April 26, 2009
Welcome Home Staff Sgt. Jimmie Doyle
A photo of World War II veteran Jimmie Doyle welcomes guests to his funeral service at First United Methodist Church, Saturday in Lamesa. The B-24 bomber in which Jimmie Doyle was flying in was shot down over the island nation of Palau in September 1944.
Hero makes it Home: World War II veteran laid to rest 65 years after plane crash
Staff Sgt. Jimmie Doyle, whose warplane crashed into the ocean off Palau in 1944, was given full military honors, along with a hero's homecoming, during funeral and graveside services Saturday at Lamesa.
The location of the plane was unknown for 60 years, then found under 70 feet of water in 2004 by the BentProp Project that searches for soldiers missing in action.
The plane and the crewmen still aboard were recovered in 2008, and Doyle's identification was completed earlier this year.
His grandson, U.S. Marine Capt. Casey Doyle, recently escorted Staff Sgt. Doyle's casket from Hawaii to his hometown of Lamesa, and to the First United Methodist Church where he and his wife, Myrle, had attended services and were married in 1940.
His son, Tommy Doyle, hadn't reached his second birthday when his father's plane went down from anti-aircraft fire over the Koror Island target area, a part of Palau.
Staff Sgt. Doyle, assistant engineer on the Army Air Forces B-24 bomber, had been moved from tail gunner to a nose-turret gunner position by the time the plane began its final mission on Sept. 1, 1944. When ground fire struck the left wing, the plane began tumbling on its descent to the ocean.
Tommy never knew his father, of course, but in recent years came to know much about what he was like through letters that his mother, Myrle, had kept - and had kept privately - before she passed away in 1992.
He mentioned the letters in 2005. "There was a lot of indication of how much he loved her - in every letter."
In the letters home, there was often the mention of his son. He might even have envisioned him growing up to play football for Texas Tech, and later to become a coach, as he did.
But he could never have known that one day his grandson, a captain in the U.S. Marine Corps and a two-tour veteran of a then unimaginable war, would one day guard his passage home.
In the last letter home, on the evening before the final mission, Staff Sgt. Doyle again spoke of home and his love for his wife, as he always did:
"Just a few lines, for you know I love you too much to sleep without saying goodnight," he wrote.
"Sweet, my mind is nearly a blank tonight, for I am all taken up with thoughts of you and home. Maybe it won't be too long until the day when I will be home, and we will be together again ... Gee, what a glimpse of you would be worth!
"Sweet Darling, tomorrow is a busy day, and I have to get up early ... you know I love you with all my heart and will for always.
His granddaughter, Brandi Doyle, said on Saturday, "I am touched by the outpouring of support and emotion from the people ... strangers have called and told how much this story has touched them, and I know how it touches our family."
In the church services, an honor guard brought the flag-draped casket into the sanctuary after the family had been seated. Army Chaplain Col. Michael Lembke spoke of the event as both a homecoming and a celebration of life and service.
Along a funeral procession route to Lamesa Memorial Park, a group of people had gathered on a sidewalk to hold up American flags. Then, a little farther on, children could be seen waving flags and smiling. Two women at one location held a large flag between them, and a gathering at a Disabled Veterans facility had an assortment of flags.
For most of a mile, group after group were waving flags. Children in the groups held flags high and waved to the cars going by. The show of patriotism and honor for a fallen veteran would have been fitting for a general.
While making the arrangements for services, Tommy and his wife, Nancy, had faced a concern about how Jimmie's burial could be done in proximity to Myrle's gravesite. There was no space left nearby.
But a kind of walkway leading to a garden area began beside the existing plot, and cemetery officials simply took a portion from that for the new site.
The First United Methodist Church of Lamesa was a constant in the lives of the couple. It's where they attended church, where they were baptized, where they were married, and where their funeral services were held.
In accordance with the Christian faith they shared, they are in life now. And that which was their earthly dwelling for a time is sleeping, side by side, near a garden walkway, a little way southwest of Lamesa.
After 65 years, Staff Sgt. Doyle is home.
The B-24 bomber in which Jimmie Doyle was flying was shot down over the island nation of Palau in September 1944. His remains were laid to rest Saturday afternoon in Lamesa after recently being discovered. GQ magazine wrote a very interesting article entitled: Leave No Man Behind, you can check it out at link below........
LEAVE NO MAN BEHIND
Since World War I, 88,000 Americans have disappeared at war, never to be seen again. But our government has never stopped trying to find them. This is the story of one search—for a B-24 bomber shot down over the tiny island nation of Palau in September 1944—and the extraordinary effort to bring those bodies home.
Wild Thing's comment......
God bless the men that fly and fight. This is such a touching story. Welcome home Staff Sgt. Jimmie Doyle.
Posted by Wild Thing at April 26, 2009 10:55 AM
Great story. Thanks for this post WT. It is good that we keep searching for and finding the remains of our fallen soldiers.
Thank you for your service Jimmie Doyle.
Posted by: TomR at April 26, 2009 12:45 PM
Thank you for the wonderful story WT, I just hope it doesn't take another 65 years for the next repatriation. His resting place is no longer known only to God.
Posted by: Jack at April 26, 2009 03:59 PM
Yes, agree, Welcome Home Jimmy Doyle.
Posted by: Mark at April 26, 2009 04:39 PM
Thanks for this wonderful story Chrissie...God Bless you Jimmy Doyle and welcome home.
Posted by: James M at April 27, 2009 05:59 AM