In Memory of
U.S. Air Force Captain Custer, South Dakota
Custer County

June 15, 1918 --February 1, 1952 (MIA)
                            February 13, 1952 (KIA)
Missing in Action, Presumed Dead near Okinawa

Roy A. Sundstrom was born June 15, 1918, in Newcastle, Wyoming, to J. L. and Alma Sundstrom. He was the youngest of seven children. He had six siblings, five brothers: Conrad, Arthur, Robert, Philip, Carl, and a sister, Viola. Roy went to school in both Hot Springs, South Dakota, and Newcastle, Wyoming, graduating from Newcastle High School in 1935. After completing his education, he worked in the newspaper business in Newcastle until he enlisted in the Air Force in February of 1942.

After undergoing much training as a bombardier navigator, Sundstrom was commissioned as a second lieutenant. He went overseas during WW II and from August of 1944 to April of 1945, Lt. Sundstrom went on 50 missions against the Nazis while he was stationed in Italy as part of a bomb group. For his service in WW II, Lt. Sundstrom was awarded the Air Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, EAME Theatre Ribbon, and three battle stars.

After he was inactivated from the Air Force, Roy went back to the newspaper business with his brother Carl. They first operated the Deadwood Pioneer-Times and ran it during 1946. Also in 1946, Roy married Mildred Armstrong on August 9 in Billings, Montana. Carl then sold the Deadwood newspaper and bought the Custer County Chronicle. Roy was a “contributing partner as news reporter, advertising manager and editor” while still a member of the Air Force Reserve. Roy and his wife had a daughter, Sandra Sue. On May 10, 1951, Roy was called back to active service in the Korean War at Mather Field, Sacramento, California.

Lt. Sundstrom was sent for re-training in California, Texas, and Louisiana; he was promoted to Captain and then left the United States in January of 1952 to serve as a radar observer on a B-29 bomber in the Pacific. He participated in several bombing missions over North Korea as part of the 372nd Bomber Squadron, 307th Bomber Wing, 12th Air Force, Kadena Air Base, Okinawa. On February 1, 1952, over an hour after leaving for a bombing mission over North Korea, Captain Sundstrom’s B-29 was struck in midair by another plane in their formation. His bomber was greatly damaged in the wing area and crashed into the ocean. At first the crew members on Sundstrom’s bomber were reported missing in action. However, after a search located “portions of the plane and clothing,” Captain Sundstrom and the rest of the crew were presumed dead on February 13, 1952.

The crew members’ remains were buried with military honors at Jefferson Barracks, St. Louis, Missouri. For his service in Korea, Captain Roy Sundstrom was awarded the Purple Heart, the Korean Service Medal, the United Nations Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, and the Korean War Service Medal.

US Air Force Squadron in Italy during WW II; Captain Sundstrom is kneeling, bottom right

This entry was respectfully submitted by Daniel Joseph Merrow, 8th grade, Spearfish Middle School, Spearfish South Dakota on May 21, 2004. Information for this entry was provided by an application for a SD veteran’s bonus and the Custer County Chronicle, 2/7/52 and 2/14/52 issues, the American Battle Monuments Commission, and Mrs. Carl (Jessie Y.) Sundstrom, sister-in-law, Custer. Profile approval by Mrs. Jessie Sundstrom.