Larry Covin
1st Lt
U. S. Army Air Forces
WWII US Military
Dates of Service: 12/28/1941 - 11/04/1945
B-26 Bombardier-Navigator , 450th Bombardment Squadron

Bedford Larry Covin was born in Longview, Texas, one of two sons of Forrest Covin, a railroad conductor, and Jessie Lee Lawler Covin. When Texas Pacific transferred its terminal to Mineola, Texas, the family moved there as well. During the Depression his father's income was "very, very limited." Harsh economic conditions of the era, Larry states, "made us much stronger, stronger people." The Covins considered their Baptist church as central to the family. Larry enjoyed football as well as fishing, and golf. He caddied at a nine-hole golf course and was paid twenty-five cents a round. Although small at "five-eight, five-nine," and weighing 120 pounds, Larry played high school football. After graduating in 1937 he worked briefly at a drugstore, then entered Stephen F. Austin State College in Nacogdoches on a partial scholarship. He received a full scholarship in his second year. Larry, who majored in health and physical education, lettered in football four years (earning all-conference status) as well as in golf and track. While his brother, Forrest, entered service as a Navy pilot, Larry enlisted and reported to duty in the U.S. Air Forces at Kelly Army Air Field in San Antonio on December 28, 1941. After basic training he entered navigator-bombardier training at Midland Army Air Field in Midland, Texas where he learned how to use the Norden bombsight and a .45 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol). "If we were going down we were instructed to take that .45 and destroy the Norden bombsight," he recalls. At MacDill Field in Tampa, Florida, he was placed in the 450th Bombardment Squadron, 322nd Bombardment Group, 9th Air Force, and assigned to a B-26 "Marauder". Larry arrived at Raugham near Bury St. Edmunds in England in early 1943. British civilians "accepted us with open arms," he says. Many planes were lost, he recalls, in the first few missions flown at tree top level. Larry, fortunately, missed those missions after injuring his knee in a bicycle accident that sent him to the hospital. By June 12, 1943 his group was sent to Great Saling near Braintree and placed in Air Support Command to provide ground support to troops. Primary targets first included enemy airfields and railway yards, then by late 1943, V-1 rocket sites. Most missions were about two hours and forty minutes, he recalls. Eighteen aircraft flew together. Bomb runs lasted twenty seconds, with the lead bombardier controlling the plane using the Norden bombsight. "When the lead bomber dropped his bombs all others dropped their bombs simultaneously," he says. On February 24, 1944, Larry completed fifty missions and was released from combat duty. He sailed to the United States on the SS George Washington, a troop ship. He served briefly as a bombardier instructor at Big Springs Air Field in Big Springs, Texas, then completed his service as a physical education instructor at Midland Army Air Field. Larry married Brownie Patton in Lubbock on January 14, 1945. (They would have two children and four grandchildren. They would later divorce.) He was discharged as a first lieutenant on November 4, 1945. Larry coached at Iraan, Texas, then returned to Nacogdoches where he coached in junior high school. He was hired at Stephen F. Austin State College, becoming director of guidance and testing. Meanwhile Larry earned his bachelor's and master's degrees, and completed his doctorate at Peabody College in Nashville in nine months. The GI Bill, he says, "just helped me to no ends." Along with officiating football and basketball in the Southwest Conference well into the 1970s, he spent eighteen years at Stephen F. Austin, then fourteen at McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana. On December 14, 1991 he married Deana Bolton, who has one daughter, two grandchildren, and two great-grand children. The couple resides in Kilgore. Concerning his war experience he says, "I think it made me a better person. I think it made me realize that the Lord will look after you if you live the right type of life."