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Joe Loadholtes

Ballplayers Decorated in Combat

 

Date and Place of Birth: September 15, 1921 Fort Meade, FL
Date and Place of Death:    January 28, 2001 Fort Meade, FL
Baseball Experience: Minor League
Position: Pitcher
Rank: First Lieutenant
Military Unit: 389th Bomb Group US Army Air Force
Area Served: European Theater of Operations

 William J. "Joe" Loadholtes was born on September 15, 1921, in Fort Meade, Florida. The young pitcher signed a professional contract with the DeLand Red Hats of the Class D Florida State League, and was 6-5 in 13 appearances with a 2.87 ERA in 1941. Back with DeLand in 1942 (the team was now in the Florida East Coast League), he pitched 37 innings for a 3-0 record and allowed just seven earned runs while striking out 21 for a minuscule 1.70 ERA ever, a promising career was put on hold when Loadholtes entered military service with the Army Air Force on August 20, 1942. He trained as a bomber pilot and served with the 389th Bomb Group in England, piloting B-24 Liberators.

First Lieutenant Loadholtes participated in 35 missions. He was also involved in the Normandy invasion, when his plane was hit by flak, knocking out the windshield. Loadholtes was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, and Air Medal with three Oak Leaf clusters.

Loadholtes returned to baseball after the war, joining the suitably named Lakeland Pilots of the Class C Florida International League in 1946. He was 11-13 on the year with a 4.72 ERA.

Loadholtes retired from baseball after 1946. He worked in real estate and later served as city commissioner and mayor of Fort Meade. Joe Loadholtes passed away on January 28, 2001 in Fort Meade. He was 79 years old and is buried at Evergreen Cemetery in Fort Meade.

Date Added February 6, 2018

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