Displays

William Lassiter Pilot P-38 44-25006 82nd Fighter Group 96th Fighter Squadron

The right side vertical with rudder from Bill's P-38Bill’s P-38 was hit by flak that was being fired from a nearby Airdrome.  His plane suffered a lot of damage including the loss an engine from the flak.  He radioed his wing man Kenneth Herrick telling him that he was going to have to make a crash landing.

 

 

 

William (Bill) was born on 16 August 1916 in Hattiesburg, MS to parents Jenette and Henry.  He graduated from the University of Mississippi in 1937 and started his career as a teacher at Starkville High School teaching Civics, American Government, and World History from 1938 to 1941.  While at Starkville High School he coached football.  During this time he was also enrolled at Mississippi State College working on his Master’s Degree. 
 
He married Annie Delle Crigler on 5 June 1942 and they had three children, William Jr, Larry and Janet.
 
Bill joined the Army Air Corps on 12 October 1942.  He received his flight training and was awarded his wings on 8 February 1944 at Craig Field, Selma, AL.
 
Bill with his wife Annie "Miss Sis"He became a P-38 fighter pilot with the 82nd Fighter Group, 96th Fighter Squadron, flying his first combat mission on 13 September 1944.  Bill named his P-38 MISS SIS II.  Miss Sis was his wife’s childhood nick name.  On 22 February 1945 the 96th was assigned a strafing mission and the targets were Munich, Germany and Linz, Austria.  While flying near Munich Bill saw a train hiding in a small grove of trees and took the flight in to strafe it.  Bill’s P-38 was hit by flak that was being fired from a nearby Airdrome.  His plane suffered a lot of damage including the loss an engine from the flak.  He radioed his wing man Kenneth Herrick telling him that he was going to have to make a crash landing.  After safely belly landing the plane he waved at Kenneth to let him know that he was alright.  He started running away from the area but was captured and became a POW.

 

 
Bill reverted to inactive service in October 1945.  He returned to active duty in the US Air Force in September 1952.  From June 1953 to June 1954 he was with the 3rd Bomb Wing in Korea where he had served as a base supply officer and also flew C-47 transport planes.  As a Captain he became an instructor at the USAF ROTC Headquarters Air Command and Staff School at Mississippi State College. 

Bill on right with his P-38 "MISS SIS"

 
On the evening of 12 November 1954, Bill and a fellow instructor Edwin Ellis were flying a North American T-6 number 51-14805 for a proficiency flight.  The plane crashed about 6 miles from the Starkville Airport, killing both Bill and Edwin.
 
We have on display the right rear vertical and rudder from Bill’s P-38, serial number 44-25006, that he was flying on 22 February 1945 when he had to make the crash landing near Munich.  The vertical and rudder were pulled from the wreck shortly after making the crash landing.  The tail section still has the original yellow paint used by the 96th squadron, the original serial number, and the letter J for Bill’s plane.
 
 
 
 

 

The right side vertical with rudder from Bill's P-38

The right side vertical with rudder from Bill's P-38

 

Coach Bill with the Starkville High School Football team

Coach Bill with the Starkville High School Football team

 

Bill with his wife Annie "Miss Sis"

Bill with his wife Annie "Miss Sis"

 

Bill during flight training in a BT-13

Bill during flight training in a BT-13

 

Bill at Craig Field Feb 1944

Bill at Craig Field Feb 1944

 

Bill on right with his P-38 "MISS SIS"

Bill on right with his P-38 "MISS SIS"

 

Bill's first correspondence to Annie as a POW

Bill's first correspondence to Annie as a POW

 

Photo showing the 12 November 1954 crash site in Mississippi

Photo showing the 12 November 1954 crash site in Mississippi

 

 

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