S/Sgt. Thomas Vernon Land
Top Turret Gunner, Hautman Crew
Thomas Vernon Land was the son of Jesse B and Velma Singer Land. He was born on November 6, 1920 in Richmond, Madison County, Kentucky. He had at least one other brother. By the 1940 census, he had completed three years of high school. He was married to Lounata Newby on December 24, 1940.
After the Kassel Mission, Thomas became a POW and probably was interned at Stalag Luft IV with Giesler, Howe, and Maupin.
Per Harold Giesler’s son, Duane: Most of the captured Allied flyers, (including Dad) were detained for interrogation at Dulag Luft near Oberursal. From there, they went to Dulag Luft at Wetzlar for about a week, while they were being processed and assigned to a permanent camp. Most of the Kassel Mission enlisted men went by train to Stalag Luft lV at Gross Tychow, Poland (including Dad) and most...of the officers went to Stalag Luft l at Barth, Germany.
The prisoners at Stalag Luft IV (including Dad) were put on the road Feb. 6, 1945 and began a march (ahead of advancing Russians) that lasted 86 days and covered about 600 miles. Dad’s bunch walked Southwest all the way to Fallingbostel and then back Northeast to Lubeck, Germany, where they were liberated by the English on May 2, 1945.
I believe the same is true about Maupin, Land, and Howe.
Thomas died on August 18, 2006, in Somerset, Pulaski County, Kentucky. He was a retired auto parts salesman of Land Auto Supply, and a lifetime member of the Disabled American Veterans and the American Ex-Prisoners of War. Thomas was noted to be a Kentucky Colonel and a member of the Richmond Nazarene Church. Buried in the Mill Springs National Cemetery in Nancy, Pulaski County, Kentucky, he was survived by two daughters and one brother, but was preceded in death by his wife, who died in 1998.