2nd Lieutenant Ross W. Perrin Jr., US Army Air Forces, was a Bombardier assigned to the 532nd Bomber Squadron, 381st Bomber Group, Heavy. He was a member of the Belskis Crew flying in a B-17 AC#43-38780, based out of Ridgewell Air Field, England.
On the 11th of December 1944 the assigned mission was to Mannheim, Germany. While on this mission the aircraft was shot down by flak. Of the crew, seven were killed in this action and two became Prisoners of War.
He received an Air Medal for 5 missions and an Oak Leaf Cluster for his second 5 missions. He was killed on his 13th mission.
Crew of AC#43-38780:
1st Lt Leo P. Belskis, Pilot, Chicago, Il. KIA.
1st Lt Glenn C. Vaughn, Co-Pilot, Danville Virginia, KIA.
1st Lt James V. Collett, Navigator, Washington D.C. KIA.
2nd Lt Ross W. Perrin Jr., Bombardier, Knoxville, Tn. KIA.
T/Sgt Walter R. Newman, Top Gunner, Los Angeles, Ca. KIA.
S/Sgt Durward V. Suggs, Waist Gunner, Dallas, Tx. POW. Passed away 2004.
S/Sgt Robert P. Rogers, Tail Gunner, Palestine, Tx. KIA.
T/Sgt Elvis McCoy, Radio Operator, Miami, Ok. POW. Passed away 1988.
S/Sgt Lynn J Lauret Jr., Ball Turret Gunner, Alexandria, La. KIA.
He was born on May 13, 1916, in Knoxville to Ross W. Perrin Sr. and Maude Margaret Foster Perrin. He had two siblings-Evelyn Mae Perrin Greene and Marjorie Perrin. He graduated from Knoxville High School in the Class of 1935.
His wife, Thelma McGhee Perrin, gave birth to a daughter, Rosalind, on January 16, 1945, 36 days after his death on 12/11/1944. She now resides in Ft Lauderdale, Florida, with her husband Arnold Davis. They have two daughters.
-Submitted by Ross Greene
A story of sacrifice, reprinted from the Knoxville News Sentinel
By Fred Brown
Sunday, May 27, 2012
This honor roll from World War II is special. It contains nearly 3,500 names. They are the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who died serving their nation more than 70 years ago.Of the 3,500 East Tennesseans who died in the war, 136 of them were graduates of Knoxville High School. And the story of one of those former students is the stuff of the big screen.
2nd Lt. Ross Wallace “Bud” Perrin Jr., a bombardier born and raised in Knoxville, was killed Dec. 11, 1944, over the flak-pocked skies of Mannheim-Ludwigshafen, Germany.
His is among the seven newly engraved names added to the city’s memorial and will be part of the annual “Honor Our Fallen Reading of the Names” at the East Tennessee Veterans Memorial at World’s Fair Park beginning at 5:50 a.m. on Memorial Day.
Perrin’s B-17 was struck by flak and the plane crashed in Mannheim-Neckarau, a field that, remarkably, has changed little since the day the bomber was shot out of the skies.
Now, Ross Greene, 71, Perrin’s nephew, is writing a book about his uncle in addition to a history of the 136 KHS grads who died fighting for their country.
Greene, an East High School and University of Tennessee graduate (1962), is a structural engineer who also is founder and CEO of Greene Consulting of Atlanta, a financial management firm.
About four years ago, Perrin’s daughter Rosalind, born just one month after the crash, found close to 1,000 letters home from her father. They had been in an attic and she turned them over to Greene, who she knew was working on a book about her father.
“I became obsessed with knowing more about him, his service and death,” says Greene after getting the treasure trove of letters.
“They were just like a diary of his life in the war.”
During the past three years, Greene has traveled the U.S. and England running down stories about his uncle, who he says was very close to Greene’s mother, Evelyn, Perrin’s sister.
“He called me palsy-walsy,” says Greene.
“I was the first grandkid. I looked up to my uncle. I remember when he went off to war. There is a picture of me saluting him,” says Greene.
In September 1942, Perrin married his childhood sweetheart, Thelma McGhee, an advertising executive who was Miss Knoxville of 1940, and later a contestant in the Miss America pageant.
After Perrin was sent overseas and assigned to a B-17 crew in the 532nd Bomb Squad of the 381st Bomb Group, Greene, who was too young to write, began dictating letters to his mother to be sent to his uncle.
“My mom would put a pencil in my hand and I would tell her what to write,” he recalls.
Perrin flew his first mission Sept, 1, 1944. That flight took him over Mannheim-Ludwigshafen.
Between September and December, Perrin was trained as a navigator, and after completing five missions, he received the Air Medal and in November, he was awarded an oak leaf cluster for completing five more combat missions.
Also in November 1944, Perrin was chosen by the British Broadcasting Co. in London to be interviewed about the war and his missions.
After the interview aired on the BBC, it was broadcast in Knoxville on WROL on Thanksgiving Day.
On Dec. 11, 1944, Perrin flew out of Ridgewell, England, headed for Mannheim. He was a bombardier in a combat group that involved 1,600 U.S. bombers, the largest bombing mission up to that time.
In that action over Germany, Perrin’s plane was hit by flak and crashed in Neckarau near Mannheim. Seven of the nine crew members were killed, including Perrin.
Years later, through his travels and research, Greene found the exact spot where his uncle’s plane crashed. He intends to visit that site soon to look for any eyewitness accounts of the crash.
“Parts of the plane hit houses in the area,” he says. “I want to interview someone who saw the crash.”
When the crew remains were uncovered, Perrin was first buried in Frankfurt, Germany, then in Avold, France, and finally, in 1949, he was returned to Knoxville and interred in Lynnhurst Cemetery.
When the Perrin letters were discovered, Greene says, there was one from the then-3-year-old Greene.
“I asked my uncle in that last letter, ‘When are you coming home? When you come home, I’m not ever letting you go out again,’ ” says Greene, his voice cracking.
“That letter was found in his foot locker.”
Retired News Sentinel senior writer Fred Brown is a freelance contributor and may be reached at email@example.com.