Captain Erwin B. Lawrence, Jr., Operations Officer was reported missing from a strafing mission to the Athens Tatoi Airdome, Greece, on October 4, 1944.
Erwin B. Lawrence, Jr., was born in Cleveland, Ohio on May 31, 1919. He graduated from flight training on July 3, 1942, at Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama. After flight training, Lawrence joined the 99th Fighter Squadron, which was declared combat-ready on Sept. 15. 1942. The squadron finally deployed in April 1943, serving first in North Africa then moving to Italy in July. Lawrence embarked on a remarkable career, although it was short lived. He participated close to one hundred dive bombing, strafing, patrol, and escort missions. Lawrence was credited with a probable kill over Anzio, Italy, on January 27, 1944.
Throughout his career, he was held in high respect. He led pilots of the 332nd Fighter Group on the fateful mission to Greece-the targets at the time were Kolamoi, Megara, Eleusis, and the Athens Tatoi Airdromes. However, during this time, the Germans opened fire, and as Captain Lawrence prepared to pull out, a barrage of machine gun fire raked his aircraft. He spun to the ground, a loss to the military which was greatly felt. Lawrence was awarded the Air Medal with three Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters.