Trying to trace a hero's family...

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Just came across this , wondered if some of the helpfull experts here could produce a few leads ???

Thousands of heroic scenes have been recounted and become part of the lore about the Allied invasion of France, but more than six decades later, some individual stories are just being told.

One of those scenes unfolded in a French field, two months after the invasion at Normandy on D-Day, where a young pilot from the Town of Tonawanda had ditched his plane and sought escape from German soldiers who were hunting him down.

Today his story is coming to light because of a farmer's diary and a California man's effort to find that pilot's family to tell them what happened.

When Army Air Forcescq 2nd Lt. Kenneth Bruce MacDowell's fighter plane began to plummet after being hit by flak, he steered the craft away from a French town before parachuting and seeking cover in a cqhayfield.

The plane crash could have been worse. Only one building was struck. But MacDowell, 21, was not so lucky.

MacDowell ducked and dodged the German soldiers' bullets as he ran from haystack to haystack looking for a way out of the flat field.

When a dairy farmer and his son watching from a nearby hillside hurried down the hill to guide the young man, he shouted back at them to stay put.

"MacDowell yelled at them to tell them they were in danger. The Germans began shooting at the farmer and son. The farmer told his son to go into the town and get partisans because they would help get the pilot out, but by the time they returned, the pilot was dead," said Robert Stuard, a member of a French organization that honors World War II pilots and is searching for relatives MacDowell may still have in the Buffalo Niagara region.

There is no disputing the last desperate and courageous hours of MacDowell's life, according to Stuard. The events are recorded in the deceased French dairy farmer's diary.

And Stuard, who has been entrusted with the journal, says he is on a mission to place that book in the hands of MacDowell's family so they will have an authentic record of his ultimate sacrifice.

"The farm was up on the side of the hill, and the farmer saw where the parachute came down. He and his son could see him running from haystack to haystack trying to avoid the Germans," said Stuard, a 65-year-old California resident who also teaches World War II history.

Members of the Normandy Association for Air Remembrance 1939-1945 Orne-Maine in France received the diary after the farmer died and his son found the MacDowell passages in it.

Though the diary's pages are bleached and the blue ink of the words written in French are faded, Stuard says he is certain that MacDowell's closest living relatives would want it.

In addition to giving MacDowell's loved ones the diary, he says his organization wants to get a photograph of the pilot because the group wants to enhance a monument already in place honoring MacDowell in the Town of Carrouges.

The goal, he says, is to correct the spelling of his first name from "Henneth" to Kenneth and install a plaque with a photograph of the pilot.

"I've seen the field where he died," Stuard said. "It's just a flat field, but there is a hill nearby with the farm, and that's where the farmer and son watched from."

This is not the first time he and the organization have tried to find the family of a World War II pilot who died in France. He says they have had several successes in contacting the families of other pilots to provide them with details and artifacts surrounding the deaths of their loved ones.

Last September, Stuard was instrumental in finding an 82-year-old sister of a pilot from Toledo, Ohio, to tell her that the wreckage of her brother's plane had been unearthed in France.

As for MacDowell, not much is known about him, except that he was a machinist at what was formerly known as Chevrolet Motors after graduating from Kenmorecq High School. He enlisted in the Army on Jan. 20, 1942, in Buffalo.

His military papers described him as 5-foot-7½ and 138 pounds.

"That was common for pilots. They weren't that big," Stuard said.

His parents, William W. and Lucy MacDowell, resided on Tulane Road in Tonawanda, and he had a younger brother who also served in the military — Pfc. Norris MacDowell, assigned to Fort Jackson, S.C.

MacDowell flew a P-47D fighter plane that was built in Evansville, Ind., and he was a member of the 391st Fighter Squadron, 366th Fighter Group, 9th Air Force.

On Aug. 12, 1944, he was killed.

So now, Stuard is appealing to Western New York residents to help him find MacDowell's relatives to honor them with the diary, which has kept alive the final hours of MacDowell's life for nearly 66 years.

Stuard can be reached by phone, (626) 358-6789, or e-mail, [email][/email].

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