Burial services held at Acacia for casualty of 1943's Black Sunday air raid

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

A military honors team from Joint Base Lewis-McCord
Story and most photos by Doug Cerretti

Early Sunday morning August 1, 1943 Army Air Force's 2nd Lt. Anel B. Shay Jr., along with nine other airmen, boarded the B-24 Liberator named “Semper Felix” and took off from their base in Benghazi, Libya.

"Bud" Shay was 26
Photo from DPAA
The target for that day, code-name Operation Tidal Wave, was the Ploesti (Romania) oil complex that supplied 60% of the oil for the Nazi war machine. 

Shay, a bombardier, was a member of the 345th Bombardment Squadron, 98th Bombardment Group (Heavy), 9th Air Force. The doctrine of high-altitude, precision, daylight bombing utilizing B-24 Liberators and B-17 Flying Fortresses was a new strategy and the Army Air Forces were still experimenting on how to utilize this new weapon. 

For the Ploesti oil complex raid, the B-24s would use a new strategy; low level flying at tree top level (200 to 800 feet) to deliver their bomb load. The mission required precise timing of the bomb groups to arrive over the target in mass and, most importantly, the raid would be a complete surprise. 

Unfortunately neither occurred; bomb groups lost track of each other and arrived at different times and the Nazis broke the American code and were lying in wait for the Liberators. 
Only eighty-eight of 178 liberators returned to base and three hundred and ten American fliers were killed including 2nd Lt. Anel B. Shay Jr., who was 26 years old. 

The Ploesti raid is also known as Black Sunday. The Army Air Forces never again tried low-level bomb runs.

The honor guard ceremonially folding the flag

Following the war, more than 80 unknown remains from the Ploesti raid were transferred to the American Cemetery in Belgium. In 2017, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA, www.dpaa.mil) began exhuming unknowns from Operation Tidal Wave. 

The remains were sent to the DPAA Laboratory at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, for examination and identification. 2nd Lt. Anel B. Shay Jr. was accounted for by the DPAA on June 28, 2021, after DNA analysis using samples from family members.

The flag is presented to Shay's nephew John Shay

After 78 years 2nd Lt. Anel B. Shay Jr. was laid to rest at Acacia Memorial Park and Funeral Home in Lake Forest Park on February 3, 2022. Present at the service were Shay’s nephew John Shay and great nephew Dylan Shay and other family members.

Members of the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution.

A 17-member military honors team from the Joint Base Lewis-McCord’s 16th Combat Aviation Brigade participated, including an Honor Guard Firing Team and Bugler. Also paying their respects were eight members of the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution.

Growing up, John Shay did not know much about his Uncle. Seeing his medals, he asked, “Whose are these?” Grandma said, “They’re Uncle Bud’s,” as he was known in the family. 

A native of Seattle, 2nd Lt. Anel B. Shay Jr. attended Lincoln High School and the University of Washington. His parents, Anel Sr. and Lucy Shay and sister Jane survived him. Anel B. Shay, Sr. is also interred at Acacia Memorial Park.

Additional information about 2nd Lt. Shay here


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