In Memory of
U.S. Air Force Second Lieutenant Aberdeen, South Dakota
Brown County

September 8, 1929 – January 16, 1954
Died in a plane crash near Nashville, Tennessee


Maurice “Mo” M. Saunders was born on September 8, 1929, in San Antonio, Texas, to Laverne G. and Josephine Saunders. He has one brother, Richard George. Since his father was a career military man, from 1930-1934 Maurice, as a youngster, went with his parents to Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, then to West Point, on to Hickam Air Force Base, in Hawaii, and eventually came to Aberdeen, South Dakota. His father, General “Blondy” Saunders, had a distinguished career in the military, including combat in WW II, which resulted in an injury, and ended with his retirement in 1946. Maurice went to Sacred Heart Grade School and graduated from Central High School in 1947. He then attended Northern State Teachers College in Aberdeen, the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, and he was then appointed to West Point in 1949. Maurice was a great athlete; he was a star in high school. He was the quarterback on the Golden Eagles Eastern Conference football championship team of 1946.

On July 12th, 1951, Maurice enlisted in the Air Force. He took his training at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio. He went to weather school in Chanute Air Force Base in Illinois. In Montgomery, Alabama, he was admitted for air cadet training. His primary training took place at Marana Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona, where he was squadron commander and was recognized for his outstanding work. His advanced training was at Reese Air Force Base, Lubbock, Texas; he received his wings on May 16, 1953, and graduated in the top ten of his class. At the time of his death, Lt. Saunders was the safety ground officer of his squadron at Stewart Air Force Base, Nashville.

Lt. Maurice Saunders died in a plane crash of Air Force B26 bomber that he was piloting when it crashed into a house near Nashville, Tennessee, killing all three crew members. The house was badly burned, but the people inside escaped without serious injury. The body of Lt. Saunders was returned to Aberdeen and he was buried with military honors in the presence of many distinguished guests at Sacred Heart Cemetery, while the 54th Fighter Interceptor Squadron from Ellsworth Air Force Base at Rapid City, flying seven F84s, flew over the cemetery in a salute to Lt. Saunders.

This entry was respectfully submitted by Miranda Reed, 8th grade, Spearfish Middle School, Spearfish South Dakota. May 23, 2004. Information was provided by Aberdeen American News 1/17/54, 1/18/54, & 1/19/54 via Pauline G. Davies, Aberdeen, the Vermillion Plain Talk, 1/21/54, and an application for a SD veteran’s bonus. No family contact made.