461st plaque

461st Bombardment Group (H)

April 1944 May 1944 June 1944 July 1944 August 1944 September 1944 October 1944 November 1944 December 1944 January 1945 February 1945 March 1945 April 1945 May 1945

July 1944

Mission #53

1 July 1944

Target: Munich Neubiberg A/D Installations, Austria

Canceled


Mission #53

2 July 1944

Target: Budapest Rakos Marshalling Yard, Hungary

The change in the old order of things began with the very first mission in July.  The target was the Rakos Marshalling Yard in Budapest, Hungary.  Although the Group had not bombed in Budapest since the 13th of April, crew members remember well that city as a hot target.  On the occasion of this mission there was plenty of flak but not too much of it was within range of the Group.  Flying as last Group in the Wing formation, the Bombardiers dropped their bombs on the Marshalling Yard through the smoke started by the other Groups.  For the first time in its history the Group suffered the deep humiliation of having the Air Force score the efforts of the Group at zero.  Captain Leffler, Group Bombardier, talked long and loud in an effort to have the Air Force change the rating to "no score", but to no avail.

Mission bombing photo

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Mission #54

3 July 1944

Target: Bucharest Mogasaia Oil Storage, Roumania

Bad weather continued to dog the 461st Group in its effort to find a clear day at Bucharest.  The target for the day was the Mogasaia Oil Storage near the central part of the City.  When the Group, led by Lt. Colonel Hawes, arrived at the target, it was partially obscured by cloud coverage.  Some of the planes in the formation dropped their bombs with fair results.  On the way to the primary target the route had been close to the first alternate target, the Iron Gate on the Roumanian side of the Danube River.  As the formation passed over this target it was noted to be opened.  As a result, some of the bombardiers did not drop at Bucharest but returned to drop at the Iron Gate.  F/O Mac L. Lucas, after fighting mechanical failures of his plane all the way across Yugoslavia on the return route from the target, was finally forced to bail out his crew near the Adriatic Coast.

Poop Sheet

Mission bombing photo

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Mission #55

5 July 1944

Target: Beziers Marshalling Yard, France

The third target of the month was located in the third country in which the Group had bombed during the month of July.  The target was the large Marshalling Yard at Beziers, France.  The purpose in hitting this target was that of hampering the movement of two German divisions from Southwest France to the fighting front in Normandy.  Photographs of this mission are most interesting.  The 451st Group, which led the Wing, dropped its bombs diagonally across the target.  The pictures of the 484th Group, which was second in the Wing formation, are almost identical with those of the 451st, showing that the second Group dropped practically all their bombs into the smoke started by the 451st.  Pictures of the 461st, which was the last Group over the target, are practically identical with those of the 484th.  Groups of the 49th Wing probably saturated this target with a higher concentration of bombs than they had done on any previous target.  Later reports showed that a great deal of damage had been done.  This mission was scored 45 percent.  On this mission S/Sgt. Lawrence B. Custer of Lime, Ohio, the tail gunner on Lt. Aldredge's crew, became the first member of this Group to complete fifty sorties.

Mission bombing photo

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Commendation

From: Lee CO, 49th Bomb Wing (II), APO 520

To: Commanding Officer, 451st, 461st, 484th Bomb Group, APO 520, US Army

The following Teletype Is quoted for your information, - FAF ASLE 72 Confidential:

"Your entire command is commended for the highly successful attack on German troop trains in the Marshalling Yards at Beziers, this is one bunch of Huns that won't reach the beachhead".


Mission #56

6 July 1944

Target: Aviano Oil Storage, Italy

The target for Mission No. 56, which was approximately 600 feet square, was probably the smallest target ever assigned to this Group.  It was an oil storage plant in open country near an airdrome at the Town of Aviano, Italy.  Major Burke continued to be the fair-haired Group leader when a score of 48 percent was recorded for this mission.  Then 1st Lt. Ausbon E. Aldredge of Alexandria, Louisiana, set his plane down on the runway on returning from this mission, he became the first pilot and the first officer in the Group to complete fifty sorties.  Another of his enlisted men, S/Sgt. Maywood Carpenter from Summerville, Ohio, also completed his fifty sorties with Lt. Aldredge.  Wing Commander William L. Lee rode as an observer on this mission.

Mission bombing photo

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Mission #57

7 July 1944

Target: Blechhammer North Synthetic Plant, Germany

Back again to Blechhammer, Germany; this time to the North Plant.  Again Colonel Glantzberg led, again the weather was bad, again smoke pots and the anti-aircraft were at work.  The bombs were dropped by pathfinder.  Although the photographs are poor, not much damage is believed to have been done to the target.  Thirty-two enemy planes were seen, five were destroyed and four probably destroyed.  A total of twenty-one of our bombers were damaged on this mission.  Two men were injured.

Mission bombing photo

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Mission #58

8 July 1944

Target: Korneuburg Oil Refinery, Austria

On July 8th Lt. Colonel Hawes came through with a great mission to the Korneuburg Oil Refinery, Austria.  Fifty-two percent of the bombs were dropped within 1,000 feet of the center of impact.  The weather was excellent, but there were enemy airplane encounters and plenty of damage by flak.  The 49th Wing formation on this mission was exceptionally good.

Poop Sheet

Mission bombing photo

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Mission #59

11 July 1944

Target: Submarines at Toulon, France

Lt. Colonel Applegate led the Group in an attack on submarines stationed in the harbor of Toulon.  The weather was excellent and the Germans were slow in starting their smoke pots.  The flak was only moderate in intensity.  For some reason, however, most of the bombs overshot the target to the right with only fair results.

Mission bombing photo

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Mission #60

12 July 1944

Target: Nimes, Marshalling Yard, France

By the 12th of the month several of the crews had completed their fifty sorties.  Upward of 100 combat crew members had been sent back to the United States on a rotation basis.  Other crews were at rest camps.  The number of crews available, consequently, was limited.  For this mission it was decided to fly a formation of four flights instead of the customary six flights.

For the first time in its history the 461st Group was really hit on the bomb run by a formation-concentration of enemy fighters.  Twenty-eight enemy fighters hit the last flight of six planes and knocked down four of them.  Three of the planes went down over the target at Nimes, France, and the fourth apparently failed in an effort to ditch within the sight of Toulon.  The planes lost over the target were those piloted by 1st Lt. Richard S. Fawcett, 2nd Lt. Frederick L. Dunn, and 2nd Lt. Chester A. Ray Jr. Lt. Fawcett's plane was in bad shape when last seen.  From all three planes, never the less, chutes were seen to open.  2nd Lt. William J. Barnes, the youngest officer in the Group, was pilot of the plane which attempted to ditch in the Gulf of Lion.

The fighter attack split up the bomb run with the result that the mission was scored only 24 percent on the big Marshalling Yard.  Seven enemy planes were shot down.  It was apparent to all that evil days had at last caught up with the hitherto invincible 461st.

Poop Sheet

Mission bombing photo

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Mission #61

14 July 1944

Target: Petfurdo Oil Refinery, Hungary

Although Major Dooley flew the day following this mission, this mission was the last on which he led the Group before going home on rotation.  His swan song as a Group leader netted him and the Group the highest score thus far ever obtained by the Group when 82 percent of the bombs were dropped within 1,000 feet of the center of impact on the Petfurdo Oil Refinery near Budapest in Hungary.  The weather was CAVU, only two enemy airplanes were seen, and only slight flak was experienced at the target.

Mission bombing photo

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Mission #62

15 July 1944

Target: Creditul Minier Oil Refinery, Ploesti, Roumania

The all-out mission of the Fifteenth Air Force against the Ploesti Oil Refineries on the 15th of July had been designed as the final knock-out blow.  On the 26th of June, the Air Force had conducted a meeting with representatives of all the Groups to discuss this mission and to clarify pathfinder bombing.  The day following this conference Captain Leffler began both a bomb trainer program and an air training program to continue pathfinder methods which were already well developed in this Group.  Carefully selected flight leader crews were withheld from combat missions during this intensified training program.  For days they flew practice missions against Pianossa Island.

Fully two weeks before the mission was flown, the 461st Group had been designated as the Group to lead the Wing.  This put Colonel Glantzberg in the lead plane.  With him were the old reliable team of Captain Strong, Captain Leffler, Captain Pruitt, Lt. Sullivan, and Lt. Gizelba.  Colonel Lee flew as Wing Commander with Captain Walters.

The Creditul Minier Oil Refinery, three miles south of the city limits of Ploesti, was the Wing target.  Using pathfinder methods, Lt. Gizelba completely saturated the vital installations of the refinery with bombs.  The success of the mission earned for Colonel Lee and Lt. Gizelba the Distinguished Flying Cross.  The target was partially obscured by six-tenths cloud coverage.  Intense, accurate and heavy flak damaged fourteen of our planes and knocked down the one piloted by 1st Lt. William L. Weems.

Poop Sheet

Mission bombing photo

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Mission #63

16 July 1944

Target: Wiener Neudorf Aircraft Engine Factory, Austria

The Group continued the use of pathfinder methods with a formation of four flights against the Wiener Neudorf Aircraft Engine Factory in Austria on 16 July.  Bombing through an almost complete undercast, the Group missed the target when the bombs fell short and to the right.

Poop Sheet

Mission bombing photo

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Mission #64

18 July 1944

Target: Manzell Dornierwerke Aircraft Components Factory near Friedrichshafen, Germany

Lt. Colonel Hawes maintained his personally unpleasant tradition on this mission of being the hard luck leader in the Group.  For more than three months he had drawn more than his share of rough missions to lead.  He had led formations around, through, and over weather that would have turned back a less determined leader.  His formations had repeatedly been attacked by fighters and his targets had repeatedly been obscured by clouds, haze, or smoke pots.  Despite all this he was still trying to turn in another really superior mission.  Fate, on the other hand, refused to smile on his efforts.  En route to the important Manzell Dornierwerke Aircraft Components Factory near Friedrichshafen, Germany, Lt. Colonel Hawes, leading the Wing, ran into bad weather which caused many of the pilots to return to their respective bases.  When the weather cleared - some thirty miles short of the target - the Colonel rallied the Wing formation for the bomb run.  Weather over the target was CAVU, but the anti-aircraft fire was extremely intense and accurate.  A total of 27 percent of the 1000 pound RDX bombs scored within the prescribed 1,000 foot circle.

Poop Sheet

Mission bombing photo

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COMMENDATION

From: Lee CO, 49th Bomb Wing (H), APO 520.

To: Commanding Officer, 451st, 461st, 484th Bomb Group, APO 520, US Army.

"Confidential, with reference to raid made 18 July 1944 and Commendation received from Commanding General, Fifteenth Air Force, on same, I wish to add my hearty congratulations and deep appreciation of a job superiorly performed.  This well performed mission indicates that the mission was expertly planned and excellent judgment on the part of the Combat Wing Commander was used in its execution.  It also indicates superior air discipline on the part of all Groups and the personnel thereof.  Please convey the above Commendation to all personnel of your Command and carry on smartly.


Mission #65

19 July 1944

Target: Schleissheim Airdrome Installations, Munich, Germany

Success still crowned the efforts of Major Burke as a Group leader on the difficult mission to the Schleissheim Airdrome Installations at Munich.  The target was partially obscured by clouds and the flak holed eighteen of the twenty-three planes over the target, but 43 percent of the 1000 pound general purpose bombs were within 1,000 feet of the briefed aiming point.

Poop Sheet

Mission bombing photo

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Mission #66

21 July 1944

Target: Brux Synthetic Oil Refinery, Czechoslovakia

Targets selected by the Fifteenth Air Force continued to be rough.  Lt. Colonel Knapp led the Group on its first mission to Czechoslovakia.  The target was the synthetic oil refinery at Brux.  The bombs were dropped through a five tenths cloud coverage by the pathfinder method.

Mission bombing photo

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Mission #67

22 July1944

Target: Romana Americana Oil Refinery, Ploesti, Roumania

Still rough. Despite the efforts of the Air Force on the 15th day of July to finish off Ploesti, the Romana Americana Oil Refinery was assigned to the Group as its target for 22 July.  Colonel Glantzberg led the Wing.  In the lead plane with him were Lt. Specht, Captain Leffler, Major Pruitt, Lt. Simeroth, and Lt. Gizelba.  After the Group was on the bomb run, Colonel Glantzberg's plane had No. 4 engine knocked out by flak and the No. 3 engine set on fire.  Captain Leffler salvoed the bombs as the plane went into a circle to the left. After losing 8,000 feet, Colonel Glantzberg and Lt. Specht were able to level off the plane.  The fire in the engine was extinguished by feathering the prop.  After the fire had been extinguished the prop was unfeathered and the crew came home on three engines.

All the planes dropped their bombs as briefed on the Group leader.  All of them fell short of the target.  Of the twenty-two planes on the bomb run seventeen were hard hit by flak and four others were lost.  Two planes, one piloted by 2nd Lt. Clarence W. Bloxom and the other one by 2nd Lt. Elias R. Moses, both of whom were flying their second combat mission, left the formation after the target and disappeared.  1st Lt. Taylor bailed his crew out near the base when he had but one engine left.  1st Lt. Holmes also bailed his crew out near the base when leaks in his gas line caused him to run out of fuel.  One man on Lt. Taylor's crew, F/O Irving Smithkin, was fatally injured in parachuting to earth.  While the planes were away from the base on the mission, a fire, which had started in a wheat field west of the base, swept up to the fire barriers which had previously been burned around the edges of the field.  No damage was done to the installations or equipment on the field, but the bomb dump was set on fire.  Smoke from the conflagration covered the field with the result that only five planes, including the one piloted by Colonel Glantzberg, were able to land.  Captain Donovan, who had flown the mission as deputy group leader, took about half the planes in the formation to Pantanella.  The remainder of the planes landed at various fields in the area of Torretta.  The 280 heavy anti-aircraft guns at Ploesti had turned the trick for the first time of keeping the 461st from reaching its target.

Mission bombing photo

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Mission #68

24 July 1944

Target: Troop Concentrations at Pljevlja, Prejepolje, Sjenica, and Andrijevica, Yugoslavia

By the end of the third week of July most of the original combat crew members had completed their missions.  Replacement crews were coming into the Group very rapidly.  The co-pilots of several flight leader crews, often having been "ranked" out of the missions by staff pilots and so being behind their respective crews in the number of sorties flown, had recently been made first pilots and assigned to fly with the new crews.  The Air Force decided that a "freshman mission" led by experienced personnel was needed by the Group.  As the result of this decision, together with the request of the Yugoslavs for help, a comparatively easy mission was assigned to the Group.  The targets were German troop concentrations which were not defended by heavy anti-aircraft guns.

Since there were four targets and since the Group was authorized to prepare the details of its own field order for this mission, it was decided that each of the four flights would hit a target.  All of the targets were hit successfully.  The 766th Squadron, which had the largest target, dropped 88 percent of its bombs on the briefed aiming point.  The mission, on the whole, was good.

Mission bombing photo

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Mission #69

25 July 1944

Target: Herman Goering Tank Works, Linz, Austria

And then it happened. Major Burke's long string of highly successful missions was broken by disaster.  Now the Commanding Officer of the 766th Squadron as a replacement for Major Dooley, who had returned to the United States, he led a four flight formation of twenty-one airplanes in an attack on the heavily defended Herman Goering Tank Works at Linz, Austria.  Just after the bomb bay doors had been opened and the formation had begun its bomb run, it was attacked by twenty-five twin engine and 125 single engine enemy planes.

Taking advantage of the fact that most of the planes flown by new crews did not have their ball turret down on the bomb run, the twin engine planes came up under the lead flight of the formation and began throwing rockets through the bomb bay doors.  The first plane to go down was Major Burke's lead plane.  Instead of packing the formation in close, the inexperienced bomber pilots spread the formation.  Captain Franklin, 1st Lt. Henry, Lt. King, Lt. Sullivan, and Lt. Gizelba, flying the Deputy Lead plane, salvoed their bombs and attempted to rally the formation.  By this time, however, the single engine fighters, still attacking low but now from the rear, picked off planes in the struggling formation.  Eleven bombers were knocked down as parachutes, tracers, rockets, enemy fighters, and exploding bombers filled the air with confusion.  The nose gunner on one of the crews which returned from the mission counted thirty-two parachutes in the air at one time.

The pilot in the lead plane with Major Burke was 1st Lt. Joseph B. Hesser. Pilots of other planes lost were 1st Lt. Edwin W. Bowyer, 2nd Lt. Robert W. Fisher, 2nd Lt. Richard E. Freeman, 2nd Lt. Glenial Fulks, 2nd Lt. Kenneth O. Githens, 2nd Lt. John J. Kane, 2nd Lt. Grover F. Mitchell, 2nd Lt. Rolland T. Olson, 2nd Lt. Wray M. Stitch, and 2nd Lt. Robert A. Warren, Jr.  In addition to the eleven bombers shot down over the target, four more were lost on this mission.  The plane piloted by 2nd Lt. Douglas A. Herrin, one of the eight that returned to the base, was so badly shot up that it was salvaged.  2nd Lt. Casper T. Jenkins, with three wounded men aboard, washed out his plane when he attempted to land it at Foggia.  1st Lt. Edgar M. Trenner, using parachutes as a substitute for flaps and landing with a punctured tire, washed out his plane at the base.  2nd Lt. Robert G. Wester bailed his crew out over the friendly Isle of Vis.

The last flight in the formation was led by 1st Lt. Robert E. Arbuthnot.  As the enemy planes flew past his plane in attacking the bombers in the front of the formation his gunners had a field day.  They claimed 14 enemy aircraft destroyed, 6 probably destroyed, and 3 damaged.  The claim of the twelve crews which finally returned to the base were 31 destroyed, 19 probably destroyed, and 9 damaged.  Of the 19 planes claimed as probable it is likely that many of them were actually destroyed, but the gunners were too busy to follow the downward flight of crippled planes to the ground.

Of the 113 officers and men who went down on this mission, seven officers and nine enlisted men were flying their fiftieth sortie.  1st Lt. Ernest R. Henry was the only individual flying his fiftieth sortie on the mission to return to the base.

For the first time in its history, enemy fighters successfully turned back the 461st Group short of its target.

Poop Sheet


Mission #70

27 July 1944

Target: Pec, Yugoslavia

The Air Force gave the Group off on the 26th of July to lick its wounds, and on the following day the field order specified another "freshman mission" to Yugoslavia.  The weather was CAVU. There was neither flak nor fighters.  1st Lt. Patrick J. Flaherty, still shaken by his experiences at Nimes, France on the 12th of July when his face was cut by flying glass, failed to identify the conspicuous target of Pec.  The town, a center of German resistance, was missed completely.  Lt. Flaherty was permanently grounded from flying combat missions following this incident.  Colonel Glantzberg flew this mission as an observer in a P-38.

Mission bombing photo

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Mission #71

28 July 1944

Target: Phlorina, Greece

Another chance for the jittery old crews and the completely inexperienced new crews to convert a "milk run" into a successful mission.  This time the Group, led for the first time by the new Group Operations Officer, Captain Joseph N. Donovan, turned the trick by dropping 40.7 percent of the bombs on the briefed target.  Greece became the ninth country in Europe in which the 461st had bombed when the railroad station and Marshalling Yard at Phlorina was hit with a good pattern of bombs.

Lt. Colonel Hawes flew the P-38 as an observer on this mission, but Colonel Glantzberg chose the spot of co-pilot in one of the last planes in the bomber formation.  At the critique following the mission the Commanding Officer radiated his old confidence.  Smilingly he told the crew members that he felt ten years younger after seeing the formation flying and the pattern bombing done that day.

Mission bombing photo

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764th Ops Order #71


The last paragraph of Intops Summary No. 388, dated 13 August 1944, reads as follows:

"5. BOMB DAMAGE - A ground report recently received indicated the success of the attack of 28 July by B-24's of the 461st Bomb Group on Phlorina M/Y.  This report states that the railroad station was badly damaged and casualties to the Germans approximately 250 killed, 750 wounded, many while waiting to entrain."


Mission #72

30 July 1944

Target: Budapest Duna Aircraft Factory Buildings, Hungary

Off again to bomb a rough target after the freshman missions and the Linz catastrophe.  The Group, with Colonel Glantzberg leading, did a good job on the Duna Aircraft Factory Buildings in Budapest, Hungary, despite the fact that one Flight in the formation dropped its bombs at the initial point.  The cloud coverage was two tenths, the flak was moderate, accurate, and heavy and the enemy planes seen were nine.  Twelve of the nineteen planes over the target were hit by flak.  A total of 28.6 percent of the 500 pound RDX bombs were scored on the briefed aiming point.  This was the first time the Group had been back to the Duna Aircraft Factory since its highly successful mission of 13 April, 1944.

Poop Sheet

Mission bombing photo

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Mission #73

31 July 1944

Target: Bucharest, Prahova Oil Refinery, Roumania

Back to Bucharest for the last mission of the month with the usual results over that target area.  The target was the Prahova Oil Refinery which is located near the railroad tracks in the northwest section of the City.  The cloud coverage was five tenths.  As usual there was moderate, inaccurate flak.  Only 8.8 percent of the bombs were scored within a 1,000 feet of the center of impact.  The mission was led by Major Word who had succeeded Major Burke, first as Group Operations Officer and now as the 766th Squadron Commander.

Editors Note: The month of July was a bad one for the 461st.  We lost 20 aircraft to enemy activity, mostly fighters, as reported in the mission summaries.  The following crews, only the pilot's name is given, were listed missing in action on the dates shown.

Poop Sheet

PILOT

DATE

TARGET

2nd Lt. Mac L. Lucas

3 July 1944

Bucharest, Roumania

     
1st Lt. William J. Barnes

12 July 1944

Nimes, France

1st Lt. Richard S. Fawcett

12 July 1944

Nimes, France

1st Lt. Chester A. Ray, Jr.

12 July 1944

Nimes, France

2nd Lt. Frederick L. Dunn

12 July 1944

Nimes, France

     
1st Lt. William L. Weems

15 July 1944

Ploesti, Roumania

     
1st Lt. Edwin L. McCrary

22 July, 1944

Ploesti, Roumania

1st Lt. Clarence W. Bloxom

22 July, 1944

Ploesti, Roumania

2nd Lt. Elias E. Moses

22 July, 1944

Ploesti, Roumania

     
2nd Lt. Wray M. Stitch

25 July, 1944

Linz, Austria

2nd Lt. Genial Fulks

25 July, 1944

Linz, Austria

2nd Lt. Robert A. Warren, Jr.

25 July, 1944

Linz, Austria

1st Lt. Edwin W. Bowyer

25 July, 1944

Linz, Austria

2nd Lt. Rolland T. Olson

25 July, 1944

Linz, Austria

2nd Lt. Kenneth O. Githens

25 July, 1944

Linz, Austria

1st Lt. Richard E. Freeman

25 July, 1944

Linz, Austria

2nd Lt. John J. Kane

25 July, 1944

Linz, Austria

1st Lt. Joseph B. Hesser *

25 July, 1944

Linz, Austria

1st Lt. Grover F. Mitchell

25 July, 1944

Linz, Austria

2nd Lt. Robert E. Fisher

25 July, 1944

Linz, Austria

*Major William Burke, 766th Sq CO, and 2nd Lt. Joseph Pagoto, Mickey Operator were aboard his lead aircraft.

Mission bombing photo

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HEADQUARTERS

FIFTEENTH AIR FORCE

A.P.O. 520

GENERAL ORDERS NO. 1865 -- 15 July, 1944

AWARDS OF THE SOLDIER'S MEDAL

Under the provisions of AR 600-45, as amended, and pursuant to authority contained in Circular No. 26, Headquarters NATOUSA, 6 March 1944, the Soldier's Medal is awarded the following named personnel, Air Corps, United States Army, residence indicated, with the following citation:

For heroism at voluntary loss of life at an Allied airfield in Italy.  On 10 May 1944, a B-24 type aircraft crashed on landing and caught fire.  Rushing to the scene these officers discovered that one man had been rendered unconscious and was trapped in the wreckage of the airplane.  Bravely ignoring the personal risk involved from the possible explosion of the burning gasoline and live ammunition still in the plane, these officers succeeded in removing the injured man from the ship without further harm.  By their heroism and gallantry, in risking their lives to save the life of another, these officers have reflected great credit upon themselves and the Armed Forces of the United States of America.

EDWIN T. GOREE, 0-724610, Major, 764th Bomb Sq, 461st Bomb Gr.

Residence at appointment: San Diego, California

DANIEL E. NATHAN, 0-438282, Captain, 765th Bomb Sq, 461st Bomb Gr.

Residence at appointment: Fort Valley, Georgia

CHESTER A. RAY, JR., 0-809872, Second Lieutenant, 766th Bomb Sq, 461st Bomb Gp

Residence at: Detroit, Michigan

By command of Major General TWINING:

R.K. TAYLOR, Colonel, GSC

Chief of Staff