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Robert B. Tresville Jr.

Born on 5-9-1921. He was born in Bay City, TX. He later died on 6-24-1944.
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Written by: Charles H. Campbell

Mr. Campbell is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Rho Lambda Chapter, Buffalo, New York

Robert B. Tresville, Jr. was born on May 9, 1921 to Robert and Irma Tresville in Bay City, Texas. His father had a 35-year career as an army officer and band leader.

Tresville graduated with honors from high school in 1938 and entered Pennsylvania State College. After his first year at Penn State, he received an appointment to attend the Army Military Academy at West Point. While at West Point, Tresville applied for pilot training and graduated from Tuskegee flight training on December 13, 1942. He then returned to West Point where he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the US army. He was only the seventh African American to graduate from West Point.

Tresville was appointed a fighter squadron commander and promoted to captain in December 1943, the same month that his squadron was deployed to Europe. On June 24, 1944, Tresville was leading a very low flying mission over the Mediterranean Sea when, due to a navigation error, his plane slid off course and he was unable to make the correction. The plane plunged into the sea and his body was never recovered. His death is recorded as a "non-hostile crash, missing in action, lost at sea". Robert Bernard Tresville, Jr. is memorialized at Tablets of the Missing, Sicily-Rome American Cemetery and Memorial.

What is Tresville's Buffalo Connection

At the time of Tresville's death, he was married to the former Vivian Louise Murphy of Buffalo, NY. Her parents were Benjamin and Edith Murphy of 50 Lyth Street in Buffalo. Tresville and Murphy met when both were competing in tennis competitions in New York City and Lincoln University (Pennsylvania). They were married on January 25, 1943, one week after Tresville graduated from West Point. From their union they had a daughter whom Tresville never saw. At the time of Tresville's death his legal address was 50 Lyth Street, Buffalo, NY.

After Captain Tresville's death both his mother, Irma Tresville and his wife, Vivian Tresville each claimed to be the main beneficiary of his life insurance policy. The Veterans Administration sided with the mother and began monthly payments; the wife sued. After a lengthy litigation of 8 years and a trial in Federal Court, the case was settled.

The settlement: his wife, Mrs. Vivian Tresville (who had now remarried) would receive two-thirds of the money and the mother, Mrs. Irma Tresville would receive the remaining third.