Aircraft B-24H with serial number 42-64456 departed from San Giovanni, Italy Air Field on a combat mission. The aircraft crashed into another plane after being hit by enemy anti-aircraft.
Statement from S/Sgt Norman C. Andrews:
At approximately 1519 on 28 April 1944, while in the vicinity of Porto San Stefano, Italy, I saw the B-24 plane piloted by Lt. Jerome E. Slater Jr., receive a flak hit in the number one engine. The engine burst into flames. The plane peeled to the left and downward, and crashed into the B-24 plane piloted by Lt. Richard A. Callan. Lt. Slater’s plane then went down fast in a twisting turn, hit the ground and exploded on impact. One chute came out of Lt. Slater’s plane, billowed open and appeared to land safely. That was the chute of Kels Laws, the bombardier. He was captured by the Italian fascists and badly beaten and shot. The tail of Lt. Callan’s plane was knocked off by the mid-air crash. The plane then went into a slow, spiral, flat spin, and exploded on impact with the earth.
Pilot, 1st Lt Jerome E. Slater Jr.
Co-Pilot, 2nd Lt Douglas S. Rezin
Navigator, 2nd Lt Emil J. Sobylak
Bombardier, 2nd Lt Kels Laws
Radio Operator/Gunner, T/Sgt John R. Harber
Engineer/Gunner, T/Sgt Olin O. Chrisawn
Engineer/Gunner, S/Sgt Selmer L. Brathall
Armorer Gunner, S/Sgt Louie B. Von Achen Jr.
Armorer Gunner, S/Sgt Warren G. Heer
Armorer Gunner, S/Sgt Grover C. Barron Jr.
Kels Laws was initially buried at Tarquinia Cemetery at Tarquinia, Italy and reburied at Florence American Cemetery, Via Cassia, Italy; Plot E, Row 3, Grave 21.
- Rank: Second Lieutenant
- Date of birth: 8 January 1920
- Date of death: 28 April 1944
- County: Claiborne
- Hometown: Speedwell
- Service Branch: Army/Army Air Forces
- Division/Assignment: 741st Bomber Squadron, 455th Bomber Group, Heavy
- Theater: Europe
- Conflict: World War II
- Awards: Air Medal with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters, Purple Heart
- Burial/Memorial Location: Florence American Cemetery, Via Cassia, Italy
- Location In Memorial: Pillar VIII, Top Panel
- Contact us to sponsor Kels Laws
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