Capt Kenneth R.
Bridges (pilot), 491st Bomb Squadron, was killed in the crash of 'Niagra's Belle' (43-3906) on 19 January 1945.
His aircraft was one of four on a mission to bomb the railroad bridge
at Dap-Cu, French Indo-China. Over the target his aircraft was hit
by automatic weapons fire, damaging the right engine and causing
it to quit as well as causing a fire in the left engine. For more than
and hour and fifteen minutes, Captain Bridges did everything he could
to keep the ailing aircraft in the air.
Having reached a point about 25 miles into China, up the
Nanshi-Ho river, and slowly losing altitude he ordered the crew to bail
out. He stayed at the controls until he was sure all of the other
six men had left the aircraft. A few seconds later it appeared to the copilot, last
man out, that Capt. Bridges attempted to
crash land the plane. However, the attempt was unsuccessful and the craft was
severely wrecked and burnt. It is unknown why he didn't bail out,
perhaps he believed the plane was already to low for the parachute to
All of the other six crewmen, including Sgt. Thomas Mire who had been
shot in the leg, were able to reach a small village. The villagers and
other Chinese assisted them to make their way back and
by January 22nd they had rejoined American forces.
His home town was listed as Luling, Texas. Click here to see him in a crew group photo
(above information extracted from MACR 11638)
Kenneth R. Bridges
Entered the Service From: Texas
Service: U.S. Army Air Forces, 491st Bomber Squadron, 341st Bomber Group, Medium
Died: Friday, January 19, 1945
Buried at: Honolulu Memorial
Location: Honolulu, HI, USA
Plot: C Grave: 278
Awards: Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal, Purple Heart