William (Bill) Bryant Sheaves, Jr.
Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army (Retired)
Bill Sheaves passed away on 2 April, 2012, at his home in Colorado Springs. Born on 27 November, 1923, in the small coal mining town of Lawton, West Virginia, Bill lived a long, happy, and honorable life.
One of the “Greatest Generation”, he served as a flight engineer aboard B-17’s in the 337th Bomb Squadron, 96th Bomb Group based at Snetherton Heath, England. During his 14th combat mission over occupied Europe, his aircraft was shot down in the vicinity of Paris, France, on 9 September, 1943. He was captured and spent the majority of the remainder of the war as a POW, primarily at Stalag XVII B in Krems, Austria. He was liberated in April, 1945, while undergoing a forced march back to Germany. Bill returned home to West Virginia and was discharged as a Master Sergeant in October, 1945.
Bill was the last surviving crew member of the Tar Fly, the B-17 he was serving aboard when he was shot down. With his passing, the final chapter of Tar Fly’s amazing story has finally been written.
Following his discharge, Bill married the sister of his best friend in High School, Evelyn (Eddy) Virginia Morris, on 24 August, 1946.
Bill re-enlisted in the Army on 1 November, 1949, and was trained as an electronic/missile engineer. He was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant, U.S. Army Signal Corps, in 1950. He served his country faithfully during the Korean War, Vietnam War, and the Cold War. In Vietnam, he commanded the 63rd Signal Battalion, 1st Signal Brigade. He retired from the Army on 1 June, 1975, and he and Eddy moved to Colorado Springs, where he served two tours of duty during his career.
Bill continued to serve his country and community throughout the remainder of his life. An active member of the American Ex-POW Association, he acted as the Commander of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of Ex-POWs and the Colorado State Department of Ex-POWs. He was active in the Masonic Lodge and the Al Kaly Shriners. He served as a mentor to many Squadrons of cadets at the United States Air Force Academy.
Of his many accomplishments, Bill was perhaps proudest of the service of both his sons and two of his grandchildren as Commissioned Officers in the Armed Forces.
Bill was preceded in eternal rest by his beloved wife and companion Eddy. He is survived by his second wife, Ruth Wilber Sheaves, his two sons, Bill and Bob, 4 grandchildren, 9 great grandchildren, and many close friends.
Bill will be dearly missed. The tradition of service and honor he demonstrated throughout his life will long serve as an example to each of us of a life well lived.
Services celebrating Bill’s life will be held at 2:00 p.m. at the Shrine of Remembrance in Colorado Springs on Monday, 9 April. The family requests in lieu of flowers donations be made to the American Ex-Prisoners of War, 3201 E. Pioneer Parkway, Arlington, TX 76010.