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Captain Fernley H. Damstrom
U.S. Army Air Forces
Ser. # 0 685975

August 19, 1923 – April 11, 1945
Olivia Cemetery
Olivia, Calhoun County, Texas

Gold Star Mother 
Gold Star Mother Olga Swenson Damstrom

Palacios High School Memorial

7th Squadron Memorial

Capt. Damstrom at Find A Grave


Captain Fernley H. Damstrom [August 19, 1923 – April 11, 1945] U.S. Army Air Forces, was born to Conrad J. Damstrom [January 26, 1891 – December 19, 1972] and Olga Swenson Damstrom [August 21, 1890 – November 1975] at Cuero, DeWitt County, Texas.  With his family living in Olivia, Calhoun County, Texas, Fernley attended school in Palacios, Matagorda County, Texas and graduated from Palacios High School c1940. Following his graduation he then attended a junior college in Victoria, Texas.  Because he had attended the Palacios school system, he was erroneously identified as a Matagorda County serviceman in the newspapers.  He joined the USAAF on October 18, 1942, and received training at San Antonio, Texas; Pine Bluff, Arkansas; Coffeyville, Kansas and then qualified for his pilot’s wings at Drew Field, Tampa, Florida on July 29, 1943. He was assigned to the 7th Fighter Squadron, 49th Fighter Group, 5th Air Force at Tacloban, Leyte, Philippines in late December 1943.  He died in an aircraft accident during takeoff from Laong Airfield, Luzon, Philippines on April 11, 1945.  At the time of his death he was classified as an Air Ace with eight aircraft kills credited to him.  His medals included:  Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters, Air Medal with 6 Oak Leaf Clusters and the Purple Heart.  He was survived by his parents and his younger brother, Emery Kenneth.  He was first interred at the U.S. Army Cemetery, Santa Barbara, Luzon, Philippines; his remains were repatriated to the United States c1948 and he was buried at the Olivia Cemetery with full military honors.

Memorial Services For Fernley H. Damstrom Held in Olivia, Sunday

Sunday afternoon at the Eden Lutheran Church of Olivia a very impressive service was held in memory of Capt. Fernley H. Damstrom who lost his life in action on Luzon.

Lovely gladiola sprays were placed at the altar and at the altar rail and as the family entered preceding the Honor Guard, Mrs. G. H. Wilson played a lovely prelude of appropriate music.

The following program was rendered:

Song: “In the Sweet By and By”
American Legion Service, Rev. Scholtz.
Trio, Misses Roten of El Campo.
Obituary and address by Rev. Huerlin.
Solo, “Corssing the Bar,” Mrs. Scholtz.
Presentation of the Purple Heart by an Army Officer.
Duet: Rev. Huerlin and Miss Roten.
Flag Presentation by Army Representative.
Benediction, Rev. Herlin.

The following letter was received by Mr. Damstrom from the commanding officer of the 7th Fighter Squadron, 49th Fighter Group.

Mr. Conrad J. Damstrom
Olivia, Texas

Dear Mr. Damstrom,

The War Department has no doubt notified you by this time that your son, Fernley H. Damstrom, was killed in action at 5:15 A. M. on 11 April 1945. Fernley was taking off on a combat mission from the Island of Luzon in the Philippines. While gaining flying speed on the runway one of his engines cut out and he attempted to stop the plane by applying his brakes. However, the momentum gained by the plane was too great and it continued off the end of the strip and crashed in a ditch. An attendant flight surgeon went to his aid immediately but was unable to assist him as he had died instantly.

The emptiness of words at times like these, Mr. Damstrom, are fully realized, but I do want you to know of the great admiration the officers and enlisted men of our entire group had for Fernley. His passing leaves an irreplaceable gap in our ranks, and he shall be missed far more than words can express.

Fernley had many close friends in this theatre, and some of them are still with us. They shall never forget him and I know how proud they are to have known him so very well. The pride Fernley took in his family, friends, home town, and state of Texas were some of his many outstanding characteristics, and through his conversation we feel as though we were acquainted with all of them. His fine character, thoughtfulness, and ready smile were greatly admired by all who knew him, and the boys who served under him respected him as a fine officer and a real gentleman.

Fernley was operations officer and second in command of our Squadron. His keen sense of loyalty to duty and ability to lead men has assisted me greatly, and his value to the unit can not be overestimated. His ability as a pilot was widely known, and his contributions to the success of the group have been great.

It may ease your burden somewhat to know that Fernley was interred with full military honor on 11 April, 1945. His grave is located at the United States Army Cemetery in the town of Santa Barbara, Luzon Island in the Philippines. Appropriate funeral services were held with his fellow officers in attendance and his resting place has been marked and registered to insure the preservation of identity against the time when hostilities will cease.


Robert W. Ashhenbrener
Captain, Air Corps, Commanding.

Fernley H. Damstrom was born in Cuero, Texas, on August 19th, 1923, with his mother be brought home to Olivia where the family resides. He was a member of the Eden Lutheran Church of Olivia being confirmed by Pastor M. A. Gunberg. He graduated from Palacios High School and attended Junior College in Victoria.

Fernley volunteered his services in the United States Army Air Forces on October 18, 1942, taking training at San Antonio, Texas; Pine Bluff, Ark.; Coffeyville, Kans. and received his wings on graduating at Eagle Pass, Texas on July 29, 1943. After a 15 day furlough home he was stationed at Tampa, Fla., then at Thomasville, Ga.

In October 1943 he was ordered to the West Coast and to the Combat Zone in the Southwest Pacific. He lost his life in action on Luzon, April 11, 1945.

In his passing he leaves to mourn him his parents, Mr. and Mrs. C. J. Damstrom, a brother Emory Kenneth, other relatives and a host of friends which includes all who ever came to know him.

Relatives and friends out of the neighborhood attending the services were Mrs. W. D. Reed, Billy and Jean Ann Reed, Miss Lois Anderson of Goose Creek; Mrs. Walter Hodges, Mrs. Leslie Wilden and Kent of Victoria; Mesdames P. B. Roemer, P. H. Bucek, Hans Runk, E. A Oliver, Misses Evelyn Anna Runk and Alberta Haskin, Judge and Mrs. Carey Leggett, H. C. Innis, Claybourn Bordosky, Victor Patterson, Mr. Elinger, Rev. and Mrs. Scholtz of Port Lavaca; Mr. and Mrs. Arthur and John Lind of Ganado; Misses Roten and Rev. Huerlin of El Campo; Mr. and Mrs. Elmer Abraham and family of Carancahua.

Palacios Beacon, Thursday, July 19, 1945


Copyright 2012 - Present by Carol Sue Gibbs
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Aug. 30, 2012
Aug. 30, 2012