379th Fighter Squadron, 362nd Fighter Group
Plot F, Row 14, Grave 25
Capt. George W. Rarey, from Enid, Okla., was a commercial artist and cartoonist before serving as a pilot with the 379thFighter Squadron. At 21 years old, he was working in the art department of the Washington Star when he met his future wife, Betty Lou. They soon married, and in early 1942, Rarey was drafted into the U.S. Army. He was sent south for preflight training and Betty Lou followed her husband around the country for a year and a half, from Florida to Mississippi, from Alabama to Massachusetts.
On November 22, 1943, Rarey and his group set sail for England. At 25 years old, he was just a few years older than many of his fellow airmen, garnering the nickname “Dad.” Rarey was one of the best-loved pilots of the 362ndFighter Group. He designed and painted the nose art for almost 30 aircrafts, including his own. Despite the incredible pressures placed upon Rarey as a fighter pilot, he was described by fellow servicemen as gentle and friendly, always drawing or sketching during his free time.
The 362ndFighter Group flew its first mission on February 8, 1944 over France. The following month, Rarey heard news from Betty Lou that he had become a father. In celebration he renamed and repainted his P-47 as “Damon’s Demon” after his newborn son. Sadly he would never meet his son. A few weeks after D-Day, Rarey took off leading a four-aircraft section on a search and destroy mission over France. A direct flak blast exploded near his aircraft and he was killed. His son, Damon, later published a book full of his father’s wartime sketches and cartoons entitled “Laughter and Tears.”
Awards: Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with 8 Oak Leaf Clusters
George W. Rarey is buried in Normandy American Cemetery Plot F, Row 14, Grave 25.