Captain Robert Losey-First American KIA IN WWII

In February 1940, Captain Robert Losey was sent to Finland as the air assistant to the American military attaché with the US Embassy. His mission was to report how the harsh winter conditions were affecting air operations in the war between Finland and the Soviet Union.

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Captain Robert Losey

Robert Losey was a thirty-one year old Army Air Corps officer. He had graduated West Point in 1929, earned his pilot wings in 1930 and had received two masters’ degrees from the California Institute of Technology. From 1937 to 1940 he served under General Henry “Hap” Arnold in Washington DC and was considered the finest meteorologist in the Air Corps.

When Germany launched its invasion of Denmark and Norway on April 9th, 1940, Captain Losey was directed to Norway to assist with the evacuation of the American legation to neutral Sweden. The legation had been divided into two groups. The first group, which included Robert Losey and the US Foreign Minister Florence Harriman, reached Sweden safely, but the second group could not be found. Captain Robert Losey volunteered to return to Norway to look for them.

Losey warned Minister Harriman that the Germans were bombing and strafing the roads and that it was too dangerous for her to accompany him. Harriman gave Losey her car and driver and large American flag to drape over the car to prevent air attacks.

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Captain Robert Losey and Foreign Minister Florence Harriman

On his return trip to Norway, Robert Losey was unable to find the missing group and returned to Sweden to make his report. After a discussion with Foreign Minister Harriman he decided to make a second trip back to Norway.

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Picture of Robert Losey from his obituary

This time, Robert Losey and his driver headed for a strategic rail intersection in the Norwegian city of Dombas, where they thought they might find the missing party. Unbeknownst to Losey, the missing group had already escaped into Finland by the time he arrived.

Unable to locate the second party, Losey and his driver began loading their car on a train to make their way back to Sweden when German bombers appeared overhead. The two Americans ran for shelter in a tunnel with a group of Norwegian civilians. As Losey stood near the entrance to observe the attack, a bomb landed nearby sending a piece of shrapnel into his heart.  Several days later, Hermann Goring, Commander of the German Luftwaffe sent General “Hap” Arnold a message regretting the death of Captain Losey.

Captain Robert Moffat Losey died on April 21st, 1940, and is considered the first American casualty of World War II.

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