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3 Percival brothers served in World War II

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3 Percival brothers served in World War II

Jay Percival


POSTED May 27, 2011 2:08 a.m.

Three Manteca High grads – all sons of Dewey V. Percival – served in the armed services during World War II:  Jay, Clyde and Richard.

The oldest son, Jay, enlisted in the Army Air Corps in March of 1942.  He flew 54 combat missions in a B-25 Billy Mitchell bomber.  Much of his service was with the 22nd “Flying Tigers” Bomb Group headed up by General Claire Chennault.

On March 5, 1944, Jay experienced his most eventful mission when he served as a navigator on the lead aircraft.  A strike was ordered on the Japanese at Chiang Mai Airfield in Thailand more than 500 miles from their home base of Yangkai, China.

The surprise attack was described as a huge success despite one of eight planes being knocked out of the air by anti-aircraft fire.  Jay’s plane was also hit with the loss of hydraulic lines and the entire electrical system.

Running low on fuel the small contingent made its way through the dark with no visible stars to use for navigation.  Jay said he navigated with sheer “dead reckoning” based only on the speed and compass direction of the aircraft.  Just as the fuel was running out, the plane emerged from the clouds at Kumming – an alternate landing site – 40 miles from their home base.

With no fuel remaining and no way to lower the landing gear, the crew was forced to make a crash landing – all surviving without a scratch as the aircraft was demolished.  For his actions, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, remaining in the service until 1970.  He retired as a Lt. Colonel.

Jay, who passed away in May of 2009, was best friends with George Murphy Jr. all through high school.  Murphy served in the U.S. Navy and was in Pearl Harbor at the time of the attack on December 7, 1941.  Murphy was the longtime publisher of The Manteca Bulletin.

Second son Clyde enlisted in the U.S. Army in April 1943 and was assigned to the 755th Railroad Shop Division in Europe.  He served in England, Belgium and France and was honorably discharged when the war ended in 1945.  After returning home he had a career with AT&T Telephone in Modesto until he retired.

The youngest Percival son, Richard, was drafted in November 1944 when he was 18.  He served in the Philippines and after Japan surrendered, he was part of the occupational forces there.  He was honorably discharged in 1946.

Richard graduated from San Jose State with a degree in Physical Science and worked in the lab at Occidental Chemical.

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