Wallace Trabue Hembrough, Jr., native of Jacksonville, Illinois, attended the University of Illinois as a student in the College of Agriculture from 1940 through 1943. As a freshman, he joined Alpha Gamma Rho, a social-professional agriculture fraternity. He was also a member of Pershing Rifles, a military fraternal organization for college-level students, during his first two years at the University.
Like many college students during the war, Wallace enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps, was called to active duty in February of 1943, and left the University before graduation.
After much military training, he eventually graduated as a bombardier-navigator, receiving his wings and commission as a second lieutenant in the Air Force. In October of 1944, he was sent overseas to Scotland, England, and later France as a member of the 9th Air Force, 585 Bomb Squadron, 394 Bomb Group. Less than six months later, his family received a telegram reporting him missing in action over north-western Germany.
After nine months of stressful anticipation, his family received a second telegram changing this status to killed in action on February 21, 1945. He was 23 years old. Interred in the U.S. Military Cemetery in Neuville-en-Condroz, Belgium, his remains finally arrived to his hometown of Jacksonville, Illinois on June 8, 1949.
The Hembrough Family Papers, a recent acquisition by the Archives, contains additional records related to Wallace’s military service and death, as well as correspondence during Betty Hembrough’s time at the University.