Lt Roosevelt Stiger.
2nd Lt Roosevelt Stiger
March 24, 1919 – October 7, 1944
Class 44-C-SE
Graduation Date: March 12, 1944
Unit: 332nd Fighter Group, 302nd Fighter Control Squadron
Service # 0-824842

Roosevelt was born in 1919 in Shelby, TN the youngest son to Willie Stiger and Adlena. At the time of his birth, his father was working as a farmer in Tennessee. By 1930, his father had moved Roosevelt and his brother to Jackson, Michigan, where he was employed as a painter for a steam railroad.  By 1940, his brother had married, and Roosevelt was living at home with his parents.

When he registered for the selective service on 16 Oct 1940, he was attending the University of Michigan Literary College as a student, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Roosevelt commuted from Jackson to attend college, but that didn’t keep him from joining the track team as a sprinter and cross-country runner. As a freshman, he won a medal for the college in the 2-mile race. Despite having little time to spend in practice, he was able to broad jump 22 ft. 8 3/4 inches, adding to the Michigan Wolverine Track Team. Roosevelt enrolled in the Tuskegee Aviation Cadet program and in November of 1943, he had completed his training

Stiger graduated from flight training on March 12, 1944, at Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama. He deployed to Italy with the 302nd Fighter Squadron.

During a bomber escort mission to Vienna, Austria, on Oct. 7, the second lieutenant reported trouble with his plane, a P-51 Mustang nicknamed Nona.

“Lt Stiger was flying my wing in a flight of four,” Capt. Milton R. Brooks wrote in a military report. “About 10 minutes inland from the coast of Yugoslavia, he called that his oxygen was low, so I told number three and four men to stay above the overcast and I would take Lt Stiger down from an altitude of 23,000 feet. I went to 13,000 feet near the coast and as I started out over the water the ceiling finally forced us down to about 3,000 feet.

“About 15 minutes from the Italian waterland, the visibility and ceiling were poor. I noticed Lt Stiger turning into me from my left, so I immediately called a right turn to prevent his running into me. He looked as though he was diving into the water, so I told him to pull up. I came up into a slight opening and he came up on my right. A few seconds later his plane went into a straight dive down. This was at an altitude of approximately 600 feet.

“Seeing no possibility of recovery, I switched to Channel D and called ‘mayday’ in the hopes that he may have got out. Visibility was so poor that in my circles while calling ‘mayday’ I couldn’t see any trace of him.”

Stiger was not seen again. His name is included on the Tablets of the Missing at the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery and Memorial in Italy. According to a government database, he was awarded a Purple Heart for his military service. The date of deaths reflects his finding of death, which is a year and a day from the date he went missing.

Saint Louis Post Dispatch



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