392nd BG Crusader Stories & POW Stories

The following stories were complied by the researchers of www.b24.net. These stories and diaries were either submitted by one of the crusaders, their relatives, complied from other publications, or taken as narratives from the crusaders. There are several more stories under each of the Stalag Lufts in the POW Research section.

March 18, 1944 - Friedrichshafen - This is the incredible story of Jim Marsteller's search for information on his uncles death and the Friedrichshafen bomb run. His uncle, Jim Morris, was the engineer on the Books Crew, who was killed in action when the B-24 bomber crashed near Hart, Germany, March 18, 1944. Many authors and historians have commented that his research is one of the most extraordinary efforts ever made on a single WWII mission.

April 29, 1944 - Berlin - Annette Tison shares her in depth reseach of the 29 April 1944 mission to Berlin flown by the 8th Air Force on April 29, 1944, with an emphasis on the role of the 392nd Bomb Group. After several years of research on The Wyatt crew, including her uncle, 2Lt Douglas N. Franke.

April 29, 2004 - Dedication & memorial to Wyatt crew - Annette Tison and family travel to the crash site of her uncle of the Wyatt crew and dedicate a memorial there. This is a great testimony of individual research combined with placing a memorial to the crew 50 years after the fact. This story should inspire others searching for information on a loved one lost in the war and what can be done to remember them over a half century later.

M/Sgt. Ernie Barber - 578th Crew Chief - The Diary of Ernie Barber from the beginning to the end of the war.

M/Sgt. Ernest Barber - (as told to Greg Hatton on Sept 16, 1989) Another one of Greg Hatton's great interviews. M/Sgt. Barber was a crew chief for the 578th squadron. He came to Wendling with the original cadre of the 392nd.

Staff Sgt. Bert M. Beals - Nose Gunner - The mission Diary Bert Major Beals Jr on the Slayten Crew. Covers his missions from September 25, 1944 through April 20, 1945. Submitted by his son, Zachary Beals.

Landon H. Brent - I flew thirty one missions with the 392nd bomb group 578th bomb squadron

Guy D. Carnine - Colonel Bernt Balchen's B-24 Airline - 578th Sqdn

Captain Bill Cetin - Lead Bombardier, Cassell crew as dictated to Mary (Rocky) Rothrock in January, 2000 This diary begins with Bill's notes on the Friedrichshafen raid on March 18, 1944 and continues with his missions notes through January 16, 1945. Rocky Rothrock, close friend and post war neighbor, was a gunner with this 579th crew.

2nd Lt. John B. Cihon - Nose Turret Gunner - This is the journal of 2nd Lt Cihon being shot down on "Poco Loco", during the Gotha mission, February 24, 1944 and his time in as a POW.

Robert D. Copp - Pilot AC # 27491: "Pregnant Peg" April 29, 1944 - One of the original crews from the 577th squadron and possibly, the only one to complete the tour of twenty-eight missions. This story is an account of the Berlin raid, April 29, 1944. This raid lost eight planes out of eighteen for the second highest lost ratio in the 392nd history.

Staff Sgt. William B. Dowling - 578th Crew Chief - The Story of William Dowling from being drafted to discharge.

Ray J. Dunphy - 578th Navigator - This is an excellent diary of the 392nd missions from December 13, 1943 through July 12, 1944.

Burrell Ellison - OUR CREW - Pilot 576th Sqdn. Excellent written story on the first crew to finish all of their missions in the 576th Sqdrn.

2nd Lt. Douglas N. Franke - Wyatt crew AC# 42-7510: "El Lobo" April 29, 1944 - Douglas' brother, Robert, tells the story and the circumstances of the Wyatt crew who were all killed in the Berlin raid, April 29, 1944.

Col. Lawrence G. Gilbert - (as told to Greg Hatton on Sept 16, 1989) This is a well written account of how the 392nd was formed and it gives great insight of the operational and logistical challenges that could only be told by Col. Gilbert, the base C.O. at Wendling.

S/Sgt. Oliver Guillot - Waist gunner Kaminitsa crew, 576 sq. S/Sgt. Oliver Guillor relates his experience with the 576th, his last mission and life in Stalag 17b. Submitted by Greg Hatton.

2nd Lt. George Graham - Co-pilot Kaminitsa crew - Down 29 April 44, There are so many things that I think of now that I had forgotten these past years. Some days, out of a clear blue sky, I'II think of a thing that happened which I hadn't thought about in thirty years. I flew 9 missions with Kamenitsa's crew, but I had 22 missions all together.

1st Lt Gordon L. Hammond - Pilot, 579th Squadron - This "Statement or Report of Interview of Recovered Personnel" provides details on 1st Lt Hammond's last mission (April 22, 1944) and his imprisonment at Stalag Luft III.

Navigator Robert J. Harron - 577th Squadron - Schuster Crew - The Story of Navigator Robert Harron, KIA January 28, 1945, Mission #231, after a collision with 577th Sq. Dodd's plane over target.

S/Sgt. Hyman Hatton - waist gunner, Ofenstein crew. B24.NET POW researcher, Greg Hatton, interviews his dad on September, 1974, a 392nd POW from the Offenstein crew. One of the best historical documents of life at a WWII POW camp.

Malcolm Hinshaw - HEAVEN TO HELL - Malcolm Hinshaw's story about being shot down and a POW

2nd Lt. William Kamemitsa - Pilot AC# 41-100371 One of the most colorful stories I have read of the life of a very articulate and interesting 576th Sq. pilot. This story begins with his training in the US through the Berlin raid, April 29, 1944. Lt. Kamemitsa was POW at Stalag Luft 3.

Lt. Jack Kaplan - An airman's experience in combat, capture and life in a POW camp. This is a interview by Miriam Zverin of Lt. Kaplan and his experiences at Wendling as a navigator for the 577th and his life in Luft1 after he was shot down in the Gotha raid.

Lt. Jack Kaplan - My Kriegie Education as told to his daughter, Marcy Kaplan.

Lt. Jack Kaplan - Kriegie Encounters as told to his daughter, Marcy Kaplan.

Col. Myron Keilman - Friedrichshafen, A MOST DISASTROUS MISSION, March 18, 1944.

Col. Myron Keilman - The Gotha Mission, THE BIG WEEK, February 24, 1944.

Col. Myron Keilman - UNLUCKY HARRY, Col. Myron Keilman remembers Harry.

Col. Myron Keilman - I REMEMBER EDDIE WHITE !

Col. Myron Keilman - THE BOMBING OF SWITZERLAND, April 1, 1944.

Col. Myron Keilman - THE NO-BALL MISSIONS

S/Sgt. Vitold Krushas - Engineer-Top turret Offenstein crew From Dulag Luft to Stalag Luft 17b. Great first hand account told to Greg Hatton.

John Krejci - Right waist gunner Kaminitsa crew and former president Stalag 17b organization. - "I got torn loose from my machine gun and drawn up straight. I figured: "We're down what's the sweat?" Just about that time, the nose dropped down and I sailed clear across the length of the fuselage...right straight through until I pancaked against the front bulkhead, behind the front cabin. By golly, I looked over and Ollie Guillot was right there on the other side of me. Archie Young looked up and saw two people sailing over his head and he said he saw us both pancake into the bulkhead about the same time......."

T/sgt. Robert Longo, Waist Gunner Rogers' crew, Down April 29 1944; Luft 1, 4 and 6 - "The fighters only made one pass. The bullets went right down the middle of the plane. The bombardier, Kane got killed; I heard him holler when the fighters first attacked us. Eddy Gienko, in the top turret, had his flak suit hanging up there and said he could hear the bullets hitting it. Two bullets hit Bob Danford, the ball turret gunner. One bullet hit me in the back, but it didn't do anything; it just went in and came out again through my leather jacket. The whole ship was ablaze, so I called them over the intercom and said, " Everything is hot back here!" The co-pilot, Dick Weir, heard me and says: Bail out......"

T/sgt. Robert Longo, Above the Clouds at Thirty Below. The before, during and after war memories of Robert "Smiley" Longo as told and written by Max Pottinger. Over 130 pages.

Lt. Col. James R. Maris - OUR UNFORGETTABLE MISSION - 578th Sqdn, Mission 23 was worth every "Penny" of it! - "Engineer to pilot, engineer to pilot: Our number one engine has been blown off the wing. Number three is stripped of its cowl and supercharger There's a three-foot wide hole in the left wing between engines one and two. The bomb bay doors are crushed in. And we've got a bomb hung up on the shackles in the bomb bay......."

The John McCormick Story - This article explains why S/Sgt John E. McCormick is buried in the Dutch town of Zoetermeer and describes why he is still remembered and honored there more than 61 years after his death.

Lt. James McCutcheon, 576th Squadron - COMBAT MISSIONS LOG - This is the combat log of Lt. McCutcheon including the Group history from the National Archives of the 12 July mission to Munich, Germany"

Bill McGuire, son of Lt. William C. McGuire, 579th Sq. - SECOND GENERATION AUTHOR/RESEARCHER SPEAKS OUT. This interview not only tells the story behind the book, "After the Liberators," but also underlines why discovering the facts about WWII history and of the sacrifices of our fighting men continues to be important for all of us."

William McGinley, Tail-gunner B-24 "Sally Ann", 579th Squadron - THE STORY OF HIS CREW AT WENDLING. "Our crew, commanded by Lt. Stukas, had arrived at Wendling on October 15, 1943 as one of the early replacement crews and had completed eight combat missions when, on January 29th, 1944, we were awakened in the very early hours for our ninth and what eventually turned out to be our last mission."

George W. Michel, Radio Operator/Gunner, 576th Sq. - THE SIG ROBERTSON CREW'S 10TH MISSION ON 11 JULY 1944 TO MUNICH, GERMANY. The excellent written story of being shot down over Germany, trying to keep the airplane airborne out of enemy territory, the crash and capture, then the Switzerland internment and final escape of George Michel.

S/Sgt. Jack A. Money - Diary of Missions of S/Sgt. Jack A. Money 8th Air Force, 392 Bomber Group, 579 Bomber Squadron October 4, 1943 to March 18, 1944

Jack Morris - Navigator, 576th Squadron, July 7, 1944 - On their 32nd Mission, flying B-24J 42-94772, the 392nd They were shot down after bombing an aircraft factory in Bernberg. Jack and crew ended up in POW camp, Stalag Luft 3.

Francis Nashwinter - MY MEMORIES - 578th Sqdn, Francis Nashwinter's memories - written 2001.

Lt. Leo Ofenstein, 392nd BG/576sq. KIA 29 April 44 - A tribute by his son and brother. - "In the violent skies over Berlin, two men held a badly damaged B-24 aloft through shear determination. Because of them, five crewmen escaped the flaming aircraft and had a chance to bail out. Three generations later, the names Leo Ofenstein and John Wall are still revered by the families of those who survived......."

2nd lt. David Purner, Navigator, Ofenstein crew, Down on 29 April 1944, Mission: Berlin - "When we were hit, I knew where we were - I had just logged a position report because it was a good pinpoint - the weather was clearing up but I couldn't see Hanover........"

Diary of Lt. David Purner - This diary starts with his application for cadet training in February 1942, enlistment on April 4, 1942, arrival Wendling on March 24, 1944, shot down April 29th, 1944, captured May 1, 1944 and sent to Stalag Luft III. Forced march to Nuremberg in January 1945, then to Moosburg in March 1945 followed by the POW camp liberation by Gen. George Patton on April 29, 1945. This historical account ends with some vivid reflections of the POW life.

The combat diary of S/Sgt Theodore A. Rausch - 26 TRIPS TO HELL - The 26 missions of the H.W. Miller crew from December 1, 1943 to March 24, 1944.

James M. Ross - OUR TURN NEXT - as told to his son, James E. Ross The complete history of a WWII Crusader from induction to the missions he flew , to being shot down, to being captured, to life in 3 different POW camps and death march survivor, to liberation and discharge. This is the story for all educators to know the life of a WWII soldier.

Everett F. Satterly - The history of the engineer of James Sibley's crew of the 578th Bomb Squadron.

New SmallBirdie Schmidt Larrick - THE WAY IT WAS, Reminiscences About the American Red Cross Aeroclub at Wendling by Birdie Schmidt Larrick. Birdie was the ARC Program Director at the 392nd BG from December 1943 to early 1945. She was so well-liked that one of the Group's planes was named in her honor. This story and the many photos that accompany it provide a picture of life at the 392nd that is not otherwise documented.

Sgt. Bernard Sender - 579th Turret Mechanic - Sgt. Sender tells about the day-to-day life of a aircraft mechanic at Wendling.

Louis M. Stephens - A SHORT SAGA - Our crew flew 7 more missions before being shot down September the 9th 1944 on a mission to Maintz, Germany. There were two explosions that destroyed JAW-JA-BOY immediately after going over the target. Bill Riddleberger and I were blown out of the aircraft by the second explosion which was the only way we could have gotten out.

John G. Thiel - Sgt, Radio Operator/Gunner, 576th Sqdn - "I was a radio operator gunner on B-24s with the 576th squadron of the 392nd Bomb group flying out of Kings Lynn (near Norwich) England. I flew 30 missions and we were shot up and crashed on the last mission after dropping supplys to paratroopers in Holland. We also flew on D-Day. I have a list with dates etc. of every mission we went on plus a diary. I have many stories I could tell..........."

S/SGT. JACKSON A. TUPPER - His memories of as the Assistant Engineer on Lt. Burrell Ellisons Crew in the 576th B.S. 1943 - 1945

Bob Vickers Crew - The Niagara Special Legacy - The crash, the crew and the return to France This is the story written by Keith Roberts, Vickers Crew Navigator, about the crash and the events that took place when the crew returned to the crash site in 1998.

2nd Lt. John Wall (KIA 29 April 44) - Mrs. Carol (Wall) Williams remembers her brother - "My prayer is that this story will not glamorize the event of war. Words can never express the feelings families have when their young men are sent out to kill or be killed... no matter how noble the cause may seem to be; for there is no winner as the cream of that generation dies. Only by living through this period can anyone really feel the pains of war:"

Stanley C. Zybort - Aircrew SGT - The last flight of Zybort and the events of being shot-down and a POW. - Taking one handful after another throwing the chafe out of the opening. I plug in my head set and reported to the plane Captain what had happened. Armetta is out of action. He looks shell shocked. In a daze! I'm throwing out the chafe. Split seconds later the flak hits the plane. A hole just to the right and slightly below me. A blast of orange and black fire ball is seen out of the hole. I bounce up. I'm hit. The calf of my left leg burns. My flight suit is ripped where I was hit....