William Harry Hoyt was born at Andes, New York, the son of William Harry Hoyt and Mary Etta Hitt.
Memorialized at Manila American Cemetery, Philippines
90th Bombardment Group, 320th Bombardment Squadron, 5th Air Force
Aircraft B-24D-5-CO with serial number 41-23772, nicknamed Little Eva, took off from 7 Mile Drome near Port Moreby on a bombing mission against a Japanese convoy bound for Lae, sighted east of Finscahfen in the Huon Gulf. This B-24 was given the convoy’s position via radio and flew to the target at 7,000 feet through broken clouds and did not spot the convoy until they overflew it.
As the B-24 made its bomb run, it was attacked by eight escorting Zeros attacking in pairs, making seven or eight passes head on. The nose gun ceased firing and a shell severely wounded pilot Altman in his head and also hurt the radio operator Brigham. Taking the controls, co-pilot Smith dove down to 2,000′ and tried to evade the Zeros in clouds, but they continued to damage the bomber, setting the no. 3 engine on fire, but it was extinguished using the the fire extinguisher, The no. 2 engine also caught fire and was extinguished, but the propeller would not feather. Smith called for the crew to prepare to ditch, but responded.
Smith and the wounded Altman tried to make a smooth water landing, but suffered a violent impact, submerging the nose section. Smith was able to escape through the cockpit window and shouted for others, but no one responded. Swimming to a floating life raft, the plane sank presumably with the rest of the crew aboard. Smith alone rowed to shore.
Pilot, 2nd Lt Dayton S. Altman
Co-Pilot, Lt Norman D. Smith
Navigator, 2nd Lt. William H. Hoyt, Jr.
Bombardier, 2nd Lt Herbert H. Gardner
Crew, T/Sgt Freddie K. Affeld
Radio Operator, T/Sgt Francis M. Brigham
Crew, S/Sgt Vincent H. Calise
Crew, S/Sgt John F. Ratliff
Crew, S/Sgt Francis H. Bogucki
We are grateful to James Greenberg for the photo and the following profile of 2nd Lt. Hoyt’s life:
William H. Hoyt Jr. was born on November 6, 1915 in Andes, New York. His father was William H. Hoyt Sr. (1889-1942) and his mother was Mary E. Hitt (1893-1980). They were married on October 2, 1912 in Delaware County, New York. In 1920 the family, including William’s younger brother, Warren M. Hoyt (1919-1990), was living in Oneonta, New York. William Sr. worked initially as a machine helper in the Delaware and Hudson railroad shop and later as a steam shovel operator. Based on the New York State 1925 Census and the 1930 U.S. Census, the family continued to reside in Oneonta. They were located at 69 Ford Avenue.
After graduating from Oneonta High School in 1934, William Jr. moved to Charlottesville, Virginia to attend the University of Virginia. The 1940 U.S. Census shows that he was residing at the university in 1935. The 1936, 1937, and 1938 university yearbooks, named “Corks & Curls,” list him as being in the College of Arts and Sciences. He was in the university’s premed program according to his obituary. The 1936 and 1937 yearbooks identify his hometown as Oneonta, New York but the 1938 yearbook has his hometown being Chattanooga, Tennessee. He was at the university for three years. The 1940 U.S. Census also indicates that his parents were still residing in Oneonta in 1935. However, based on 1937, 1938, and 1941 city directories and the 1940 U.S. Census his parents had moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee in 1937. His father was working for a company that was involved with the TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority) project. In 1942, after his father’s death on July 9, William Jr. and his brother Warren were staying with their mother in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Both William and Warren were in the U.S. Army at the time and were on temporary leave.
William Jr. enlisted in the Army on November 5, 1941, almost one month before Pearl Harbor. Initially, he was in the Army Med Corps but transferred to the Army Air Force. On August 22, 1942, 319 officer candidates graduated from the Marine Corps School at Quantico, Virginia and were commissioned as second lieutenants in the U.S. Marine Corps. William Jr. was one of these candidates. After being commissioned he was in the Army Air Corps assigned to the 90th Bomber Group Heavy, 320th Bomber Squadron. By 1943 William Jr. was in Papua, New Guinea at the 7-Mile Airfield, located roughly seven miles inland from Port Moresby. On Saturday, January 9, 1943, he was the navigator on the nine-man crew of the B-24D #41-23772, nicknamed “Little Eva.” Little Eva took off from the 7-Mile Airfield on a bombing mission against a Japanese convoy bound for Lae in the Huon Gulf. The straightest flight path between 7-Mile Airfield and the Huon Gulf required crossing through cloud covered, mountainous terrain. (See accompanying map in the Image Gallery.)
Little Eva had the convoy’s position via radio and flew to the target at 7,000 feet though broken clouds. However, it overflew the convoy. As it turned to make its bomb run, it came under attack by eight Zeros escorting the convoy. The Zeros attacked in pairs and made seven or eight head on passes at the Little Eva. A problem occurred with the nose gun and it ceased firing. A shell severely wounded the pilot in his head and also hurt the radio operator. The co-pilot took control of the plane and moved it down to 2,000 feet, hoping to evade the Zeros in the clouds. However, Little Eva was already severely damage. The no. 3 engine was on fire but by using a fire extinguisher it was put out. Engine no. 2 also caught fire and was extinguished but the propeller would not feather. The co-pilot informed the crew to prepare to ditch. He and the wounded pilot attempted a smooth water landing but encountered a violent impact with the nose section submerging. The co-pilot escaped through a cockpit window and tried with no success to contact other crew members. The co-pilot swam to a floating life raft and rowed to shore. The Little Eva sank and rest of the crew including William H. Hoyt Jr. perished at sea.
William H. Hoyt Jr. is memorialized at the Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery, Fort Bonifacio, Manila, Philippines. This is an American Battle Monuments Commission site. William H. Hoyt Jr. was 28 years old.
- Rank: Second Lieutenant
- Date of birth: 6 November 1915
- Date of death: 9 January 1943
- County: Hamilton
- Service Branch: Army/Army Air Forces
- Division/Assignment: 320th Bomber Squadron, 90th Bomber Group, Heavy
- Theater: Pacific
- Conflict: World War II
- Awards: Air Medal, Purple Heart
- Burial/Memorial Location: Manila American Cemetery, Fort Bonifacio, Manila, Philippines
- Location In Memorial: Pillar XI, Middle Panel
- Contact us to sponsor William H. Hoyt Jr.
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