Travis Hoover, 0-421149, Colonel
Pilot Crew 2
Graduated from Polytechnic High School, Riverside, California, 1936. Received AA degree from Riverside Junior College in 1938 and BA degree from University of California in 1949. Enlisted in National Guard November 9, 1938 and Regular Army in August, 1939. Completed pilot training and commissioned Second Lieutenant, May, 1940. Remained in China-Burma-India Theater after Tokyo Raid until June, 1942. Served as bomber pilot in England, North Africa, and Italy from July, 1942 until September, 1944. Peacetime overseas service has been on Okinawa. Stateside assignments have been in Washington, D.C., Texas, California, Mississippi, and Kansas. Rated as command pilot. Decorations include Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with 9 Oak Leaf Clusters, Army Commendation Medal, and Chinese Army, Navy, and Air Corps Medal, Class A, 1st Grade.
Born September 21, 1917, Melrose, New Mexico
Died January 17, 2004, Webb City, Missouri
Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery1
1520 Harry Wurzbach Road
San Antonio, TX 78209
Section C Grave 583
Colonel (Retired) Travis Hoover, USAF
Col. Travis Hoover, age 86, Joplin, Mo., passed away Saturday, Jan. 17, 2004 at the Webb City (Mo.) Health and Rehabilitation Center.
Col. Hoover was born Sept. 21, 1917 at Melrose, N.M. and was the son of the late Fred and Elizabeth Hoover. He graduated from Polytechnic High School, Riverside, Calif. in 1936, received an AA degree from Riverside Junior College in 1938 and a BA degree from the University of California-Berkley in 1949. Col. Hoover enlisted in the National Guard on Nov. 9, 1938 and was a flying cadet in the regular Army in August of 1939. He completed pilot training and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in May of 1940. Col. Hoover was a pilot of the second (of only 16) Army Air Corps B-25 bombers to take off from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet on the Doolittle Tokyo Raid of April 18, 1942. This was the first strike back against the Japanese homeland after their war starting attack on Pearl Harbor some four months earlier.
After successfully bombing industrial targets in Tokyo, Col. Hoover’s crew #2 headed their B-52 bomber west toward China, knowing full well they did not have enough fuel to reach safe haven beyond the Japanese occupied China coastline. As anticipated, they ran out of fuel as they reached the coastline and were forced to make a crash landing in Japanese occupied territory. After evading the Japanese for several days, Hoover was contacted by a Chinese student aeronautical engineer, Tung Sheng Liu who guided the B-25 crew inland to safety from the Japanese forces. Mr. Liu and Col. Hoover have maintained a brotherly relationship ever since. While in China, Col. Hoover and his crew received the highest Chinese medal decorations from Madame Chiang Kai Shek.
He served as a bomber pilot, squadron commander and operations officer, flying B-25s and B-24s in England; North Africa; and Italy from September 1942 to May of 1944. He then volunteered to fly P-38s as a dive bomber and a fighter pilot in Italy until September 1944, experiencing many close calls and flying a combined total of seventy three combat missions in World War II. Col. Hoover instructed in air operations at the Command and General Staff School at for Fort Leavenworth, Kan.
Col. Hoovers’ peacetime overseas service included tours in Okinawa and Turkey. His stateside assignments have been in Kansas; Washington, D.C.; California; Texas; and Mississippi. He was rated as a command pilot.
Col. Hoover’s decorations include the Silver Star; Legion of Merit with Oak Leaf Cluster; Distinguished Flying Cross; Air Medal with nine Oak Leaf Clusters; Army Commendation Medal; and the Chinese Army, Navy and Air Corps Medal, Class A 1st Grade. Following his retirement as Base Commander at Keesler AFB, Mississippi, he and his wife, Kay, also a World War II officer, moved to San Antonia, Texas where together they built and operated housing projects. They moved to Joplin in 1988 and attended First United Methodist Church. His wife preceded him in death in 1990.
Survivors include his stepdaughter, Beverly Zerkel and husband, James, Joplin; grandchildren and spouses, Russ and Susan Zerkel, James Jr. and Debra Zerkel, Brad and Sherri Zerkel, Kenneth Zerkel, Paul and Julie Zerkel; seven great-grandchildren; and recent caregiver and friend, Sue Swatsenbarg. In addition to his parents, Col. Hoover was preceded in death by his sister Blanche Barto; a brother, Troyce Hoover; and a grandson, Brian Zerkel.
Services will be Tuesday at 3 p.m. at Parker Mortuary Chapel. Rev. Brad Zerkel will officiate. The family will receive friends from 7 to 8 p.m. Monday at Parker Mortuary Chapel. Col. Hoover will be taken to San Antonia, Texas for full military honors and will be interred next to his wife at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery.