NIAGARA FALLS – A young man from Niagara Falls took to the skies for his country and died a hero.
William C. Glasgow left the military with an honorable discharge and spent time after that getting even more experience up in the air.
“He wanted to fly,” said his cousin, Violet McIntyre, of Wheatfield.
After joining the Army Air Forces in World War II, Glasgow flew more than 80 missions as a fighter pilot in a P-40 Warhawk over Europe and North Africa.
On the captain’s final mission, he was shot down over Germany.
The injured pilot twice escaped from his captors and returned to his unit 12 days later.
Back at home, the highly decorated combat pilot was flying an experimental plane at an air show in Dayton, Ohio, in May 1945 when the aircraft just missed striking the packed grandstands before crashing into a car.
Four of five people in the vehicle were killed, as was the young pilot.
Glasgow was 27.
Earlier this month, the Oakwood Cemetery Association held an event to remember Glasgow on the cemetery’s Portage Road grounds.
“This guy was just a superhero,” said Peter Ames, secretary of the association’s board of trustees.
Glasgow’s grave is now highlighted with one of the cemetery’s “notable person” markers.
He was awarded numerous medals for his service, including the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Silver Star, the Purple Heart, the Air Medal, the New York State Conspicuous Service Cross and the Prisoner of War Medal. He was also awarded a medal from Britain’s Royal Air Force.
He never actually received the Prisoner of War Medal himself. On Sept. 21, at the remembrance event at Oakwood Cemetery, Glasgow’s nephew, Bill, was presented the medal.
The plane William Glasgow was flying at the air show had been built in Buffalo by Curtiss-Wright, as was the P-40. It was called the XR-55 Ascender, the third prototype of a fighter that was unusual for its rear-mounted engine and propeller.
McIntyre, Glasgow’s cousin on his mother’s side, was 21 when she attended his funeral. She remembers the service at the former Pierce Avenue Presbyterian Church, which was packed with mourners, and the graveside ceremony at Oakwood. Two of the pallbearers were recipients of the Medal of Honor, she said.
At the end of the ceremony, there was a flyover by a plane that climbed into the sky and, after it flew directly overhead, vanished from sight, McIntyre said.
“There goes Bill,” McIntyre recalled thinking. The flyover was a spiritual moment, she said, almost as if her cousin’s soul had hopped on for the ride.
McIntyre, who will be 90 in November, has worked to make sure her cousin is remembered.
She said Glasgow was an exemplary person, an elder at his church, though he never was one to go around “spouting religion.”
McIntyre was the eldest of three children at the time of her cousin’s death.
“He set such a wonderful example for all of us,” she said.