Perry Franklin Shope was born March
13, 1918 in Billings, MT, to Irvin Doyle and Anna Ruth
graduated from Billings High School in 1936. After graduation,
he joined the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) and
was stationed in various western states. His last assignment
was in Bigfork, MT. Sixty-two later he returned to spend
his final years in the most beautiful place on earth.
Perry loved flying, aircraft, football, the rodeo and
the mountains, but most of all he loved to tell the
stories about his friends in Texas.
enlisted in the Army Air Corps July 22, 1940 and entered
the service at Ft. Missoula, Montana.
He was one of 5 men who survived the 28 Nov 1945 training
accident that resulted in the crash and loss of 10 of
the 15 men aboard. Ed Reilly, TG, Crew 7 whose crew
bunked next Shope’s crew recalls that “Old
Montana Cowboy”: "I remember that Shope saved
Garnier's life by virtually putting him into a parachute
and forcing him to climb down the front compartment
exit. I remember that Garnier was so rattled that he
only fastened one of 2 straps around his upper thigh
and as a result he injured his back in the jump. I remember
that Shrope was last man out and his chute opened so
close to the ground that he was swung only once before
hitting ground. He too was hurt..." In Capt William
Barthel, Navigator on Miller’s crew, recounting
of the accident to another 39th veteran recalls that
Shope popped his chute and came down in a cemetery landing
on a tombstone and breaking his leg.
went on to become a trainer of aircraft flight engineers
on B29s during WWII and the Korean Conflict. He was
a Flight Engineer of record on the Berlin Airlift. He
retired from the Air Force in 1968 in San Antonio, Texas.
He then continued to work in the same position in the
Civil Service until his retirement at age 65.
married Velva Irene Shope. She passed away 12 May 1988.
F. Shope passed away, 24 March 2005 at his home
in Bigfork, MT. at the age of 87. Internment Sunset
Memorial Cemetery, San Antonio, TX.