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Halbert HALL, Sibling, for Vela Hall Evans. Earl Oxford Hall was born to Halbert Theon Hall and Alice Barbara Oxford October 25, 1913 in Coryell County, Texas, near Mosheim and Coryell City. He was a very active child. Mama and Dad put the hook near the top of the door so he couldn’t unhook the door so he could run off to Mrs. Brashear’s house across the road and in a pasture behind some trees.
Earl learned to drive the Model T Ford when he was about seven. People said “There goes a car without a driver,” he was so little. Dad put up a basketball goal on the front of the garage and Earl would spend hours playing there. He attended the two-room school at Tonk Creek until he was in the eighth grade. Then he transferred to Crawford where he graduated a valedictorian of his class in 1930.
Earl made a good hand on the farm, helping to do whatever was needed. When Earl was still little, he would help in the fields. Grain harvesting was with a “Binder” pulled by a six-mule team. Earl would ride the lead mule and guide the team pulling the binder through the fields.
He chose to go to Texas A&M the next fall. Dad and the rest of the family moved him to A&M, but after that when he came home and went back, he did what was called “thumbing it.” He never seemed to have much trouble catching a ride. He went to A&M four years and was in the Corps of Cadets. When he got his Senior boots and wore them home, Dad would get up out of bed at night when Earl came in from a date and pull those boots off of him.
One summer, he was at Camp Bullis at San Antonio for training while he was still at A&M.
After his days at A&M were over, with a degree in Electrical Engineering, he went to work for Texas Power and Light in Dallas, then transferred to Waco. Just before he was 27 years old (27 was the age limit for volunteering for the service), he volunteered for the Army Air Force.
He trained in California. He came home for a week after training, before he was sent to Hawaii. He was at Hickam Field in Hawaii when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Later, he was stationed on the island of New Caledonia, but flew all over the South Pacific. He was commander of his squadron, got several medals and promotions.
He was piloting the lead plane of his flight that was on a mission when he was killed. Some of the planes were not shot down, and returned to base, but his was shot down and none of the bodies were ever recovered.
He had earned the rank of Major just before his final flight, but had not flown to the headquarters to receive the medal and Maple Leaves.
Dad was working at the Bluebonnet Shell Loading Plant at McGregor and there was a service at the plant in memory of Earl, and honoring Dad, too.
Earl’s body was never recovered, but Dad had a gray granite stone put up next to Earl’s mother’s grave in Gatesville cemetery. The stone has Earl’s name and the names of all his crew members, their rank, and their home town. Another monument in the Philippines bears Earl’s name.
I never got to meet my brother, Earl. He was already in Hawaii when I was born. 60 years later, searching for the story of his life and death in the Solomons has given me a sense of connection and appreciation of his life and service to America. It allowed me to present a book detailing his life to Earl's sisters, Vela Evans and Eddy Beckelhymer, so they would finally know the story of what happened in the South Pacific.
Earl Oxford Hall joined the United States Army Air Force before World War II started. His first posting was in Hawaii, where he enjoyed the idyllic life of the islands, according to his letters. He was in Hawaii on December 7, 1941, in the 42nd Bombardment Squadron, Heavy, of the 11th Bombardment Group, known as the Grey Geese, stationed at Hickam Field during the Japanese surprise attack.
From there, the 42nd BG went to New Caledonia, and flew missions form Guadalcanal, Efate, and Espiratu Santo during the battle for Guadalcanal and the Solomon Islands.
His complete story is recorded for anyone to read in a long biography. The complete document is available on the Internet at the link address: http://hdl.handle.net/1969.1/85718 titled Earl Oxford Hall: A Brief Biography and Wartime History. At the link address: http://oaktrust.library.tamu.edu/handle/1969.1/91130 there are biographies of other crew members, Castro, Adler, and Stephens, and several historical documents about the 42nd Bombardment Squadron (Heavy).Halbert
Earl Hall is one of the over 80,000 soldiers missing in action from World War II. His bomber was shot down over the South Pacific.
Like so many of the families of the missing in WWII, our family had no reliable information as to where his plane was shot down, nor any good knowledge of the circumstances. The family knew the plane went down on February 1, 1943, in the Solomons. For years after 1943, Theon Hall, Earl's father, wrote letters to the War Department, to soldiers who had returned from the war, and to the families of the other members of the aircrew: Joaquin Castro, Co-Pilot; Frank N. Stern, Navigator; James W. Bales, Engineer; Paul Adler, Waist Gunner; Francis S. Banasiak, Bombadier; James C. Stephens, Radio Man; Martin T. Grady, Gunner; Jesse N. Olmstead, Radio Man. The letters flew across the country as the families shared their grief and hope. They heard many stories, mis-remembered from the war, or incorrect. They even heard the true story of what happened, but it was tucked in the midst of incorrect accounts, so they never really knew what happened.
It was only in 2000, that the Air Force Historians at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama responded to inquiries and located the two documents that give a hint of the life of Earl Hall and his crew in the South Pacific. One document is the "Mission Reports 18 July 1942 - 10 August 1943" of the 42nd Bombardment Group. The other is an "A-2 Periodic Report 21 January 1943 - 28 February 1943" issued by the Joint Headquarters, 5th and 11th Bombardemnt Groups (H).
The A-2 report provided a very complete report of the final mission of the B-17 piloted by Major Earl Hall. It is reproduced in the book noted above.
For his service in the United States Army Air Force, Major Earl O. Hall was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Silver Star with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, and a Purple Heart.
Halbert HALL, Sibling, for Edna Hall Beckelhymer, Sister
I had my tenth birthday On November 29,1941. Even better than the birthday was the realization that it was less than a month until Christmas, the most fun time of the year. I didn't know that on December 7th the fun of Christmas would be gone and that our lives would change and never be the same.
My brother, Lt. Earl Hall of the United States Air Corp, was stationed at Pearl Harbor on that fateful Sunday when the Japanese struck. He lived through the attack, but none of the aircraft did. Earl was my Dad's first-born child. He had a sister, Vela, born three years later.
My Dad's first wife died in 1928. In 1930 he married my mother, Edna, who became, if not a mother, a very favorite aunt to the siblings.
My Dad was devastated by the news "Missing in Action" that came a year and two months after the Pearl Harbor attack, February 1, 1943. Earl had flown many missions by that time, mostly in the deep South Pacific. My Dad went to all the recruiting offices and was turned down as too old to serve. In the interim, the Bluebonnet Ordinance plant had opened near our home. He applied there and was hired as a guard and worked there for the remainder of the war.
He kept in touch with the families of Earl's crew and they shared any information gleaned from various sources. One family from Connecticut came to Texas to talk to Dad. He wrote copious letters to the War Department, asking for information on the details of this lost plane. He received answers to the letters but no answers to his questions.
On February 1,1944, the message that all families feared, came: "Presumed dead". My Dad had always held out hope and now this was gone. There was a terrible sadness in our family, our extended family and among all of the people in our little home town. It was a grieving of the worst kind - a young man cut down in the prime of life. For the community, Earl's death was the first of many more to come and they realized that sad fact. However, among all, there was a feeling of pride that Earl served his country at the time when the need was the greatest.
The Bluebonnet Ordinance Plant honored Earl and my Dad. They presented the Purple Heart to my Dad in a ceremony, complete with TAPS and a Missing Man Flyover. It was an impressive ceremony and especially to a young girl. As with any death, life did go on. My Father was never quite the same, but he did enjoy his other children and grandchildren. My brother Hal was born October 29, 1941, never to know Earl but he brought great hope to a devastated family. There is no replacing one son with another, but there is a great awareness with the baby of a continuance of life and joy and Hal was certainly a joy to all of us.
For rest of the story - my younger brother Hal, Curator of the Science Fiction Library at Texas A&M (coincidentally where Earl had received his Bachelor of Engineering degree) started his own research into this last flight of Earl's Squadron_ As my Dad had done, he contacted relatives of the members of this fateful crew. Several of them had started their own search and they shared all their information with one another. Hal has written a biography of Earl and the last mission. It is in the Texas A& M University Archives since Earl was a graduate and was in the Corp of Cadets. It is a sad story of planes shot to pieces and put back together for another mission. The War Department finally released their report on that mission - fifty years after the fact. We were glad to read it but I could not but think that my Dad would have given any thing in the world to have had the opportunity to read it.
Our brother was a real hero. He resigned from a good job a few years after he graduated from A&M because he wanted to fly. He loved what he was doing and I am sure he was proud to be one of the first pilots to defend our country.
We are all still very proud of him. We have a brick with his name at the George Bush World War 11 Memorial in Fredericksburg, Texas. We tell his story often and we hope that our children and grandchildren will always honor him as we do.