Richard ‘Dick’ Kraft, WWII bomber pilot

August 11, 2019

Richard H. Kraft passed away peacefully at Harrison Senior Living of Georgetown with his loving family surrounding him Saturday, Aug. 10, 2019, 12 days shy of his 100th birthday. He was born Aug. 22, 1919, in Quincy, Ill., to Florence Mary Katherine Langebartel and Jacob Henry Kraft.  

He was predeceased by his wife of 53 years, Elizabeth; and three sisters, Marguerite Axel, Carol Crump and Connie Minton. He is survived by his daughters, Kris Pritchett (Bill), and Ann Wilson Hoernschnemeyer (Al); grandchildren, Wendy Harrington (Lew), Lenna Miller (Adam), Jim Wilson (Melna) and David Wilson (Candy); great-grandchildren, Anna and LB Harrington, Maya and Lilah Miller, Erin Godfrey (Trevor), Jenna Lopez (Steven); Christopher, and Amber and Adam Wilson.

During World War II, Richard H. Kraft was a first lieutenant - 50 mission pilot of a B-24 Liberator Bomber with the 15th Army Air Force in North Africa and Italy.

Richard “Dick” Kraft enlisted in the Illinois National Guard Nov. 6, 1939, with a medical detachment. He entered the Army Air Forces in March 1941. He later heard that the Army was testing for pilots and decided to go for it against the wishes of his father. He was accepted into the pilot program.

He took basic cadet-officer training at Carlstrom Field, Arcadia, Fla., and basic flying at Cochran Field in Georgia.

Richard graduated from the Southeast Training Center, Blytheville Army Air Field, Blytheville, Ark., Aug. 30, 1943, as second lieutenant and rated pilot in twin-engine bombers. He then received four-engine transition training for nine weeks and later B-24 instructor school for six weeks and instrument pilot course for six weeks (Nov. 8, 1943).

Richard took his plane and crew to a field in Brazil to make the Atlantic crossing to Africa. He departed March 10, 1944, and arrived in North Africa March 19, 1944.

He then departed and arrived in Italy May 1, 1944. Upon completion of his tour of duty he departed Sept. 13, 1944, from Naples, Italy, and arrived in New York Harbor Sept. 26, 1944. He had successfully completed 50 missions over European enemy territory. Lt. Kraft was in the invasion of Southern France, being engaged for three consecutive days. He also took part in five raids which were made over the Ploesti oil fields, and over Vienna, Munich and Blechammer oil fields, and near Berlin, Friedricshafen and other German targets.

Richard was relieved from active duty June 6, 1945, with honorable discharge and rank of first lieutenant. Richard received numerous medals for his wartime service, including the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters and the Purple Heart.

Richard enjoyed a long career as a commercial airline pilot for Capitol Airways, with over 500 Atlantic crossings and 150 Pacific crossings, flying all over the world.

He will be interred in Florida with his wife, Elizabeth.

We want to say a big Thank You to Harrison Senior Living of Georgetown for the incredible love and care they gave Richard.