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Honoring Service: Veteran Frank L Wassell, WWII

Rye Vets is a collaboration with RyeVets.org to highlight those from Rye who have served our country across times of war and peace. There are over 2,100 veterans from the City of Rye. Learn more about how you can help research and write biographies of those that have served.

Rye Vets Frank L Wassell KIA-37-2TFrank L Wassell was born on 25-Sep-17 in Illinois to parents Frank Lloyd Wassell and Mary Wassell. He had three brothers Charles, Harry and George and two sisters Betty and Patricia. Frank attended Radnor High School, in Westport, Ct. and graduated in 1936. His family moved to Rye after his graduation and were members of the Presbyterian Church and they lived on Grace Church Street. Frank joined his older brother Harry at the University of Michigan after High School. During his time at College Frank made Rye his home and his four younger sibling were attending Rye schools. He attended Michigan for two years before entering the printing and publishing business. His family moved back to Westport, Ct in 1939. Frank served as an officer in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II.

Date of Birth: 9/25/1917
Died On: 2/28/1943
Street Address: Loudon Woods
Service Number: 12037614
Branch of Service: U.S. Army Air Corps – 1st Lieutenant, Flight Commander, 478th Squadron, 336th Bomb Group

Service Time: Frank L Wassell enlisted in the U. S. Army Air Corp on 12/19/1941. After initial flight training he was assigned to the 336th Bomb Group, 478th Bombardment Squadron Medium .

The 336th Bomb Group was established in mid-1942 by III Bomber Command as a replacement training unit RTU for B-26 Marauder crews. Graduates from Training Command technical, gunnery and twin-engine flight schools would be trained on B-26s, then after graduation be assigned to combat units overseas. The 478th Bombardment Squadron Medium , was established by III Bomber Command as a B-26 Marauder training squadron.

The 336th Bomb Group was stationed at Avon Park Army Air Field, Florida training base beginning 13 December 1942. First Lieutenant Wassell trained here with aircrews using the 352 square mile practice range for air-to-ground bombing training. The trainees would drop bombs ranging in size from 15 lb practice bombs to 2000 lb demolition bombs containing 2 tons of high explosives. Targets at the Avon Park Range included a mock 555 acre town on the shore of Lake Arbuckle, a large floating water target on Lake Kissimmee, and an eight-mile railroad bombardment target. In addition to the bomber training, USAAF aircrews from the field also flew antisubmarine patrols from Avon Park over both the Gulf and Atlantic coasts as part of their training mission.

1LT Frank L. Wassell was on a bombing training mission transition flying with three other B-26s when his Martin B-26B Marauder #41-17619 and B-26 #41-17625 had a Mid-air collision over the bomb range at Avon Park, Florida, at 1200 Hours on 28 February 1943. Both crews were lost.

Other crew members on his aircraft were: 2LT Robert J. Brude, Co-Pilot, 2LT Arthur Roy Kuntz, Navigator, SGT Richard P. Sofinski, Radio Opr, and SGT Ray Dykes and SGT Rex E. Lee. Crew of the other aircraft were: 1LT Ramon G. Buela, Pilot, Flt Off Harry G. Smith.

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