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Brigadier General Darr Hayes Alkire (1903-1977) was a pilot for the United States Army Air Service, United States Army Air Corps, the United States Army Air Forces, and the United States Air Force. He was the senior officer in command of the West Compound at Stalag Luft III prisoner of war camp after being shot down and captured in 1944.

Darr Hayes Alkire
Darr Alkire.jpg
Born(1903-12-31)December 31, 1903
Fay, Nevada[1]
DiedJuly 22, 1977(1977-07-22) (aged 73)
Salt Lake City, Utah
Place of Burial
National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Honolulu [2]
AllegianceUnited States of America
Service/branchUnited States Army Air Force
United States Air Force
Years of serviceMarch 10, 1924-October 31, 1956[1]
RankBrigadier General
Commands held1937: 96th Bomb Squadron
1942: 2d Bombardment Group
1942: 100th Bombardment Group
1943: 449th Bombardment Group
1954: Newark Transportation Control Depot
1954: 3101st Logistics Control Group[1]
Battles/warsWorld War II
Korean War
AwardsAir Force Distinguished Service Medal (Army Design)[3]
Silver Star[1]
Prisoner of War Medal[3]
Distinguished Flying Cross[1]
Air Medal with Oak Leaf Clusters[1]
Spouse(s)Ruth Eleanor McKee (1927-28)
Alma Tate Robinson (1930+)
ChildrenMichael Elliott Alkire (1927)
Darryl Ann Alkire (1932)
Jacqueline Hayes Alkire (1934)
Barbara Hoogs (1925, step daughter)

Early YearsEdit

Alkire was born in Fay, Nevada in 1903 to Chester and Henrietta Alkire.[4] He had a younger sister, Helen, and younger brother, Ross.[4] Alkire graduated from high School in Salt Lake City, Utah and spent two years studying at the University of Utah before joining the US Army. [1]

Air Force CareerEdit

Alkire was appointed flying cadet at Brooks Field, Texas in 1924. After graduating from flight school, he was assigned to the 6th Pursuit Squadron at Wheeler Field Hawaii. In 1930, he became a flight instructor at March Field in California and then a flight instructor at Randolph Field in Texas.[1] While stationed at Randolph, Alkire had a forced landing/accident in a Douglas BT-2C (#31-445) in Yorktown, TX on April 11, 1932.[5]

During World War II, Alkire took over command of the 2d Bombardment Group in January 1942[6], and became the first commander of the 100th Bombardment Group in November of 1942.[1] In November 1943, Alkire became the Commander of the 449th Bombardment Group. On December 18, 1943, Alkire piloted the Maui Maid (41-28623) to Grottaglie Airfield, making it the first 449th Bombardment Group B-24 to land in Italy. [7] The Maui Maid was scrapped for parts after it struck an embankment on January 30, 1944.[7]

Prisoner of WarEdit

Returning from his 19th B-24 Liberator mission on January 31, 1944, the Lurchin Urchin [8](41-29223) was shot down and crashed near Cervia, Italy. He was captured by the Germans

449th B-24 with Bar A painted on tail

and sent to Dulag Luft prisoner of war camp, then marched to Stalag Luft III. When the West Compound at Stalag Luft III opened on April 27, 1944, Alkire was made the senior officer in command until liberation in April 1945.[9] [10] [11] Both a book and a movie were made about the Great Escape by prisoners in the North Compound of Stalag Luft III during Alkire's internment.

The USAAF filmed the Lurchin Urchin B-24 Liberator on the mission in which Colonel Alkire was shot down.[12] On February 14, 1944 the B-24's in the 449th had a large "Bar A" painted on their tail in his honor.[13][14][15]

Airline CareerEdit

In 1929, Alkire took a three month leave from the Army Air Corp to help Inter-Island Airways begin flight operations using a Bellanca Pacemaker and two Sikorsky S-38 flying boats. [16] He was the second pilot hired, behind Charles Elliott.[16]

Personal LifeEdit

In 1927, Alkire married Ruth McKee in Honolulu and had one child with her, Michael Alkire. They divorced in 1928. [17] In 1930, Alkire married Maui born Alma Tate Robinson, who was mother to Barbara. They had two daughters together, Darryl Ann and Jacqueline.[18] Alkire's B-24 Maui Maid was named in honor of Alma.[7] Michael followed in his father's footsteps and became a pilot in the USAF, but lost his life in a plane crash at the age of 22. Michael is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.[19][20]

Later YearsEdit

Alkire retired from the Air Force in 1956 and moved back to Salt Lake City. In 1958, Alkire appeared on a Salt Lake City television interview series regarding the Cold War, titled "What Security in the Rocket Age?"[21] Alkire died on July 22, 1977 and is buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, in Honolulu, HI.[2]

References and notesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "BRIGADIER GENERAL DARR HAYES ALKIRE". Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  2. ^ a b Find A Grave]
  3. ^ a b "Hall of Valor Project, Darr Hayes Alkire". Retrieved 4 April 2018.
  4. ^ a b "1910 US Census". Retrieved 2 August 2018.
  5. ^ "Randolph Field, Texas Accident Listings". Retrieved 18 March 2018.
  6. ^ "2nd Bombbardment Group". Retrieved 8 June 2018.
  7. ^ a b c Livingstone, Robert. "Maui Maid". Retrieved 18 March 2018.
  8. ^ "Aviano Air Base, Italy". Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  9. ^ Hatton, Greg. ""Stories My Father Never Told Me"". Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  10. ^ Gordon, George. ""grottaglie, and home" a history of the 449th bomb group forty-seventh wing ..." Google Books. Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  11. ^ "COL Darr H. ALKIRE". Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  12. ^ "B 24 Liberator". Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  13. ^ "Tail Shot". Retrieved 28 March 2019.
  14. ^ "Our Baby". Retrieved 7 April 2018.
  15. ^ "B-24 Aircraft". Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  16. ^ a b Thiele, Ray (1994). Kennedy's Hawaiian Air. Olomana Publishers. ISBN 0-9643365-0-2.
  17. ^ "California, Biographical Index Cards, 1781-1990". Retrieved 19 October 2018.
  18. ^ "Alma Tate Robinson Obituary". Retrieved 19 October 2018.
  19. ^ "New York Times Obituaries, 1950". Retrieved 19 October 2018.
  20. ^ "Michael E Alkire". Retrieved 19 October 2018.
  21. ^ "The Deseret News". Google News. Retrieved 18 March 2018.

  This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Air Force website