PERRY COUNTY, Mo. (KMOV.com) - The family of Missouri’s top World War II fighter pilot ace is making sure everyone hears his story through a new book, all about Raymond Littge’s life and military service.
“He destroyed 23.5 airplanes, 10.5 aerial kills out of those,” said Don Littge, Raymond’s nephew. “He flew missions just like everybody else on the toughest days of the year and came back and to see what he saw at 19, 20- year old had to be remarkable.”
Raymond was born in 1923 in Altenburg, Missouri, in Perry County. Don has made it his life's work to research, collect and tell the stories of his uncle. Several years ago, Don and his cousin, Richard Schmelig, teamed up for a project to make sure everyone knew the story of their uncle.
“These heroes are fast disappearing and it's important to capture this information and get it out to the public. The people of Missouri should be proud of this guy,” said Schmelig.
Richard had the book, "Absolutely Fearless" commissioned. It tells the story of Raymond Littge using military records, flight logs, newspaper articles and a detailed diary kept by Richard's mother, Ray's only sister.
"Her writing is amazing; she has a great sense for writing the right stuff that's in her own words and we used a lot of that in the book to support some of the facts occurred," said Schmelig.
After Germany surrendered in 1945, Ray came back to Altenburg, to be with his wife. A couple years later they had their first child. Ray returned to active duty, but this time was tasked with flying a new kind of plane, the F-84 thunder jet. In May 1949 on a flight from his California base to Washington State, Littge, at the age of 25, died doing what he loved, flying.
“They say his oxygen equipment gave out,” said Don Littge. “Then he went down, they said it was a gradual decline, into the clouds and they never saw the crash, but they knew he was gone.”
Littge was the third most decorated pilot in the 352nd Fighter Group, earning the Distinguished Service Cross and the Silver Star.
“It's Uncle Ray. I want them to put him on a pedestal, but I want to put all of these guys on one too, they are really good people, they made America and we need that, now,” said Don Littge.
If want to know more of Raymond Littge's story and the 352nd Fighter Group, the book, "Absolutely Fearless", is available right now on Amazon. All proceeds from the sale of the book go to the Museum in Ray's hometown of Altenburg, Missouri, where there is a display in his honor.