WWII Pilot Wallace Arnold Storey will be laid to rest today. His loss is personal for me. Wallace was the WWII veteran of the 384th Bomb Group who started me on my journey of discovery of my father’s WWII service.
I have written several articles about Wallace Storey (see Notes at the end for links), but have not previously written about his early life, which I will do today.
Wallace was born on November 19, 1922 to Paul Eugene and Ethel A. (Cooley) Storey in Calhoun Falls, Abbeville County, South Carolina.
The 1930 census records Wallace as a seven year old child. The family record lists father Paul E. Storey (29 years old), mother Ethel A. Storey (29 years old), and younger brother Paul E. Storey (2 years old). The family resided at 404 Houston Street in Greenville, Greenville County, South Carolina. Parents Paul and Ethel were both South Carolina natives as were both sets of their parents. Father Paul E. Storey was an insurance agent.
The 1940 census records Wallace as a seventeen year old and the same family members as in 1930, but ten years older. The family lived on Grove Road in Greenville and had lived there since at least 1935. Father Paul E. Storey was an Assistant Manager of an Insurance Agency. Wallace had completed the third year of high school as of the date the census was taken, and would graduate from Greenville High School later that year.
“The Nautilus” 1940 yearbook from Wallace’s senior year in high school listed his many accomplishments.
As you can see, Wallace was already interested in aviation, achieving the role of president of the Aviation Club.
After high school, Wallace continued his education at Clemson University, including involvement in the school’s R.O.T.C. program where he was part of Company A-1 at the school, until a war got in the way of his education.
On June 30, 1942, nineteen-year-old Wallace filled out his military draft card. He listed his address as 112 Grove Road in Greenville, South Carolina. He listed his date and place of birth as November 19, 1922 in Calhoun Falls, Abbeville County, South Carolina. He listed the person who would always know his address as his father, P.E. Storey. His employer’s name was Mr. Bailey at Judson Mill in Greenville. His height was 5’10” and he was 165 pounds with blue eyes, brown hair, and a light complexion.
Less than two months later, Wallace Arnold Storey enlisted in the Air Corps, on August 13, 1942. His enlistment record shows that at the time of enlistment, he was a resident of Greenville County, South Carolina. His enlistment record also shows he was born in 1922 in South Carolina. He was single with two years of college.
I have previously written of Wallace’s military history, so will only mention here that he completed thirty-five missions as a B-17 pilot with the 545th Bomb Squadron of the 384th Bomb Group of the 8th Army Air Forces in WWII, stationed in Grafton Underwood England, and served in the Air Force Reserve until retirement as a Lt/Col. in February of 1969.
It was Wallace’s ninth credited mission with the 384th Bomb Group that put him in a front row seat to witness the mid-air collision of my father’s B-17 with another B-17 of the group.
After the war, Wallace continued his education at Clemson University where he graduated in 1947 with degrees in both Mechanical and Electrical Engineering. After graduation, Wallace worked with the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (now NASA) before joining Milliken and Company.
In 1948, Wallace married Martha Ray Lasseter of Decatur, Georgia and they became Spartanburg, South Carolina residents. He continued his employment with Milliken in the capacity of Vice-president and Director of Engineering, where he designed over forty Milliken facilities before retiring in 1987. After retirement, he continued as a consultant to Milliken for many years.
In 2011, my cousin Terry found Wallace’s story of the Magdeburg, Germany mission of September 28, 1944 on the internet and alerted me to read it.
I had not thought of my dad’s WWII stories for a very long time, and reading Wallace’s account of the story I knew so well awakened a renewed interest in me to learn more about my dad’s time in the war.
After an initial phone conversation, I visited Wallace and Martha Ray at their home in South Carolina and heard him tell the Magdeburg story firsthand. And so began my journey back in time into the 1940’s and a world at war.
I credit two people with setting me on this journey. One, my cousin Terry, who remembered the stories my dad told in our childhood, and second, Wallace Storey, who was actually there and saw the mid-air collision at the moment it happened.
Wallace Arnold Storey passed away on September 4, 2020. Wallace’s obituary is a tribute to the military, professional, and personal aspects of his life in more detail than I have told you here. His funeral service is today, which will conclude with his burial in Greenville Memorial Gardens in Piedmont, Greenville County, South Carolina beside Martha Ray, his wife of 71 years, who predeceased him in July.
Blue skies, Wallace Storey. Thank you for your service and may you rest in peace.
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© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2020