WWII vet to be honored

Published 1:22 am Thursday, November 8, 2018

NATCHEZ — A highly decorated veteran and longtime resident of Natchez will be recognized posthumously for his patriotism in a ceremony Friday.

The late Capt. Robert P. Mims Jr. was a decorated veteran of the U.S. Army Air Corps, receiving the Distinguished Flying Cross, the French Legion of Honor, the Purple Heart and the Prisoner of War Medal.

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Mims will have a plaque placed on the G.V. (Sonny) Montgomery VA Medical Center’s Wall of Honor at 10 a.m. Friday. The medical center is at 1500 E. Woodrow Wilson Ave., Jackson.

Mims’ son Tye is 62 years old and remembers his father as not just a national hero, but also as his hero.

Mims was a B-26 Marauder pilot during World War II and his medals were the result of one fateful flight over Frevent, France, Tye said. Mims was flying his plane, the Swamp Chicken, over Frevent when German anti-aircraft fire blew off the right engine, Tye said.

“He was able to bail out all of his crew before it was so low it was too late for the pilot to jump. The whole time there was a German flak plane that was shooting at him,” Tye said. “He let his guns go and when he hit, the plane was not destroyed. He caught the windshield and he didn’t know if it was bullets or the windshield, but it caught him across the face and blood was pouring across his face.”

Tye said his father regained consciousness, took a few steps from the plane and heard the click of submachine guns along with commands to halt. Tye said his father was taken to a German prison camp where he remained until the Germans abandoned the camp near the end of the war, leaving prisoners behind.

“They woke up the next morning and the camp was empty,” Tye said. “Some of them waited for the troops to come in, but he headed out and marched across France and Germany. They traveled at night and hid out in the daytime just to get back.”

Tye said his father made the flight, with his crew the Whitetail Marauders, because his country needed him.

“The Whitetail Marauders were only supposed to fly 25 missions, but he took on that 26th mission because they needed them to go,” Tye said. “He wasn’t just a pilot, he was an instructor and he left that to take a group over.”

Mims moved to Natchez in 1952 with his wife, Virginia, and was the owner of Robert Mims Jewelers on Main Street.