In Memory of
Army Air Corps Second Lieutenant
George P. Callaghan
Aberdeen, South Dakota
Brown County
August 7, 1920 -- April 11, 1944
Killed in Action Over Germany

George P. Callaghan

George P. Callaghan was born in Westport, South Dakota.  He moved to Aberdeen where he spent the latter part of his life.  He was the son of Charles Leo and Adalaide Callaghan.   He has two sisters, Leone and Lucy.  He had a brother, Daniel, 18, who died three weeks prior to the announcement that George was missing in action. George was a graduate of Westport High School and a student at Northern State Teachers College. He was married to Cecilia May Christian at the Sacred Heart Church of Aberdeen on July 14, 1942.  They had one son together, George Patrick Lee Callaghan.

Callaghan left Aberdeen on December 3, 1940, when Battery A, 147th Field Artillery group of the SD National Guard was called into duty. He was trained and stationed in California but then was transferred to the Santa Ana Army air base. He first completed training at Yuma, Arizona and then was sent for further training in order to receive his wings and commission. 

On January 19, 1944, Lt. Callaghan went to Europe to fight.  He was stationed in England but made many dangerous bombing raids over enemy territory as part of the 576th Squadron, 392nd Bomb Group. Lt. George Callaghan, co-pilot of a B-29, was reported missing in action on April 11, 1944, on a bombing raid over Germany, when the plane was shot down.  His status was changed to killed in action on June 27, 1944, when the War Department wrote a letter to his wife, Cecilia. After the war, families often chose to have their loved ones’ remains returned to the United States for reburial. Lt. Callaghan’s remains were returned and his funeral services were held on August 1, 1949 at Sacred Heart Church. He was buried in the family lot at Westport with military honors. Callaghan received many awards throughout his time in the service.  He was awarded ribbons for a year of service before Pearl Harbor and for three years of good conduct in the army.  He also received the sharpshooter’s, pistol marksman’s, and air medals as well. Additionally, he was awarded the Purple Heart.

It is very sad to see someone with his whole life ahead of him come to such a tragic end.  He gave up his life and because of people like him we are able to live freely today.

This entry was respectfully submitted by Rachel Zaudtke and Hannah Remington, Groton High School, Honors U.S. History. Information for this entry was provided by a bonus record, the Aberdeen American News, South Dakota in WW II, and Sister Lucy Callaghan, George’s sister, via Bill Cantwell, Aberdeen.