Honor Roll - WWII, Military History

T SG Anton John Budgen, Service Number 16079863

Anton John Budgen was born on April 29, 1915, to Stanley Alex and Mary Bacevich Budgen. When Anton was born, his father Stanley was working as a miner in a coal mine—a job he held throughout his life. Stanley had been born in 1881 in Lithuania and left his country around the turn of the century to travel to America. There he met his future wife, Mary Bacevich—a young lady who also left Lithuania for America. They married in St. Ann’s Parish in Spring Valley, Illinois, soon after Mary arrived in the U.S. Stanley and Mary’s first child was a daughter, Ann Marie, who was born on July 13, 1913, in LaSalle, Illinois.

With Anton’s parents being the first generation to travel to the U.S., he never met his grandparents; they remained in Lithuania throughout his life. But his mother’s brother—Anton Bacevich—lived with Anton and his family. His uncle arrived in America about the time Anton’s sister, Ann, was born. He worked as a fireman at the local zinc factory, possibly the same place where Anton’s father Stanley worked as a miner.

At the time of Anton’s birth, the family lived at 578 Union street in LaSalle. When Anton was three years old, his uncle left to serve in World War I. While in the military he became a U.S. citizen. Anton’s uncle passed away in 1924 a few weeks before Anton turned nine.

The family moved to 458 Sterling street prior to the death of Anton’s uncle. Throughout their childhood, both Anton and his sister Ann attended school. As a teenager, Anton went to LaSalle-Peru Township High School following a college preparatory path of study and graduating in 1934. Outside of his studies, he participated in two years of varsity track. His sister graduated the year before him following a commercial study path. Anton went on to attend at least two more years of school, possibly at the local LaSalle-Peru-Oglesby Junior College as he remained at home during this time.

By 1938 both Anton and his sister were working at Westclox—a local clock factory—and living with their parents on Sterling street. When Anton was 25 years old, his mother died on September 29, 1940, at age 47. A couple weeks later Anton registered for the draft on October 16, 1940, in LaSalle. His sister married Bernard Novean the next year on May 29, 1941, in Spring Valley, Illinois.

WW2 Draft Card for Anton Budgen
World War II Draft Card for Anton John Budgen

Later in the year of 1941, Anton Budgen enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Forces on November 13th in Peoria, Illinois. He was eventually promoted to Technical Sergeant and assigned to the 415th Bombardment Squadron of the 98th Bombardment Group most likely after it was activated on February 3, 1942. Anton’s squadron trained in Florida flying over the Gulf of Mexico before being deployed to the Mediterranean theater in June 1942. By November of that year, the 98th Bombardment Group was serving as part of the Ninth Air Force and based in Libya. Flying B-24s, the crews “staged long range strategic bombardment missions on enemy military and industrial targets in Sicily, Italy, and the Southern Balkan States.”

Photo of a B-24
This B-24 Liberator plane from the 415th Bombardment Squadron, 98th Bombardment Group would have been similar to that flown by T SG Budgen. Source: Wikimedia.

In early 1943, Time’s Correspondent Jack Belden, accompanied Budgen, who was the flight’s radio operator, and his fellow crewmen on a typical mission to Sousse. After his trip, Belden described the raid as “not exciting, not heroic, but the kind of dull, monotonous, hard, nerve-straining work American bomber pilots have been doing for five months now in the Mid-East.” He said during that trip they flew for ten hours for “five minutes of excitement.”

However, just a couple months later those five minutes of excitement turned deadly for Anton and his crew as they ran another raid over Naples, Italy. Their plane was shot down, and the entire plane and crew were lost, possibly in the Bay of Naples. Some credit Lieutenant Rudi Dassow, an enemy fighter, with shooting down Anton’s plane the night of March 1, 1943.

One year and one day after Anton’s plane went missing, the nine men on his crew including himself were declared to be presumed dead. On June 5, 1944, a private ceremony was held at Anton’s father’s home in LaSalle during which Stanley Budgen received the medals his son had been awarded during his service. These included the Distinguished Flying Cross and air medal. While not noted in the report of this ceremony, he would have also received the following medals: Army Good Conduct Medal, American Campaign Medal, American Defense Service Medal, Europe/African/Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, and the World War II Victory. And the U.S., World War II and Korean Conflict Veterans Interred Overseas database also notes Anton was awarded the Purple Heart. T SG Anton Budgen’s name is listed on the Tablets of the Missing in the North Africa American Cemetery in Carthage, Tunisia.

LaSalle-Peru Township High School

Westclox ad with clocks




This story is part of the Stories Behind the Stars project (see www.storiesbehindthestars.org). This is a national effort of volunteers to write the stories of all 421,000+ of the US WWII fallen saved on Together We Served and Fold3. Can you help write these stories? These stories will be accessible via smartphone app at any war memorial or cemetery.

If you noticed anything erroneous in this profile or have additional information to contribute to it, please email feedback@storiesbehindthestars.org.


SBTS Historian: Pam Broviak

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