Weber - #19-2
Standing L-R: Hooker, Charles T. (B); Weber, Ralph A. (P); Thomas, Onial A. (CP); Picken, Robert D. (N)
Kneeling Middle L-R: Stradley, Telford V. (NG); Moore, Richard L. ? (E/WG); Kane, William F. (RO/WG)
Sitting Front L-R: Miller, Terry T. (TG); Lacey, Joseph T. (TT); O'Connor, Joseph P. (BG)
The following is from Joe Lacey:
We were trained at 216th Combat Crew Training School, Pueblo CO as crew #8-22-47 under Lt. R. Weber.
On 1 November 1944 on Mission #123 over Graz Marshalling Yards, Austria we were hit by flak. Lt. Weber was wounded and we lost all hydraulics. Co-pilot Thomas assumed command and we returned to base away from our squadron. We were the plane that landed with two chutes deployed from the waist windows for braking power. We ended up next to the Red Cross Shack. Stradley and Lacey handled the chutes and pulled the rip cords on the signal, which was a kick in the butt.
The following is from The Havana Post January 1945:
Sgt. Terry Miller, 19-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. W. J. Miller of central Baguanos, Oriente Providence, Cuba, and a tail gunner on a B-24 Liberator crew in the Fifteenth Air Force, landed safely at his home base after his second combat mission, despite the fact that his plane had been shredded with flak, the hydraulic lines knocked out, and the pilot badly wounded.
"We hit the railroad yards at Graz, Austria," explains Miller, and their ack-ack boys hit us right back - but hard. A minute or so before 'bombs away' a stream of flak struck the front part of the ship, hitting the nose turret and the top hatch. A great chunk of it caught our pilot, 2nd Lt. Ralph Weber of Aurora, Ill., in the leg, and he had to pass controls over to the co-pilot, 2nd Lt. Onial A. Thomas, of Wynnewood Okla., who was flying his first combat mission. He found that his number four engine was spurting flames, the hydraulic system had been sliced by flak, and that another engine was coughing for want of fuel. Immediately he began a long side-slip towards the earth. When the ship had dropped some 4,000 feet the flames were stifled.
"But we were limping behind badly," say Miller. "Our fuel supply was running mighty low and were flying at a greatly reduced altitude. I gave a hand in throwing overboard some of the heavy equipment in the waist in an attempt to lighten the craft. Meanwhile, the navigator was administering fist aid to Lt. Weber. That pilot was certainly game. He was worrying more about the fuel giving out than the pain in his leg.
"We made it home somehow, but the real problem began when Lt. Thomas tried to set her down. Since our hydraulic system had poured out the bomb-bay doors back at Graz, we had to crank down the landing gear ourselves, and the co-pilot and navigator managed to get down the flaps manually. But landing without brakes is just asking for your nose in the sod. Lt. Thomas told us to tie our parachute harnesses to the waist guns and let the silk fly out both waist windows. Luckily the chutes opened exactly at the same time, and we came to a perfect landing."
Miller was graduated from Riverside Military Academy, New Orleans, La., in July 1943. He entered the AAF 24 December 1943, and received his training as a aerial gunner at Laredo, Texas, where he won his wings 2 May 1944.
He is currently serving with a veteran bomber group, under the command of Lt. Col. Brooks A. Lawhon of Tacoma, Wash. His group has flown more than 150 combat missions and has twice been cited by the War Department for outstanding performance.
Sgt. Terry T. Miller has recently been awarded the Air Medal for "meritorious achievement while participating in sustained operational activity against the enemy."