Marshall - #7/24
from Russell Morgan
Standing L-R: Dick, Frank M. (N); Marshall, Clarence P. (P); ?????; ?????
Squatting L-R: Sundquist, Gus A. (BTG); ?????; ?????; ?????; ?????; ?????
Marshall, Clarence P., Pilot
Mohan, Bernard J., Co-Pilot
Jarnagin, Calvin E. - Co-Pilot
Dick, Frank M., Navigator
Dick, Frank M.
Nayes, LeRoy M.
Adamson, Howard E., Engineer/Gunner
Baker, Norman L., Radio Operator/Gunner
Commander, Gordon L., Nose Gunner
DeRosa, Joseph M., Top Turret Gunner
Hill, Albert G. - Gunner
Steinberg, Calvin S. - Engineer/Waist Gunner
Lt. Marshall was shot down on 15 December 1944. He and some members of his crew managed to make it back to Allied lines and was put back on flying status eventually. Gus Sundquist was declared dead, but his remains weren't found until 1949. He was returned to the US and is buried in the Jefferson Memorial Park, Allegheny County, PA.
Lt. Marshall was shot down during a combat mission to Vienna, Austria, on 21 February 1945. He and his crew were returned to the 461st in two parts. Please read Escape Statement and Escape Statement Too for the details of their return.
from Russell Morgan
Top to Bottom: Gordon Commander (NG); Mike DeRosa (TTG); Calvin Steinberg (WG); Norman Baker (WG); Gus Sundquist (BTG)
70 years ago yesterday, 12/10/44, our dad sent this Christmas card to his childhood and best friend, Joe DeRosa. They both lived and grew up in Oak Park, IL. Daddy was aboard the USS Fulton with the Pacific Fleet and Joe was an Army Staff Sargeant with the 765th Bomb Squadron, 461st Bomb Group stationed in Italy. Joe never received the card as his plane was shot down five days later on 12/15/44. The card made its way back to our dad and is marked "MISSING". The date on the back of the envelope is May 3, 1945. I hope they finally had that big reunion. God Bless them both.
Our dad passed away last year at the age of 92. Even in his last years he would choke on his words when he would share stories of Joe. I came across this Christmas card in our dad's papers.
I then started Googling Joe DeRosa in various searches to see if I could find out more about the end of his life. I found the War Department Report regarding their fateful flight on December 15, 1944. I have attached that report here. (See the MACR #10676)
The information in the report lead me to your website. I admire the amount of work that has gone into preserving the memory of those who served under the 461st. What was noted in War Department Report provides more details about what happened to each person aboard that flight as part of the mission of the 765th Bomb Squadron, 461st Bomb Group on December 15, 1944. I hope this will help in expanding the history of this group of men who gave their lives that day. God Bless them all.
"From LeRoy M. Nayes: Italy May 20, 1945.
Dear Mrs. Sundquist, My mother enclosed your letter of May 2nd in one of her letters to me.
I am very sorry to hear that you have had no further word about your son. Unfortunately I didn't know your son, that was my first mission with that crew. I was assigned to another crew but was just filling in for that mission. I don't know how much information the war department has given you but no matter, the ones of us that did get back supplied them with the information they have already given you. I will tell as much of the story as I believe I am permitted to. To begin with, your son was the 2nd to bail out, Commander was first of the four men to bail out from the rear of the plane. I was 1st to bail out in the front part and the 5th of the crew.
Seven of us, the first of seven, landed either in the river itself or the surrounding flooded swampland. Martino saw Commander and your son hit the water and about that time he was in the same predicament. That was the last anyone saw of either your son and Commander. Martino swam about a mile and a half to a little ridge which he crawled up on and was there when he was picked up. I had a similar experience only I was saved by a tree. I am not going to bore you with the details but that was a very close call. I am afraid your son didn't recover from the shock of hitting the water to make that swim to that ridge. During those next twelve days to follow there were many times when we thought we would have been better off if we had drowned. It took us 35 days to get back to our base then I spent 6 weeks in the hospital. Yes, Mrs. Sundquist I am very grateful to be back but I suffered more than the loss of some weight. I wouldn't make this such a long letter but I want to give you the true picture. Your son was one of us who made the supreme sacrifice. I hope you can console yourself with this fact - your son was doing his duty in making our world a better place to live. We have defeated Germany, now we have to end the war by defeating Japan. Not all of us will see the results of our sacrifice.
Sincerely Yours, LeRoy M. Nayes
P.S. The war department was informed of the whereabouts of our experience."
From the War Dept
Dear Mrs. Nestruck
509 Reynolds Avenue
I am again referring to your letter of 28 October, 1946, concerning your brother, Staff Sergeant Gus A. Sundquist in whose case a presumptive finding of death was made as of 16 December 1945, following a thorough review of this case pursuant to the provisions of Public Law 490, 77th Congress, as amended.
The feelings which prompted your communication are most understandable, and I deeply regret that so much sorrow has come to you and the other members of your family. For your information I am quoting a statement furnished by a surviving member of Sergeant Sundquist's crew:
"At 12:30 PM 15 Dec. 1944 it became necessary for us to abandon the B-24 aircraft via parachute. The altitude was between 10-12,000 feet. We bailed out from two positions only, the rear hatch and front bomb bay. The four men in the rear bailed out first -- Commander and Sundquist were the first and second to jump. I was the 5th and DeRosa jumped after me. Lt. Dick was the 8th man to jump. As we jumped into an undercast it was impossible to follow the men very well. I would estimate the ceiling was down to 2-3,000 feet. I entered the cloud just as I got the parachute open. I never saw any of the 4 men again. The place was from 1-15 miles NW of Kutina, Yugoslavia.
Martino testified he saw Sundquist and Commander fall out in the water. The next day, Martino pointed out where he fell and where Sundquist and Commander landed. They were quite a distance from any type of refuge -- the best way out for them would have been the same as Martino went. I am sure they drowned. The water was very cold and we were told it covered an area of 10 kilometers wide in the Sava river valley. I am positive DeRosa landed in water but it was in a swampy area which had few trees.
I came very near to drowning myself--in fact I was paralyzed and unconscious when I was pulled out of the water by a Yugoslavian. I was quite sick that night and unable to conduct any search for other members of the crew. The next morning the farmer told me he had looked around in the area but found nothing but some clothes I had thrown off in my attempt to stay afloat and swim."
At the present time our overseas authorities are using every means at their disposal in an effort to obtain definite information concerning the fate of each of our missing personnel, including those in whose cases presumptive findings of death have been made. Teams have been organized to examine cemetery records and captured enemy documents, interrogate local officials and native inhabitants of each area where our men were reported missing, and to carefully investigate every possibility that might lead to some definite information regarding any of our personnel. As identifications are made of heretofore unidentified bodies, or other evidence deemed conclusive of death is received, official reports of death are issued in cases of those previously "presumed dead." In the event any further report pertaining to Sergeant Sundquist becomes available, your family will be notified without delay.
I am indeed sorry that the conditions of warfare have denied to many families complete knowledge of the fate of their loved ones, and while I realize there is little I can say to assuage your sorrow, I trust that the cherished memories of your brother's faithful service and heroic devotion to duty may sustain and comfort you.
Edward F. Witsell
The Adjunct General of the Army
....and a news article
published later in the local paper:
"Missing Soldier Is Declared Dead - Staff Sergeant Gus A. Sundquist, listed as missing in action since Dec. 15, 1944, has been declared dead officially by the War Department, according to word received by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Arvid Sundquist, 909 Morton Ave., Port Vue. He also leaves three sisters, Corrine at home; Mrs Betty Johnson, McKeesport; and Mrs. Margaret Nestruck, Pittsburgh. Based in Italy with the 15th Air Force, Sundquist was less than 3 missions away from finishing and was a ball turrent gunner on a Liberator when his plane lost 3 of 4 engines over Lintz, Austria. He was eligible for furlough in the United States upon completion of that mission. He an another blond on his plane were known as "The Gold Dust Twins". The local Italians thought he was a German.
....they actually ended up finding his remains several years later and he is now buried in the Jefferson Memorial Park, McKeesport, Allegheny County, PA.