Robert Edward Poland, Class of 1942
Robert E. Poland was born on June 12, 1918 in Watertown, Massachusetts to Miriam K. and Frank Webber Poland. His older brother was Frank Jr.
Robert entered The Citadel at the beginning of the 1938-1939 academic year, and in his freshman year in Charleston, S.C , he was a member of Cadet Company M. Six feet tall with brown hair and blue eyes and weighing 160 pounds, he spent two years at the college before enlisting in the U.S. Army Air Corps in November 1941.
He received training at Parks Air College, St. Louis, Missouri and at Randolph Field, Texas. He received his commission as a Second Lieutenant at Barksdale Field, Shreveport, Louisiana, and was promoted to Captain while serving with the AirTransport Command. He drove a 1941 Roadster convertible, married a young woman named Winnifred, and lived with her in Long Beach, California.
He was a pilot with the 1st Squadron, 6th Ferry Group which was headquartered at Long Beach Air Field in California when, while ferrying a Douglas A-20 Havoc to North Africa, his aircraft and crew were lost April 4, 1943 in the Atlantic Ocean between Ascension Island and Roberts Field in Liberia. He was flying the South Atlantic air ferry route which took him from Long Beach to Florida then to Brazil before making the hop to Ascension Island. With Capt. Poland were 1Lt. Jeremiah T. Ryan, co-pilot, and Cpl. Bernand A. Kanger, aircraft engineer. Thirteen aircraft were involved in a two day search for the lost crew and plane without success.
The War Department declared all members of the missing aircrew dead a year later on April 5, 1944.
Captain Poland, 1Lt. Ryan and Cpl. Kanger are memorialized on the Wall of the Missing at North Africa American Cemetery, Carthage, Tunisia. The name of George B. French, Class of 1931, is also memorialized there, and George R. Land, Jr., ’39, rests in eternal peace at the cemetery. Captain Poland was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart Medal and Air Medal.
Robert’s brother, Frank Webber Poland, Jr., a graduate of Amherst College, attained the rank of Lieutenant Colonel while serving with the U.S. Marine Corps in WWII. He died in 1967 and is buried at the Long Island National Cemetery, Farmingdale, NY.
Read more about Robert Poland on his In Memoriam page.
Sources: The Citadel Archives and Museum, American Battle Monuments Commission, U.S. Army records, Fold3.com, Ancestry.com,