(By Delegates Staton and Browning)

[Introduced February 19, 2003; referred to the

Committee on Rules.]

Requesting the West Virginia Division of Highways to name Mullens Overhead Bridge located on State Route 16 in Mullens, Wyoming County, West Virginia the " Sergeant Jack W. Staton Memorial Bridge."

Whereas, Jack W. Staton was born on December 25, 1924, in West Columbia, Mason County, West Virginia, the son of Bertha and Russell Cunningham Staton. He graduated from Mullens High School in 1942 and enlisted in the U. S. Air Force. He married Anna June Robertson on October 19, 1943; and
Whereas, Jack W. Staton attained the rank of Sergeant and was assigned to a B-24 Bomber crew as nose turret gunner at Davis-Monthan Air Base, Tucson, Arizona in May or June 1944. The crew was later assigned to the 446th Bomb Group, 706th Bomb Squadron (APO) at Bungay, North East of London near the English Channel. The other crew members were 1st Lt. Ralph V. Shaffer, Pilot, 2nd Lt. George Lesko, Co-Pilot, 2nd Lt. Herbert Rubin, Bombardier, Flight Officer Norman H. Phillips, Navigator, Tech Sgt. Charles E. Wyatt, Engineer, Staff Sgt. Frank W. Loichinger, Radio Operator, Sgt. Albert H. Lang, Ball T Gunner, Sgt. Ted Zomonek, Waist Gunner (also from West Virginia) Sgt. Willard R. Fetterhoff, Tail Gunner and Private Jack Maxwell, Waist Gunner. This crew flew nine missions, with their last being on August 26, 1944. Their mission and target on this date was the Farber Chemical Factory at Mannhien/Ludigshafen, Germany. The crew (except Herb Rubin who was training with another crew) was flying a plane named "Ginger" when they encountered flak at their target. The B-24 was severely damaged with 3 of the 4 engines out. The entire crew parachuted out and the plane crashed at Schoeneck, France several kilometers from Saarbrucken, Germany. Jack Staton's body was recovered from the Saar River in Saarbrucken and, while the cause of his death was never verified except for German documentation stating drowning, surviving crew member George Lesko has indicated that he was sure Jack Staton would have been wearing his "Mae West" floatation device in the water and doubts the German records. German treatment of other members plus eye-witness accounts support the conclusion that he was murdered. Other members of this crew who died on that ill-fated day were Charles E. Wyatt, Ted Zemonek, Willard R. Fetterhoff and Jack Maxwell, who were all captured by the German SS and after they surrendered were marched into a forest and shot in the back of their heads. These executioners were found guilty at the War Crimes Trial and were executed by hanging. Vince Shaffer was also lost on that date, but it is still unknown what happened to him. The only crew members to survive were George Lesko, Albert H. Lang and Norman H. Phillips; and
Whereas, Jack W. Staton and the brave men who flew with his crew gave their lives in the service of their country, making the supreme sacrifice in a time of great worldwide conflict to protect our freedoms and to assist others from the threats of tyranny against that freedom; and
Whereas, Jack W. Staton received two Silver Stars, Purple Heart, Air Medal, European Theater Medal, Good Conduct and Distinguished Flying Cross; and
Whereas, The life and sacrifice of Jack W. Staton (and his fellow crew members) should not go unnoticed; therefore, be it
Resolved by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That the members of the Legislature request the West Virginia Division of Highways to name the Mullens Overhead Bridge located on State Route 16 in Mullens, Wyoming County, West Virginia the "Sergeant Jack W. Staton Memorial Bridge"; and, be it
Further Resolved, That the West Virginia Division of Highways provide and erect a sign at either end of the bridge displaying the name of the bridge; and, be it
Further Resolved, That the Clerk is hereby directed to forward a copy of this resolution to the Commissioner of the Division of Highways, and to the surviving family of Jack W. Staton, along with the surviving crew of the B-24 "Ginger" togther with the heartfelt thanks and gratitude from this Legislature to the other young crewmen who also lost their lives on August 26, 1944, and to the survivors of that mission who have served their country so well, all heroes to their country, and whose deeds should also not go unnoticed.