March 18, 2006

Loy Grady Coffee 1917-1944


Loy Grady COFFEE

[Loy Grady Coffee was my father's younger brother, and the last son of Albert Lilburn and Ora Elizabeth Braley Coffee. He married Martha Easely of Harlingen, TX in Mar., 1943, but had no descendants.]


First Generation

1. Loy Grady COFFEE was born on July 27, 1917 in De Ann, Hempstead Co., AR. He enlisted in the military on December 9, 1941 He served in the military between 1941 and 1944 in United States Army Air Corps.1,2 He died on December 30, 1944 in Hays, Ellis Co., KS. He was buried in January 1945 in City Cemetery, Minden, Webster Parish, LA. News clipping from undated source, but probably from the Signal Tribune:

Headline:

Grady Coffee Is Attending Large Bombing School

Minden Boy Is In Second Class of U. S. Army's "Hell From Heaven Men"

Midland Army Flying School, Texas - Among the "Hell from Heaven Men" making up the second class at this world's greatest bombardier training school is Aviation Cadet Loy G. Coffee, son of Mr. and Mrs. Albert L. Coffee of Minden, Louisiana. At the completion of his course Cadet Coffee will become a commissioned officer in the United States army.

Formerly a student at Louisiana State university, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Cadet Coffee had previously received R. O. T. C. and national guard training, and while in civilian life he was actively interested in golf.

Training

At this huge new training school for America's bombardiers, young men learn the secrets and operation of our country's most devastating weapon of offense, the famed U. S. bombsight. The bombardier cadets divide their time between groundschool classrooms, spacious training hangars, and the swift-flying AT'LL's, specially designed bombadier training planes.

When they have the theory down pat, when they understand the why-and-wherefore of bombs and bombsights, the cadets crawl into the glass-enclosed nose compartments of their planes, spend day and night sending 100-pound practice bombs streaking toward targets that surround this bombardier college in an eighty mile circle.

Their course completed, these "Hell from Heaven Men" are good; are in fact, the best. That's why they've been dubbed "the most dangerous men in the world."

From the Webster Review (The Signal Tribune), Minden, Webster Parish, LA, January 2, 1945, page 1:

Headline:

Captain L. Grady Coffee Killed in Plane Crash

Body Will Be Returned With Military Escort For Funeral Service In Minden

Captain Loy Grady Coffee, 27, army air forces, was one of the ten servicemen killed when a plane exploded in mid-air and crashed at Walker Field, Hays, Kansas, Saturday, December 30. Only three of the crew were reported to have bailed out, and one is not expected to live.

Son of Mr. and Mrs. A. L. Coffee, Captain Coffee was born and reared in Minden. He was a graduate of Minden high school where he was a football star, and attended L. S. U.. He volunteered for service on December 8, 1941, just six months before receiving his law degree. His initial training was received at Maxwell Field, Alabama, and he was commissioned a second lieutenant after completing training at the bombadier school, Midland, Texas. After graduation he remained at the school to serve as an instruction. From there he went to San Angelo and on to Harlingen. He was commissioned a first lieutenant at Gowen Field, Boise, Idaho, which was his last station before reporting to Walker Field as bombardier instructor. Soon after his arrival there, he was assigned other duties and promoted to the rank of captain.

He married the former Miss Martha Easley of Harlingen, Texas, in March, 1943. She has been with him since their marriage and will arrive in Minden sometime today accompanying the remains, which are being shipped with military escort.

Funeral arrangements have not been completed, but services are expected to be held at the First Baptist church, of which the deceased was a member, sometime following the arrival of Harry D. Coffee.

Besides his wife and parents, he is survived by four brothers, Frank H. Coffee, Minden; Dr. James Coffee, Baton Rouge; Harry D. Coffee, U. S. Coast Guard, now serving overseas; and Carl Coffee, Hope, Arkansas; and three sisters, Mrs. S. B. Samuel and Mrs. Gus Howell, both of Minden; and Miss Ruby Coffee, Shreveport.

The following is a summary of the accident report prepared by an Investigating Committee shortly after the accident:

Capt. Coffee was an Instructor Bombardier on a B-29 Flying Fortress. The B-29 took off at 9:15am and climbed to an altitude of 25,000 ft. At about 10:20am the No. 3 engine backfired and caught fire. An extinguisher was activated and the fire seemed to go out, but shortly flared up again, this time burning fiercely. Another extinguisher was activated but was not effective. The investigation determined that the fire had caused fuel lines to rupture and fuel was flowing uncontrolled into the engine.

The engine exploded causing the plane to lose its left wing and part of the fuselage. Part of the tail section was destroyed as the planed cartwheeled to earth. Crew members lost their oxygen equipment in the spin and were incapacitated to such as extent while bouncing around the inside of the plane that jumping was a "physical impossibility."

The pilot, 1st Lt Rufus C. Anderson, had previously alerted the crew to jump. Capt. Coffee, the navigator and the radio operator proceeded toward the door leading into the forward bombay. Capt. Coffee was being assisted into the leg straps of his parachute by the radio operator. The report of a survivor indicated that Capt. Coffee was later seen lying unconscious on the bombbay doors, and that he had probably been knocked unconscious. He had a deep gash on the top rear of his head. He later fell free of the plane, and his body was found intact and unburned.

Loy Grady COFFEE and Martha EASELY were married in March 1943 in Harlingen, Cameron Co., TX. Martha EASELY was born in Harlingen, Cameron Co., TX.

Sources

1. The American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars, The Men and Women in World War II from Webster Parish (After WW2). Capt. Grady L. Coffee, son of Mr. and Mrs. A. L. Coffee, Minden, husband of Martha Easley, graduate of LSU. Entered Army AC, 1941, trained in Midland AAF, Boise, Idaho and Walker Field, Kan. Served in Amer. Theater. Killed in B-29 Crash in Walker Field Kansas.
2. National Archives and Records Administration. U.S. World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946 [database online]. Provo, Utah: MyFamily.com, Inc., 2005. Original data: Electronic Army Serial Number Merged File, 1938-1946 [Archival Database]; World War II Army Enlistment Records; Records of the National Archives and Records Administration, Record Group 64; National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD. Name: Loy G Coffee Birth Year: 1917 Race: White, citizen Enlistment Date: 9 Dec 1941 Branch: Air Corps Branch Code: Air Corps Grade: Aviation Cadet Grade Code: Aviation Cadet Term of Enlistment: Enlistment for the duration of the War or other emergency, plus six months, subject to the discretion of the President or otherwise according to law Component: Army of the United States - includes the following: Voluntary enlistments effective December 8, 1941 and thereafter; One year enlistments of National Guardsman whose State enlistment expires while in the Federal Service; Officers appointed in the Army of Source: Enlisted Man, Regular Army, within 3 months of Discharge or former WAAC Auxiliary Education: 4 years of college Civil Occupation: Actor (Motion picture actor. ) or Director, Motion Picture (Motion picture director.) or Entertainer Marital Status: Single, without dependents Height: 72 Weight: 151.

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