Saturday, May 18, 2024

Bossier Parish History: Lt. Edward F. Teague: A Brave Pilot with a Brave Family

by BPT Staff
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Decoration Day will be here soon, the last Monday in May. Three years after the Civil War ended, in 1868. Maj. Gen. John A. Logan, the head of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans, established Decoration Day as a time to decorate the graves of their war dead with flowers, already a springtime tradition in several communities, both the North and South. Logan chose the date of May 30th because, some say, it was a time flowers would be in bloom all over the country. Over time, the day became Memorial Day, a day to honor all those who died in service to our nation.

Pam Carlisle | Bossier Parish History Center

In honor of a young man from Bossier City who made this ultimate sacrifice in 1947, replace the vision of springtime and flowers with snow, lots of snow, and short days of little sunlight. Imagine a resting place not in a manicured, flowering cemetery but in an isolated sub-arctic landscape 70 miles north of Goose Bay, Labrador, Dominion of Newfoundland (before it was a province of Canada). This was the transitional resting place of Lieutenant Edward F. Teague of Bossier City, whose C64 single-engine plane went down on March 13, 1947.

Growing up in Bossier City with six siblings, Lt. Teague attended Bossier High School, along with his future wife, Katherine Eatman. He attended LSU and joined the Army Air Force (AAF) in 1943. (The US Air Force began as the Army Air Corps in 1926 and became the more autonomous Army Air Force in 1941. It became the standalone US Air Force in September, 1947). After completing flight training in New Mexico, Edward Teague instructed at US airfields until sent to Goose Bay in Labrador in 1946. Goose Bay was a Royal Canadian Air Force airfield, with the south-side reserved for the AAF. 

Lt. Teague was serving in the Atlantic division of the Air Transport Command (ATC). The Air Transport Command, active from 1942-1948, had extensive responsibilities: the ferrying of all aircraft within the United States and to many destinations outside of the US, the control, operation, and maintenance of establishments and facilities on air routes outside of the US and the transportation by air of personnel, equipment, supplies and mail for all War Department agencies that didn’t have their own troop carrier units. 

Lt. Teague was an assistant base operations officer at the Goose Bay AAF station, which served as an ATC jumping-off point for Great Britain, and flew supplies to outpost weather stations and made rescue flights. In the bitter cold of February, 1947, he had rescued Sgt. Patrick Hayes of Wisconsin when he was lost after a crash. One month later, on March 13th, Teague, as pilot, with Sgt. Hayes and a Lt. William Haemker of Indiana, were in a single engine C-64 Norseman 4-seater, one of the light-transport work horses from WWII, when their base lost contact with them. 

The March 18, 1947, Shreveport Times reported that bad weather impeded search operations but several planes were standing by in Goose Bay to search for Lt. Teague and the other two men once the weather cleared. The next day the Times reported that Royal Canadian Air Force planes had covered 19,000 square miles of the Labrador “wastelands” in the search, and a ground search was underway. The Times also reported that waiting for news in Bossier City were Teague’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. A.M. Teague, and his wife Katherine and two-year-old son. 

Several days later, the Bossier City Planters Press reported that the aerial search for the lost men and their plane had been called off, but Teague’s family was holding out hope. Ground forces were still searching and an AAF captain stationed at Goose Bay, a friend of Edward Teague’s, was bolstering the family’s hopes through daily short-wave radio communications. He had advised Katherine Teague that Edward’s plane (which was designed for the worst of conditions) was thoroughly equipped for emergencies, with skis and pontoons to land on ice or water. There were enough open areas in the snow – “wastelands” – that Edward could bring the plane down safely, and the men had ways to resist the cold. The captain also assured Mrs. Teague that the plane was supplied with an abundance of first aid articles, and ammunition and food to last for at least 30 days. 

Edward’s brother, local realtor Arthur Ray Teague, reported the family found these Goose Bay reports encouraging. Their sister Joy Teague, who was in civilian service at General MacArthur’s headquarters in Tokyo, Japan, was also communicating with the family via radioed messages. In addition, the Planters Press article related that the family was receiving messages of concern and sympathy from a multitude of local friends and acquaintances to help them through their “period of anxiety.” 

In late June, the family received dreaded news, in the least-comforting way. The Friday, June 27, 1947 Shreveport Journal reported that an Associated Press dispatch had just disclosed that the body of Lt. Teague had been found by a search party. The family, though, had not yet received any official notice by the War Department. They had only received word through Congressman Overton Brooks that a ground crew had been ordered to Mur Inlet 70 miles north of Goose Bay because wreckage of a plane had been spotted from the air. 

Once the ground crew reported a positive identification of the plane and the three bodies found inside, Mrs. Teague was contacted by the War Department and the news was reported on the front page of the  Planters Press on Thursday, Jul 3, 1947. After another week, and an incorrect speculation by the Associated Press that Lt. Teague’s body would be buried in the snow-covered sand dunes where it was found, Katherine Teague received word that the War Department would be sending her husband’s body home. 

Twenty-five-year-old Lieutenant Edward Teague was buried in Shreveport on July 14, 1947, at Forest Park Cemetery with military honors. His body had been accompanied from Goose Bay by an officer of the US Army. Personnel of Barksdale Field conducted the service. Air Corps officers served as pallbearers. At the cemetery, an honor guard from Barksdale fired the traditional military salute, and the flag that had been on Lt. Teague’s casket was presented to his widow. The Planters Press reported that deep sorrow for the loss of Lt. Teague was felt not only by Mrs. Teague, her young son, and other family members, but felt throughout the community. 

The day he was buried, Mrs. Katherine Teague signed a government application for a flat granite military grave marker for her husband. The application initially listed a typed date of death as 26 June 1947, the day he was found. That date was then scratched out in red pencil, and March 13, 1947 was handwritten over it. That hastily scribbled date honored the day his family’s world stopped. The June date is when it shattered. 

If you would like to add to or explore our collection of Bossier’s military heroes stories or photos, please stop by or contact the History Center. We are located at 2206 Beckett St, Bossier City, LA and are open M-Th 9-8, Fri 9-6, and Sat 9-5. Our phone number is (318) 746-7717 and our email is [email protected] other fun facts, photos, and videos, be sure to follow us @BPLHistoryCenter on FB, @bplhistorycenter on TikTok, and check out our blog http://bpl-hc.blogspot.com/.

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