Pilot Casualty of World War 2: Nashua, New Hampshire’s Ensign Paul Boire, USNR

Ensign Paul Boire

Ensign Paul Boire (1921-1943)

Ensign Paul Amie Boire is hailed as the first Nashua pilot to “make the supreme sacrifice” in World War II. He was the third child and second son of George F. & Angelina (Lapierre) Boire, born in Nashua NH on 16 January 1921. During that time his parents lived at 108 Tolles Street, Nashua, New Hampshire.

Paul  graduated from Nashua High School in 1939, followed by attendance at St. Anselm College. At this time he also took flying lessons at Nashua offered by the Civil Aeronautics Administration program. He entered the Navy at the age of 20 and two years later he was dead.

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[Photo taken 3 days prior to Ensign Paul Boire’s death]. Scene on the flight deck [of the USS Essex (CV-9), looking aft from the carrier’s island during her shakedown cruise, 20 March 1943. Planes parked on deck are F6F-3 fighters (in foreground, with wings folded) and SBD-4 scout bombers. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives (photo # 80-G-K-698). Found on NavSource Online.

His assignments were as follows: On 31 July 1941 stationed at Naval Reserve Aviation Base, Boston (Squantum) Mass [for basic training]. He had reported on 15 July 1941 for elimination flight training duty.  On 30 September 1941 the U.S. Naval Reserve Aviation Base, Atlanta Georgia shows him on the roster, “BOIRE, Paul Amie, 705-00-67 Sea2c 11 July 1943 Boston, Mass.” [received 14 September 1941 from USNRAB, Boston (Squantum) Mass.]. On the 31 October 1941 he was stationed at US Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida, as S2c V-5.

Ensign Paul Boire was then assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Essex (CV-9).   The carrier was in her shakedown cruise, at sea off the port of Spain in Trinidad [a small island country 7 miles off the coast of Venezuela]. From here Ensign Paul Boire made his last flight on 23 March 1943. He never returned.  [Editor’s note: A 1963 newspaper article states he crashed in Boston Harbor which would be unlikely as 3 days prior the USS Essex was at Trinidad].

Ensign Paul Boire is considered to have died 23 March 1943 at sea, near the coast of Trinidad, off that country’s port of Spain. He was 22 years old, and was piloting a Navy plane when it crashed. A 1974 Nashua Telegraph article states “To this day, no one is certain exactly where or how the plane was downed.”

On July 29, 1945, a committee from the Nashua Post VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) composed of Capt. Albert McClure, Lt. Verner W. Proulx, Edgar Donah, John P. Diggins and Edward LeBlanc, sent a letter urging a name change to the (Nashua) Airport Commission. The letter requested that the Nashua Municipal Airport be renamed Boire Field in honor of Paul Boire. [per Nashua Telegraph 1975]

Boire Field 1937

US Government aerial photograph of Boire Field in 1937. My thanks to Den Levesque for bringing this to my attention.

It should be noted that at this time two additional Nashua pilots, Lt. Benjamin  D. Parker (son of Frank Laton Parker & Agnes Casey)  had died in action in the South Pacific [his body was not recovered,serial #O-439661], and Lt. Robert M. Flanders was killed in a plane crash off the Atlantic coast. However following extensive discussion, it was decided to name the field after the first pilot to die during wartime.

In 9 September of 1945 the airfield in Nashua was official renamed to honor him. A bronze memorial tablet, which names the field, was hung at the “red brick hangar” at the airport.  Paul Boire’s uncle, Rev. Aime P. Boire, read the family’s response to this honor at the dedication ceremony. [Read the article that includes photographs in the Nashua Telegraph].

BOIRE FIELD
DEDICATED IN HONOR AND MEMORY OF
ENSIGN PAUL A BOIRE U.S.N.R.
GAVE HIS LIFE ON MARCH 23, 1943
FIRST NASHUA PILOT TO MAKE THE
SUPREME SACRIFICE IN WORLD WAR II
ERECTED September 9 1945
By the Municipal Airport Commission

Ensign Paul A. Boire is also remembered on the Tablets of the Missing, East Coast Memorial, in New York City.  He also has cenotaphs i.e., in the Boire family plot, Saint Francis Xavier Catholic Cemetery, and an internet one on Find-A-Grave.

The Nashua Airport, Boire Field, itself was originally opened in 1934 on the land formerly  known as the Therrien farm. It was developed as a C.W.A. Project. 100 men went to work creating the field and buildings, with an official opening on 12 October 1934, being called the Nashua Municipal Airport.

In 2012 city leaders celebrated a new, longer 6,000-foot runway (more than 3x the size of the original) that can accommodate large jets. The original brick hangar that held the Paul Boire Memorial tablet, composed of cleaned bricks from Nashua’s 1930 Crown Hill fire, is now called “Building 1” The BOIRE plaque mounted on a granite slab in front. This hangar is currently rented by the airport to businesses.

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