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Thank you for your service Leland B. Apperson

2013 August 24

Our family is very lucky to know Major Leland Bigby Apperson, Jr.; the widower of my grandfather’s second wife Pat Auld Apperson.

Visiting with Pat and Lee are Steven, Sarah and Wilson; November 2006

Lee was a member of the 96th Heavy Bombardment Group, 45th Wing, 3rd Bomb Division, 8th Air Force; and piloted the Sans Souci B-17 Flying Fortress with his crew (name means without a care in French) to help defeat the German’s in WWII. His memoirs written in 1999 are absolutely amazing! Their missions were Normandy, Northern France, Germany and Ardeness.

The last mission, their 30th was on Christmas eve, 1944, when his group was chosen to fly as the lead 45th Combat Wing, which was also picked to lead the 3rd Division and the entire Eight Air Force heavy bomber Groups. It was the 2,000th Heavy Bomber attack of Germany when 36 planes of the 96th were assembled where Lee and his crew led this large Air Armada. His crew bombed a German Airfield outside of Darmstadt and the other Groups bombed hundreds of other German targets. Due to problems of frozen transfer valves in the Sans Souci they had to land in Brussels but were able to return to base as the “Tail End Charley”, as the last plane in formation and finished with the honor of leading the largest Air Armada ever assembled by the Air Force or ever will be again in the Battle of the Bulge on December 24, 1944. There were some 2,055 planes, with 1,850 reaching their targets.

Leland’s flying career began July 4, 1944 and ended flying the Battle of the Bulge on Christmas Eve 1944 totaling 30 combat missions.  He received the Distinguished Flying Cross, Five Air Medals, Four Bronze Battle Stars, Two Presidential Group Citations, French Parliament Liberation of Paris. Citations from General Doolittle, General Olds and General Partridge.

Lee married Pat Auld on 26 Jun 1999 and lost her in 20 March 2010.  As a retired pilot, cattle rancher and avid bird and big game hunter Lee still paints daily and leads an active life.  He had a twelve handicap when he was 85 years old. Thank you Lee for your service!!

We are losing these great soldiers at a very high rate and America should never forget!

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2 Responses Post a comment
  1. November 20, 2016

    Lydia, what is your email so I can send you his info? Thanks for your message. Jan

  2. Lydia Hartman Anderson permalink
    November 20, 2016

    Hi,
    My dad was also in the 96th BG, and he and I attended several meetings with Lee and Pat.
    Lee’s Newsletters have been returned, and we are trying to locate him. I emailed him and/or his daughter Karen on his old email address but have not heard back.
    If you have information on him, I would appreciate any news you may have. They both were a lot of fun to be around, and I miss them all very much.
    If you are interested in seeing the newsletter, several are posted on the 96th Bomb Group website. Thank you for your help.
    Lydia Anderson (Sam “Doc” Hartman’s daughter)

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