Frank J. Jurach (1944/03/18)
For a year and a half the Jurach family awaited word as to the fate of their son Frank.
Frank Joseph Jurach was born in Sacramento, California, on February 8, 1924, to Mr. and Peter Jurach. Frank's family, which included his brothers Edward and Anthony, moved to the Pajaro Valley where he spent the latter portion of his youth. While living in the valley, he attended Watsonville High School, where he was active in the Latin and Spanish clubs, was a yell leader on the rally squad, was a member of the track team and participated in school plays. Frank graduated in 1941. For five years Jurach delivered newspapers for the Watsonville Register-Pajaronian and later became head carrier. Prior to entering the armed forces, he attended Salinas Junior College.
Frank Jurach joined the Army Air Corps in January 1943. His initial training was at Keesler Field, Mississippi, and later he attended the armorer school at Camp Buckley in Denver, Colorado. In January 1944, he came home to Watsonville for the last time before going overseas.
When Jurach arrived in England in February 1944, he was assigned to the 8th Air Force as a B-17 gunner. The unit in which he served has not been confirmed but was likely part of the 303rd Bomb Group.
On March 18, 1944, while on a mission over Germany, Jurach's Flying Fortress failed to return and the air force notified his parents that he was missing in action. For a year and half knowledge of his fate was unknown. Finally, on September 20, 1945, the Jurach family received a letter from Maj. General Edward F. Witsell acting adjutant general in which he said,
“Information in the hands of the war department indicates that your son was a crew member in a B-17 aircraft which departed England on an operational mission to Munich, Germany. Mechanical failure caused the ship to leave the formation and it was trailing approximately 300 yards when it was attacked by six enemy fighter planes that so damaged your son's craft that the crew was ordered to abandon it. During the engagement at least one German fighter was shot down. Seven of the 10-man crew are known to have since been evacuated to the United States. The aircraft crashed in the vicinity of Rottwell, which is approximately 135 miles west of Munich in Southwestern Germany.”
The location of the remains of Sergeant Frank Joseph Jurach, if recovered, is not known.
(CBR; ACGEN; WRP September 21, 1945 1:2)