Buford Kenneth Eaves
1st Lieutenant
U. S. Army Air Forces
WWII US Military
Dates of Service: 12/11/1942 - 11/02/1945
Bombardier, 512 Bomb Sq. 376 Bomb Gp, 47 Wing 15th Air Force

He was born in Hondo, Texas, as the youngest of three children of Warren Eaves, a school teacher, and Olga Kissman Eaves. Kenneth was one year old when the family moved to Odem, Texas, near Corpus Christi. He graduated from Shepherd High School in 1941, then worked at several jobs in Houston, including shipping clerk for Shell Oil Company. In December of 1942 he entered the U.S. Army Air Forces. He took basic training at Sheppard Field in Wichita Falls, Texas, then entered the University of Arkansas as part of a four-month college training detachment. In "May or June" of 1943 he was sent to gunnery school in Harlingen, Texas. Later, at San Antonio Aviation Cadet Center, he was rated as a "non-pilot" because of a childhood eye injury that hindered his depth perception. Re-classified, Kenneth was sent to advanced bombardier training in Childress, Texas. At Westover Field in Chicopee, Massachusetts he "crewed up," joining the 10-man crew with which he would fly in combat. Together the men took overseas training in a B-24 in Charleston, South Carolina. After a week's leave, the crew flew to Tunis, Tunisia, and then to Marrakech, Morocco, where they were assigned to the 376th Bombardment Group, and sent to Italy. Beginning in July of 1944, Kenneth flew about three missions a week, most lasting six to eight hours. His targets included railroads, industrial plants, and oil facilities in Hungary, Austria, Romania, and Germany. In the famous raid over Ploesti, Romania, his plane lost two engines. Of 35 missions he flew, German fighters were involved "only eight or nine times." He was often escorted by Tuskegee Airmen. Kenneth, who earned a Distinguished Flying Cross, finished his 35 missions on December 16, 1944. After a 10-day leave to visit his parents at their home in Galveston, Texas, he was sent to Midland, Texas, to bombardier instructor school. Kenneth finished the war as an aerial instructor at Big Springs, Texas. After leaving service he enrolled at the University of Texas at Austin in November of 1945, and earned a business degree on the GI Bill. He worked as a sales representative for Continental Oil Company and was based in Corpus Christi. On February 26, 1945 he married Leta Garrison. They would have four children and four grandchildren. The couple moved to her hometown, Shreveport, where Kenneth joined Curtis Parker Oil Company, an enterprise he later bought. He sold it in 1998.