For Momma - Memorial Slide Show (Turn Playlist Music off before watching)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Going Home - The Unexpected - Part Nine

As my family gathered in Nebraska it became a time of reflection for my Dad, his brothers and sister. For you must understand that this was not a normal family reunion.

When the news arrived that Willis was missing in action on November 10, 1943 it was devastating. Is he dead? Is he alive? Has he been captured by the Japanese? Is he being tortured? For families with loved ones MIA it is torture, the not knowing for sure, the hope that they will be found – it's all to painful and makes it difficult to really carry on. In conversations with my grandmother years later she expressed to me that she still held out hope that he was alive somewhere. Although I think she mentally accepted he was gone her heart would not accept it. A letter written by my grandfather to his missing son tells of the longing to hear from him that he is alive and well.

November 21, 1943

Upland, November 21, 1943
Dear Willis Evers,
Once more I am going to write to you and see what can be found out of your whereabouts, for on the 10th of Nov. we were advised you were missing since Nov. 2nd over New Britton, But. Dorothy Dwinel says she can not believe it saying that the 4th her husband said you were made 2nd Lieutenant and everything was well. Now what shall we think Missing in action can mean many a different thing. The suspense for us is great in not knowing what has happened at Boganvile as 14 were reported gone down on the 2nd day of November and 2 of them had reported again some time later rather came back so to say. Just wonder has some ones name bin changed with yours of what may it be that gives this big scare and grief. We have bin hoping and praying for your safe return ever since and oh how we would like to hear or see a sense of life from you agin. The account of you from the 25th must have bin printed from coast to coast also on the radio networks.
Now please if it is possible for you to let us hear of you agin as the suspense is terrible and on our nerves.
Please let us know what has taken place out there......
Your Father and Mother
John Evers
Upland Neb

On November 2, 1943, F/O Willis F. Evers was flying wingman to Louis Schriber near Simpson Harbor during the battle over Rabaul. F/O Evers was shot down and died that day defending his country and his fellow pilots. In the book “Attack and Conquer – The 8th Fighter Group in World War II” written by John C. Stanaway and Lawrence J. Hickey a description of my Uncle's plane being shot down tells the story. November 2, 1943 was referred to as “Bloody Tuesday” - part of the account goes as follows:

“ Louis Schriber and his wingman, Flight Officer Willis
Evers, were behind Cragg over Simpson Harbor and followed him down in the bounce
on the climbing Zeros. Schriber's burst missed the Zero he had aimed at, but he
could see Evers set fire to his target and the Zero fell off in a spin to crash
in the harbor. Schriber kept diving and fired at another Zero which began
smoking but disappeared when the P38 passed over it.When he looked around
again Schriber could not find Evers, so he decided to leave the area and get out
into St. George's Channel to the southeast. Other P38's covering were out there
and he joined them. Another Zero had popped up on the way and Schriber shot its
tail assembly off.”

December 2, 1943 a letter arrives from Lt. Allen Hill and Lt. Dwinell - and the hope of Willis' return begins to fade..........

No one actually saw his plane crash and if it did where was it? It would be two more years before Willis would be listed as dead.

So why are we gathering 47 years later? Join me as I continue the story in Part 10........
(do not reproduce letters of pictures - they are privately held)

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