(September 11, 1918 – Feburary 28, 1944)
Noel Emerson Shoup was born Sept. 11, 1918, in Erath County, Texas. He died Feb. 28, 1944, near Le Translay, Somme, Picardie, France. His remains were identified in April 2023. He will be interred in the Upper Greens Creek Cemetery Sept. 11, 2023.
He was the second son of Arthur Warren Shoup and Lela Virgie Miller, grandson of Joseph Warren Shoup and Theodocia Louvenia Roberson (paternal grandparents) and Henry Miller and Amanda Jane Castleberry (maternal grandparents). Noel had two brothers, Joseph Wayland Shoup (stillborn) and Calvin Arthur Shoup (1927-1996).
He is survived by two nieces, Sandra M. Hammons and Brenda C. Baumert, two great nephews, a gr-gr niece and a gr-gr-nephew, one living first cousin, along with numerous cousins.
Noel attended school in Erath County, graduating from Dublin High School in 1936. While in high school he played basketball among other sports and was a member of FFA. He attended Texas Tech College (now Texas Tech University) in Lubbock, Texas. In March of 1942, Noel enlisted in the army. It was the last semester of his senior year at Tech.
Noel was extremely talented, intelligent, loyal, and obedient. Those traits have shown through no matter who is telling the story. Even his brother, Calvin, said Noel was a good brother who was always kind to him and that Noel was never mean to his younger sibling, something unusual for brothers.
On Feb. 28, 1944, Noel and his crew flew their B-17 on mission 114, his 18th mission, to Bois Coqueral, France. This was a “Crossbow” target (German Missile Launching) in the Pas de Calais area.
On the second bomb run, German anti-aircraft fire flak took off the right wing and the B-17 went down in a slow spiral. The nose broke off when the plane exploded. Three crew members were ejected from the plane—2Lt. Byron F. Clark, 1Lt. Charles J. McClain and S/Sgt Nick Avestos. The seven other crewmen died in the crash of the B-17 that crashed near Translay, 13 km SW of Abbeville, France (MACR #7863)
One day in February, Brenda’s phone rang. It was Charles McClain. Yes, even though almost 60 years had passed, he recalled Noel vividly.
“Please tell me how the plane went down and all that happened,” Brenda asked.
Charles McClain began, “It was a cold overcast day in February; we were on our way toward Frankfurt, but we were having to use our instruments to navigate. We could see nothing, and we had been missing our targets all day. The plane was hit by antiaircraft fire and the wing blew off. It began a slow spiral downward, and then it exploded.”
Charles continued, “Three of us were blown free of the wreckage. Two were captured, but I escaped into the Great Pyrenees Mountains not far from Abbeville, France. I wandered around in those mountains for 3 ½ months until June 17, when I finally found the border for Spain and crossed into Allied territory.”
“Did Noel have anyone special that he dated while he was stationed in England?” Brenda queried.
Again, Charles stated, “No, Noel never went into town on weekend passes. He didn’t smoke, and he didn’t run around chasing girls like most of the other guys did. In his free time, Noel just stayed in the barracks, wrote letters home and studied how to be a better pilot.”
In 2018 Sandra and Brenda were asked to submit their DNA to the Army. The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) had performed an archaeological dig of the site where Noel’s plane had gone down. Among the items they recovered included the cockpit wreckage of a B-17, a few small bone fragments, and a high school class ring, which said “Dublin High School Class of 1936” with the initials “N.E.S.” inscribed on the inside.
After 74 years, the wreckage of Noel’s plane had been located.
The remains of Noel and his co-pilot James Litherland had been buried in a box in the American Cemetery at Ardennes Belgium. The Army requested the exhumation of the box of remains for shipment to the DNA laboratory in Nebraska.
In the spring of this year, identification of those remains was made and the family received a long-awaited phone call that Noel’s remains would be returned to his closest kin, his nieces, Sandra and Brenda. The remains of the co-pilot, James Litherland, were also returned to his closest kin, his only daughter.
Now, 79 years, 6 months and 3 days later, Noel will finally be put to rest.
There will be a viewing for American Hero Noel Shoup on Sunday, Sept. 10 at Harrell Funeral Home from 6-8 p.m. A service open to the public will be held at 1 p.m. at Greens Creek Baptist Church on Sept. 11, 2023. Graveside services will be held at approximately 2 p.m. at Upper Greens Creek Cemetery following the service.
A processional for Noel’s remains from DFW airport to Harrell’s Funeral Home will be Friday, Sept. 8 and all community members are urged to line roadways to pay their respects.