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LT  Paul CAPACCIO

UNIT: 350th BOMB Sqdn POSITION: P

Lt Paul M. Capaccio KIA Feb 3, 1943

Flying Cadet Paul Capaccio

SERIAL #: STATUS: KIC
MACR:

Comments1: 2 FEB 43 NEAR BOGUE, KANSAS

COMMENTS & NOTES

MEMO 1:

CREW

Lt Paul Capaccio                     P  KIC     2/2/43
Lt Jacob Madsen                   CP  KIC    2/2/43
F/O Latimer Stewart           NAV  KIC  2/2/43
S/Sgt Thaddeus Donlavage  TTE  KIC  2/2/43
S/Sgt Frank Culver              ROG KIC   2/2/43


350th Sqdn.    From "THEY NEVER HAD IT SO GOOD'" by Jack W Sheridan

p.21   "Among the crews that had left  Sioux City to put in the extra time at the 
dispersed bases was one of the original crews that had come to ue at 
Wendover. It was Lt.Paul Capaccio's crew with Lt.Jacob Madsen,and 
Flight Officer Latimer Stewert.They had gone to Casper,Wyoming. On 
the same day we got to Kearney they received orders to fly with a 
skeleton crew to Kansas. Capaccio and Madsen had the controls with 
Stewert and two of their enlisted men with them,Staff Sergeants 
Thaddeus Donlavage and Frank Culver. No one ever quite knew what 
happened. Somehow,as the plane neared Bogue, Kansas,something 
nappened. The big Fort arced out of the flat skies to bury itself in the 
middle of a corn field. A11 five were killed outright."


Hello, 

I recently came across some old family photos and was posting them on my facebook page for my cousins when I learned about your website from my father. He said I could Google my uncle's name and learn how he died. I started looking around for more information and that's when I saw you were looking for photos and I thought I'd share this one, now that I had a digital copy. 

Paul M Capaccio was my great grandfather's (my father's grandfather) nephew. My maiden name is Capaccio :) 



Here's what was written on the back: 



Have a great day!

Janelle Hellwig 
  PwC | Materials Development Team
Office: 973-236-5680 | Mobile: 201-247-3717
Email: janelle.hellwig@us.pwc.com
PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP
janelle.hellwig@us.pwc.com
http://www.pwc.com/us

Print less, think more.

MEMO 2:

Monument in Kansas farmland honors NJ airman killed there during WWII
David M. Zimmer
NorthJersey.com


A granite monument in the farmlands of Kansas has revived a forgotten history for the descendants of one of Lyndhurst’s favorite sons.

Dedicated Saturday afternoon outside of Hill City, Kansas, just north of small town called Bogue, the oversize tombstone pays tribute to Lt. Paul Capaccio and five other U.S. Army airmen. The six died roughly one mile north on Feb. 2, 1943, when they hit a massive storm in their B-17 and crashed into a pasture.

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Capaccio, 25, his fellow crewman and the one passenger were among thousands of airmen to die in training and transport during World War II. Often, they are the forgotten losses from the nation’s largest collective effort.

Ariana Pelosci, Capaccio’s 21-year-old great niece from Hamilton, said even in her own family his story had been a bit of a mystery.

The monument created and the research completed by locals in Kansas, “unearthed an entire family story that my mom or uncles hadn't heard about,” Pelosci said.

RELATED:From opposite worlds, two soldiers forged a friendship — and saved each other's lives

Captivating story

Paul Capaccio was a standout athlete at Lyndhurst High School, where a memorial athletic award was named in his honor.
Mike Boss, a 69-year-old artist from Hill City, said the story has long captivated his community. One of the main driving forces behind the monument, Loren Johnson, was among those who first arrived at the crash scene nearly 80 years ago, he said.

Boss first heard Capaccio's story in high school. in November 2018 he renewed his interest in the local history and was determined to honor the six soldiers with a monument. 


“I had been told that that crash was so bad that they had to pick those guys up in bushel baskets,” Boss said. “And I just said, ‘OK by God that’s it. They deserve more than this.’”

Details of the plane crash were few, said Shelia Blackford of the Graham County Historical Society. Wartime security tended to tamp reports of deaths during training flights or ferrying. Only a few papers published the wire report of a fiery B-17 crash that killed six soldiers in northwest Kansas. Even the local paper's report was thin.

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“Since it was a military plane, after the initial notification, our locals were not allowed access nor any more information on the event,” she said.

LOCAL:Veteran from Wayne awarded Distinguished Service Medal, 76 years after WWII service

During the first 32 months of World War II, the Army Air Forces reported 11,000 aircraft lost in the continental United States. Combat missions overseas accounted for 7,700. In the Navy, more aviation personnel were lost in training and transport than in combat, records show.

From December 1941 through August 1945, there were 52,651 Army Air Forces accidents in the states, half of which came during training flights. The domestic crashes killed 14,903 people, including the 1,757 that died during 284 fatal B-17 crashes, records show.

Capaccio’s B-17 was delivered from Boeing at the end of September 1942. Military officials registered it number 42-5105. B-17s 42-5102, 42-5103 and 42-5107 also wrecked.

Mike Boss (far right) is seen setting the monument for personnel of the 100th Bomb Group from WWII with Ron Gallaway, Corey Johnson, Bob Saunders, Loren Johnson and Jez Rush near Hill City, Kansas in early 2020.
News reaches home

The news of Capaccio’s death made the front page of The Record on Feb. 5, 1943. The paper dubbed the 25-year-old Lyndhurst native a “grid star” for his athletic exploits on the football field and beyond.  

While at Lyndhurst High School, Capaccio captained the track and wrestling teams and played football and basketball, The Record reported. So renowned was Capaccio, the president of the senior class, the school started an athletic award in his honor following his death.

After high school, Capaccio went on to Bergen Junior College, where he again played multiple sports and graduated as the school's "most valuable man" in 1939. His next stop was Kutztown State Teachers College. He played football there too. Then, Uncle Sam came calling.

Paul Capaccio of Lyndhurst N.J. is seen in military uniform sometime i the early 1940s.
“He was only a couple of years older than me, and he willingly enlisted in this war,” Pelosci said.

Capaccio joined the Air Corps in 1941. He made second lieutenant a year later. Just a week before his death, he was promoted to first lieutenant at the base in Capser, Wyoming.

The Feb. 2 flight was expected to take him and his crew on a new mission as members of the 100th Bomb Group, 350 Bomb Squadron based in Sioux City, Iowa, Boss said. From there, Capaccio was to go overseas in three months. He never made it past Bogue.


The crash

Military records show Capaccio and the other five men left the Army Air Base in Wyoming at about 1 p.m. local time on Feb. 2, 1943. Capaccio piloted the aircraft toward Tinker Army Airfield in Oklahoma City.

The flight was expected to take five hours, but a storm likely pushed Capaccio north, Boss said.

More than four hours into the flight, Boss said the B-17 was roughly 125 to 130 miles north of where it should have been. It was there where it hit what Boss suspects was the same storm that less than two hours earlier forced a fatal crash of a B-24 in southern Trego County, Kansas.

"The guy who crashed that plane couldn't get above 20,000 feet of clouds, and that's what Paul flew into," Boss said. "I think he was trying to stay north of the storm and for whatever reason, he flew into it. I supposed he thought one way or another he had to deliver the plane."

Paul Capaccio is seen here as a youth with his brother Benjamin Capaccio.
The Hill City Times reported that an eyewitness, Carl McKisson, saw the plane burst through the fog and into the hillside of a nearby pasture. 

The 65,000-pound plane plowed a ditch 5 to 6 feet deep, 10 feet wide and about 100 feet long, according to the report. A resulting explosion spread the wreckage across more than a dozen acres.

Military officials initially identified the likely cause of the crash as ice forming on the wings. A miscommunication between pilot and co-pilot was also suspected.


Still, Boss said in no way should the crash be deemed the fault of the crew. Engine trouble may have been a factor. Moreover, Capaccio had a total instrument flying time of less than 36 hours in 1942, Boss said.

"They weren't trained for this," he said.

'The price which had to be paid'

An Army Air Forces safety report after the war vowed to make changes to avoid heavy tolls on little trained pilots. However, it noted the accident toll was "the price which had to be paid to achieve the air power required for victory."

Paul Capaccio of Lyndhurst, N.J. died in a plane crash at the age of 25 three months before he was to be sent overseas to combat in WWII.
World War II pushed the Army's pre-Air Force air division to expand from 51,165 to  2,372,292 personnel from 1940 to 1944. The hurried expansion of the Army Air Forces "was accepted as part of the cost of the war," according to the report.

The price those six soldiers paid is remembered in Graham County, Boss said, and is deserving of tribute. Pelosci said her family is overjoyed with the honor for "Uncle Paul."


“In today's world, where so much is uncertain and where it can be a dark place, having someone do something like this is just amazing and it really brings hope,” Pelosci said.

The six killed in the crash on Feb. 2, 1943:

1st Lt. Paul M. Capaccio, pilot, N.J.
F/O Latimer Lafayette Stewart, co-pilot, Calif.
1st Lt. Jacob M. Madsen Jr., navigator, Iowa
TSgt. Thaddeus I. Donlavage, engineer, Penn.
SSgt. Frank E. Culver, radio operator, Penn.
MSgt. Heiner M. Bloch, passenger, Mich.

David Zimmer is a local reporter for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.

Email: zimmer@northjersey.com Twitter: @dzimmernews 

KIA / MIA / EVA / INT INFORMATION:

TARGET: DATE:  
AIRCRAFT: CAUSE:  

BURIAL INFORMATION

PLOT: ROW:  
GRAVE: CEMETERY:  

PHOTOS:

Back of monument 

Staff Sgt,Heiner M. Bloch, 461st BS,331st BG,  2 Feb 1943 Passanger

Lt Paul M. Capaccio (courtesy of Ariana Pelosci)

Gravestone for Lt Paul Capaccio

Paul Capaccio was a standout athlete at Lyndhurst High School, where a memorial athletic award was named in his honor.

 

SERVED IN:

Crew 1

ID: 728