Jacob Factor/Journalism Intern
MCN employee leads information search
OKMULGEE, Oklahoma— After a recent discovery, a Muscogee (Creek) soldier killed in action during World War II was honored June 21 with a plaque in the Memorial Garden of the Veterans Affairs Service Office building in Okmulgee.
Technical Sgt. Orus E. Baxter Jr., the honoree, of Holdenville was a machine-gunner in a B-24 in the 66th Squadron of the 44th Bombing Group, according to Harald Prins, professor emeritus at Kansas State University, who made the discovery.
Original reports, Prins found, stated Baxter went down on a bomber of the 392nd Squadron in Germany April 29, 1944. Prins later discovered Baxter actually was replaced by another airman and did not fly in that plane.
Baxter’s plane was on its return to England, where the 66th was based, from a bombing mission in Germany when it was hit by flak (gunfire) and ran out of fuel.
The plane crashed in Northern France and Baxter went down with it.
He died July 11, 1944, just one day after his twentieth birthday.
RaeLynn Butler, the MCN Historic and Cultural Preservation Department manager, worked with Prins to recover information about Baxter.
Davis said it is because of Butler’s work Baxter could be honored.
“She could’ve left it at our doorstep and kept going but she decided to get involved,” Ken Davis, Veterans Affairs Service Office director said. “RaeLynn is a very competent, caring and professional young lady.”
Since Butler was instrumental in finding Baxter, Davis said he wanted her to put Baxter’s plaque on the wall.
Davis said the average age of the Muscogee (Creek) citizens killed in action they have honored is 20-years-old. The oldest is 41, the youngest 16.
The verification of Muscogee (Creek) citizens who fought in wars is the easy part, Davis said. The hard part is finding them.
Sometimes, Davis said, citizens have recognizable names common for Natives; other times, it is harder to tell, which is why Davis said the best thing anyone with information that could lead to the recovery of citizens who fought in wars to do is to call.
VASO can be reached at 918-732-7739.