My grandmother Velma’s brother Arthur was a Master Sergeant in the Air Force, and served during WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. He was born January 8, 1923, the only son out of the 10 children of Earl and Florence Belknap.
I tried to trace his career through records and newspaper articles. Arthur first enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps on May 28, 1942. He served in the 13th Air Force, 307th Bomb Group, 370th Bomb Squadron. He was an assistant aerial engineer on the B-24 “Eager Beaver” at Guadalcanal in 1943. The following images are from the 307th Bomb Group documents on Fold3.
I’m not sure what happened next, maybe he was discharged, but on September 11, 1945, Arthur registered for the selective service in Lincoln Park, Wayne, Michigan. He was listed as unemployed.
On August 22, 1946, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. On July 3, 1947, he married Eva Reitzi in Manchester, New Hampshire and his occupation was listed as U.S. Soldier. I’m thinking he must have been stationed at Grenier Air Force Base in Manchester. He and Eva divorced on October 27, 1949 in Wayne County, Michigan. Arthur next married Daisy Burpee, who was from Manchester. They married on January 5, 1950. In 1953, Daisy was listed as a cementer in the Manchester City Directory. Around this time, Art may have been stationed in Germany. Eventually, Daisy must have joined him, because on December 28, 1955, they adopted 2-year-old girl in Bitburg, Germany that they named after one of Arthur’s sisters. On September 23, 1956, the three of them returned to the U.S. via military air transport, landing at McGuire AFB in New Jersey.
After this, he was stationed at Laughlin AFB in Texas. This is where they were living when their daughter was naturalized on March 17, 1959. A newspaper article in the Del Rio News Herald of May 31, 1959 discussed the opening of the Capehart housing project on the base. Arthur’s family was among the first five families to move in. According to Val Verde County Historical Commission, these were the first on-base quarters available to Laughlin personnel.
After this, I don’t really have any information about Arthur’s career other than his military release date was December 31, 1964. Below is a picture taken at the 1980 Belknap Reunion of Art, surrounded by his surviving sisters.
He died on September 7, 1985 in Tawas City, Michigan and is buried in Fort Custer National Cemetery in Augusta, Michigan. His wife Daisy died in 2018 at the age of 95.
Week 21 (May 20-26): Military