Vincent Joseph McIntyre was born on 1 July 1920 and grew up in Providence, Rhode Island. He was the son of Edward and Delma McIntyre. Vincent attended Classical High School in Providence, Rhode Island and entered Rhode Island State College (RISC) in September 1940 with the class of 1944 majoring in Science. He participated in the Army ROTC program while a student. Vincent left RISC after his freshman year and enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Force on 18 December 1941.
Private Vincent Joseph McIntyre graduated from the ten-week U.S. Army Air Forces preflight training program, a combination of enlisted basic training and officer candidate school. He was assigned as a cadet at the Flying/Aviation Cadet Training Program, U.S. Army Air Forces Training Center, Duncan Field, Alabama. Upon completion of flight school, he was awarded his pilot’s wings, commissioned a Second Lieutenant and assigned to the 96th “Red Devil,” Bomber Squadron, 2nd Bombardment Group (Heavy), 15th Air Force. The 96th Bomber Squadron, 2nd Bombardment Group participated in combat aerial missions in North Africa and Italy during 1942-1945.
On 14 July 1943, First Lieutenant Vincent Joseph McIntyre was the pilot of one of twenty-five Flying Fortresses B-17s whose mission was to destroy the marshalling/railroad yards at Messina, Sicily. The flight dropped two hundred and eighty 500-pound bombs which covered the target area. Flight crews observed explosions on the bomb run and terrific explosions after their turn away from the target area. The antiaircraft flak was heavy, intense and fairly accurate. 1Lt. McIntyre’s Flying Fortress B-17 took a direct hit by flak near the radio compartment as well as numerous holes in both wings.
1Lt. McIntyre managed to get away from the target area and tried to turn out to sea with his two wingmen following him. One of his wingmen, 1Lt. Harold L. Chrismon, made the following statement after the mission: “In turning off the target, I noticed 1Lt. McIntyre’s aircraft #42-29583 throwing what looked to be gasoline vapors. I could see his left wing was shot full of holes, also two or three holes in the right wing.
1Lt. McIntyre was letting #583 down about two or three hundred feet a minute and flying about 140 miles per hour. Smoke was coming out of his radio room. I followed his plane and thought he was trying to make Malta. The crew kicked all emergency doors out; and I saw the tail gunner jump first, then three from the waist, then two from the nose. Then the plane started to dive to the left, and it left my view.”
S/Sgt. George H. Tucker, the tail gunner, on #42-29583 made the following statement on 9 July 1944, after being released as a POW: “We bombed Messina, Sicily. Our plane B-17 #583 was hit hard by flak. We flew along the coast for about 40 miles. The order came to bail out. I bailed out; and then our plane crashed into the sea, all afire. Four of my buddies and I swam for four hours and were captured by the Italians about six miles out to sea. I never heard from the other crew members and supposed they were drowned.”
First Lieutenant Vincent Joseph McIntyre was cited for Gallantry in Action and Bravery and awarded the Silver Star, Purple Heart and the Air Medal with 5 Oak Leave Clusters (Posthumously).
Silver Star Citation
The Commanding General, …takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to First Lieutenant Vincent Joseph McIntyre, United States Army Air Forces, for gallantry in action and extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy of the United States while serving as a B-17 pilot, 96th (Red Devil), Bomber Squadron, ….On July 14, 1943, First Lieutenant Vincent J. McIntyre displayed heroic and fearless leadership in the face of all odds by keeping his plane level until all crew members had bailed out and the plane disintegrated and crashed into the ocean has reflected the highest credit upon himself and the Armed forces of the United States.
First Lieutenant Vincent Joseph McIntyre, U.S. Army Air Forces, was a hero in defeating the Axis’s Forces during World War II. He is another son of Rhode Island and America who answered the call to duty and gave his life during World War II. He is a heroic member of the “Greatest Generation.”