Harold J. Totman (1945/09/17)

Mr. and Mrs. Frank Totman learned of their son's fate when their letter was returned marked "DECEASED."

Harold James Totman was born in 1923 in California to Mr. and Mrs. Frank. H. Totman and moved to Santa Cruz with his parents the following year. Harold attended Holy Cross School through the fifth grade before the family moved to Patterson, California. He completed grammar and high school in Patterson and two years at Modesto Junior College. During this period, he also worked as a welder.

Harold Totman enlisted in the US Army on December 12, 1942, at the Merced Air Force base and entered the Army Air Corps cadet program. He trained in Lincoln, Nebraska, Cedar Rapids Iowa, and at Santa Ana, King City and Chico, California. Following advanced training at Douglas, Arizona, and Randolph Field, Texas, he was commissioned a second lieutenant.

In 1944 Lieutenant Totman was assigned to the 11th Airborne Division as a C-47 pilot and flew paratroopers to jump sites on Leyte, Luzon and Corregidor in the Philippine Islands. He later had the distinction of carrying the first US occupation troops to Japan. While on a routine flight to the Japanese Island of Honshu on September 17, 1945, First Lieutenant Harold William Totman's plane failed to return. Before his family could officially be made aware of his death, an army clerk mistakenly returned one of their letters marked DECEASED. Later his commanding officer provided his parents with the details accompanying Harold's death.

“Harold was pilot of a plane that departed September 17 from Motobu strip, Motobu, Okinawa, Ruyukus on a routine cargo flight to Atsugi airdrome. Prevailing weather conditions at his destination forced Harold to descend on instruments through the overcast, and in doing so his plane crashed into the mountains south of Atsugi. Death came instantly.”

Harold's remains were returned to California and are buried in the Holy Cross Mausoleum in San Francisco.

(SCSn October 16, 1945, December 14, 1948 1:6; SCR October 26, 1945 -10)

Creator: Nelson, Robert L.
Source: Remembering our own: the Santa Cruz County military roll of honor 1861-2010. Santa Cruz, CA: The Museum of Art & History, c2010.
Date: Undated
Type: OBIT
Coverage: 1940s
Rights: Reproduced by permission of Robert L. Nelson and The Museum of Art & History.
Identifier: RO-TOTMAN

Citation

Nelson, Robert L. “Harold J. Totman (1945/09/17).” Remembering our own: the Santa Cruz County military roll of honor 1861-2010. Santa Cruz, CA: The Museum of Art & History, c2010. SCPL Local History. https://history.santacruzpl.org/omeka/items/show/4622. Accessed 5 July 2020.