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(SD)-Hot Springs Bridge Named For KIA WWII Bomber Pilot

By: John Axtell Posted at: 11/26/2019 03:06 PM
HOT SPRINGS, S.D. - A Hot Springs pilot killed in WWII when his bomber was shot down over Holland was remembered Tuesday afternoon with the naming of a bridge in his hometown after him.

       The Highway 18 bridge over the Fall River in Hot Springs is now the 2nd-Lieutenant Maynard C Freemole Bridge. The naming ceremony was held in the Fall River County Courthouse, followed by the unveiling of the bridge sign.

   The SD Highway Commission earlier this fall unanimously approved a joint program of the Depts of Transportation, Veterans Affairs, and Military to name bridges around the state after South Dakotans killed or missing in action during armed conflict. Freemole's name was offered and approved immediately after the commission action.

     Maynard Freemole quit high school after the 10th grade and lied about his age to enlist in the Army in Feb 1941 at age 17. When the war began 10 months later, he applied for and was assigned to pilot training in Alabama.

     Freemole complete his multi-engine certification in Feb 1943 and was shipped overseas  to the 8th Air Force in England as a B-17 bomber pilot. On Dec 16, 1943, Freemole and his crew were among 500 B-17 and B-24 bombers sent out to attack a key German naval installation at Bremen.

       On their return trip, his plane and other from the 337th Squadron of the 96th Bomb Group were shot down at nearly the same time close to the Dutch coast near the tiny village of Poppenwier.

     All 20 men in the 2 crews was killed and buried in common graves in the village cemetery. Maynard
Freemole was 3 months shy of his 21st birthday.

     His remains and those of several members of his crew were returned to the U-S in Nov 1949 and reburied in a common grave at the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri.

     South Dakota Sec of Veterans Affairs
Greg Whitlock says the state plans to dedicate six bridges to military heroes each year. The application form to nominate a fallen hero will be posted on his agency's website.


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