William James Billig - "Jim"
319th Bomb Group 437th Squadron
Jim Billig entered the U.S. Army in early 1941. He was assigned to Medical Corps at Camp Lee, Virginia and applied for pilot training in U.S. Army Air Corps. After being accepted and completing his cadet training he was assigned to ETO.
His B26 was damaged on its first bomb run and which resulted in a crash landing in the Netherlands. Jim and crew tried to escape but were immediately captured by the Germans.
Jim was interned at Stalag Luft III for 2 1/2 years until shortly before the end of the war where he joined a forced march to Stalag 7A. While interned in camp, he was a member of the Escape Committee, forged papers for escapees, and was a code-user "C.U.", sending and receiving coded messages for Military Intelligence. This "CU" was a top secret operation and was not declassified until the early 1980's.
Jim was liberated at the end of the war April 29, 1945. On return to the U.S. he pursued a career in banking and rose to the position of President at the National Bank of Blacksburg, Blacksburg, Virginia. Jim retired in 1986 and moved to Clearwater Florida. In addition to pursuing his hobbies, he was a member of the American EX-Prisoners of War and was Treasure of the Dept. of Florida AX-POW Organization.
Jim's hobbies were metal & woodworking and flying. As a Member of the EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association) He personally built and flew a "Starduster-Too" (open cockpit bi-plane with 180 HP engine, fully aerobatic)
Jim passed away suddenly the 26th of Sept. 1987.
We love him and miss him greatly.
Message for future generations -- which he often repeated -- "Read history and learn from it, apply it for the future."