Charles R. Sibert, Air Force chief and former WWII POW, dies at 98

  • Published
  • By Maj. Shelley Ecklebe
  • 442d Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Chief Master Sgt. Charles R. Sibert, World War II veteran and former prisoner of war died March 12, 2022 at home in Belton, Mo., at the age of 98. Surrounded by his children and grandchildren, the 21-year veteran flew as a tail gunner in World War II aboard a B-17 Flying Fortress.

Enlisting in the Air Force in November 1942, Sibert knew he wanted to fly. After seeing a bulletin board with silver wings and a ‘become an aerial gunner’ sign, he enlisted as a tail gunner on the B-17 Flying Fortress, under the historic 96th Bomb Group.

On his second mission – flying over Schweinfurt, Germany, on Oct. 14, 1943 – enemy fighters shot down Sibert’s B-17. Sibert spent the next 548 days as a prisoner of war before being rescued by U.S. forces in May 1945.

Master Sgt. Kimberly Stone, the career advisor for the 442d Fighter Wing, attributes much of her success to his legacy. “My grandfather believed in the American dream – that you can accomplish anything through hard work and determination” said Stone. “He was my biggest advocate, the main reason I decided to enlist, and taught me the importance of getting the job done and doing it right.”   

Sibert – a Belton, Mo., native – married to his high school sweetheart Julie. The two were together for 58 years at the time of her passing. They are survived by their four children and seven grandchildren. Two of his granddaughters, Master Sgt. Kimberly Stone and Master Sgt. Jessica Fordham, enlisted in the U.S. Air Force to follow his footsteps.

“What a legacy. When Kim told me about her grandfather’s passing and asked for an A-10 flyover from our unit, I knew this was the least we could do to honor Chief Sibert,” said Col. Steve Nester, 442d Fighter Wing Commander. “His story is one of resilience, determination, and grit. We truly stand on the back of giants and are honored to perform the flyover to honor Kim’s late grandfather”.   

The 303rd Fighter Squadron will be performing a flyover during Sibert’s funeral in honor of his 21-years of faithful service to our Nation. The funeral will be April 13, 2022 at 1 p.m. at the Veterans Cemetery in Higginsville, Mo.