1st Lt Maurice V. Esters
June 12, 1921- June 27, 1945
Graduation Date: May 28, 1943
Graduation Rank: 1st Lt
Unit: 332nd Fighter Group, 301st Fighter Squadron
Service # O-804550
Esters of Webster City, Iowa, graduated from flight training on May 28, 1943, at Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama, and deployed to Italy with the 301st Fighter Squadron in late December.
During his service in World War II, Army Air Forces First Lieutenant Esters was reported missing and ultimately declared dead on June 27, 1945. Recorded circumstances attributed to: “Missing in action or lost at sea”. Incident location: Adriatic Sea.
Member of the Tuskegee Airmen. Lt. Maurice V. Esters was forced to bail from his plane over the Adriatic Sea when his engine failed. On June 26, 1944, the squadron was returning from an escort mission when Esters, flying a P-47 Thunderbolt, broke formation over the Adriatic Sea.
“We were about 10 minutes from shore and he started dropping back,” Lt. Charles A. Dunne wrote in a military report. “I throttled all the way back, but still ran past him. I turned around to see him drop his nose, then pull up and roll over and drop away.”
Esters radioed “mayday” before parachuting from his plane.
“I circled and followed his parachute down. He climbed into his dinghy and released a green oilmarker on the water. I had no radio contact with him,” Dunne wrote. “I then became short on gas and left him in his dinghy and reported back to base.”
“Maurice Esters was a very athletic man, and we circled him after he landed in the Adriatic Sea that day,” Capt. Luther H. Smith Jr. said in an interview for the Fort Des Moines Museum & Education Center. “He was on his raft and waved to us that he was all right moments before a huge wave swept him under. We never saw him again.”
Maurice V Esters is buried or memorialized at Tablets of the Missing at Florence American Cemetery, Florence, Italy. This is an American Battle Monuments Commission location.