Photo taken from publication: Williams, Armistead M. “Mason and Friends, A Collection of Letters and Stories from World War II,” 1994.
William Cabell, Jr. grew up in one of Richmond, Virginia’s oldest families. Some would say that he would lead an easy and comfortable life with not a care in the world. As soon as the Japanese bombed the U. S. Naval Fleet in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, every family would face hardships – even the affluent ones.
William attended two of the most prestigious prep schools in State – St. Christopher’s Lower School and Woodberry Forest. After graduation, he enrolled at Dartmouth College where he would eventually make the biggest decision of his life. In February of 1942 during his junior year, William enlisted in the U. S. Army Air Corps and was commissioned as a first lieutenant. He was an aviation cadet in Santa Ana, California, before receiving his “wings” in January of 1943.
World War II Recruiting Poster
Shortly after leaving Santa Ana, he was notified that in March of the same year he would be piloting a Billy Mitchell bomber with the Fifth Air Force in New Guinea, far away from home. As time went on and each bombing mission completed, William grew closer and closer to a much overdue leave. But, he had to reach a certain quota of missions before his relaxation could begin. On March 5, 1944, William went out on another mission and was never seen again. His father received a telegram from the War Department, stating that William was missing in action.
His body was never recovered, which only heightened the raw emotions felt by family and friends. As Americans, we can rest soundly in the fact that our Nation never gives up on the search for those Missing in Action. The Virginia War Memorial honors 1st Lieutenant Cabell and the other heroes that are etched in the glass and stone walls of the Shrine of Memory.