Local Hero

We are approaching Memorial Day, when our thoughts should turn to the sacrifices made by all the men and women in uniform in all our wars. I ask that this year we honor the memory of Kitt Rion McMaster Jr. of Winnsboro as representing all who have served.

Kitt’s first overseas assignment was in England where he flew a British Spitfire to Rouen, France, on the first escorted bombing mission of World War II. If recent information from a television documentary is correct, one of the B-17s being escorted on that mission was flown by Col. Paul Tibbets, who later piloted the Enola Gay and dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan.

Kitt was later transferred to North Africa where, while flying a P-38 Lightning, he was credited with downing a German JU-88 bomber on June 19, 1943, and two ME-109Fs on Sept. 7, 1944.

In 1945, as the war was winding down, Kitt, by then a captain, had transitioned into the P-51D Mustang and was sent to Iwo Jima via Saipan where my father was stationed as an infantry officer. From Iwo Jima, Kitt flew 14 combat missions, including seven long-range missions over mainland Japan. On Aug. 14, 1945, on his last mission, he was escorting B-29s on a raid on Osaka when the Japanese surrender was announced. He thus flew on the first and last escorted bombing missions of WWII. Kitt died Sept. 30, 1970 and is buried in the Bethel ARP cemetery in Winnsboro.

This letter only scratches the surface, but it is the preservation of his memory that is important. A more detailed account has been written by Kitt’s son, Dr. Kitt Rion McMaster III, which I hope will make its way into a publicly available genealogical collection. I am indebted to Dr. McMaster and his sister, Ellen McMaster Nicholson, for much of this information.

John D. McLeod

Winnsboro