Jimmie Gyovai was born to his Hungarian parents Steve and Ethel Papai Gyovai on the 18th December 1922. He grew up alongside his seven siblings in Red Dragon an old mining town in the Sherman District of Boone, West Virginia.
After leaving Whitesville High School he went to work with his father and brothers, Louis, Joseph and Frank at the Red Dragon mine. Louis worked at this mine for 49 years and Joseph was left paralysed after an accident at the mine in 1958.
On the 25th October 1942 he left the mine and enlisted in the Army Air Corps at Fort Thomas, Newport, Kentucky and was issued with e service no. 15337609. After completing his training as an Engineer/Air Gunner he sailed to the Uk to complete his training at the 3rd Combat Crew Combat Crew replacement centre, Toome. On the day of the accident his role was mid upper gunner.
After the accident Jimmie's remains were recovered and he was buried with full military honours at 11.00am on the 20th April 1944 at Lisnabreeny American Military Cemetery, Belfast, Northern Ireland, Plot B, Row 2, Grave no.7. Seven days later his parents received a telegram informing them that he had been listed as missing. It was not until May that they were to learn of his death.
After Lisnabreeny was decommissioned in 1947 Jimie's remains were exhumed on the 11th November 1947 and repatriated to the Unitied States. He was finally laid to rest early August 1948 alongside his parents who had died prior to his return in St Nicholas Catholic cemetery, Aurora, Illinois. (His parents had moved to Illinois after his death.) Their graves were maintained by his older brother Ernest until his death in 1986.
Jimmie's grave, St Nicholas Cemetery, photo supplied by Selina Brown
Jimmie's brother Frank G. Gyovai served in the Phillippine's during WW2. He was captured in 1942 when the Filipino and American forces on Bataan surrendered to the Japanese. He started the infamous "Bataan Death March" to San Fernando but escaped into the mountains of Bataan and formed a Guerrilla unit, named Force 155 with a Lt H. Clay Connor.
For three years Frank fought the Japanese, saved downed pilots and provided information on Japanese strength receiving a battlefield commission to the rank of Captain as a result. He remained in the army until 1947 and died on the 21st December 1984.