Imagine three boys, orphaned in the midst of the Great Depression, moving from Minnesota to an adjacent state to live with extended family. How hard it would be to lose both parents and, then, have to move away and take up a new life in a strange town.
Yet, such was the case for Louis Longman and his two brothers, who came to Clinton in the 1930s to live at 2804 Garfield with their maternal grandfather, John Cleary, and an aunt, Lorette Cleary. Details concerning the boys’ arrival and early life elude us.
A sister, Mrs. Henry Oak, is documented as living at 3010 N. Second St. in 1943.
Louis L. Longman graduated from St. Mary’s High School with the class of 1936. Who knew him? Who were his friends? We can scarcely find people, annuals and facts from that long ago. He played basketball, was a class officer, was in dramatics, worked on the school newspaper and was all-state honorable mention in football.
Apparently, he was a handsome and accomplished young man who joined the military service during the war and became a P-38 “Lightning” fighter pilot. He enlisted in the U.S. Army on Feb. 19, 1942, transferring to the U.S. Army Air Corps in June 1942.
He received his pilot wings on April 12, 1943, and was sent overseas in July of that year. Longman served in the southwest Pacific from Aug. 17 until Oct. 29, 1943, as a member of the 5th Air Force (433rd Fighter Squadron, 475th Fighter Group); he was awarded the air medal for meritorious achievement while participating in aerial flights there.
Awarding the medal, Lt. Gen. George Kenney wrote Longman’s sister, Mrs. Henry Oak, that Longman took part in 25 missions, during which hostile contact was probable and expected, including interception missions against enemy fighters and bombing planes.
“I am genuinely proud to have such men as your brother in my command,” he said.