USAAF 8th Air Force KIA Purple Heart

USAAF 8th Air Force KIA Purple Heart

Code: P23607

SOLD

Purple Heart medal to S/Sgt. James Alvin Deshotel (14063277) of 330th Bombardment Squadron, 93rd Bombardment Group, 8th AAF based at RAF Hardwick/AAF Station 104, Norfolk.  He was born on 18th May 1920 to Sidney and Dora Deshotel in the Parish of St. Landry, Louisiana, USA.  He completed 4 years at high school and enlisted on 30th September 1941 joining the AAF and training as an airgunner.  Private Deshotel flew combat sorties as a waistgunner on Consolidated B-24  'Liberator' bombers.  On 18th March 1943 he and his crewmates took off in B-24, D-1-CO, 41-23666, named 'Hot Freight', assigned to bomb the port and U-boat building facilities at Vegesack, Germany.  The aircraft, flying at 22,000' in the diamond position of the lead element on this raid, was subjected to flak and frontal attacks from Me 109s, Me110s and Ju88s over the target and crashed near the Kusten Kanal, Wardenburg, Germany.  Initially reported as missing, captured initial German reports later revealed that 7 of the crew : Pilot, 1st Lieut. Howard Edison Kleinsteuber (0-724438); Co-pilot, 2nd Lt. Ralph L Hanson (O-728862); Navigator, 2nd Lieut. Robert B Ward (0-885296); Flight Engineer/Top Turret gunner, S/Sgt Phillip T. Serum Jr. (34231686); S/Sgt. Raymond E Bolle (14066349); Tailgunner, Edwin T Robinson (38013153); Ball Turret gunner, Sgt. John D. Skall (16038668); Bombardier, 1st Lieut. Neil E. Stevens (O-661042); Crew Chief, T/Sgt. Herbert Fred Hastings  (16053383) and Sgt. James A. Deshotel (14063277) all died and were interred in the New Cemetery at Bad-Zwischenahn.  Deshotel was buried in Plot 14c, Grave Number 9-17.
Radio Operator/Airgunner T/Sgt. Louis A. Webb (39163764) survived when he bailed out and landed near Wesermunde. He was captured and became a Prisoner of War, sent to Dulag-Luft Oberursel and then  held at at Stalag 17B.
Early 8th AAF losses like this were not assigned Missing Air Crew Reports (MACR) until the end of the war, this accounts for such high MACR numbers when they are listed prior to mid-1943. 
The Purple Heart medal is presented to service members who have been wounded or killed as a result of enemy action while serving in the U.S. military.  A Purple Heart is a solemn distinction and means a service member has greatly sacrificed themselves, or paid the ultimate price, while in the line of duty.  Sgt. James Deshotel's Purple Heart is in very good condition, numbered on the edge '331455' and engraved on the back to him.  It comes with a separate ribbon bar for the medal in the case of issue.  The medal comes with photocopied research including the initial MACR, translated captured German documents, copies of letters to his parents regarding his initial burial and plans to move the body to an American cemetery.  It appears that six of the B-24 crew were initially buried together and as it was impossible to individually identify their remains, they were placed in 3 caskets and interred in Graves 94, 95, and 96 of Section 85 of Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, St. Louis, Missouri in the early 1950s.  Stock code P23607.