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‘Masters of the Air’ TV series chronicles Alabama connection to WWII

A new miniseries on AppleTV+, “Masters of the Air,” follows the Army Air Force’s 100th Bombardment Group, known as the “Bloody Hundredth”, during World War II.

The “Bloody Hundredth” throughout its combat, counted airmen from Alabama among its number. The series touches on some of those young Alabamians who served during the 100th Bombardment Group’s European campaign.

Bob Fuerst of Huntsville, state director of the Stories Behind the Stars project, researched some of the Alabamians in the group and found out some details regarding their combat service and deaths.

1st Lt. Richard C King, Leighton (Colbert County)

King was born was born March 22, 1917 in Leighton. He enlisted in 1941. He was a part of a group sent to bomb the Caudron-Renault works in Paris. On Sept. 3, 1943 King was killed after his plane was hit by enemy fire in the south of France. Several of King’s crew members were able to bail out. He was initially buried in a local cemetery in France and in 1949 was reinterred in King Cemetery in Colbert County.

2nd Lt. William M Beddow Jr, Ensley (Jefferson County)

Beddow Jr. was born Feb. 8, 1921 in Ensley in Jefferson County. He enlisted in 1942 in Tuscaloosa. Beddow died Oct. 10, 1943, when his bomber was hit during an intense air battle that saw 350 Nazi fighters take to the skies to defend Germany. Beddow was initially buried in a local cemetery in Germany and after the war was reinterred in Elmwood Cemetery in Birmingham.

1st Lt. Stewart A McClain, Gadsden (Etowah County)

McClain was born Jan. 26, 1921 in Ringgold, Catoosa County, Ga., but moved to Alabama during his childhood with his family. Stewart enlisted or was inducted into the Army Air Force in 1942. McClain died Feb/ 25, 1944 in a bombing mission over Germany after his plane was hit multiple times by anti-aircraft fire as well as fire from Luftwaffe pilots. McClain is buried in the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial at Colleville-sur-Mer, Departement du Calvados, Basse-Normandie, France.

Fuerst is continuing his research to find out more about the heroes from Alabama who perished while serving in the outfit. If you are interested in learning more you can visit storiesbehindthestars.org

Nearly 800 members of the Army Air Force’s 100th Bombardment Group died in combat during World War II.

Austen Shipley is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News.

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