A Story to be Told: Lost at Sea
Several year ago, I dropped by a local historical cemetery and viewed some of the many tombstones of those who were buried there, including some of my relatives. During my search, I came upon a marker for someone I had not known, but it definitely had a story waiting to be told. The tombstone was for Staff Sergeant Howard Flake Sloop and what drew my attention was the inscription “Lost at Sea.” While I didn’t immediately do any research, I recently viewed the picture I had made and decided it was time to find out the details of his death.
I did an internet search and was able to find quite a few details about how he had died during World War II. As it turns out, the bomber he was on was shot down on a mission to bomb an area in Germany in 1943. Sloop served as a gunner on that particular aircraft. Here are the details:
SSGT Howard Sloop was Killed in Action during World War II.
Staff Sargent Howard Sloop was born in Alexander County, North Carolina in 1911 to William and Agnes (Sides) Sloop. He enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps on September 11, 1942. He married a woman named Ruby Fox. They may have had children. He was a woodworker in his civilian life. In the Air Corps, he served as a Waist Gunner on at least 2 different B-17s. The last B-17 that he served on was B-17 “Souse Family” 42-5895. On July 26, 1943, The “Souse Family” was flying in a mission to bomb Hannover, Germany, along with 20 other B-17s, when they came under attack by enemy aircraft, approximately 35 miles off the northwest coast of the East Frisian Islands. The plane eventually caught fire, and Lt. Col. Theodore R Harris tried to ditch it in the North Sea. 4 of the crew were killed in action and 6 were captured as Prisoners of War.
Howard received an Air Medal and a Purple Heart for his bravery in service to his country.
Howard’s body was never recovered, but his name is listed in memorial at Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial, in Margraten, Eijsden-Margraten Municipality, Limburg, Netherlands. His family also has a plot for him at Fairview Cemetery in Hickory, Catawba County, North Carolina.
The 3 other men from B-17 “Souse Family” 42-5895 that died July 26, 1943 were;
2nd Lt. Everett H Hiatt Co-Pilot
1st Lt. Arlis K Anderson Navigator
SSGT George J Hrubovcack Ball-Turret Gunner
I will continue to do additional research during the coming days and will include my findings in this entry.