Sunday, September 6, 2015

Honoring Stanton Gage, Lieutenant, USAAF

It all started when I posted a link to the video “Isaac’s Storm” on Facebook. “Isaac’s Storm” is the story of Isaac Cline, chief meteorologist at the Galveston, Texas office of the US Weather Bureau. The hurricane that hit the island of Galveston in 1900 is considered to be the deadliest natural disaster in US history.

Years earlier, I saw a comment on someone’s family tree that Martha Richardson McCarroll had died in the Galveston Hurricane of 1900. I made note of it as something to check out in the future. Martha was a relative, younger sister of my 4th great-grandmother, Elizabeth Richardson Rankin McCabe.

I decided to do a little research to see if there was any truth to the story. It didn’t take long to discover that Martha had not died in Galveston in 1900. She was listed in the Galveston city directories for 1890 & 1891, and in the Houston directory in 1902. She was not on the casualty list compiled by the Rosenburg Library in Galveston. She probably experienced the hurricane in 1900, as Houston is on the Texas coast near Galveston, but she survived.

I figured as long as I was researching Martha, I should see if I could find any new information about her children. She had at least eleven children by her first husband, John McCarroll. Eldest daughter, Amanda, lived in Hills Boro, Hill County, Texas, with her husband Eugene Vinyard. Eugene’s occupation was stated in the 1880 Census as “City Butcher.”

Amanda and Eugene Vinyard had one son and three daughters. Eldest daughter, Julia Lavina married George Franklin Sturgis. Their daughter, Florence, married James William Boyd and had daughter, Grace. Grace Boyd married Carleton Gage and had two children: son Stanton and daughter Gwen. Then they divorced.

Carleton Gage was a realtor and insurance agent. His ex-wife, who went by the name of “Mrs. Grace Boyd Gage,” was a socialite, appearing frequently in the Society pages. Their son, Stanton, had some apparent artistic talent as a youngster.

In 1930 the Dallas Morning News ran an article titled "Art Sorority Plans Saturday Luncheon." The sorority was Alpha Rho Tau, of Southern Methodist University. Olive Donaldson, head of the art department of SMU, was scheduled to speak on “Creative Art,” and Carol McKenzie would demonstrate with a small group of pupils “the creative possibilities of a child.” One of the children participating in this event was eight-year-old Stanton Gage.

On May 19, 1933, Sanger’s, a Dallas clothing store, sponsored a "Talented Kiddies Contest" featuring Tommy Bond, “a movie star with the Our Gang Comedies." Tommy also attended the John S. Bradfield School in Dallas. Talented students from three schools were scheduled to participate in the program and the winner would be awarded a prize of $2.50! 

The John S. Armstrong School had five entries in the contest. Four of the acts involved singing and dancing, but one other stood out. Eleven-year-old Stanton Gage was to be 4th on the program and he would be demonstrating his free-hand drawing skills.

Stanton Gage later became a student at Southern Methodist University, but when WWII began he enlisted in the Army Air Force. The Dallas Morning News reported that Stanton Gage had received his wings and commission as a second lieutenant in the Army Air Force at Boise, Idaho. He married his sweetheart before going overseas. An article appeared in the Dallas Morning News on May 4, 1943 “Lunch Planned Thursday Honoring Mrs. Stanton Gage.”

“Mrs Stanton Gage will be honored with a luncheon in the Mural Room Thursday given by Mrs. Grace Boyd Gage. The honoree, before her marriage to the hostess’ son, was Miss Alta Jean Peterson, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. J. P. Peterson of Sioux Falls, SD. The honoree will leave soon for a visit with her parents at their summer cottage on Lake Minnewawa in Minnesota, before joining her husband, who is an aviation cadet at Kelly Field, San Antonio…He is the son of Mrs. Grace Boyd Gage and Carleton Gage.”

August 13, 1944, the Dallas Morning News reported that three Dallas residents had been awarded medals. “Second Lt. Stanton Gage, son of Mrs. Grace Boyd Gage, 2704 Mockingbird Lane, has been awarded the Air Medal for participation in air raids over Germany. He is a bombardier on a Flying Fortress. His wife is Mrs. Alta Jean Gage, also of Dallas.”

Then the unthinkable happened. Another article in Dallas Morning News on November 28, 1944 was titled “Two Dallasites Die in Action.

“Lt. Stanton Gage, 22, son of Mrs Grace Boyd Gage, 3704 Mockingbird Lane, and Carleton Gage, was killed in aerial combat over Germany, his mother has been advised through the International Red Cross. He has been reported missing in action Sept. 30, while on his twenty-second mission as a bombardier on a Flying Fortress. Lieutenant Gage was graduated from Highland Park High School and attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Chicago and Southern Methodist University. He also is survived by his wife, Mrs. Alta Jean Gage, formerly of Minneapolis, Minn. Lieutenant Gage had been awarded the Air Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters for gallantry in action.”

How is it possible that this talented young man could have been killed on his 22nd mission? The crew of another Flying Fortress, the Memphis Belle, were retired after 25 missions. What happened?

A search of B-17 plane crashes on September 30, 1944 led to a Find A Grave page for Sgt. Carrel W. Stamps, who was on the same plane.

“On 9/30/1944 while on a group bombing mission Stamps’ plane was struck by a bomb falling from another bomber. The bomb exploded causing his plane to explode as well and crash near Bielefeld, Germany. His plane was SN# 43-38115 and was named the Reluctant Lassie. The Air Force accident report number for this incident is MACR 9429. All crew members died except for one who was captured by the Germans and held for the remainder of the war as a prisoner of war.”

The names of everyone on the plane were included in the story, and Stanton Gage was listed as one of the casualties.

MACR stands for “Missing Air Craft Report.” The entire 27 page MACR 9429 report can be found on the Fold3 website. The official military report confirmed the story on Sgt. Stamps’ Find A Grave page. It was an unfortunate case of 
so-called “friendly fire.”

Lt. Stanton Gage is buried at Arlington National Cemetery, our nation’s most hallowed ground. His name is included in the World War II Memorial at Southern Methodist University, dedicated to the alumni who gave their lives for their country. Stanton’s father, Carleton Gage, established the "Stanton Gage Art Award Memorial Fund" at Highland Park High School in memory of his only son who was killed in World War II.

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