Colonel James David Garcia

COL Garcia

World War II

US Army Air Forces
Headquarters, XXI Bomber Command
Service Number: O-022069
Born: July 27, 1914
Inducted: June 1939
Died: August 23, 1945 at Harmon Field, Guam
Buried: National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific,
   Section E, Grave 252, Hawaii

Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star, Air Medal w/2 Oak Leaf Clusters, Purple Heart

Son of Doctor James and Ethel Garcia of Idalia. Husband of Betty Millsop Garcia of West Virginia.

COL JD Garcia Headstone
Photo by NC of the Pacific Staff

Wray Rattler - August 3, 1944 (Extract)

James D. Garcia of Idalia Now Full Colonel

Intelligence officer of the XX bomber command of giant B-29 Super-fortresses somewhere in India, James D. Garcia of Idalia now wears the silver eagles signifying his new rank of full colonel.

Col. Garcia is the son of Mrs. Ethel M. Garcia of Del Norte, Colo. and the late Dr. James Garcia. He was born and raised in the Idalia community and attended grade and high school there. He was graduated from Colorado University as a pharmaceutical chemist, but gave up that career to enter West Point. Graduating from West Point military academy in 1939 and from Kelly Field flying school in 1940, he now has more than 1000 hours flying time. In July 1942 he was stationed with an aerial group in the Caribbean.

Mrs. Garcia is the former Betty Jan Millsop, daughter of Thomas E. Millsop, president of the Weirton Steel Company.

1945 Newspaper Article

Distinguished Career Ended

Col. James D. Garcia of Del Norte, Colo., was killed in a B-29 accident on Guam Thursday, according to trans-Pacific dispatches received Saturday.

Col. James D. Garcia, air force intelligence officer, killed with three other persons when their B-29 stalled just off the ground in a routine takeoff from Harmon field on Guam on August 23, is a son of the late Dr. James Garcia, formerly of Idalia, and Mrs. Ethel M. Garcia of Del Norte. He was intelligence officer of the Twentieth air force and was a pilot on the first B-29 bombing mission against the Japanese homeland. He gave up a medical career to attend the military academy at West Point and graduated in 1939.

After winning his wings at Kelly Field in 1940, Colonel Garcia was assigned to the Caribbean theatre where he won commendation for bringing in a bomber which developed engine trouble 150 miles out at sea. He participated in eleven bombing missions over Italy, winning the Air Medal, and was transferred to China with the first Superfortress command. He used his wife's name, Betty as the signal for "bombs away" on the historic first B-29 mission, the Yawata strike of June, 1944.

His widow is Mrs. Betty Milsop Garcia of Weirton, West Virginia.

General Spaatz and Lt. Gen. Nathan F. Twining, Twentieth Air Force commander, attended the funeral services of Colonel Garcia and his companions on Guam.

Survivors, in addition to his mother and his wife, are two brothers in the navy and two sisters, one a cadet nurse in Denver and the other a Wac, and a sister at home.

Colonel James D. Garcia biography published in 1993.

James David Garcia graduated from Idalia High School and from the University of Colorado in 1935. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., in 1939 and from Army Air Corps Flying School at San Antonio in 1940.

While stationed at Langley Field, Va., Jim was married to Betty Millsop on Sept. 4, 1940. In December 1940, the 25th Bombardment Group of which he was a member was transferred to Puerto Rico.

During 27 months of service in the Caribbean, Jim was a B-24 Squadron Commander and attained the grade of Major. In early 1943, he attended the Naval War College and successfully completed the course. Thereafter, Jim energetically entered the field of air intelligence and began preparing himself for the job of Chief of Intelligence of the first B-29 Bomber Command which was then in the embryo stage.

He made an extended trip to the European and Mediterranean Theaters, investigating combat intelligence requirements and participating in several air combat missions over Europe.

In June 1944, while overseas in India as Chief of Intelligence of the 20th Bomber Command, Jim was promoted to full Colonel. That month, he was a pilot on the first B-29 bombing mission against the Japanese homeland, the Yawata strike in which he used his wife's name "Betty" as the signal for "Bombs Away." Yawata was the site of the Imperial Iron and Steel Works, the number one steel target on the Japanese empire, with a yearly production of more than two million metric tons, some 24 percent of the total for all Japan.

Jim assumed charge of intelligence of the 21st Bomber Command in the Marianas in January 1945.

In June 1945, Colonel Garcia and Major Gen. Curtis E. LeMay were directed by Gen. H.H. Arnold to fly to Washington to present to the Joint Chiefs of Staff the latest evaluation of the air offensive against Japan. Colonel Garcia was responsible for the system of evaluation which forecast an early end to the war with Japan.

The tragic accident which took Jim's life occurred only a few days before he was to have been returned to the U.S. after having been overseas 45 months since 1941. He was killed with three other persons when their B-29 stalled just off the ground in a routine check flight takeoff from Harmon Field on Guam on Aug. 23, 1945. He was 31 years of age.

His citations included Legion of Merit for distinguished service, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, Bronze Star, Purple Heart for knife wounds received while escaping after being kidnapped by a spy ring in Calcutta, India, Asiatic Theater Ribbon with six Battle Stars, European and American Theater Ribbons.

Extract of 1945 Army Air Forces Accident Report

Guam Air Depot - Marianas Island, Guam, Agana - Harmon Field.

Aircraft #42-9392, F-13, Hqs 20th AF, Aug 23, 1945, 0138Z.

Lt.Col. Brandon, Harry M. O-21754, AC, Hqs 20th AF, Fatal
Col. Garcia, James D., O-22069, C, Hqs 20th AF, Fatal
Capt. Tash, Robert T. O-868530, F, Hqs 20th AF, Fatal
Sgt. Riolo, Nichalos 39390430, X, Hqs & Hqs Sqdrn, 20th AF, Injured
Cpl. Reed, Robert W. 31269222, X, Hqs & Hqs Sqdrn, 20th AF, Fatal

On 23 August 1945, F-13, #42-93912, took-off from Agana Field, Guam for Harmon Field, Guam with a crew of five (5) on board.

The Pilot, Lieutenant Colonel Harry N. Brandon, was checking the Co-pilot, Colonel James D. Garcia, out on the aircraft. They were shooting touch and go landings on Harmon Field. The first landing went off without mishap then he flew traffic for the second landing.

The aircraft made a tail-low landing and put on power for take-off. As he became airborne the aircraft went into a very steep climb at apparently to low an airspeed. The aircraft started drifting to the left then started a turn as the left wing was dropping, apparently at such a low airspeed, the Pilot couldn't recover the left wing. The aircraft went into a 70° bank causing the left wing to hit a tree along the side of the runway. The aircraft then completely stalled, dropping the wing in the ground causing it to cartwheel into the Engineering and Maintenance Building and bursting into flames.

Four members of the crew and one enlisted man on duty in Transient Maintenance were killed.

Cause Factor: Apparent cause of accident was improper position of elevator trim tabs for take-off in that the trim tabs were apparently rolled to the full "tail heavy" position for landing with no correction made upon attempting take-off.

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