Honoring the Fallen Heroes of the Kassel Mission: A 2024 Memorial Day Reflection
On this Memorial Day, we gather to honor the courage and sacrifice of the 117 American and 19 German airmen who perished during the Kassel Mission on September 27, 1944. This day of remembrance is dedicated to acknowledging the bravery displayed by these men...
May 27, 2024
Youngest relative of Harlingen man lost at war receives his flag at Arlington National Cemetery
Porter Spencer sits stoically in his chair as a powerful Army officer in his perfect dress blues places a flag in the young boy’s hands. Porter Spencer is 9 years old, and he carries the blood and the name of an aviator who died defending the United States and the world from atrocities unreal and unimaginable.
December 1, 2023
Harlingen man missing for 80 years nearly finished required WWII combat runs
It’s a darker time and a sinister time as Nazi Germany spreads its hatred across Europe. The year 1940 is a rough year as the German war machine indulges Adolf Hitler’s hate and his delusional ambitions. They spread the fragmentation of his hate as German panzers and ground troops slam into France and Belgium and Holland.
November 23, 2023
WWII pilot lost at war grew up in a much younger Harlingen
It’s a slower time and a quieter time in the life of the world and in the life of Harlingen when a young Porter Pile heads off to school. He’s just a youngster at Central Ward Elementary school on Jackson Street in the new town founded just a few years before in 1910. There is promise, there is new agriculture and there are farmers and railroads and the establishment of new communities.
November 17, 2023
Veterans Day 2023
Happy Veterans Day to all our members, their families, as well as to all veterans past and present. The Kassel Mission Historical Society is blessed to still have one of our veterans from the Kassel Mission with us, Jim Baynham. My wife and I have enjoyed his occasional email communications that he shares with friends and family, sometimes reflecting on the past but more often on his life at present. If there is any model of “aging gracefully,” Jim Baynham is the “poster boy” in all he says, does, and what he represents. Jim is the epitome of the Greatest Generation.
November 10, 2023
The Long Road Home: Shining the light, focusing attention
I first saw it several years ago. We were already well into the project of trying to bring home our eight Kassel Mission MIA soldiers and get them identified when it happened. From out of nowhere, I saw myself standing at graveside during a burial service for one of these men. Until that moment, the thought that we might be successful (the government was looking to identify tens of thousands of remains), and that I might attend the funeral had never occurred to me. Then it wouldn’t let go.
November 9, 2023
A Memorable Day at Reagan National
I have been to Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C., many times over the years. Never could I have predicted that one day, October 27, 2023, to be exact, I would be so deeply moved by my most recent visit there. As a representative of the Kassel Mission Historical Society, I was invited by the gracious family of 2nd Lt. Porter M. Pile to attend his landing, the welcome home, and final flight, of our Kassel Mission KIA, just reclassified from the status of MIA in the fall of 2022. My father, although severely injured, was a survivor of that mission.
November 8, 2023
A Day of Honor
I am a latecomer to KMHS, to my regret. I like to think my path to membership was serendipitous. The pieces just all came together several months ago. I knew my father had traveled to Germany to attend a dedication ceremony for the Kassel Mission Memorial. I knew my father was a co-pilot on one of only four B-24 bombers that made it back to Tibenham. I knew that he was very fortunate to be alive and that I was very fortunate to be born.
November 7, 2023
On the 79th Anniversary of the Kassel Mission, James Baynham Can Still Tell His Story
Every year on the 27th of September a group made up of German residents who lived through those brutal days, some tourists from America who come to honor their loved ones, German honor guards and bugle corps who salute the dead and produce the eerie sound of trumpets playing taps that echo through the forest, and various local officials of local towns throughout the area there to acknowledge that violent day that affected so many lives. And my memory relives the entire scene each year.
September 27, 2023
Memorial Day 2023
On behalf of the KMHS Board, we wish you all a safe Memorial Weekend as we all take some time to reflect on our blessings and remember the men and women who made the supreme sacrifice for us all. In gratitude, as well, for our Kassel Mission crew members who have now mostly passed. In the past 12 months 2 more of our KM crew members, Ray Lemons and Jim Dowling, have passed. Rest in peace gentlemen.
May 29, 2023
His family held onto his Christmas present for years, waiting for him to return from WWII. The wait is finally over
The wooden box – about a foot long and maybe six inches deep – remained on a pantry shelf in a Portland Heights home in the Southwest hills for 36 years. No one opened it. No one moved it. No one touched it.
April 3, 2023
Acknowledging More MIA Publicity
We appreciate all efforts from editors across the US who are picking up these press releases on the success we are seeing on MIA identification. This type of publicity accelerates our efforts as we continue to find and identify our eight MIAs. Special thanks to this submission from Randy Fleuriet, nephew of Lt. Porter Pile and the publisher and editor of Rio Grande Valley Newsletter, John Bourg.
February 20, 2023
Ray Lemons Passing
It is with regret that I share the recent passing of Ray Lemons just this past Tuesday evening, 2/7/23. On behalf of the KMHS Board, we offer our sincere prayers and condolences to all members of the Lemons Family.
February 9, 2023
[PRESS RELEASE] Airman Accounted For From World War II (Pile, P.)
WASHINGTON – The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. Porter M. Pile, 24, of Harlingen, Texas, killed during World War II, was accounted for Nov. 28, 2022.
February 1, 2023
Veterans Day 2022
On behalf of the KMHS Board, we wish you all a joyful Veterans Day. We celebrate with gratitude and remembrance all those who have served and sacrificed for our country. As mentioned in our recent newsletter, please take pause for at least 11 seconds this Friday, 11/11, to give thanks!
November 11, 2022