Raymond C. Hopp was born on 11 June 1923, in LaSalle, Illinois, to Fred W. and Victoria Markiewicz Hopp. His mother, Victoria, was the daughter of Peter and Agnes Widlowski Markiewicz—a couple who had left Poland about 1892 with their first child, Josephine. Raymond’s father was a driver throughout his childhood first working for American Railway Express Company for several years and then for a bakery, possibly the one owned by Henry Hopp in Spring Valley.
When Raymond was about 10 years old, his father became a driver for the LaSalle Fire Department. By that time, his parents had a total of four children: Raymond and his older brother and his two younger sisters. After driving for the fire department for a few years, Fred Hopp moved his family to the second floor of the fire station at 728 Crosat street in LaSalle.
In 1942, Raymond graduated from the LaSalle-Peru Township High School and left his hometown to attend the Stout Institute in Menomonie, Wisconsin. But before he went, Raymond registered for the draft on 30 June 1942. He was a little over five and half feet tall, about 140 pounds with blue eyes and brown hair. Not long into the new year, Raymond was drafted and enlisted in the U.S. Army on 30 January 1943. His older brother, Fred Hopp Jr., was already serving in the U.S. Marines Corps having enlisted on 15 October 1942.
By July of 1944, Raymond was a 2nd Lieutenant and assigned to the 600 Bomb Squadron in the 398th Bomb Group (Heavy). The 398th Bombardment Group had been activated on 1 March 1943 and deployed overseas in April 1944. It was assigned to the Eighth Air Force and was based in England.
On 7 July 1944, Raymond Hopp flew a mission as co-pilot of aircraft 42-107218. Joseph Quinn, radio operator for the flight crew, said their plane was called Agony Wagon II—“a somewhat used and abused B-17 of questionable air worthiness.” The nine-man crew, led by pilot Lt. Robert Folger, was flying their ninth mission for the 600th Squadron. Their target was an oil refinery at Liepzig in Germany. This type of mission usually took 10 hours with at least 7 of those hours on oxygen. As the flight formation entered enemy air space and closed in on their target, they were hit with flak from guns on the ground. After dropping their bombs, just before 10 in the morning, Raymond’s plane sustained damage causing the plane to lose altitude. The crew bailed out at 12,000 feet.
Quinn later shared his memories of their experience:
“We all landed safely near Halle and were quickly captured except Busbee and Schneider who managed to evade for five days. Hopp was shot by the Germans under the pretext that he tried to escape. Zeller, who identified Hopp’s body, said he was shot in the chest.”
According to Raymond’s crew members, the Germans who captured them had Raymond’s wallet and dog tags. Some reports said a 15-year-old German boy of the land watch shot Raymond in the back with a rifle. Raymond was 21 years old when he died. He was buried outside a small town about five miles from Rosa, Germany. Later authorities discovered where he had been buried and moved his remains to the Ardennes American Cemetery in Belgium where he is interred in Block A, Row 44, Grave 5.
Raymond’s parents later received medals awarded to Raymond after his death. These included the Purple Heart, an Air medal, and a Presidential citation. For his service, Raymond would have also been awarded an Army Good Conduct Medal, American Campaign Medal, Europe/African/Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal.
The 398th Bomb Group Memorial Association website has a photo of Raymond and his crew at this link:
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.
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SBTS Historian: Pam Broviak
You can also access this story at the following sites:
- Fold3, Raymond C. Hopp (in progress)
- Together We Served, Raymond C. Hopp
- 1930 U.S. Census, Fred Hopp, Ancestry.
- 1940 U.S. Census, Fred Hopp, Ancestry.
- 1900 U.S. Census, Peter Markiewicz, Ancestry.
- U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995, LaSalle, 1924, Hopp, p. 134, Ancestry.
- U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995, LaSalle, 1926, Hopp, p. 114, Ancestry.
- U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995, LaSalle, 1928, Hopp, p. 146, Ancestry.
- U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995, LaSalle, 1932, Hopp, p. 115, Ancestry.
- U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995, LaSalle, 1935, Hopp, p. 113, Ancestry.
- U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995, LaSalle, 1938, Hopp, p. 99, Ancestry.
- U.S., School Yearbooks, 1900-1999, LaSalle Peru Township High School, 1942, Raymond Hopp, p. 52, Ancestry.
- “Henry Hopp, Spring Valley Baker Dies,” The DePue Leader, 12 June 1936, p. 5, NewspaperArchive.
- U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947, Ramond Chester Hopp, Ancestry.
- U.S., Marine Corps Muster Rolls, 1798-1958,” Roll 544, Oct 1942, Fred W. Hopp, Jr., Ancestry.
- U.S., World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946, Raymond C. Hopp, Ancestry.
- U.S., Headstone and Interment Records for U.S., Military Cemeteries on Foreign Soil, 1942-1949, Raymond C. Hopp, Ancestry.
- “Lt. R.C. Hopp of LaSalle, Army Flyer, Killed,” The Times, 16 August 1944, p. 7, Newspapers.com
- Brief History of the 398th Bombardment Group, website.
- “Story of Escape from Nazi Death March,” Joseph P. Quinn, 398th Bomb Group Memorial Association.
- “Lt. Edward C. Jordan – the War Years,” Flight Mission 15, 398th Bomb Group Memorial Association.
- “LaSalle Pilot’s Body is Found in German Cemetery,” unknown publication, posted on Ancestry by user tomaseski1978.
- Missing Air Crew Reports, 42-107218, Fold3.