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Captain Robert F. Meeker
A-20 Pilot, 417th Bomb Group, 673rd Bomb Squadron
by Barbara Graham Hammaker (Niece of Capt. Robert F. Meeker)

Robert F. Meeker was born February 25, 1920 in Tiffin, Ohio. He was nicknamed "Rufe" by his friends and grew up in Lakewood, Ohio, and attended Ohio State for two years. On April 21, 1942 he enlisted in the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as a private in the Air Corps with serial number 15130196. After completing flight training, he earned his wings and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant with serial number O-804705. He He was trained on the Douglas A-20 Havoc in Oklahoma and California before being sent overseas to the Pacific.

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Wartime Service
Meeker was stationed in New Guinea during 1943-1944 and Luzon in the Philippines in 1945. As documents have become declassified, my mom and I learned that my uncle was actively flying low level bombing missions over the Philippines, and also rescuing downed aviators from the Japanese. Mom stated that he had three A-20's in total, due to the tails getting shot by enemy flack. A-20 "Boogie Queen" was one of the planes, but the one photo that I can see his name on looks like a name of "Madame Ch-" (that is all that shows in the picture, unfortunately).

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R&R in Australia
Due to exhaustion from flying double the normal required sorties, he was sent to Australia for R & R. At that point, he wrote that he was so exhausted that he could barely hold the pen to write anymore. He was set to return to New Guinea to collect his things to now come home for a much deserved rest in the United States.

Missing In Action (MIA)
On March 27, 1945 Meeker boarded the fateful C-47 "Windy City" 43-16011 flight. It is interesting that my Mom stated that Uncle Bob had written a letter to the family stating that he was way-laid extra days in Australia because of engine trouble with "Windy City", and that they had to wait until parts could come available. He also stated that he "would not ever have flown one of those buckets of bolts" (C-47s)! That letter reached Mom's family after Uncle Bob was lost.

Meeker was officially declared dead on March 27, 1945. He earned the Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster. Because this flight was over a non-combat area, none of the crew or passengers earned the Purple Heart when they were killed.

NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Robert F. Meeker
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Robert F. Meeker
FindAGrave - Capt Robert F Meeker (tablets of the missing, photos)

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