Hopedale Man Presumed Dead

HOPEDALE, Jan. 22 [1946] – Staff Sgt. William Kenneth Baer, 32, son of Mr. and Mrs. William 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 been 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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William Kenneth Baer, aged six months, is the son of Corp. and Mrs. Gordon Baer of Hopedale. The father is now in Luxembourg. Mrs. Baer is the former Miss Ruth Howarth of Hopdale.