Seventy years after his death, 2nd Lt. Walter E. Truemper was honored on Memorial Day with the naming of “Walter E. Truemper Lane” in Aurora.
Although a mere 25 years old when he was killed during a bombing mission over German during World War II, Truemper demonstrated a courage and depth of character of men three times his age.
Truemper was born on Oct. 31, 1918. One of ten children he grew up and came of age in Aurora. He attended business college and worked as an accounting clerk according to a short biography.
At the outbreak of war, he enlisted in the United States Army from Aurora on June 23, 1942. Initially he served with the 174th Field Artillery at Camp Bowie, TX, until he entered pre-flight training. Truemper was eventually sent to England as a replacement crew member of the Eighth Air Force in December 1943.
He was assigned to the 510th Bomb Squadron, 351st Bombardment Group, based at RAF Polebrook in England.
Truemper was a navigator aboard a B-17 Flying Fortress that was flying a bombing mission over Leipzig, Germany, on Feb. 20, 1944, when the plane was attacked by a squadron of German fighter planes.
The attack left the co-pilot dead, the pilot alive by immobile, and the radio operator wounded. The remaining crew managed to fly the badly damaged plane back to RAF Polebrook. While the other crew members parachuted to safety, Truemper and the flight engineer volunteered to stay aboard the aircraft.
Both men -- inexperienced flyers -- were ordered to abandon the plane, but they chose not to leave the pilot, who was alive but badly engineered, behind. The plane would eventually crash despite three valiant attempts to land it, killing Truemper and the others.
The Aurora navigator was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously.
Truemper and another Aurora veteran, Army Lt.. Col. William Robert Holstine, were both recognized on the House floor by Congressman Randy Hultgren (IL-14).
Lt. Col. Holstine served 29 years in Army where he earned several awards. He was an avid runner, a military science professor at Wheaton College, and a project manager for the Army Reserve.
Holstine lost his battle with cancer this past February. Hultgren presented a flag to the late Army veteran’s wife at the Kane County Fairgrounds on Memorial Day.
“In recognition of Armed Forces Day and Memorial Date … we offer our deepest gratitude to those who have selflessly dedicated their lives protecting our freedom,” the congressman said. “In particular, I want to remember 2nd Lieutenant Walter Truemper and Lt. Col. William Robert Holstine, both of Aurora, IL.”
Video source: C-Span