Louis L. Longman

1918 - 1944

Air Force

Their Story

Louis L. Longman was born on January 23, 1918, in Murdock, Minnesota, to Ellen (Cleary) and George Longman.[1] Both of Longman’s parents soon passed away unexpectedly: his father in 1922 and his mother in 1923.[2] After the deaths of his parents Longman and his siblings moved to Clinton, Iowa to live with relatives.[3] As a young teenager, Longman worked for the Davenport Democrat and Leader, as a newspaper carrier.[4] He attended St. Mary’s High School in Clinton, Iowa, where he participated in several sports and other extracurricular activities, such as yearbook sports editor. In 1936, Longman graduated high school, and in February of 1942, he entered active service in the United States Army. A few months later, he transferred to the U.S. Army Air Corps.[5] He completed his primary flight training at the Cal-Aero Academy, and his Basic training at the Merced Army Airfield, both in California. His Advanced Flight Training was completed at Williams Army Airfield in Arizona. On April 12, 1943, Longman received his wings after completing all of his flight training. Soon Longman began flying escort missions with the 475th fighter group. Throughout his military service, Longman ended up completing 89 of these escort missions.

Photo From: “Gov. Branstad orders flags flown at half-staff for fallen Air Corps serviceman,” KJAN Radio Atlantic, 10 April 2014.

 On April 12, 1944, Longman left for an escort mission with the 433rd Fighter Squadron, 475th Fighter Group, 5th Air Force. For this mission, Longman flew a P-38J to escort an A-20 Havoc. The purpose of this mission was to surprise the Japanese at their base in Hollandia, New Guinea, and destroy their growing supply of war materials such as their combat warplanes. The mission itself was extremely successful. Unfortunately, on the way back from the mission, the American aircrafts encountered a severe storm. John E. Happ, son of General George Kinney, a pilot during this mission stated, “…pilots reported that some planes just disappeared. Others crashed into the mountains or into the sea.”[6] The last reported sighting of Longman’s aircraft was near Bogadjim, New Guinea; this day was later called “Black Sunday,” as it was the largest operational (non-combat) loss suffered by the USAF in the war.[7]

            As of April 16, 1944, Louis L. Longman was officially Missing in Action. Almost two years later, on February 27, 1946, by order of the War Department, Longman was officially declared deceased, even though he had not yet been found.[8] Between 2007 and 2010, parts of the P-38J were recovered, as well as human remains. Later, the Joint Prisoners of War/Missing in Action Accounting Command (JPAC), who had been investigating crash sites, matched the mitochondrial DNA of remains found at one of the crash sites to that of Longman’s niece. Finally, after nearly 70 years, Longman was laid to rest at the Rock Island National Cemetery. Full honors were performed at the service, by the Iowa National Guard.[9]


Primary Photo added to ancestry by Lance Ramsey-Roberts.

[1]Iowa WWII Pilot Returns Home 70 Years Later Following Discovery of Remains in New Guinea,” Oskaloosa News, 8 April 2014.

[2]Ellen Teresa Cleary Longman,” Find a Grave, n.d.

[3]Pilot: Brothers kept memories alive in storytelling,” The Rock Island Argus, Rock Island, Illinois, 13 April 2014, p.3.

[4]Democrat-Leader Carriers Have a Christmas Party,” The Quad-City Times, Davenport, Iowa, 23 December 1931, p.6.

[5]Iowa WWII Pilot Returns Home 70 Years Later Following Discovery of Remains in New Guinea,” Oskaloosa News, 8 April 2014.

[6]Havocs Over New Guinea-Inside the American 312th Bomber Group’s Air Campaign in the Pacific,” Military History Now, 23 November 2021.

[7]“April 16, 1944,” Pacific Wrecks, n.d.

[8]Louis Lawrence Longman in the Iowa, U.S. World War II Bonus Case Files for Beneficiaries, 1947-1959,” ancestry, n.d.

[9]Longman: Forensic tools, circumstantial evidence led to ID,” The Dispatch, Moline, Illinois, p.2.