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Walter F. Perra

7th Fighter Squadron, 20th Fighter Group

Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army Air Forces

Entered the Service from:

California

Died:

6/15/1944

Grave Location:

Plot B, Row 17, Grave 24

2ndLt. Walter F. Perra and his four brothers and sister grew up in Ceres, Calif.. Medrick, Walter’s brother, was a talented tool and die maker who worked for Douglas Aircraft, making aircraft for the war effort in World War II. His brother, Joe, also served in the war as a navigator and bomber who flew from North Africa and Italy to Germany and Austria. 

2nd Lt. Walter F. Perra sits the cockpit of his aircraft during training.

Walter was a P-38 pilot assigned to the 77thFighter Squadron, 20thFighter Group.  He was training at the Santa Ana Army Air Base by February 22, 1943, and wrote many letters home: "I still hope I'll be classified for pilot training." 

Perra stands in front of a Stearman PT-17 biplane.

By April 8, 1944, Perra was stationed in Kings Cliffe, England and he wrote many letters to his family about the kindness of the English people. From April 1944, through early June of that same year, Perra flew 14 missions. Walter was then assigned to fly fleet support for the D-Day invasion.

Perra poses next to his P-38 at Kings Cliffe Airfield just weeks before his death.

When D-Day arrived, Walter was assigned to support the fleet for what he referred to as “the Big Show." He flew five more sorties during the invasion, attacking German trains bringing supplies to the front lines. He became Missing in Action on June 15, 1944, while flying over Dreux. Hit by enemy fire, according to French eyewitnesses, he could have bailed out and saved himself, but chose to steer the aircraft away from the town of Les Corvees below him before trying to bail out at only 100 ft. above the ground. He was killed instantly. The civilians of Les Corvees and Dreux held a ceremony in 1944 to honor Walter, and buried him in secret, defying the Germans. He lay buried and listed as missing in action until a few months after the war ended and an American Graves Registration unit was able to discover his identity. A small monument to Perra, erected by the villagers of Les Corvees, is located near the original crash site.

Awards: Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, Purple Heart

Walter F. Perra is buried in Normandy American Cemetery Plot B, Row 17, Grave 24.