This is a headstone in Danville’s Schoolfield Cemetery belonging to Cpl. Ernest L. Prather. According to one source, his branch of military was the U.S. Army Air Force. Ernest was part of the 90th Group, 320th Bombing Squadron (Combat Crew Moby Dick) during World War II. The Jolly Rogers have been hailed as “The Best Damn Heavy Bomb Group in the World.” His enlistment date was Nov. 4, 1941. His tenure in the armed forces would be short-lived.
At 22, Ernest was killed on August 14, 1942 during a flight for fuel consumption out of a B-24 Bomber Plant called Willow Run. Willow Run was owned by Henry Ford and is located in Michigan. Bad weather was said to be responsible for the crash.
Ernest’s Find a Grave memorial page mentions that he had to have a closed casket funeral because of how badly burned his body was. The person who created that memorial page didn’t list a source, but if the aircraft crashed that sounds possible.
National Archives and Records Administration. U.S. World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005.