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Leon McCaskill

 

Date and Place of Birth: February 6, 1922 Rockingham, NC
Date and Place of Death:    December 14, 1945
Baseball Experience: College
Position: Third Base
Rank: First Lieutenant
Military Unit: 51st Troop carrier Sqaudron, 62nd Troop Carrier Group  USAAF
Area Served: Mediterranean Theater of Operations

Leon McCaskill played ball at the University of North Carolina before serving overseas and playing for the integrated 92nd Infantry Division team in the ETO-MTO World Series.

Leon I. McCaskill was born February 6, 1922 in Rockingham, North Carolina. He attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in September 1940 and was a heavy-hitting outfielder on the freshman baseball team in 1941, joining the varsity squad in 1942.

He later entered military service with the Army Air Force and was commissioned as a pilot in June 1944. He arrived in Italy with the 51st Troop carrier Sqaudron, 62nd Troop Carrier Group in December 1944.

Between flying duties, McCaskill played baseball for the 62nd Troop Carrier Group team in Italy. The Gliders, as the team was known, reached the MTO double elimination baseball finals before being knocked out. McCaskill, along with a few other players, was then picked up by the MTO champion 92nd Infantry Division to help their chances against the ETO All-Stars. The 92nd Infantry Division Buffaloes were an all-black team, becoming an integrated squad with the addition of McCaskill and others. The ETO All-Stars were also an integrated team with Negro League stars Leon Day and Willard Brown. Unfortunately, the 92nd Division Buffaloes were knocked out in three straight games.

On December 14, 1945, McCaskill was piloting a Douglas C-47B Skytrain with three other crew members for a routine flight from Heraklion Field, Crete to Athens, Greece. Following a mechanical failure the C-47 plunged into the sea just 250 yards from the end of the airfield. His body was never recovered.

Tablets of the Missing at the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery and Memorial in Nettuno, Italy. Crewmate, Flight Officer Frank F. Giordano, whose body was recoved, is buried at Nettuno. Also has a marker at Eastside Cemetery in Rockingham.

UNC baseball 1942

Univerity of North Carolina varsity baseball team 1942 (Leon McCaskill is front row, third from left)

Leon McCaskill Marker Rockingham

Leon McCaskill's marker at Eastside Cemetery in Rockingham, North Carolina

Date Added August 7, 2015

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