, being the children of Robert Percy Loftis (1902-1960) and Carrie Norman Rumley Loftis (1902-1970).

Their father, Robert Percy Loftis, was a brother of Bryant M. Loftis (1920-1943), who was killed in World War II.

The article fails to mention that Kodell Joseph Loftis and Percy Elree Loftis also served in World War II (as did their first cousins Page A. Loftis and Yancey Clifford Loftis:

World War II Service Record
Name: Kodell Joseph Loftis
Date Entered Service: 11 May 1944
Branch: Army, Squadron H., 126th A.A.F.B.U.
Parent's Name: Mr. & Mrs. Robert P. Loftis
Theater of Operation: Asiatic-Pacific
Medals Earned: American Theater, Asiatic-Pacific, Good Conduct, World War II Victory
Discarged: Fort Bragg, North Carolina, 5 June 1946
Rank: Corporal

Source: Service Record Book of Men and Women of Yanceyville, N.C., and Community, Sponsored by the V.F.W. Post No. 7316 (1947-1949).

World War II Service Record
Date Entered Service: 27 February 1943
Parent's Name: Mr. & Mrs. R. P. Loftis
Medals Earned: Asiatic-Pacific with five Stars, Victory, Philippine Liberation with two Stars.
Discharged: February 2, 1946

Source: Service Record Book of Men and Women of Yanceyville, N.C., and Community, Sponsored by the V.F.W. Post No. 7316 (1947-1949).

Military Service Record
Date Entered Service: 15 October 1942
Service Branch: Air Corps, 375th Fighter Squadron, 361st Fighter Group
Training Stations: Fort Bragg, North Carolina; Atlantic City, New Jersey; Richmond, Virginia; New York; Washington, D.C.; Millville, New Jersey
Parent's Name: Thomas K. Loftis
Embarkation Date: 23 November 1943
Theater of Operations: European, Normandy, Central Europe, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes, Air Offensive of Europe
Medals Earned: Good Conduct, six Bronze Stars
Date Returned to US: 1 August 1945
Discharged: Ashford General Hospital, September 28, 1945
Rank: Private First Class
Present Occupation: Farming
Source: Service Record Book of Men and Women of Yanceyville, N.C., and Community, Sponsored by the V.F.W. Post No. 7316 (1947-1949).

World War II Service Record
Date Entered Service: 16 January 1945
Branch: Navy
Parent's Name: Mr. T. K. Loftis
Medals Earned: American, Asiatic-Pacific, Victory
Discharged: Long Beach, California, October 3, 1946
Rating: Fireman, Second Class

Source: Service Record Book of Men and Women of Yanceyville, N.C., and Community, Sponsored by the V.F.W. Post No. 7316 (1947-1949).


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