Trapped on Greenland's Ice Cap

Lt. Harry Spencer's WWII Saga, 1942-1943  

 Part One

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Harry E. Spencer, Jr.

Born in 1920, Harry E. Spencer, Jr., grew up in Highland Park, a small city surrounded by the city of Dallas, Texas. He attended Highland Park High School and graduated in 1938. He received his college education in engineering at Texas A&M University and Southern Methodist University. While at SMU, he began flight training in a university program. After learning to fly, Mr. Spencer worked as a flight instructor for a short time.

In April 1942 Harry Spencer married Patsy Caroline Blaylock, also of Highland Park. She, too, attended Highland Park High School and SMU.

Mr. Spencer joined the U.S. Army Air Corps in September of 1942. He was commissioned a lieutenant and entered active duty in the Air Transport Command, 5th Ferrying Group at Dallas. One week later, he was transferred to the 2nd Ferrying Group in Wilmington, Delaware.

While co-piloting a B-17 bomber from the American east coast to England, his plane crash-landed on the Greenland Ice Cap. Lieutenant Spencer was stranded on the Arctic wasteland for three months. It was five months before the entire crew was rescued. This exhibit tells the story of the crew’s hope, despair, persistence, and rescue.

Harry Spencer left the service after WWII and moved to Irving, Texas, in 1946. He came to Irving as part owner of Trinity Hardware, which his brother-in-law Louis Blaylock opened in 1936.

Not long after his arrival in Irving, Mr. Spencer began a long-lasting civic involvement with the community. He served two terms on the Irving City Council, 1952-1957.

He followed that with two terms on the Irving School Board. He was elected board president in the early 1960s. Mr. Spencer was also a director of the Rotary Club and the Irving Chamber of Commerce. In addition, he served two decades on the board of the Irving Community Hospital.

In 1960, Harry Spencer opened Spencer Air Conditioning which he ran for almost forty years.

Harry and Patsy Spencer had three children—two daughters and a son. Their son died of leukemia at the age of eight. Both the Spencers were involved in youth activities with their growing family. Mrs. Spencer was president of the Irving High School PTA in the early 1960s. Mr. Spencer was on the board of the Dallas Girl Scouts Council and was District Commissioner for the Boy Scouts of America. He also served as president of the Dallas County branch of the Wadley Leukemia Association and was on the board of stewards at First Methodist Church.

Harry Spencer built himself an extraordinary life. He spent his years in Irving raising a family, building a business, and involving himself in civic, church, and youth programs.

This exhibit focuses on five remarkable months in Harry Spencer’s extraordinary life.

Part Two