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1st Lt. William P. Correia
720th Squadron

Bill (left) & George Reddy (right)

From the left: Tom Malcolm, Ebert, don't know, Correia

Peggy and William Correia
Wedding Photo - March 8, 1943

Peggy and William Correia
55th Wedding Anniversary - 1998

Almagordo N.M. 1943
Left to Right: Lloyd Edmonds, Bill Correia & Borden Chronister
Sitting in front is Janice Gandy, wife of Frank Gandy

William (Bill) was born in Warm Springs, California. He had 4 siblings - 3 brothers and one sister. Bill moved to Turlock, California when he was 3 and attended school there, graduating from Turlock High School.

Upon enlistment in the army, he went through Basic Training at Fort Ord, California and then attended Officer's Candidate School for the Air Force in Aberdeen, New York. He married Margaret (Peggy) Oliver in March of 1943. Peggy worked in the retail business in California while he was in New York, and then joined him in Dyersburg, Tennessee in July 1943. Bill was selected to organize an ordinance group for the 450th bomb group. He formed the 720th Ordnance for the 450th Bomb Group, and took his men to Alamogordo, New Mexico the end of July, 1943.

Traveling by train, the 720th left Alamogordo in late November 1943 for Newport News, Virginia. On the 3rd of December, 1943 they joined a large convoy of ships headed for Italy. Upon arrival in Italy, the commander sent the troops to a camp west of Bari. The crews were unaware that the harbor had just been bombed the day before their arrival and numerous ships were destroyed and countless lives lost.

Members of the 450th did not find out until many years later how lucky they were to miss the Bari bombing by one day. In the history books, the terrible bombing in Bari became known as the Second Pearl Harbor of WWII.


Bill was an Ordnance Officer, in charge of the troops loading the bombs on B-24's, known as the "Liberator" plane. He took great pride in his assignment, and was well liked and respected by his crews. He asked the local Italians to build a house for the officers from the 450th and shared those quarters with his friends for his time in Italy. One of his most memorable times was a few days of R&R in Rome. Being Catholic meant he had to go to see St. Peter's and he was lucky enough to attend a special mass for the military stationed in Italy. He was also lucky enough to have Pope Pius X11 shake his hand, and bless rosary beads he had purchased to bring home to his mother and his wife.


Upon his return to the United States after the end of the war, he returned to California and settled with Peggy in Stockton. He managed several retail sites in the area for DuBois department stores. After 2 years as a store manager, he was given the opportunity to open his own business in Modesto, about 25 miles south of Stockton. He opened "Peggy's Smart Shop" in downtown Modesto in 1948, and eventually expanded his successful ladies wear business to 2 other dress shops in Manteca and Oakdale, and owned 4 children's shops in Modesto as well. Bill also dabbled in real estate a bit building a senior apartment complex in Modesto and buying property in Escalon, California; Hilmar, California; and Lake Havasu, Arizona.


He and Peggy have one daughter, JoAnn. Bill has always been very active in civic affairs in Modesto. He was President of the United Way for many years, a member of the Downtown City of Modesto Association, a member of the American Legion, Elks Club, Knights of Columbus, Sportsman of Stanislaus, and Del Rio Country Club. Golf is his passion, and he has always tried to play 1-2 times a week at least. He is also an avid hunter and fisherman. He enjoys all sports and is a big 49er fan in the San Francisco bay area.


Peggy passed away suddenly in 2002, just short of their 60th wedding anniversary.

Bill still resides in their home and has a 24 hour caregiver. He kept up with many of his crew from the 720th for many years, and several years ago spent a few days with his daughter visiting Lamar and Birdie Good in Houston, Texas a trip he still talks about with a big smile.

He has always been extremely proud of his time in the Air Force, and his service in the "Big" war.

William, Peggy, Birdie and Lamar Good
1986 Reunion - Dayton, Ohio

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With great sadness, I am reporting that my father, William P. Correia, of the 720th died on August 4, 2008.
He passed away peacefully in his sleep after over 3 years battle with senile dementia.
He always had a smile for everyone and was living happily in his own home with his beloved cats Dollie and Sadie.
He will be greatly missed by me, and all his nieces and nephews and friends and other extended family.
He is at peace now with my mother Peggy, who preceded him in death by nearly 6 years.
Life was a glorious ride for him and he enjoyed his 90 years tremendously.

JoAnn Correia, Daughter

Information courtesy of JoAnn Correia, daughter of Willam Correia

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