Adams County

Lt. Russell E. Bickford

MIA 26 May 1945


News About Adams County
Men and Women in the Service

Lt. Russell Bickford reported back to base at Lincoln, Nebr., Saturday after he and Mrs. Bickford have visited with relatives. Mrs. Bickford will remain at home. They have been in Hobbs, New Mexico the past two months.

Source: Adams County Free Press, Corning, Iowa, Thursday, September 28, 1944, Page 4

News About Adams County
Men and Women in the Service

Lt. Russell E. Bickford left Sunday evening for Alamogordo, New Mexico, for his final basic training. He has been located at Lincoln, Nebraska.

Source: Adams County Free Press, Corning, Iowa, Thursday, November 16, 1944, Page 4

Missing In Action

Mrs. Lois Barker Bickford was officially notified by the War Department Monday that her husband, Lt. Russell E. Bickford, A B-29 Bomber Pilot, based I the Mariana Islands in the Pacific, is missing in action. Lt, Bickford is the son of Mr. and Mrs. L. I. Bickford. Although the official word did not come until Monday of this week, relatives here have known since June 18 that Russell was missing. The word came in a letter from Sgt. Jesse Bickford, a cousin of Russell’s stationed on Guam. When letters from Russell ceased to come regularly, Sgt. Bickford arranged to visit Russell’s base in the Marianas and found that Lt. Bickford had been missing several days.

Lt. Bickford entered service in February, 1943, and went overseas last March. His wife and baby are at present living in the home of her parents, Mr. and Mrs. William Barker, west of Corning. Russell’s brother, Lt. Kenneth Bickford, recently released as a prisoner of war in Germany, is not at home on a 60-day leave. Kenneth is a bomber pilot who was based in England.

Source: Adams County Free Press, Corning, Iowa, Thursday, June 28, 1945, Page 1

R. Bickford Is Declared Dead

Missing in Action Since May 26, 1945

First Lieutenant Russell E. Bickford of Corning, listed as missing in action since May 28, 1945, in now presumed dead by the War Department.

Official notification was received this week by Bickford's wife, Mrs. Lois J. Bickford. This notification removed the last name from the Adams County missing in action list.
Following is text of the letter received from the Adjutant General:

Mrs. Lois J. Bickford
R.F.D. No 1 Corning, Iowa

Dear Mrs. Bickford,

Since your husband, First Lieutenant Russell E. Bickford, 0750497, Air Corps was reported missing in Action May 26, 1945, the War Department has entertained the hope that he survived and that information would be revealed dispelling the uncertainty surrounding his absence. However as in many cases, the conditions of warfare deny us such information. The record concerning your husband shows that he was a member of the crew of a B-20 (Super-fortress) aircraft which left Tinian Island on the night of May 25-26, 1945, to participate in a bombing mission in Tokyo. No contact was made with the plane after it departed its base. Several planes were seen going down over the target in the course of the attack, but because of darkness it was not possible to identify them. Rescue aircraft cruised off the shore of Japan during the mission, but found no trace of any member of your husband's crew. Reports recently received from overseas indicate that Captain Petersen and Sergeant Coz were killed in action May 26, 1945, but no further information regarding any of the other crew members has been received. The record further shows that your husband was promoted to the rank of First Lieutenant effective June 11, 1945.

Full consideration has recently been given to all available information bearing on the absence of your husband including the records, reports, and circumstances. These have been carefully reviewed and considered. In view of the fact that twelve months have now expired without the receipt of evidence to support a continued presumption of survival, the War Department must terminate such absence by a presumptive finding of death has been recorded under the provision of Public Law 490, 77th Congress approved March 7, 1942, as amended.

The finding does not establish an actual or probable date of death however, as required by law, in includes a presumptive date of death for termination of pay and allowances settlement of accounts and payment of death gratuities. In the case of your husband, this date has been set as 27 May 1946, the day following the expiration of twelve months absence.

I hope you may find sustaining comfort in the thought that the uncertainty with which war has surrounded the absence of your husband has served the honor his service to his country and of his sacrifice.

Sincerely yours,
Edward F. Witsell
Major General
The Adjutant General of the Army.

Source: Adams County Free Press, Corning, Iowa, Thursday, June 13, 1946, Page 1


Lt. Russell E. Bickford
Interred In Kentucky                   

Funeral services for the bomber crew of which 1st Lt. Russell E. Bickford of Corning was a member were conducted at Zachary Taylor National Cemetery, Louisville, Kentucky, October 13, at 11 a.m.

Mrs. Louis Bickford and son, Danny had received word for the War Department that the body of their husband and father was being returned from Vokama, Japan to the United States.

Lt. Bickford was killed May 26, 1945 while on a mission to Tokyo.

Attending the services from here were Mrs. Lois Bickford and Danny, Mr. and Mrs. Loren Bickford, and Donald and Kenneth Bickford and Jimmy.

Source: Adams County Free Press, Corning, Iowa, Thursday, October 20, 1949, Page 1

NOTE: B-29 Superfortress, 42-24828, "Lil Spook" and her crew were assigned to the 484th Squadron of the 505th Bomb Group. “Lil Spook” was lost May 26, 1945 and Japanese records indicated that the crew had been removed from the downed aircraft and buried in the Koishikawa Army Cemetery. On October 13, 1949 eleven of the twelve crewmen were re-interred at the Zachary Taylor National Cemetery, Louisville, Kentucky, Section E, Site 175-177. The eleven crewmen were:
1st  Lt. Helfert, William F, Pilot; 1st Lt. Bickford, Russell E, Copilot; Sgt. Campbell, Ivan H, Radio Operator; Capt. Petersen, Robert L, Observer; Sgt. Coz, Edward G, Tailgunner; Sgt. Neely, Joseph H Jr, Central Fire Control; Sgt. Pearce, Herbert C, Left Gunner;
Flight Officer Purcell, John E, Navigator; SSgt. Van Cleve, Harold A, Engineer; 2nd Lt. Weakley, Thomas B, Bombardier; Sgt. McQuade, William J, Right Gunner.