Hopedale Man Presumed Dead
H. Baer, 119 Jones Road, officially reported missing in the South Pacific just two years ago
today, has been officially recorded as dead, according to word which has just been received
by his parents.
The official letter just received follows:
"Since your son, Staff Sgt. William K. Baer, 31,140, 766, air corps, was reported missing in
action Jan. 22, 1944, 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. Public Law
490, 77th Congress, as amended, provides for a review and determination of the status of
each person who has been missing in action for 12 months. Accordingly, your son's case
was reviewed and he was continued in the status of being missing in action as of Jan. 22,
1945. The law further provides that a subsequent review shall be made whenever warranted.
Upon such review the making of a finding of death is authorized.
"All available records and reports concerning the absence of your son have been carefully
investigated and are deemed to warrant a subsequent review of his case. Information in the
hands of the War Department indicates he was a crew member on a B-25 Mitchell aircraft
which failed to return from a bombing mission to Lakunai Airdrome, New Britain. On the
bombing run the plane was observed to sustain damage from enemy anti aircraft fire, burst
into flames and crashed into Simpson Harbor. Eyewitnesses state that at least three
parachutes were seen to leave the damaged aircraft prior to the crash. Careful investigation
however has failed to reveal any trace of your son since that day.
"Since no information has been received which would support a presumption of his
continued survival, the War Department must now derminate your son's absence by a
presumptive finding of death. Accordingly an official finding of death has been recorded. The
finding does not establish an actual or probable date of death; however required by law it
includes a presumptive date of death for the purpose of termination of pay and allowances,
settlement of accounts and payment of death gratuities. In the case of your son this date has
bee set as Jan. 17, 1946. I regret the necessity for this message but trust that the ending of a
long period of uncertainty may give at least some small measure of consolation. An appraisal
of the sacrifice made by your son in the service of his country compels us feelings of humility
and respect. May providence grant a measure of relief from the anguish and anxiety you have
experienced in these many months."
Staff Sgt. Baer is the ninth Hopedale man to have paid the supreme sacrifice in the war. He
had been in the service since August 1942, and later attended a radio school in Sioux Falls, N.
D. He served many months in the South Pacific. On Oct. 24, 1944, the young man received an
air medal with oak leaf cluster and citation.
Sgt. Baer was born in Fall River and came here when aged four years. He attended
Hopedale schools and graduated from Hopedale High. He worked in the advertising
department at the Draper Corp. office. In addition to his parents he leaves twin brothers,
Donald and Gordon, who were recently discharged from the service. Milford Daily News
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