Lt. Robert H. Wiggins

Lt. Robert H. Wiggins

1st Lt. Robert H. Wiggins
November 19, 1920 – October 7, 1944
Class 43-G-SE
Graduation Date:  July 28, 1943
Unit: 332nd Fighter Group, 301st Fighter Squadron
Service # O-809259

Robert was the son of Oliver Wiggins and Helen Moore. His father had been born in North Carolina, but had moved to New York City, where he met his wife, born in Mass. His father worked as a taxi cab driver and owned his own home in 1930. Robert attended the Alexander Hamilton High School of Elmsford, New York. He was living at his grandmother’s residence while attending high school.

He married Lillian M. Williams on July 29, 1943 in Montgomery, Alabama. She was serving in the WAC in a hospital at Fort Deven, Mass. He enlisted on April 1, 1942. Robert graduated from flight training on July 28, 1943, at Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama as part of Class 43-G. He was awarded many honors upon graduation, including expert pistol shot, conduct and service citations. He was stationed with the 332nd Fighter Group at Selfridge Michigan prior to his appointment overseas.

In late December, he deployed to Italy with the 301st Fighter Squadron, part of the 332nd Fighter Group. On June 9, 1944, the 332nd Fighter Group was escorting B-24 bombers to Munich, Germany, when it was attacked by enemy planes. Lt. Wiggins spotted a Messerschmitt 109 to his left, turned toward it and attacked, causing pieces of the enemy fighter to fall off. The ME-109 escaped, according to “The 332nd Fighter Group – Tuskegee Airmen” by Chris Bucholtz. Lt. Frederick D. Funderburg Jr. was credited with two aerial kills that day, the first for the 301st Fighter Group.

It was the closest Wiggins would come to an aerial victory.

On an escort mission to an oil refinery in Vienna, Austria, on Oct. 7, 1944 Wiggins’s P-51 Mustang was hit by anti-aircraft fire. He struck out for Ramitelli Air Field in Italy, but was forced to land at Vis, Yugoslavia, an island in the Adriatic Sea, according to “The Tuskegee Airmen: The Men Who Changed a Nation” by Charles E. Francis and Adolph Caso. Wiggins repaired his plane and took off again for Ramitelli. On the way, the first lieutenant spotted a crippled B-17 bomber and escorted it to the Foggia area of Italy. After the bomber landed, Wiggins again struck out for Ramitelli. He crashed in the Adriatic Sea.

Wiggins is buried at the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery and Memorial in Italy. According to a government database, Wiggins was awarded an Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters and a Purple Heart for his military service.

The first garrison in Brooklyn to be named for an African American is the Lt. Robert H. Wiggins, Garrison No. 807, Army and Navy Union, was installed in March of 1946 in Brooklyn, New York

Sources:
St. Louis Post Dispatch
WikiTree.com

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