Robert T. Fridley (1944/06/14)
Two parachutes left Bob Fridley's plane over Yugoslavia; his was not one of them.
Robert Todd Fridley was born on September 6, 1917, in California, to Philip and Ethel Fridley. He was born at the Sycamore Grove Auto Camp owned and managed by his parents. His brothers Vernon, Ernest, Robert and Daniel and his sister Phyllis also lived there. Fridley graduated from Santa Cruz High School in 1936, and for the next two years worked at the Greyhound terminal office in San Francisco. In 1938 he enrolled in Salinas Junior College, studied aviation and obtained his pilot's license.
On January 22, 1942, Fridley enlisted in the US Army Air Force and was accepted into the aviation cadet program. After initial training at Moffett Field, California, he was sent to Sheppard Field, Texas. This was followed by training assignments at Chanute Field, Illinois, Sequoia and Gardner Fields in California, and Marfa Field in Texas. On July 27, 1943, Cadet Fridley earned his wings and commission as a second lieutenant.
Robert Fridley left Texas and made his way to Savannah, Georgia, to join the 775th AAF Bomb Squadron leaving for Foggia, Italy. During the last half of 1943 and the first half of 1944, Fridley flew over 40 missions and was wounded several times in the process.
The final mission of First Lieutenant Robert Todd Fridley was a daylight high-altitude bombing mission over Budapest on June 14, 1944. While over the target, his B-17 was badly damaged; Fridley attempted to "nurse" it back to his base at Foggia but when he reached the Yugoslavian coast near Hvar, the crippled craft was caught in an air down current and crashed into another of the returning planes. Both planes went down and only two parachutes were seen to leave Fridley's aircraft. His was not one of them.
The remains of Robert Fridley were interred in Golden Gate National Cemetery at San Bruno on March 1, 1949. His awards include the Air Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters.
Note: While DVA records reflect a DOD of 1/14/1944, the June 14 date reported in other publications appears more accurate.
(NARA2; USDVA; SCHSC Pg. 9, SCSn August 15, 1944)