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Dear Mr. Shearer,
Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!
We searched the National Archives Catalog and located a series titled World War II Combat Operations Reports, 1941 - 1946 in the Records of the Army Air Forces ( Record Group 18) that includes 29 files for the 97th Bomb Group. For access to these records, please contact the National Archives at College Park - Textual Reference (RDT2) via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
RDT2 has custody of microfilm copies of operational records relating to U.S. Army Air Force units. We searched the Air Force History index to the microfilm and located 31 files that pertain to the 414th Bombardment Squadron and 55 records that pertain to the 97th Bombardment Group. Please read the brief Abstract to determine which records you are interested in and click on the specific PDF icon. In the PDF listing, the IRISREF is the microfilm reel number and note the FRAME and FRAMELST numbers for the location on the reel. If the reel number begins with A, B or C, please contact email RDT2for access to them.
We also located records of the 97th Bombardment Group Reunion Association that includes information about tail markings, crew rosters, photographs, and other materials that may be of interest. Please contact the Air Force Historical Research Agency for access to these records.
There may be additional photographs relating to the squadron or the group in the custody of the National Archives at College Park - Still Picture (RDSS). Please contact RDSS via email at email@example.com to request a search.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and pursuant to guidance received from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), NARA has adjusted its normal operations to balance the need of completing its mission-critical work while also adhering to the recommended social distancing for the safety of NARA staff. As a result of this re-prioritization of activities, you may experience a delay in receiving an initial acknowledgement as well as a substantive response to your reference request from RDT2 and RDSS. We apologize for this inconvenience and appreciate your understanding and patience.
In addition, we located the series Missing Air Crew Reports (MACRs), 1942 - 1947 in the Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General (Record Group 92) and located MACR 1303 that includes 2d Lt Walter Riley Parks!. Thedigitized file is available online using the Catalog.
Since he was killed in action, we suggest that you request a copy of his Individual Deceased Personnel File (IDPF). For the IDPFs from 1940-1976 of personnel with surnames that begin with M-Z, please write to U.S. Army Human Resources Command, Casualty & Memorial Affairs Operations Division, ATTN: AHRC-PDC, 1600 Spearhead Division Avenue, Department 450, Fort Knox, KY 40122-5405.
The National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution has custody of a microfilm copy of Army Air Force aircraft history record cards. The cards list a plane's serial number, place of manufacture, and manufacturer's contract number, and may include information for each month that the plane was in service, the place of assignment, cumulative flying hours, and any repairs or accidents. They cover information from the date the plane was put into service to the date it was destroyed or withdrawn from service. For access to the microfilm, please contact the National Air and Space Museum Archives, 14390 Air & Space Museum Parkway, Chantilly, VA 20151 or email NASMRefDesk@si.edu. The Museum also has copies of unofficial publications which compile information on aircraft nicknames and/or nose art. These publications are not comprehensive, but may be useful.
We hope this is helpful. Best of luck with your family research!