Francis Love, son of John and Elsie (Poffenberger) Love graduated from Dexter High School in 1936, and worked in Adkins Food Store for five years. He enlisted in the Army Air Force in 1941 and became a pilot.
He served in the 9th Fighter Squadron, 49th Fighter Group, 5th Air Force in New Guinea.
P-38 Lightning pilot, Lt. Francis Love, flew more than 100 missions. He had been reported missing in action twice before, but made it back to his base The first time, he spent 24 hours in shark-infested water, then lived with natives a week before he was rescued.
After the second crash, on a New Guinea beach, he was rescued by a PT boat. November 2, 1943–called Bloody Tuesday–8 bombers and 9 fighter planes were lost, including Francis Love’s, on a mission to Rabaul, New Britain. His death was declared officially after the war was over.
On December 5, 2000, a native discovered the plane in a dense jungle near Warongoi River in Papua New Guinea. Through DNA and other forensic evidence and investigation, the US Army identified the remains of Francis Love in September 2002.
Four Australian coins were in his pocket, and he had been wearing his 1936 Dexter High School class ring, which was recovered. His remains were returned to Love’s hometown of Dexter, Iowa, where a funeral and military burial were held.
Francis had told his family about an Australian girlfriend, Chrissie, who worked at the American Servicemen’s Club at Townsend. Their courtship lasted a couple of years as his squadron would return to Townsend from New Guinea from time to time. Francis planned to bring her back to Iowa as his bride. Before his last mission, he knew they were expecting a child. Sandra Francis, born in 1944, was the daughter Love never knew, and he was the father she didn’t even know about until she was 18. Chrissie married when Sandra was two years old, but when Chrissie died at the age of 51, Sandra’s stepfather took it hard and threw out everything about Francis Love, thinks that would have given Sandra clues to learn about her father. She searched for about three decades.
Meanwhile, in Des Moines, Iowa, a woman working on her own genealogy had uploaded information to Rootsweb. Francis Love was listed in her family tree. His daughter Sandra and granddaughter Sharon found his name on it in 2003. They were excited to learn that he had brothers, so they wrote the woman for more information. From her they also learned that Francis’s remains had recently been located and returned to Dexter.
Sandra and her daughter exchanged pictures and information with Arvid Love, a brother of Francis. They also talked on the phone. Francis had given Chrissie a watch and also a silver and turquoise ring with his name on it. Their daughter cherishes them, along with pictures and information about her father. Sandra and Sharon met relatives of Francis Love on a trip to Iowa in 2004.