Today is the birthday of East Perry County’s most decorated World War II soldier, Captain Raymond Littge. He was a fighter pilot who was credited with destroying 23.5 enemy planes. He was born on October 18, 1923 in Altenburg, Missouri. He was the son of Henry and Martha (Ahner) Littge. Fairly recently, Raymond’s only sister, Altheda, died at the age of 107, and a story was written about the Littge family titled, She Survived All Those Brothers. This photo, which was part of that article, shows the Littge siblings.
The children are standing in order of age, with Altheda being the oldest, on the left. Raymond was the second youngest.
Raymond attended Altenburg High School for two years, and then Perryville High School for two years. He graduated in May of 1942. One month after graduating, he enlisted in the military as part of the Army Air Corps. Raymond’s accomplishments during World War II were monumental. I do not have to go into detail here because his story is told online in several locations. Here are three worthy accounts of his war record. Click on them and you will be taken to another website to read about him.
Shortly after World War II came to an end, Raymond married his high school sweetheart. Her name was Helen Fischer. They were married at Helen’s church, Concordia Lutheran Church in Frohna, on November 25, 1945. Here is their marriage license.
Helen was the daughter of Theo and Edna (Gerler) Fischer. This couple would have two sons, George Preddy Littge and Raymond Littge II. George’s name is a tribute to George Preddy, Ray’s flying partner in the war who was also an ace. George Preddy had died in combat during the war. Here is a photo of Raymond, Helen, and their two young children.
Here is a gallery of photos showing aspects of Raymond’s military service. You can enlarge the thumbnails by clicking on them.
Stories float around Altenburg to this day about Captain Ray “buzzing” the city of Altenburg, amazing the school kids, tipping his wings, and shaking the buildings.
Raymond did not live long after the war. He was still serving his country when, on May 20, 1949, the jet he was piloting crashed in Oregon. Before the crash, Raymond had been training young flyers.
Ray’s body was brought back to Altenburg for burial. Here is the application for a military marker for his grave.
You can see his gravestone in the Trinity Lutheran Cemetery in Altenburg below.
Here is an article that tells the story of Raymond receiving the Distinguished Service Cross.
Raymond became qualified to be classified as an “ace”.
Next is an accounting of all of Raymond’s military decorations.
After Raymond’s death, Helen would remarry and have one more child. Her second husband was James Starnes, who was another war-decorated pilot. I found this photo of Helen later in her life. I guess you could say she was Raymond’s first “Miss Helen”.
Helen died in 2013 in Lutz, Florida. Today would have been Raymond’s 94th birthday. I know I wish he was still around so I could hear him tell some of his war stories.
Sadly, Ray Littge II also became a fighter pilot and was killed in a plane crash while on active duty in 1979.
Just one more story, this one about Miss Helen, one of Raymond’s planes.