Bryan Leslie Kethley Jr.
Bryan was born about 1919 in Mississippi. At age five, his mother died and he was raised by his aunt. In 1942 he graduated from Louisiana State University. While in college he was a member of the ROTC, the Flying Club and a member of Kappa Alpha Order. As a member of the Flying Club, Bryan paid $40 to the Civil Aeronautics Authority and received 72 hours of ground school and 50 hours of flight instruction. Upon completion, he was eligible for a private pilot license. After college he was stationed at Fort Knox, KY and transferred to Camp Young near Indio, CA in August 1942. Earned his wings at Aloe Field, Victoria, TX February 1944 and in August 1944, he was stationed at Meridian, MS, where he received tactical reconnaissance training.
Kethley joined the 118th in November 1944. All new pilots were prohibited from flying missions until they had had been thoroughly briefed on procedures and methods of combat employed by the squadron. So he remained at Kunming for several weeks while the action was taking place at Suichwan. He got his wish and headed out to Suichwan in December 1944. His first mission was to escort bombers on 17 December. Mission number two was 23 December but he had to return to base immediately after takeoff as his landing gear would not retract. His third and final mission, 24 Dec 1944, was a skip bombing mission to Hong Kong Harbor. Kethley spotted a large enemy freighter and flew low over the boat, dropping his bombs. There was an immediate explosion and his plane was caught in the blast. The left wing was blown off and he crashed into the harbor at high speed, killing Kethley instantly. The cause of the explosion was thought to be a faulty delay or a secondary explosion. His body was declared non-recoverable.