2nd Lieutenant James Byron Lesher

James Lesher Akron High School
Akron High School Photo

World War II

US Army Air Corps
Service Number: O2057648
Born: March 11, 1924
Inducted: February 2, 1943
Died: September 1, 1944 in plane crash near Abilene, Texas
Buried: Akron Cemetery

Son of Mr. and Mrs. Carl Lesher of Akron

Akron Cemetery marker

Thursday September 7, 1944 The Akron News-Reporter

James B. Lesher Killed in Plane Crash Sept. 1
Popular Akron Boy Killed at Abilene, Texas, Air Base.

Lt LesherSecond Lt. James B. (Jim) Lesher, 20, son of Mr. and Mrs. Carl Lesher, of Akron, was killed instantly in an airplane crash near Abilene, Texas air base on Friday, September 1, when the plane that he was flying failed to come out of a power dive.

According to the telegram received by Mr. and Mrs. Lesher from Colonel Weddington, commanding officer at the base, the accident occurred about five o'clock in the afternoon.

According to available information, Jim was flying with a formation of six planes practicing combat tactics in a P-47 (Thunderbolt) fighter plane, and the formation was making the final maneuver of the flight when the accident occurred. The instructor who was leading the flight went into a power dive from high altitude and Jim, who was number six in the formation, failed to pull out of the dive. Planes one, two, three and five pulled out of the dive and numbers four and six did not.

Lieutenant LeMay, of Bay City, Mich., was the pilot of the other plane that crashed and he was killed instantly also.

It was estimated that the planes were traveling at a speed of about 450 miles per hour when they crashed. Jim's plane did not hit directly on the nose but flatter, to indicate that it was not completely out of control during the dive. He had finished about one-half of his combat pilot training when the accident occurred, having approximately 45 hours of flying. He had been classified as an excellent pilot, and had made fine progress all thru his training.

Lt. Ivan J. Long, 25, also of the Abilene base training school accompanied the remains to Akron Monday evening and stayed for the funeral which was held in the Methodist church at Akron, with the Rev. Frank E. Dawson in charge.

Jim was an exceptionally popular young man in Akron where he had spent his entire life. He was prominent in school activities and was an outstanding basketball and football player when he attended the Akron high school, from which he graduated in 1942.

He will be greatly missed by his family and a large circle of friends in Akron.

Last tribute was paid by the army air corps at the cemetery in Akron Tuesday afternoon when a color guard and firing squad from Lowry Field paid homage to their departed comrade. Four P-40 planes, the type Jim took his basic flying instruction in, with a vacancy in formation flew over the final resting place of Jim, as a tribute to him and the cause for which he gave his life.


James Byron Lesher, son of Mr. and Mrs. Carl R. Lesher, was born March 11, 1924 at Akron. Colorado and died in an aircraft accident near Abilene Air Base, Abilene, Texas, at the age of 20 years, 5 months and 21 days.

Jim started to kindergarten in the Akron grade school at the age of five years and was graduated from the Akron high school with the class of 1942. In both grade and high school he took part in athletics and participated in other school activities.

From an early age, Jim attended the Methodist Sunday School and Epworth league, and was active in Boy Scout work.

In the fall of 1942 he entered the University of Nebraska. In November of the same year he enlisted in the Air Service Reserve and was called to duty February 2, 1943.

During the course of his training, Jim was stationed at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, received his college training at Springfield, Missouri, and was classified as a pilot at Kelly Field, Texas.

May 23, 1944, at Moore Field, Mission, Texas, Jim completed his pilot training, received his wings and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Army Air Force, qualifying as a fighter pilot.

At the time of his death, Jim was receiving final training in Thunderbolts prior to overseas duty.

He is survived by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Carl R. Lesher, two brothers, Sam and Lawrence, and four sisters, Marjorie, Dorothy, Valera Lea and Betty, other relatives and a host of friends.

Funeral services were held at the Methodist Church in Akron Tuesday afternoon, with the Rev. Frank E. Dawson in charge.

Music was furnished by a quartet composed of Mrs. Ruth Spicknall, Mrs. Cora Albright, Mrs. Myra Reese and Marjorie Jernberg, with Mrs. C.B. Lewis at the piano.

Pallbearers were friends and schoolmates of Jim's; Bob Duncan, Harold Cross, Erb Spicknall, Rob Hodges, Ralph Finkner and Eugene Douglas.

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