Airman 1st Class James Oliver Trosclair
US Air Force
Airman First Class JAMES OLIVER TROSCLAIR, born April 24, 1930, of McKinney, service number AF18378964, was a member of the 307th Heavy Bomb Group of the 371st Bomber Squadron based out of Kadena Air Force Base on the island of Okinawa. Before enlisting in the Air Force, James graduated from McKinney High School in the class of 1949. He was a very popular student, having been chosen as class favorite and Duke of the Valentine Court, and was a member of the McKinney Lions football team. That was at a time when the players wore leather helmets with no face guards.
James was a crewman on a B29-A Superfortress of World War II vintage. Their missions were primarily designed to slow down the North Korean advance in the beginning of the war. Targets included bridges, highways, staging areas for troops and supplies, trains and railroads, anything to help take the pressure off of the ground forces. As the war wore on and the fighting moved further north they would bomb industrial and military installations and cities including Pyonyang, the capitol city of North Korea. While not on missions, back in Okinawa, the crewmen would spend time making belts of fifty-caliber machine gun ammunition for the mounted guns and helping the armament guys fuse the bombs for the next mission.
On September 13, 1952, an attack was conducted by twenty-five B-29s on the generator building at the huge Sui-ho Hydroelectric Plant in North Korea. Air Force B-26s and US Navy planes bombarded the area before and during the raid with low level fragmentation bombs in order to suppress enemy searchlights. They were able to knock out only eight of approximately thirty in operation. Meanwhile four B-29s were orbiting to the east with the mission of jamming the enemy radar. The overall operation was successful in destroying the power plant and rendering it unserviceable. During the raid the enemy retaliated with massive anti-aircraft fire and fighter planes. Only one American plane was lost that night. It was a B-29, tail number 44-86343, James Trosclair’s plane. It was reported to have been hit by fire from an enemy fighter jet and exploded in mid-air over the hydroelectric plant. The plane carried a crew of twelve men and all but one perished in the crash. That man was later returned in a prisoner for prisoner exchange in September of 1953 called the 'Big Switch'. One year and almost five months after his plane was shot down, James Trosclair was declared dead while missing on February 28, 1954.
KOREAN WAR MEDAL
HERITAGE FREEDOM AWARD
The Lion Still Roars
Long, Lost War Hero’s Story Comes Home
Robert Hankins. Reprinted with permission from The Orange Leader.
It would have been his last mission before going
home. But it was just his last mission.
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