Sgt William E Crowley Name : William E Crowley
Rank : Sergeant
Squadron : 372nd Bomb Squadron
Group : 307th Bomb Group
Entered Service from : Illinois
Date of Birth : 18 August 1921
Date of Death : 15 July 1944
Place of Death : South of Yap Island
In Manila (Philippines) : Walls of the missing
Awards : Air Medal
Purple Heart

William Crowley's Story ...

Sergeant William Crowley was born in Chicago on August 18, 1921, and graduated from St Mel's High School there. He enlisted in the Army in February 1941. While stationed in Biloxi, Mississippi, he married Miriam "Mimi" Poller in August 1942 while he was in radio school at Keesler Field.

William married Miriam "Mimi" Poller in August 1942

Ten months later, Sharon Leigh Crowley was born. William saw his daughter only once, just months before his wish to be assigned 'overseas' had been realized. Mimi remarried a short time after his death

William's daughter ... Sharon Leigh Crowley

William was assigned to the 372nd Bombardment Squadron, 307th Bombardment Group, 13th Air Force, serving in the Pacific Theater. In July his squadron was stationed on Mokerang Field, Los Negros ... This Airbase enabled the U.S. Army Air Force to attack Yap Island. It was a 13 hour round trip to a heavily defended target without friendly fighter cover

ScottyDog, the mascot of the 372nd Bomb Squadron

On 15 July 1944, the planes had taken off from Mokerang Field, Los Negros Island, for yet another mission to bomb Yap Island. On their way back William's B-24J Liberator "the Diedrich Flight"(Serial number 42-73119) collided with another Liberator, approximately 25 miles south of Yap Island in the Carolines. the other Liberator "the Sylor Flight" (Serial number 44-40555.)

Map of the Pacific showing Yap Island

Due to enemy control of the area, no immediate search for survivors was possible. Subsequent searches failed to locate any survivors or bodies. Therefore, the Adjutant General issued a presumptive finding of death on March 30, 1946, for the crews of both planes -- 22 men. There were no survivors in William's plane and neither his body, nor any other member of his crew, was ever recovered. The Diedrich crew was as follows:

        Pilot - 1LT. Anthony Diedrich
        Co-Pilot - 2LT. Robert W. Pommeroy
        Navigator - 2LT. Eugene Garrett
        E - 2LT. Andrew Sekanics
        ROG - S/SGT. Robert Jacobs
        AEG - S/SGT. Kenneth W. Seiler
        AAG - Sergeant William E. Crowley
        CG - Sergeant William E. Moores
        AG/Nose - Corporal Charles F. Reynolds
        AG/Ball - Corporal Clint Hundley
        AG/Tail - Corporal John O. Dunbar Jr.

The crew of the Diedrich Flight

In recognition of his sacrifice, William E Crowley was awarded the Air Medal and the Purple Heart. He is memorialized on the Walls of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery.

The Walls of the missing at Manila cemetery

William's daughter (now) Sharon Crowley Conner arranged a granite plaque to be placed in Ft. Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego, to honor and remeber her dad. Sharon recalls ... "How is it possible to miss someone I've never met? I don't know. But at one o'clock on November 15, 2002, when I first touched 'SGT William E Crowley' on the flat granite plaque I arranged to be placed in Ft. Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego, I missed my dad."

The granite marker in Ft Rosecrans National Cemetery

In 2001, at the urging of her stepfather, William's daughter joined the American World War II Orphans Network (AWON) and began looking for information about her father. She knew from family members that he loved jazz and had green eyes. Sharon Crowley Connor has green eyes and loves jazz. Contacting the AWON proved to be a vital step in bringing her dad "back" into her life ... "back" again after 57 years ...

Sharon has since become an active member of the American WWII Orphans Network, an organization of those whose fathers or other family members did not return from WWII.

AWON is in hopes of finding as many of the 183,000 war orphans as possible so they might support one another in learning as much as possible about their fathers or other family members.

Special thanks to William's daughter Sharon Crowley Conner