Sgt Cameron Died non Battle
Sergeant Cameron served with the 470th Bomb Group, 800th Bomb Squadron aboard U.S. Army Air Corps B-24E Liberator #42-7007. While on a training flight out of Mountain Home Army Air Base, his bomber had a mid-air collision with B-24J #42-73235 over the Sawtooth National Forest and crashed in the mountains, northwest of Ketchum, Idaho. All sixteen servicemembers aboard both planes were killed.
William Frank “Billie” Cameron was born in Morristown, Hamblen County, Tennessee on 3 June 1924. He graduated Morristown High School, Class of 1942 and started work with the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), C&M Division in Morristown. His parents moved to Johnson City, Washington County, Tennessee and he transferred with the TVA to stay with them. It was here that he decided to follow in his older brother’s footsteps and join the United States Army Air Forces.
He enlisted at Camp Forrest, Tullahoma, Tennessee on 12 December 1942 and was dispatched to Keesler Army Air Field, Biloxi, Mississippi for Basic Training. After completing Boot Camp, he was off to Harlingen Army Air Field, Harlingen, Texas to attend the Harlingen Aerial Gunnery School, HAGS for short. He learned all about the Browning M2 .50 caliber machine gun and how to lead and hit moving targets, other aircraft in the air. William graduated the HAGS and was promoted to the rank of Sergeant. Now, it’s time to start his flight training phase in a bomber.
Sergeant Cameron received orders to Mountain Home Army Air Field, Mountain Home, Idaho to their Operational Training Unit. He was further assigned to the 800th Bomb Squadron, 470th Bomb Group, 2nd Air Force. He would now learn what would be required of him as a crewman aboard an operational bomber. In a break between training phases, his flight was given leave and were allowed to return home for a visit. William arrived Johnson City the first week of October 1943 to see his parents and relatives in Morristown. After four short days, he returned to Mountain Home to continue and finish his training.
It is now two weeks later at 1145 hours (11:45am) on 23 October 1943, William is aboard B-24E Liberator #42-7007 manning his machine gun. They’re practicing formation flying and how to protect one another from enemy fighter aircraft when the unthinkable happens. Another bomber (B-24J #42-73235) also on this training flight collided with his over the Sawtooth National Forest. One bomber’s wing was sheared off and both ended up crashing in the mountains of rural Elmore County, northwest of Ketchum, Idaho. There were no survivors of the sixteen aircrew members aboard both bombers.
William’s military escort home is Lieutenant Robert N. Hamilton, also of Johnson City and also stationed at Mountain Home Army Air Field. His service is held at the Statzer Funeral Home in Morristown and he’s interred at the Bethesda Presbyterian Church Cemetery, Row 8, Grave, 6 in Russellville, Hamblen County, Tennessee with full military honors. William is 19 years old.
William’s the son of Carl Herman Cameron, Senior and Cora Lee Bartley. Carl, Senior served in France during World War I in the United States Army with Company G, 34th Infantry Regiment, 7th Division. William’s brother: Carl Herman Cameron, Junior served in the United States Army Air Forces during World War II as a Flight Engineer/Top Turret Gunner with the 334th Bomb Squadron, 95th Bomb Group, 8th Air Force in England. His B-17F Flying Fortress #42-30219 was shot up over Germany by German Fighter aircraft and he along with two other aircrew members bailed out. Carl spent nearly 21 months as a Prisoner of War in Stalag Luft 3 in Sagan, Poland. This is the “Great Escape” prison camp that the movie “The Great Escape” story is based on.
Photo submitted by Allen D. Jackson, USAF (Ret)
- Rank: Sergeant
- Date of birth: 3 June 1924
- Date of death: 23 October 1943
- County: Hamblen
- Hometown: Morristown
- Service Branch: Army/Army Air Forces
- Division/Assignment: 470th Bomber Group, 800th Bomber Squadron
- Conflict: World War II
- Burial/Memorial Location: Bethesda Cemetery, Morristown, Hamblen County, TN
- Location In Memorial: Pillar X, Top Panel
- Contact us to sponsor William F. Cameron
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