Capt. Richard Henry Claeys

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Richard was born on May 3, 1910, and passed away on Monday, August 19, 1946.

Richard was a resident of Saint Charles, Illinois at the time of his passing.

Richard was an American aviator, who enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force when World War II broke out because he was too old at age 31 to fly for the United States. Later, Richard transferred to the US Army Air Forces where he achieved the rank of Captain.

In all, Richard flew 71 bombing and other missions over Germany and German-occupied territory. At a time when bomber pilots were allowed to ship back home after 25 missions because most pilots didn't survive that long, Richard continued to fly. Richard vowed that he wouldn't stop until the Nazis quit the war. And he didn't stop.

Richard loved to fly so much that he continued flying US transports after the war. On August 19, 1946, his plane wandered into Yugoslavian airspace and was shot down. All five men aboard the flight perished in the crash near the village of Koprivnik in modern day Slovenia.

Richard was survived by dear friends and his sisters Mary Claeys, Angela "Hazel" Zudis, and brother Frank Claeys, as well as their children and grandchildren.

Richard probably would not have wanted to be thought of this way, but he was a true American hero who gave his time and his life selflessly. Rich helped shape the world we live in today by helping to defeat the threat that Nazi Germany posed to millions.

Richard Claeys' many family and friends will remember him always.

Richard and the airmen who perished with him were buried with full honors at Arlington National Cemetery (http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/rhclaeys.htm) on September 25, 1946.