Mission 204

Sept 13, 1944

Flight Crew

Name Rank Duties
Miller, Elmonte R Lieutenant Pilot
Nowacki, Jack W Lieutenant Co-Pilot
Hodgkiss, Bernard V Lieutenant Navigator
Katsiginis, Spiris T Lieutenant Bombardier
Lohr, John F  Cpl Radio Op/Gunner
Weese, Jackson D  Cpl Engr./Top Turret
Cunningham, Charles L  Cpl Ball Turret gunner
Whiting, Edward H  Sergeant Waist Gunner
Johnson, Marvin J  Cpl Tail Gunner

The Mission# 204

A/C name Take Me Home Country   Germany Target   Synthetic Oil Plant
A/C number   42-38275   Squadron Position Low Squadron
A/C Pos Low Element  Left Wing   City  Mersburg


After 3 days off and plenty of good English Ale I had recovered my courage and was ready for “another go”, As the British say but in no way was I prepared for what happened next.

We received our briefing at 0400 hours, picked up our parachutes at the drying room and piled aboard the Jeep for our trip out to the hard stand where our aircraft and the ground crew were waiting. The bombs were already aboard and 2100 gal of fuel was being loaded. I wiped my 50 caliber free of lubrication and put it into the mount and charged the first round into the chamber.

  We climbed to 35000 ft. and took up our position in the formation. This low outside corner position had become known as “Purple Heart Corner” among the experienced crews and this was our second mission in the same slot. I was beginning to wonder if fate was on our side.

  Mersberg is deep in Germany, about 80 mi SE of Berlin. As we approached the IP something went wrong and we made one pass over the target without dropping our bombs. So our Lead doubled back and made another pass unfortunately at the same altitude. By this time the German gunners had it all figured out and the barrage was dead on. The lead plane in our element was hit and started to loose altitude we did not realize he was going down and followed him for a short period. By the time we figured out what was happening we were no longer in formation and at an altitude well below everyone else. Johnson the tail gunner spotted a three burst salvo too close for comfort and called the information to  Miller. He immediately  took evasive action. The same process repeated itself  several times sometimes we ducked  into a convenient cloud bank that was near by. By the time it was over we were completely alone and lost. The series of maneuvers and confusion had put Lt Hotchkiss, our navigator at a severe disadvantage. After some heated discussion we took up a heading that was sure to put us over France eventually. Some time in the midst of all of this we dropped our bomb load. I often wonder who was the recipient. We had one more run in with anti aircraft fire before we crossed into France . Finally we broke radio silence and I received a fix from three RDF stations along the British coast. We landed late and very short of fuel. We counted 313 holes in the plane that night. We were also the only aircraft that made it home that night

The briefing Room                                                 Counting the returning air craft

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