Baseball in Wartime

Baseball's Greatest Sacrifice


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Those Who Died That Others Might Be Free

 

Purple HeartAir MedalJohn Campbell

 

Date and Place of Birth: July 1917, Hightstown, New Jersey
Date and Place of Death: March 31, 1943 Mediterranean Sea
Baseball Experience: College
Position: unknown
Rank: Second Lieutenant
Military Unit:
448th Bomb Squadron, 321st Bomb Group USAAF
Area Served: Mediterranean Theater of Operation

 

John CampbellJohn F Campbell was born in Hightstown, New Jersey in July 1917. The son of a carpet weaver, Campbell attended Hightstown High School and the Peddie School in Hightstown, where he excelled in athletics.

 

He entered Dickinson College at Carlisle, Pennsylvania in 1937. Campbell played varsity baseball, soccer and basketball at Dickinson, and was sports editor of the college yearbook and vice-president of the student athletic association.

 

Campbell graduated from Dickinson in June 1941 and soon enlisted in the Army Air Corps. Training as a flying cadet, he was commissioned in the fall of 1942.

 

On February 11, 1943, it was announced that Second Lieutenant Campbell was engaged to Ruth Coleman, a senior at Dickinson at the time. Three days later, Campbell’s squadron, the 448th Bomb Squadron, 321st Bomb Group, received orders assigning them to North Africa.

 

On February 15, 1943, a 54-plane formation of North American B-25 Mitchell’s left Brooks Field, West Palm Beach, Florida to begin the first leg of the overseas journey. Campbell was co-pilot of B-25 serial number 41-29769.

 

For refuelling and maintenance checks the formation made stops at Puerto Rico, British Guiana, Brazil, Ascension Islands, Liberia, French West Africa and Marrakech. They landed at their final destination, Oujda in French Morocco on March 2, 1943. It was the first time a group had successfully made the crossing in a single formation without losing an airplane.

 

On March 12, 1943, the 321st Bomb Group moved to Ain M’lila in Algeria, a forward airfield, and flew their first mission against a German landing ground at Mezzouna in Tunisia on March 15, 1943.

 

Just two weeks later, on March 31, Second Lieutenant Campbell’s B-25 failed to return from a mission. He was posted missing and later declared as killed in action.

 

North American B-25 Mitchell

 

John Campbell received the Air Medal and Purple Heart. His body was never recovered and it is believed his plane crashed in the Mediterranean Sea. He is memorialized at the North Africa American Cemetery at Carthage, Tunisia.

 

Some of the above information was obtained from the Dickinson College website and the 321st Bombardment Group website.

 

Added October 22, 2006

Copyright © 2007 Gary Bedingfield (Baseball in Wartime). All Rights Reserved.