|William Edward Cramsie|
|Robert John Rooney|
As fate would have it, both were lost in combat during WWII. Bill went down in Bradwell Bay on April 10th, 1944 (416th Mission #10). Bob tragically died on his 65th and last required mission March 21st, 1945 (416th Mission #246). The mission to Vreden, Germany on this day 69 years ago was successful and the aircraft were returning to base. Bob Rooney was leading one element of A-26 Invaders. Another element of 416th aircraft trying to join a formation ahead of Rooney was on a collision course with Rooney's flight as they flew west into the Sun low in the sky before them. The leader of that flight, apparently blinded by the Sun, overran Rooney's plane and both ships went down with all lost except Rooney's bombardier/navigator Robert Kirk.
It was a tragedy in every sense of the word. Rooney's friends awaited his return to celebrate his impending transfer back to the U.S. There would be no celebration this day. Earlier this week, my wife Doris and I visited the grave of Bob Rooney at Greenwood Cemetery in New Orleans. It was a very poignant moment and we felt humbled to be in the presence of Rooney's spirit as representatives of those veterans still with us and the 416th extended family. His memory and that of his dear friend Bill Cramsie shall not fade as long as there is breath among those who know of their deeds and dedication. We are saddened but honored to remember both of these heroes today.