• 2 December 1944
  • Mission #207
  • Target: Bingen

This day would go down in the 392nd’s history as one of the roughest missions ever flown in terms of aircraft and aircrew casualties. It would be the highest attrition the Group would ever suffer through the remaining missions of World War II. It was also ironic that the evening of this date, the 200th mission party celebration for all Enlisted Men of the 392nd was planned. At 0515 and 0640 hours, (18) aircrews were briefed on the target and at 0930, all began their take-offs. Two squadrons were put up this day, flying high and low formations off of the 44th Bomb Group at Shipdham. The mission went orderly until the IP where heavy clouds were encountered for start of the bomb run. At this position, the high squadron managed to avoid the weather and bomb the target. The 577th Squadron, flying in the low position, were scattered out just west of the IP but made their bomb run through the clouds. This Squadron broke out of the weather right over the release smoke of the lead ship of 44th which caused a late bomb drop. The Group dropped a total of (216) 500 GPs in the target area but their problems were just beginning. At the rallying turning point about 1244 hours, the 577th was hit by an estimated 50 FW-109 fighters between Bingen and Bad Kreuznach to the northeast. The fierce attacks lasted for around fifteen minutes with fighters attacking above and below — tail astern. Six of the 577th crews were lost in this short period with very little known about any since the Squadron was so badly broken up by this time. The aircrews were: Captain H. D. Watkins in #785; Lieutenant R. J. Cieply in #323; Lieutenant G. R. Billingsley in #867; Lieutenant W. C. Buaas in #012; Lieutenant E. L. Comeau in #328; Lieutenant W. F. Davis in #961. From the 577th, ship #169 also with Lieutenant D. L. Walker’s crew managed to return to land at Manston with (4) crew members wounded. Strangely enough, friendly fighter support for this mission was rated as very good. The remaining ships returned around 1550 hours with gunners claiming (4) enemy aircraft kills.

At the mission briefing, 392nd airmen had been warned that “Germans are using stool pigeons in American uniform extensively among prisoners en route to the first interrogation.” They were also cautioned on the importance of radio security because “Enemy gets lots of information from careless chatter.”

With the target only about 15 miles from US lines, airmen were strongly reminded to “Throw no chaff anywhere more than 75 miles behind bomb line; it confuses our defenses and may result in attack.”

After the ships returned, the 392nd’s enlisted men had their 200th mission party celebration.

MISSING AIR CREW REPORT SECTION

2 DECEMBER 1944 - TARGET: BINGEN
MISSING AIRCREW REPORT: #11138 AIRCRAFT: #42-50323 "HEAVEN CAN WAIT" "D-Plus" 33rd Mission
AIRCREW: CIEPLY    *    SQUADRON: 577th
CREW POSITIONS AND STATUS:

P   2/LT  Cieply, Edward J.     KIA
CP  2/LT  Brooks, Lee M.        KIA
N   2/LT  Griesar, Otto J.      KlA
NG  SGT   Bogardus, Levan I.    KIA
R/O T/SGT Cade, George W. Jr    KIA
EnG S/SGT Cannon, Leslie F.     KIA
WG  S/SGT Montez, Arthur G.     KIA
WG  S/SGT Kinsinger, William D. KIA
TG  S/SGT Huston, Clarence F.   KIA

MISSION LOSS CIRCUMSTANCES: A summary of mission circumstances which directly affected all aircraft and aircrews lost from the 392nd formations on this date pointed directly to the Group bombers being attacked heavily by enemy fighters just after "bombs away" on target, and while flying in very hazy, overcast cloud conditions at that time. The German Report #KU3468 accounted for the Cieply crew loss in stating that the plane had exploded while airborne, and the crash conflagration completely destroyed the ship where pieces were scattered over a (3) kilometer area near the village of Stipshausen, (5) kilometers southwest of Rhaunen, (18) kilometers north of Idar-Oberstein. All (9) members of this aircrew were positively identified by the Germans at the crash site at approximately 1300 hours, and none apparently ever had the opportunity to bail out before the plane exploded. The German Report noted a few pieces of the plane’s wreckage which identified it as the Cieply ship there being a yellow letter "D" and number "323" found on a piece of the fuselage nose section, as only one of the two items discovered.

INDIVIDUAL ACCOUNTS OF CREWMEN FATES: All members perished on this mission.

BURIAL RECORDS: German accounts, Report #KU3468, indicated all members were interred in the village cemetery at Rhaunen on 12 December 1944. The Mainz-Finthen Hqs gave this account on a 22 December 1944 reporting. Subsequent reburials by U.S. Military authorities in U.S. National Overseas Cemetery reflect the following interments, all in the cemetery of LORRAINE at St. AvoId, France, (28) miles east of Metz: Griesar (Grave E-44-18), awarded an Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster; Bogardus (Grave B-19-40); Cade (Grave D-39-23), awarded the Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster and the Purple Heart; Cannon (Grave C-7-53), awarded the Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster and the Purple Heart; and Kinsinger (Grave A-32-35), awarded the Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster. No indications on these U.S. listings indicate if Sgt. Bogardus, Sgt. Kinsinger, or Lt. Greisar were ever awarded the Purple Heart. S/Sgt Montez is interred at Ft. Sam Houston National Cemetery, Section S Site 156. No U.S. cemetery overseas records indicate any information on the re-interments of Cieply, Brooks, or Huston.

NEXT OF KIN DATA IN WWII: Cieply (Mother, Mary A., 220 Hannum Avenue, Rossford, Ohio); Brooks (Wife, Josephine K., Bedrock, Arizona); Greisar (Wife, Alice N., 9727, 72nd Drive, Forest Hills, New York); Cade (Father, George W., 2914 East Coolidge Street, Long Beach, California); Cannon (Mother, Rilla J., RFD #2, New Lexington, Ohio); Montez (Father, Santana, 236 Hawthorne Street, San Antonio, Texas); Kinsinger (Mother, Nina 0., 200 West Armstrong Street, Peoria, Illinois); Huston (Wife, Alice M., 305 Second Avenue, Dowagiac, Michigan); Bogardus (Father, Irving C., 608 Pacific Building, Portland, Oregon).

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MISSING AIRCREW REPORT’ #11139 AIRCRAFT: #42-50785 (NO NICKNAME) "N-Plus" 16th Mission
AIRCREW: WATKINS    *    SQUADRON: 577th
CREW POSITIONS AND STATUS:

P   CAPT  Watkins, Howard D.    KIA
CP  2/LT  Head, William T.      KIA
N   l/LT  Lowenstein, Alfred C. KIA
NG  S/SGT Lousha, Carl C.       KIA
R/O S/SGT Laurin, Paul A.       KIA
EnG S/SGT Williams, James L. Jr KIA
WG  PVT   Du Four, Joseph L.    KIA
WG  S/SGT Saltzman, Robert L.   KIA
TG  SGT   Williams, Charles L.  POW

MISSION LOSS CIRCUMSTANCES: See the group’s mission circumstances coming off the target with the formations in heavy clouds, as described for the Cieply crew above. A German Report #KU3422 listed this aircraft crashing at 1145 hours, 300 meters east of Bruttig, near Clotten/Mosel; a bulletin released by Hqs, Air Base E (v) 225/XII, Niedermendig. This report noted that (3) men were found dead in the crashed plane identification not possible. On 8 December 1944, the Germans issued a supplementary bulletin which then listed all (8) crew members who were killed by name through dog tag identifications. The ninth member, Sgt. Charles L. Williams was captured near Mosel around 1145 hours on the mission date, he being the sole survivor.

INDIVIDUAL ACCOUNTS OF CREWMEN FATES: The sole account of this tragedy made by Sgt Charles L. Williams indicated their plane had become separated from the remainder of the squadron’s bomber formation in the target area due to the dense clouds and enemy fighter attacks at the same time. The ship’s interphone communications were shot out, and the aircraft was shot up very badly at this time. Not hearing any order, or seeing anyone else bail out, Sgt Williams then abandoned the plane, and was captured on landing.

BURIAL RECORDS: The (8) casualties were buried by the Germans in the village cemetery at Bruttig. Subsequently re-interments in U.S. National Overseas Cemeteries list the following members: Watkins (Grave C-9-9) in the ARDENNES Cemetery outside Liege, Belgium, awarded an Air Medal and Purple Heart; Laurin (Grave H-3-73) in the LUXEMBOURG Cemetery, awarded an Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster and the Purple Heart; and Du Four (Grave B-10-30) in the LUXEMBOURG Cemetery, awarded an Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster and the Purple Heart. S/Sgt Lousha, S/Sgt Williams, and S/Sgt Saltzman are interred at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, Section 82 Site 177. Re-burial information for 2/Lt Head and 1/Lt Lowenstein is not recorded."

NEXT OF KIN DATA IN WWII: Next of kin information is not available in this MACR, however emergency home address data was given as follows from Group records: Watkins (5157 Queen Avenue S., Minneapolis, Minnesota); Head (13 Stanton Street, Atlanta, Georgia); Lowenstein (220 W. 71st Street, New York, New York); Du Four (P0 Box #471, East Victory Drive, Savannah, Georgia); Laurin (43 Park Avenue, Auburn, New York); Williams, James L. (1228 N. 28th Street, Birmingham, Alabama); Saltzman (Route #2, Box 434, Coloma, Michigan); Williams, Charles L. (2124 NW 25th, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma); and Lousha (60 S. Shulte Avenue, St. Louis, Missouri).

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MISSING AIRCREW REPORT: #11140 AIRCRAFT: #42-51207 (NO NICKNAME) "A-Plus" 11th Mission
AIRCREW: COMEAU    *    SQUADRON: 577th
CREW POSITIONS AND STATUS:

P   l/LT  Comeau, Eugene L. Jr KIA
CP  2/LT  Davis, William R.    KIA
B   2/LT. Neuman, William E.   KIA
NB  S/SGT Jasinski, Raymond    POW
R/O T/SGT Haney, Paul W.       KIA
EnG T/SGT Scalet, Joseph (NMI) KIA
WG  S/SGT Kearns, Hiatt H.     KIA
WG  S/SGT Krause, Harold L.    POW
TG  S/SGT Pendergraft, John C. KIA

MISSION LOSS CIRCUMSTANCES: See the Cieply crew account above for the mission circumstances in the target. German Report #KU3483 reported (7) crew members found dead at the plane’s crash site at Sargenroth, (5) kilometers east of Kirchberg/Hunsruch at 1250 hours with the remaining (2) men who had bailed out being captured near the same location.

INDIVIDUAL ACCOUNTS OF CREWMEN FATES:

One survivor, Sgt. Jasinski gave a detailed account of this crew’s downing:

"While approaching the target, I was throwing out chaff; a few minutes later "bombs away" was given, and a few seconds later we entered a haze (clouds, etc.,). Approximately (2) minutes later, we came out of the haze and "enemy fighters’ was called out. I then went to man my gun at which time we had the first enemy fighter attacks. On this attack Sgt. Kearns, the left waist gunner, was hit in the stomach by enemy 20mm (cannon) fire, tearing a hole in his stomach about the size of a man’s fist. All of the crew members wore flak suits but Sgt. Kearns did not button the bottom three (3) buttons of his flak apron. When he stood up to man his gun, the apron fell away as he was hit. During this first attack, the only other person that I saw was the tail gunner, Sgt. Krause, who had his back to me but was manning his gun. At this time, fire broke out in both bomb bays and the command deck. The radio operator, Sgt. Haney, was talking over the interphone to the pilot and started to say "there is a fire" when he stopped. It is my belief he may have been hit by enemy fire. About this time the enemy fighters were beginning a second run and the pilot gave the word out "this is it, fellows — bail out". I waited until the tail gunner got back and held the escape hatch open, and I bailed out first. I did not see anyone else bail out after me and do not recall having seen any parachutes dropping while I was descending. To the best of my knowledge, when I bailed out, the airplane seemed to be on fire from aft of the bomb bays to as far as I could see forward. I did not see our plane crash or explode in the air...".

On July 1, 1945, S/Sgt Jasinski wrote the widow of crewmate T/Sgt Paul W. Haney:

"I am Ray Jasinski, the waist gunner on the same crew as Paul. He may have mentioned my name in one of his long letters to you. I say long because he would start writing them in the morning just after breakfast and write at intervals all during the day and sometimes long into the night. We used to kid him about it!

I have been home for two weeks and would have written sooner but I've been hoping you would have by this time received some encouraging news from the War Department.

I would like to tell you about several things that happened before the mission, such as our (the crews') preparations for the 200 mission party and how we all hoped for a stand down (that there would be no mission scheduled for the next day) but were very disappointed when awakened the next morning for the mission.

It seemed everything went wrong that day. Paul couldn't get the radio to work right, which was very unusual. When he finally got the radio to work, the oxygen line sprang a leak. So we had to change to another ship in whose bomb bay doors I almost got caught when Joe Scalet was testing them.

We finally took off, caught up with our group, and headed for our target. It was a routine mission, target sighted, and bombs dropped, and three minutes later we were hit by fighters.

As you probably know, the two waist gunners and the tail gunner on a B-24 are pretty well isolated from the rest of the crew. The only contact we have with them is the interphone. We chatter over this interphone all the time calling out flak, fighters, etc. But from the time we sight the target until about 5 minutes after "bombs away," no one is allowed to chatter over the interphone unless it's an emergency.

Well! We were hit in two of the engines. I believe it must have been pretty serious because Lt. Comeau gave us the bail-out orders to all the crew. If there was any way possible of getting that ship back he would have, because he was tops.

The three of us (2 waists and tail) leave through the rear hatch near the tail in case of an emergency while the rest of the crew leave from the forward nosewheel hatch or the forward bomb bay doors. These exits, at that time, we in the waist could not see. So we did not know what was going on up forward. I jumped and that was the last I saw of anybody until I met Harold in a German interrogation center. I did not see or meet any other crew member since.

In this letter, Mrs. Haney, I wish I really could have written you some sort of comforting news, but I myself did not know of what happened to any of the other crew members until I arrived home and was told by my sister who has been writing you and the other next of kin of the crew.

If there are any questions you feel I could answer for you, please write and ask.

I will now close, praying and hoping that you, his wife, and the rest of us who are his friends, will hear encouraging news soon.

Ray

BURIAL RECORDS: All (7) deceased crew men were buried by the Germans in the village cemetery at Sargenroth, Plot 4, on 4 December. Later interments on U.S. National Overseas Cemetery records indicate the following member reburials: Davis (Grave C-27-17) in the ARDENNES Cemetery, awarded the Air Medal with (3) Oak Leaf Clusters and the Purple Heart; Haney (Grave B-7-39) in the LUXEMBOURG Cemetery, awarded the Air Medal with (4) Oak Leaf Clusters and the Purple Heart. No record exists in the MACR on the remaining deceased members.

NEXT OF KIN DATA IN WWII: Comeau (Father, Eugene L., 29 Van Horn Street, West Springfield, Massachusetts); Davis (Father, Charles W., 667 Hollywood Street, Memphis. Tennessee; Neuman (Father. Edward A.. 121 North 10th Street. Wheeling, West Virginia); Jasinski (Sister, Louise Sinkowski, 42 Allyn Avenue, Norwich, Connecticut); Haney (Wife, Barbara A., % Mrs. William S. Patrick, McDonough, Georgia); Scalet (Mother, Andrenna, General Delivery, Hartford, Arkansas); Kearns (Mother, Blanche R., 1007 Albert Street, High Point, North Carolina); Krause (Wife, Jeanne L., 35 West Second Street, Pottstown, Pennsylvania); Pendergraft (Father, Conway B, 532 Karr Avenue, Hoquiam, Washington).

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MISSING AIRCREW REPORT: #11141 AIRCRAFT: #42-94961 "ALFRED IV" "Z-Plus" 43rd Mission
AIRCREW: DAVIS    *    SQUADRON: 577th
CREW POSITIONS AND STATUS:

P   l/LT  Davis, William F.       POW
CP  2/LT  Stanley, Charlie A.     POW
N   2/LT  Astleford, Charles E.   KIA
B   2/LT  Hamann, Lloyd A.        POW
R/O T/Sgt Carroll, William J. Jr. POW
EnG T/Sgt Crabbe, Charles W.      KIA
WG  S/Sgt Jones, Robert R         POW
WG  S/Sgt Joslin, Gordon D.       POW
TG  S/Sgt Miller, Joseph R.       POW

MISSION LOSS CIRCUMSTANCES: See the Cieply crew account above. German Report #KU3468, Hqs Mainz-Finthen, reported the crash of this plane near the village of Stipshausen, (5) kilometers southwest of Rhaunen around 1300 hours, 2 December, and prisoners taken in the same area. The prisoners were transferred to Dulag-Luft West at Oberursel on 4 December for processing.

INDIVIDUAL ACCOUNTS OF CREWMEN FATES: Sgt. Miller, one of the surviving members gave a brief report on this loss, accounting that the plane was hit by enemy fighters with the Flight Engineer being killed then and the remaining crew men including Lt. Astleford (later found dead), bailing out of the stricken plane without much difficulty with the ship then afire. Sgt. Miller stated also that Lt. Astleford was alive when exiting the ship, but later the Germans showed the survivors this Officer’s jacket and said he was dead in the plane from wounds. Another survivor, Lt. Hamann, also confirmed that the only crew member who did not bail out successfully was the Flight Engineer, Sgt. Crabbe, who was killed in-flight about ten minutes after the target when their plane came under attack and they left formation. Lt. Hamann also related that German guards told the survivors that one of our crew had been killed by civilians, and that a German boy had showed him personally a parachute which was that of Lt. Astleford. It was Hamann’s supposition that the Navigator had been shot after bail out landing as he tried to escape capture.

BURIAL RECORDS: No MACR record indicates burial of the two deceased crew men in German plots. U.S. National Overseas Cemetery records indicate the following: Astleford (Grave B-28-l9) in the ARDENNES Cemetery near Liege, awarded the Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, and Purple Heart; Crabbe (Grave A-10-10) also at the ARDENNES plot,awarded an Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster. There is no notation in this U.S. burial record that Sgt. Crabbe was awarded the Purple Heart.

NEXT OF KIN DATA IN WWII: Davis (Wife, Natha L., Box #776, Zone 13, San Diego, California); Stanley (Mother, Mary N., 810 West Roma, Albuquerque, New Mexico); Astleford (Wife, Bess 0., 993 West Hancock Avenue, Detroit, Michigan); Hamann (Father, Max F., 3479 Lemon Avenue, Long Beach, California); Carroll (Mother, Margaret C., 2229 South Bancroft Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania); Crabbe (Father, Charles B., 19 Park Place, Rockville Center, New York); Jones (Mother, Moda B., 512 East Dakota Avenue, Denver, Colorado); Joslin (Father, Chauncey, RFD #1, Holstein, Iowa); and Miller (Father, John S., 5101 Bayard Street, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania).

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MISSING AIRCREW REPORT: #11142 AIRCRAFT: #42-94867 (No Nickname) "A-Plus" 30th Mission
AIRCREW: BILLINGSLEY    *    SQUADRON: 577th
CREW POSITIONS AND STATUS:

P   2/LT. Billingsley, Glenn R. KIA
CP  F/O   Cook, Bill J.         KIA
N   2/LT. Kaswan, Joseph (NMI)  POW
B   2/LT. Pettigrew, William B. POW
R/O T/SGT Guion, Walter A.      KIA
EnG T/SGT Hampton, Oscar L.     KIA
WG  S/SGT Matthews, Avila D.    POW
WG  S/SGT Kimball, Burleigh A.  KIA
WG  S/SGT Pace, John W.         KIA

MISSION LOSS CIRCUMSTANCES: As the Cieply crew account above, this aircrew’s ship was attacked by enemy fighters while they were in the Group’s bomber formation, just after "bombs away" at the target though there is indication that, because of the dense clouds being flown in at the time, the plane’s being hit by anti-aircraft fire, or with fighter cannon shells, could not immediately be determined (but later confirmed by crew survivor accounts that enemy fighter attacks had mortally crippled their ship, and not flak). German Report #KU3466, Hqs Mainz-Finthen, confirmed the crash site of this aircraft as (1.5) kilometers west of the village of Kellenbach, (20) kilometers south of Simmern/Hunerueck. Remnants of the ship scattered over a 1.5 kilometer area; 99% destroyed according to this German account, and the shoot-down occurred at about 1230 hours.

INDIVIDUAL ACCOUNTS OF CREWMEN FATES: Lt. Pettigrew, Bombardier, gave a Casualty Questionnaire account after his POW liberation citing that the target had been the railroad marshalling yards at Bingen, Germany; that the plane went under attack by enemy fighters just about 1230 hours; and that (6) men could not bail out of the stricken bomber due to their wounds or having been killed in-flight. These members were reported as Lt. Billingsley, Flight Officer Cook, and Sgts. Guion, Hampton, Kimball and Pace. He reported the ship going down near the village of Bad Krueznach with these (6) men aboard, and that (2) remaining members besides himself had managed to bail out successfully. His report went on to relate, as regarded the Pilot, Lt. Billingsley, that the latter crew member had either been killed by fighter gun fire or explosion of the plane as it went down. Lt. Pettigrew noted further that the Pilot had inquired over intercom immediately before the plane went down whether the shell impacts were from flak, or fighters, as their aircraft was in dense clouds and nothing outside could be seen at that moment. It was believed the Pilot was killed during the second firing pass of the enemy fighters at which time the Co-Pilot took over the ship’s controls. The German Report #KU3466 noted above had also indicated this aircraft had exploded in mid-air having been shot down by fighters. There were no other crew survivor accounts in this MACR. The German supplementary Report #KU1146A of 1400 hours on 2 December confirmed the taking of (3) crew members as POWs, and their transfer to the Dulag-Luft West prisoner interrogation center at Oberursel, north of Frankfurt. (Note: Strangely enough by odd coincidence of names, a Sergeant Granville Francis Billingsley was also taken prisoner and transferred along with the above crewmen of Lt. Billingsley’s aircrew, according to this latter German report. This Sergeant was not a member of any other 392nd crew that participated on this mission of 2 December). A German medical report on one of the surviving crew members, Sgt. Matthews, indicated that this man had been wounded by shell fragments on the neck and lower left leg and was treated satisfactorily for five days. Limited MACR information indicates that most or all of the crew members had flown about (16) combat missions up to this raid.

BURIAL RECORDS: After the war, the Army thoroughly investigated this crash area. Their research revealed that Billingsley's aircraft had impacted 1.5 km southwest of Kellenbach and 2 km south of Konigsau at a place called "The Vignoble." The downed plane fell in two parts. The rear part fell at the entrance of the village; two fliers who were in that part of the plane died instantly and were half burned. A third aviator was found between the wreckage of the forward part of the plane and the rear part. It was felt that this man had jumped from the plane without a parachute and was killed upon impact. The next day, after the fire subsided, two charred bodies were removed from the forward part of the wreckage. On Dec. 3, the remains of the five deceased were interred in the cemetery at Kellenbach. They were exhumed by the US Army in June 1945 and reburied in a temporary military cemetery in Europe, pending identification and burial instructions from the next-of-kin.

On 27 August 1950, two German residents of Kirchberg, having just learned about the 1944 crash, went to the crash site to hunt for metal parts from the plane which they intended to sell for scrap. They found, buried 8-9 inches deep, a silver ring with the initials "GRB", a chain with two dog tags bearing the name G.R. Billingsley, a razor, a horn-handled pocket knife, and human bones. The two men immediately placed the items in a cardboard box and carried them to the German gendarme in Gemunden; they were then turned over to military authorities.

Eventually, the Army was able to identify the remains of S/Sgt Pace and he was re-interred at the LORRAINE Cemetery at St. Avold, France, in Grave K-17-17; he had been awarded the Air Medal with (2) Oak Leaf Clusters. There is no record that Sgt. Pace ever received the Purple Heart, posthumously, on the U.S. Cemetery record. The remains of 2/Lt Billingsley, F/O Cook, T/Sgt Guion, T/Sgt Hampton, and S/Sgt Kimball are interred at Zachary Taylor National Cemetery in Section I Site 111.

U.S. National Overseas Cemetery records reflect that (1) member was re-interred at the LORRAINE Cemetery at St. Avold, France, west of Metz: Pace (Grave K1 7-17), awarded the Air Medal with (2) Oak Leaf Clusters. There is no record that Sgt. Pace ever received the Purple Heart, posthumously, on the U.S. Cemetery record. No other record exists in the MACR concerning the re-burials of the other members.

NEXT OF KIN DATA IN WWII: Billingsley (Wife, Betty J., 127 Robinson Street, Duboise, Pennsylvania); Cook (Mother, Pyrtha 0. Hefner, RFD .1, Box 4998, Fort Worth, Texas); Pettigrew (Sister, Mrs. Stewart F. Clare, 631 Myrtle Street N.E., Apt. 7, Atlanta, Georgia); Kaswan (Father, Harry, 1590 West Eighth Street, Brooklyn, New York); Guion (Mother, Mary J., 49 Grand Avenue, Poughkeepsie, New York); Hampton (Sister, Jacqueline D. Hadley, 4336 Pomona Avenue, LaMesa, California); Matthews (Wife, Mrs. Avila D., 2744 Pratt Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania); Kimball (Father, Jesse J., West Glover, Vermont); and Pace (Mother, Amy, 2967 Whitney Street, Detroit, Michigan).

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MISSING AIRCREW REPORT: # 11143 AIRCRAFT: #42-95012 "TRIPS DAILY" "U-Plus" 63rd Mission
AIRCREW: BUAAS    *    SQUADRON: 578th
CREW POSITIONS AND STATUS:

P   2/LT  Buaas, Walter C.       KIA
CP  2/LT  Pedrotta, Charles H.   POW
B   2/LT  Guest, Thomas C.       POW
NG  T/SGT Worcester, Charles E.  KIA
R/O S/SGT Todrowski, Henry R.    POW
EnG T/SGT Sopha, Bernhardt E.    POW
WG  S/SGT Coleman, Roy G.        POW
WG  T/SGT McGrew, Cecil C.       POW
TG  S/SGT Callejas, Francisco N. KIA

MISSION LOSS CIRCUMSTANCES: See report above on the Cieply crew situation over the target area. Later survivor reports indicate aircraft was attacked by enemy fighters about (5) miles past the target, as the other 392nd bombers experienced. German Report #KU3469 cited this plane being downed about 3000 meters east of village of Merrheim, 12 kilometers from Kirn/Hunsrueck; that it was shot down by fighters and had a mid-air explosion before striking the ground. These reports initially indicated that (4) of the crew were captured near the above location and (3) others were found dead at the crash site, time about 1300 hours. Later these reports were supplemented to confirm (2) names of the deceased and all those crew members taken prisoner. The remains of Sgt. Callejas were never initially identified by the Germans being listed as "unknown" while Buaas and Worcester were positively named. Later on 10 January 1945, the Germans had come up with Sgt. Callejas’ identity, and so reported this information.

INDIVIDUAL ACCOUNTS OF CREWMEN FATES:

The Co-Pilot, Lt. Pedrotta, gave the following detailed account later on the crew’s emergency, after his repatriation from POW status.

"After ringing the bail out bell, I prepared to bail-out. (Pilot) Buaas called to me to release his seat that had jammed. I finally released the seat and made for the bomb bay. I called to Buaas while I was standing on the catwalk and said "lets get the hell out of here". He turned and said ‘lets go’. At this point I knew he had not been injured. He made his way out of the seat and on to the flight deck at the radio compartment. It was here that he collapsed face down. I reached back in an attempt to pull him out but I could not move him under the circumstances since the ship was completely out of control. So in order to get out at all, I had to do it right then. We were to the best of my knowledge about 4,500 or 5,000 feet then. Just seconds after I bailed out, I heard the ship explode but I couldn’t tell whether it was still in the air or not. It is my opinion that he (Buaas) never had a chance to leave the ship. Not long before Buaas had complained to me of his heart. I suggested he see the Doctor, but he wouldn’t. That is why I suspect he died of a heart attack (in-flight)". Another crew survivor’s account regarding the tail gunner, Sgt. Callejas, stated that the latter was bleeding badly and was taken from the tail turret unconscious, having been hit in the chest with a 20mm cannon shell, and died prior to the bail out attempt. The Co-Pilot’s detailed report of bail outs also stated that the Bombardier bailed out of the nose wheel door hatch at about 18,000 feet and had sustained no injuries; the Engineer exited out of hole blown in the waist section, around 18,000 feet about (25) miles from the target, as had the Bombardier that Sgt. Sopha had jumped through the bomb bay area earlier around 20,000 feet along with the Radio Operator, the latter suffering a slight leg injury on bail out; and Sgt. McGrew had bailed out from the waist section around 15,000 feet and incurred several bail out injuries and was hospitalized later. A last account by one of the surviving members, given back in the States after the war in 1945, Sgt. Sopha, stated that their plane had blown up while still in the air which information had been given to him by one of the waist gunners, Sgt. Coleman, who observed this event while descending in his parachute. Accounts indicated that this crew was on about their 16th combat mission.

BURIAL ACCOUNTS: German reports indicate that the (3) casualties were buried in the village cemetery of Merrheim on 4 December. Subsequent U.S. National Overseas Cemetery records indicate that Sgt. Worchester was re-interred in the plot at LORRAINE (Grave C-28-73), awarded an Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster and the Purple Heart. No other information exists on the re-burials of the two remaining members.

NEXT OF KIN DATA IN WWII: Buaas (Wife, Bette A., 2112 West Weatherbee Street, Fort Worth, Texas); Pedrotta (Wife, Mary M., 4877 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, California); Guest (Father, Thomas E., 1763 Dixwell Avenue, Hamden, Connecticut); McGrew (Wife, Dorothy N., 7034 Canal Street, Houston, Texas); Sopha (Wife, Viola A., 13809 Carlisle Drive, Detroit, Michigan); Worcester (Father, Oliver B., Tower Lakes, Barrington, Illinois); Callejas (Mother, Pauline, El Progreso, Honduras, Central America); Todrowski (Mother, Harriet K., 2234 W. Lyndale Street, Chicago, Illinois); Coleman (Father, James F., 203 South Ford Street, Hutchinson, Kansas).

flagline

CREW LOADING LIST - MISSION #207

2 Dec 1944 576th Sqdn.
Didn't Fly this mission
2 Dec 1944 577th Sqdn.
A/C 323 - (Marked as MIA)
P Cieply, E.J. 2nd Lt.
CP Brooks, L.M. 2nd Lt.
N Griesar, O.J. 2nd Lt.
NG Bogardus, L.I. Sgt.
E Cannon, L.F. Sgt.
R Cade, G.W. Sgt.
WG Montez, A.G. Sgt.
WG Kinsinger, W.D. Sgt.
TG Huston, C.F. Sgt.
2 Dec 1944 577th Sqdn.
A/C 867 - (Marked as MIA)
P Billingsley, G.R. 2nd Lt.
CP Cook, B.J. F/O
N Kaswan, J. 2nd Lt.
B Pettigrew, W.B. 2nd Lt.
E Hampton, O.L. S/Sgt.
R Guion, W.A. T/Sgt.
WG Kimball, B.A. S/Sgt.
WG Matthews, A.D. Sgt.
TG Pace, J.W. S/Sgt.
2 Dec 1944 577th Sqdn.
A/C 012 - (Marked as MIA)
P Buaas, W.C. 2nd Lt.
CP Pedrotta, C.H. 2nd Lt.
N Worcester, C.E. T/Sgt
B Guest, T.C. 2nd Lt.
E Coleman, R.G. S/Sgt.
R Todrowski, H.R. S/Sgt.
RW Sopha, B.E. T/Sgt
LW McGrew, C.C. T/Sgt.
TG Callejas, F.N. S/Sgt.
2 Dec 1944 577th Sqdn.
A/C 238 - (Marked as MIA)
P Comeau, E.L. 1st Lt.
CP Davis, W.R. 2nd Lt.
N Neuman, W.E. 2nd Lt.
B --
E Scalet J. T/Sgt.
R Haney, P.W. T/Sgt.
G Jasinski, R. S/Sgt.
G Kearns, H.H S/Sgt.
G Pendergraft, J.C. S/Sgt.
TG Krause, H.L. S/Sgt.
2 Dec 1944 577th Sqdn.
A/C 785 - (Marked as MIA)
P Watkins, H.D. Capt.
CP Head, W.T. 2nd Lt.
N Lowenstein, A.C. 1st Lt.
NG Lousha, C.C. S/Sgt.
E Williams, J.L. S/Sgt.
R Laurin, P.A. S/Sgt.
G Williams, C.L. S/Sgt.
G DuFour, J.L. Pvt.
G Saltzman, R.L. S/Sgt.
2 Dec 1944 577th Sqdn.
A/C 813
P Brandt, R.M. 1st Lt.
CP Fabiani, H.L. 2nd Lt.
N Boettcher, R.E. 1st. Lt.
B Copple, R.N. 2nd Lt.
N Allegretti, E.E. 1st Lt
E Chelenyak, J.A. S/Sgt.
R Abraham, L.J. S/Sgt.
RW Richardson, W.C. S/Sgt
LW Johnson, E.W. S/Sgt.
TG Harmon, G.E. S/Sgt.
2 Dec 1944 577th Sqdn.
A/C 961 - (Marked as MIA)
P Davis, W.F. 1st Lt.
CP Stanley, C.A. 2nd Lt.
N Astleford, C.E. 2nd Lt.
B Hamann, L.A. 2nd Lt.
E Crabbe, C.W. T/Sgt.
R Carroll, W.J. T/Sgt
WG Jones, R.R. S/Sgt
WG Joslin, G.D. S/Sgt.
TG Miller, J.R. S/Sgt.
G Miller, J.R. S/Sgt.
2 Dec 1944 577th Sqdn.
A/C 169
P Walker, D.L. 1st Lt.
CP Nunziato, D.J. 2nd Lt.
N Bedore, C.P. 2nd Lt.
B Gusciora, A.A. T/Sgt.
E Lane, A.E. T/Sgt.
R Maloukis, S.J. S/Sgt. (wounded)
G Bradford, T.M. S/Sgt. (wounded)
G Postema, R.H. S/Sgt.
G Ballas, P.T. S/Sgt. (wounded)
S-27 Kieffer, R.W. S/Sgt. (wounded)
2 Dec 1944 577th Sqdn.
A/C 118
P Koza, F. 1st Lt.
CP Wilcoxson, R.H. 2nd Lt.
N Stillwagon, V.H. 2nd Lt.
B Solomon, A.A. 2nd Lt.
E Roberts, M.J. T/Sgt.
R Rubin, G. T/Sgt.
G Johnson, J.T. S/Sgt.
G Purcell, L.J. S/Sgt.
G Dunn, T.C. S/Sgt.
RCM Myers, J.P. T/Sgt.

2 Dec 1944 578th Sqdn.
A/C 313
P Case, W.D. 2nd Lt.
CP Griffin, R.E. 2nd Lt.
N Gullick, C.H. 2nd Lt.
B Ivey, E.H. Jr. S/Sgt.
E Kidd, J.L. Sgt.
R Black, C.B. Sgt.
G Johnson, R.L. Sgt.
G Chanson, M.C. Sgt.
G McCoy, F.W. Sgt.
G Lutes, M.A. Sgt.
2 Dec 1944 578th Sqdn.
A/C 495
P Joyce, J.F. F/O
CP Bowman, J.A. 2nd Lt.
N McQuade, R.N. F/O
S-27 Schaumberg, G. Sgt.
E Albino, A. S/Sgt.
R Brown, J.F. T/Sgt.
G Gorham, R.L. S/Sgt.
G Kurkomelis, G.C. S/Sgt.
G Andrews, Q.Q. S/Sgt.
G Intardonato, S.J. Sgt.
2 Dec 1944 578th Sqdn.
A/C 235
P Duff, A.L. 1st Lt.
CP Wilson, T. 1st Lt.
N Ott, J.W. 2nd Lt.
B Parish, J.K. 2nd Lt.
E Slama, A.R. S/Sgt
R Louizides, S. S/Sgt.
G Smith, W.W. S/Sgt.
G Haskins, B.D. S/Sgt.
G Harrod, C. Jr. S/Sgt.
2 Dec 1944 578th Sqdn.
A/C 121
P Fox, J.E. 2nd Lt.
CP Sampley, T.A. 2nd Lt.
N Johnson, M.S. 2nd Lt.
B Robinson, D.T. 2nd Lt.
E Smith, B.F. T/Sgt.
R Tameling, H. T/Sgt.
G Bunting, J. S/Sgt.
G Sever, B.H. S/Sgt
G Davis, C.L. S/Sgt.
G Smith, E.L. T/Sgt. (577th)
2 Dec 1944 578th Sqdn.
A/C 249
P Downs, H.E. 2nd Lt.
CP Bickham, T.E. 2nd Lt.
N McKay, R.P. 2nd Lt.
B Lim, D.P. Cpl.
E Spicketts, J.G. Cpl.
R Crane, T.P. Cpl.
G Cinquina, E.A. Cpl.
G Weatherman, H.W. Cpl
G Szerdi, A.W. Cpl.
2 Dec 1944 578th Sqdn.
A/C 436
P Hoover, J.A. 2nd Lt.
CP Douglass, G.E. 2nd Lt.
N Fetter, G.R. 2nd Lt.
B Marlowe, J.D. Cpl.
R Affinito, L.J. Cpl.
G Janak, E.G. Cpl.
G Gayda, F.M. Cpl.
G Fitzgerald, T.R. Cpl.
G Jones, L.A. Cpl.
2 Dec 1944 578th Sqdn.
A/C 186
P Miller, D.E. 1st Lt.
CP Heller, P. 1st Lt.
N Moos, J.C. 2nd Lt.
B Inamorato, J.T. 2nd Lt.
R Myers, L.P. T/Sgt.
G Luczak, H.J. T/Sgt.
G Duerr, E.E. S/Sgt.
G Faulstich, A.F. S/Sgt.
G Agoglia, E.J. S/Sgt.
G Shea, H.A. S/Sgt.
2 Dec 1944 578th Sqdn.
A/C 248
P Walker, J.R. 2nd Lt.
CP Ellis, A. 2nd Lt.
N Donohue, J.J. 2nd Lt.
B Borchers, E.J. S/Sgt.
E Thomas, C.B. T/Sgt.
R Jewell, R.B. T/Sgt.
G Collins, S.J. S/Sgt.
G Faucette, E.W. S/Sgt.
G Pataki, S.M. S/Sgt.
2 Dec 1944 578th Sqdn.
A/C 823
P Kaiser, P.W. 2nd Lt.
CP Casstevens, R.C. 2nd Lt.
N Hoffman, W.A. F/O
B Martin, M. 2nd Lt.
E Krutys, E.V. Sgt.
R Brown, P.E. Sgt.
G McGregor, W.B. S/Sgt.
G Larock, J.S. Sgt.
G Wilkerson, L.D. Sgt.
2 Dec 1944 579th Sqdn.
Didn't Fly this mission