Friday, February 25, 2011
More Old Photos
This is my Uncle Tom. I never met him. He was my Dad's baby brother. Sadly, 1st Lieutenant Thomas G. Touchstone was killed during WWII in the Pacific theatre.
Lt. Touchstone was a navigator on a Bomber flying out of a base on Neomfoor Island and pounding the Japanese mission after mission.
Neomfoor Island had been a Japanese stronghold and they had 3 air bases hosting fighters and bombers. These bases were constructed by Tiawanese and Javanese slaves who were treated horribly, starved, denied medical treatment and supplies and executed summarily for slight offenses.
Neomfoor was invaded by U.S. troops in July 1944 to capture the airfields and to continue the campaign to drive the enemy from Western New Guinea. Once the airfields were captured and improved, the Army Air Forces quickly moved in and based P-40 fighters there. By September 1944 there were B24 Bombers operating out of Kornasoren airfield on the Island. Uncle Tom was a navigator on one of these B-24's. His plane flew numerous missions, including bombing the Japanese gasoline refineries in Borneo.
By November, Tom was due for a scheduled R&R. On November 24th,he hopped a ride on a plane to Sydney, Australia to partake of same.
The plane was shot down either by enemy fighters or by anti-aircraft fire...the Army Air Force never determined which. The wreckage was never found despite several searches and the crew and all on board were eventually declared KIA.
Tom was a gifted athlete and was going to go to West Point...but he decided to go right into the Officers training program for the Army Air Force shortly after Pearl Harbour.
Tom's death hit my Dad and his family very hard.It was particularly painful because of the drawn out process of being MIA and then KIA and the family not knowing and holding out some hope. Some years later my Dad found this photo and recently my Mom re-discovered it and gave it to me.