In Memory of
U.S. Army Air Corps Captain
 Homer Wilson Claymore
Cheyenne River Sioux Indian Reservation
Dewey County, South Dakota
November 17, 1918 – June 18, 1944
Shot down over Hamburg, Germany

Homer Wilson Claymore

Homer Wilson Claymore was born on the Cheyenne River Sioux Indian Reservation on November 17, 1918, to Olive Ruth Williams Claymore and George Washington Claymore, both members of the Cheyenne River Sioux Indian Tribe.   According to South Dakota in WW II, his “ancestor was Bazile Claymore Sr., a pioneer South Dakotan of the fur trading era.”  According to his sister, Ina Claire Claymore Palmer, “Homer was born during the week of Armistice Day in 1918, and his grandmother remarked, ‘ Another soldier is born.’  His Lakota name was ‘Lone Ghost’ and his life seemed to parallel the life of the great warrior Crazy Horse.”  Homer was the second of three children.  As he grew, he was known by his nickname “Smoky” because of his gray eyes and dark skin.   Homer attended Indian boarding schools and graduated from high school at Haskell Institute in Lawrence, Kansas, which was a BIA high school and vocational school.  Following graduation, Homer completed training in the bakery trade and also joined the Cavalry National Guard at Ft. Riley, Kansas.   He enjoyed riding horses, hunting, fishing, dancing, playing cards, and skiing.  His sister, Ina, remembers that he also loved to cook and his favorite dish was macaroni and cheese.  His family remembers him as a kind, quiet, young man, who loved his family and brought honor to them.

In the spring of 1942 Homer was drafted into the U. S.  Army.  He took his basic training at Ft. Meade, South Dakota, a U.S. Cavalry base.   As the days of the horse cavalry were coming to a close and the units at Ft. Meade were becoming mechanized, Homer was given the choice of becoming a baker or joining the U. S. Army Air Corps.   He chose the Air Corps and trained to become a pilot.   Since he did well in school and was an exceptional math student, Homer completed his Air Corps training, and after receiving his wings and commission, was assigned to fly the famous B-17 bomber, known as the Flying Fortress.

Homer was sent to the European Theatre of Operations during the winter months of l943 and was based at Chelveston, England, with the 8th Air Force, 305th Bomb Group, 366th Bombardment Squadron.  He was rapidly promoted from 1st Lieutenant to Captain and flew one of the first bombing raids over Berlin, Germany.  On a later mission, his plane was hit by antiaircraft fire (FLAK) and severely damaged.  Although wounded in this encounter, Captain Claymore managed to get his crippled plane and crew back to Chelveston, England where he crash-landed the plane.  All of his crewmembers survived.

Homer’s first plane was named Crazy Horse and his second was known as Crazy Horse II.

Following the crash landing of his first plane, Homer was awarded the Purple Heart. He made a quick recovery and returned to active duty. In addition, he received the Distinguished Flying Cross as described in SD in WW II:

Pilot of a B17 over Germany on 24 April 1944 **** subjected to a concentrated
attack by enemy fighters. The airplane sustained serious damage but continued
on to target area. A heavy barrage of anti-aircraft fire further damaged the plane
and after bombing the target Claymore was wounded in the arm. Despite the
painful wound he remained at his position refusing to administer first aid until
the threats to the safety of his aircraft and crew had subsided.

On June 5, 1944, Homer wrote his last letter home to his mother. It arrived on June 23, 1944, and said in part:

My arm is all healed up now so I’ve been flying a few practice missions. The weather
sure has been swell lately, nice, cool, sunny days. It never gets very warm here. If it
did, it sure would be bad because it’s so damp all the time…. I received your last
package with oysters and the Indians at work. The oysters sure were good. We got
some canned milk and made stew. We sure enjoyed it….

In his last letter, written on June 13, 1944, Homer tells a cousin who had just graduated from High School, “You picked a heck of a time to graduate. You don’t have much choice, Army, Navy, or Marines is about all the choice you have now days.” He goes on to tell his cousin, “With a little luck and work you can get a lot out of any service. I hit it pretty lucky. I’ve got an education that money couldn’t buy. With a little more luck, I should be able to put it to some good use after this is all over.”

On June 18, 1944, while flying a strategic raid over Hamburg, Germany, Captain Claymore’s plane was hit by enemy anti-aircraft fire (FLAK) and was shot down, thus ending his life and all but one of his crew.  In addition to his Distinguished Flying Cross and Purple Heart, Homer was awarded the Air Medal with Oak Leaf Clusters.

After the war, the remains of Captain Claymore and eight other crew members were returned to the United States and buried in a common grave at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri. 

This entry is respectfully submitted by Crystal Bachman, Junior, Cheyenne-Eagle Butte H.S., Eagle Butte, South Dakota, April 13, 2002.  Information was sent by Mrs. Ina Claire
Claymore Palmer, Mesa, AZ, sister of Homer Wilson Claymore.