39th Bomb Group (VH)

Flight Engineer's


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T/Sgt Perry F. Shope
Flight Engineer

Perry Franklin Shope was born March 13, 1918 in Billings, MT, to Irvin Doyle and Anna Ruth (Eckles) Shope.

He 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.

He 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.

Shope 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.

Perry married Velva Irene Shope. She passed away 12 May 1988.

Perry 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.

View Statement of T/Sgt Perry F. Shope regarding the accident dated 28 Nov. 1944 by clicking here

Crew 1 Main Page
60th Squadron Crew Index
Source: Excerpts from Obituartry of Perry F. Shope, plublished in Billings Gazette, 3/26/2005; 39th BG Archives and veteran recollections