Parke van Vliet Kent was born on September 14, 1921, in Panton, Vermont. He served in the 578th Bomber Squadron, 392nd Bomber Group, Heavy, as a Technical Sergeant and Radio Operator of the B24 #41-29509 "Knucklehead" during World War II.
On April 27, 1944, their plane, piloted by 2nd Lt. Jacob Weinheimer, was hit by German anti-aircraft fire over Dunkerque after a mission at Chalon-Sur-Marne. Several crew members were injured by the burst of flak that hit the port wing and the aircraft lost altitude in a slow spin. Radio Operator T/Sgt Parke V. Kent bailed out to safety and became a POW, being the only member of crew with an undamaged parachute.
The pilot regained control of the aircraft and likely set course for RAF Manston as an emergency airfield. Badly damaged, they made a crash landing at 1820hrs in shallow water at Westgate-on-Sea, but the aircraft was completely destroyed by the impact on the chalky shallows.
Five of the crew members were killed and four injured. The crew are as follows:
2nd Lt. Jacob Weinheimer wounded
2nd Lt. George Marshall (Co-Pilot) wounded
2nd Lt. Marvin Gurwit (Navigator) wounded
2nd Lt. John Ross (Bombardier) KIA
T/Sgt Parke Kent (Radio Operator) POW
S/Sgt Clayton Aughinbaugh (Engineer) KIA
Sgt Bernard Fink (Ball Turret Gunner) KIA
Sgt Nicholas Rich (Waist Gunner) KIA
Sgt Ben Munford (Waist Gunner) KIA
Sgt Robert Duffy (Tail Gunner) wounded
TSgt Kent survived the war and lived up to the age of 42, where he died on September 15, 1963. He is now buried in the Kent Cemetery, Panton, Addison County, Vermont, USA.
Source of information: History of Manston Airfield Facebook page