Holux Watch Overview 1: The Six WW2 Pilots

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1944 Holux WW2 Watch

Its History ~ Its Mystery

How did these 6 Pilots know each other?

 

This 1944 Holux brand watch is engraved with the names of six airmen enrolled in Army Air Force Advanced Pilot Training, Class 44-A-3, which was formed at Santa Ana CA air base in April 1943. They all graduated on January 7, 1944 from either Luke Field or Douglas Air Base AZ.   The watch case is engraved with “44-A-3 ~ C.W. Mapes ~ B. Higgins ~ B. A. Brew ~ Wm Buttner ~ D. H. Kitzman ~ A. Riha”.

Over the past four years, I have spent many hours researching these pilots’ history via the Internet, Ancestry.Com, & Newspapers.comI was able to speak with 96-year old Major Donald Kitzman in Sept 2019, and with the families of Benjamin Brew and Ben Higgins.

Three of them – Ben Higgins, Benjamin Brew, and William Buttner -- were Killed In Action between July & August 1944 – just  months after their Jan 7, 1944 graduation.  Donald H. Kitzman, co-piloting a B-17, was shot down in Nov 1944, and was a Nazi POW until the end of the war.  Charles W. Mapes was a transport pilot in the India-China-Burma Theater (“Over the Hump”).  Kitzman, Alfred Riha, and Charles Mapes survived the war.

Donald Kitzman, the last surviving pilot of these six WW2 friends, died on March 19, 2020. May these brave pilots -- finally together for the first time since 1944 -- continue to celebrate their heroism!