My obsession with the 388th Bomb Group stems from a chance encounter with a collection of negatives and photographs taken by an artist attached to the 388th in Knettishall, England. Followers of PortraitsofWar already know the story, so I won’t go into great detail, but anyone interested should search for Alva Alegre in the search bar.
Anyway, I recently purchased a small group of photos that providentially yielded a handful of identified photos of members of the 388th BG. In my typical fashion, I’ve fleshed out historical details and hopefully will give Mr. Downs a proper place on the internet.
I found the following info penciled on the back of the photo: “Roland Downs, Cpl. Alabama”
Judging by the inked info on his upturned mechanics hat, I felt that this was a likely identification of Mr.Downs. With this info in hand I visited the 388th Bomb Group website: http://www.388bg.info/
Darn! They already had his photo, but at least I was able to learn that he was a radio mechanic, something obvious after inspecting what he’s doing in the photo. My next stop brought me to ancestry.com, where I do most of my genealogical research on mystery photos. From a little bit of searching I was able to discover that he was indeed born and raised in Alabama and born on July 8th, 1923 and passed away on April 19th, 1980. He served in the Airforce (USAAF) from 1942 until 1971.