Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Army Air Forces Veteran Basil Coats. Basil served in World War II.

Basil was born and raised in Shelbyville, Texas. He graduated from Shelbyville High School in 1938 and was employed by the Texas Oil Company in Shelby County until he enlisted the U.S. Army Air Forces on Nov. 7, 1942.

Basil was sent to gunnery school and then joined a bombing crew flying out of Framlingham, England, as a waist gunner. From Aug. 1943 to June 5, 1944 Basil had flown 119 combat missions over Europe.

On mission #120, he was part of a 10-man crew that took off with a mission to bomb military targets at Boulogne, France, in support of the D-Day invasion. The plane took a direct hit and crashed in enemy territory. The pilot and ball turret gunner were killed and the other eight crew members were taken prisoners of war by the Germans. For the next eight months, Basil would remain a POW of the Germans 100 miles southeast of Berlin.

After his return to American control, Basil returned to the United States and left active duty on Nov. 4, 1945. He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with an oak leaf cluster and the Prisoner of War Medal.

Basil married in 1951 and graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in anesthesiology. He raised two daughters and two sons. Basil was a retired nurse anesthetist and resident of Thibodaux, Louisiana, when he died on April 2, 2008 at the age of 88.

We honor your service, Basil.

Nominate a Veteran for #VeteranOfTheDay

Do you want to light up the face of a special Veteran? Have you been wondering how to tell your Veteran they are special to you? You’re in luck! VA’s #VeteranOfTheDay social media feature is an opportunity to highlight your Veteran and his/her service.

It’s easy to nominate a Veteran. All it takes is an email to with as much of the information as you can put together with some good photos. Visit our blog post about nominating for how to create the best submission.

Graphic By Kierra Willis: Kierra Willis is a Graphic Communication Major at the University of Maryland University College. She currently has an AAS in Graphic Design and Visual Communications.

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Published on Feb. 7, 2017

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