William Goodman Parsons, born on October 22, 1919, in Garden City, NY, was the son of Argyle and Eleanor, aged 39 and 35 respectively. With three brothers and one sister, the family resided on Guion Road in Rye and were members of Christ’s Church. William completed his education at Pawling High School, graduating in 1936. Prior to the war, he worked for Kenyard and Ekhardt in New York City. However, William enlisted and served as an officer in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II.
Date of Birth: 10/22/1919
Died On: Feb. 25, 1944
Street Address: Guion Road
Service Number: O-746166
Branch of Service: U.S. Army Air Corps – 27th Fighter Squadron, 1st Fighter Group
As a First Lieutenant in the 27th Flying Squadron, 1st Fighter Group of the U.S. Army Air Corps, William flew Lockheed Lockheed P-38 Lightnings, an esteemed unit. After six months of continuous combat in North Africa, the squadron took a brief break, undertaking reconnaissance and escort missions in the Mediterranean. However, the respite came to an end on August 15, 1943, when air attacks escalated against southern Italy in preparation for landings at Salerno. On August 25, the 1st Fighter Group, along with 85 other fighters, launched a fighter-bomber attack against the airfield complex at Foggia, damaging or destroying 88 German aircraft while suffering the loss of two P-38s.
These notable achievements led the group to receive its first Distinguished Unit Citation (DUC). Just five days later, on August 30, the 1st Fighter Group earned its second DUC. During this mission, the group provided escort for B-26 bombers targeting the railroad marshalling yards at Aversa, Italy. Despite being outnumbered, the group engaged the Luftwaffe for 40 minutes, allowing the bombers to strike their target and return safely. However, this came at the cost of 13 fighters and the lives of 10 pilots.
In December 1943, the 1st Fighter Group became part of the newly formed Fifteenth Air Force and relocated to Italy. They temporarily operated from several airfields until establishing their base at Salsola Airfield on January 8, 1944. Living and supply conditions improved for the airmen, who received new P-38Js in the following spring.
First Lieutenant William Parsons, a member of the 27th Fighter Squadron, achieved the highest number of victories within the 1st Fighter Group during World War II, with 83 pilots credited with a total of 176.5 victories.
Tragically, William lost his life when his P-38 was shot down while escorting a bombing mission targeting the Messerschmitt factory in Regensburg, Germany. On February 25, 1944, at the age of 24, he passed away. He was buried in Brooklyn, New York, and he was the youngest among the five Parson children.