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F/O  Ray A. DECKER

UNIT: 349th BOMB Sqdn POSITION: BOM
SERIAL #: STATUS: FEH
MACR:

Comments1: BECAME MICKEY OPERATOR. MAY HAVE BEEN IN 351ST ALSO

COMMENTS & NOTES

MEMO 1:

CREW

1ST LT WALTER A. CHARLES        P CPT 20 JAN 45 HEIBRON
2ND LT RICHARD N. AMES           CP CPT  20 JAN 45 HEIBRON
2ND LT JULIUS H. KREPISMANN   NAV NOC 
    F/O RAYMOND A. DECKER    BOM FEH (BECAME MICKEY OPERATOR)  SEE BELOW
    CPL LAWRENCE J. KELLY      ROG CPT 20 JAN 45 HEIBRON
    CPL ROBERT GEORGI            TTE CPT 20 JAN 45 HEIBRON
    CPL EDWARD T. ZIEMBA       BTG CPT 20 JAN 45 HEIBRON
    CPL JAMES H. SMITH            WG CPT 20 JAN 45 HEIBRON
    CPL RALPH F. McBATH           TG CPT FEB 1945 MISSION IS UNKNOWN

349th Sqdn.  Crew, as above joined the 100th on 22 Aug 1944. On 16 Oct 1944 all of the above except Julis Krepismann were transferred to the 351st  Sqdn. Ray Decker was reclassified from MOS 1035 to 1038.

This crew flew A/C 215 "Glory Bound"

“Glory Bound”

World War II Diary
        of
James H. Smith, Jr.

100th Bomb Group
Eighth Air Force
351st Squadron
 
This is the War-Time Diary of
James Harris Smith, Jr
 During World War II, or – “33 Times Over the Reich”
Missions – E.T.O.

If found, please return to:  S/Sgt. James H. Smith
100th Bomb Gp.
351st Sqdn.
A.P.O. 559
U.S. Army
Contained herewith is a little data that I’d like to keep.  Thanks!

Sept 13
Ship – “That’s All, Brother”
Alt. Bomb. – 26,000 ft
Take-Off – 0640
Land – 1130
On O2 – 4 hrs.
Temp. - 30? below
Bomb. Load – 5,000 lb. (incend.)
Well, today I made my first one and got my first taste of combat.  We hit a plant at Sindelfingen, about 10 miles from Stuttgart.  We smeared it with 2000,000 incendiaries and Mac says it was really burning when we cleared out.
We were sweating out the fighters since they had hit the two missions before us.  But they didn’t show up and since the flak batteries were centered around Stuttgart, it was inaccurate.  The group  by us, though, really caught some.  Think the whole 3rd Division lost only a very few ships.
Someone left an emergency O2 valve on in our radio room so we ran short and had to leave the formation over Belgium and rejoin them when they descended.  A couple of P-47’s came down with us.  The escort was swell.
It was a milk run, all in all, I guess.  They broke us in pretty decently.  The Jerries tried some new rocket shells that burst around 20,000 and go up like sky rocket.  They look pretty rugged but don’t think they’re much good.

9/18/44
Ship – “Yehudi”
Alt. Bomb. – 18,000 ft
Take-Off – 0620
Land – 1800 (12 hours)
On O2 – 4 hrs.(intermittently)
Temp. - 15? below centigrade
Bomb. Load – Supplies
Today, we began another one of these 8th A.F. “triangular shuttle missions”.  Our mission was to drop supplies to the Poles who are trying to take Warsaw.  We went over the target at about 15,000 and believe me the flak was terrific.  Some came close enough to hear which is a little too close for comfort.  We landed with seven holes in our ship.  One piece missed Decker only a few inches in the plexiglass nose.  We landed in Russia, at Mirgorad, after about 12 hours in the air.
The 100th, 390th, and 95th lost about 4 ships.  Everyone says it’s a miracle.  Russia is really strange.  Quite an experience.  Some fighters hit the 390th.  Got 4 ships, I think.

Sept 19
Ship – “Yehudi”
Alt. Bomb. – 22,000 ft
Take-Off – 1020
Land – 1700
On O2 – 2-1/2 hrs
Temp. - 25? below centigrade
Bomb. Load – 5,000 lb. Demo.
Got through on the second leg of our shuttle mission today and bombed a plant at Szolnok, Hungary, about 50 miles from Budapest.  Really tore it up with demos.  The flak was scattered and inaccurate.  I think a couple of ships went down but none in our group.  Pretty easy one, I guess, but again we sweated out the fighters.  One the other two shuttle runs that the 8th has made, the “Abbeville Kids” have come up and they never go through a formation without getting a ship with their “yellow nosed” FWs.  We landed at a 15th A.F. based in Fodjia, Italy.  (Foggia)

Sept. 27
Ship – 215 (unnamed)
Alt. Bomb. – 24,000 ft
Take-Off – 0620
Land – 1235
On O2 – 3-1/2 hrs
Temp. - 40? below 0? Faren.
Bomb. Load – 6,000 lb. Demo.
Today, we hit the marshalling yards at Mainz.  We were supposed to be “Tail – End Charely” but we sneaked into No. 5 position en route to the target.  Meeker got his bombs off o.k. this time right with the lead ship.  We bombed P. F. F.  through 10/10 overcast and weren’t able to see if we hit it, but I guess we did, for the whole 3rd division bombed it.  The flak was scattered and moderate but there were quite a few rockets.  Some burst in the group next to us but I didn’t see any ships go down.  It was really cold today.

Sept. 26
Ship – 215 (unnamed)
Alt. Bomb. – 26,000 ft
Take-Off – 1205
Land – 1840
On O2 – 3-1/2 hrs
Temp. - 35? below 0? F
Bomb. Load – 6,000 lb. G.P.’s.
We hit a Bremen tank plant today.  We really did hit this one because I got the location well in mind and saw for myself.  The flak was pretty thick over the target area.  We were over enemy territory only about an hour and were supposed to get flak the entire time.  However, we were well routed or well lead and missed the main batteries.  I saw some more groups getting it.  It was really cold again today.  I don’t know about the losses but our group didn’t have much trouble.  We got a piece of flak right in the windshield in Dick and Charley’s faces.  Guess they were plenty scared.

Sept. 28
Air Medal
Ship – #397
Alt. Bomb. – 25,000 ft
Take-Off – 0720
Land – 1540
On O2 – 5-1/2 hrs
Temp. - 40? below F.
Bomb. Load – 6,000 lb. G.P.’s
This was my 6th one and makes three straight – and today, we went to Merzbourg(Merseburg).  That’s the worse target in Deutshland, next to Berlin.  They really did throw up  all the ack-ack, that 240 guns could produce and after that the fighters – our ship didn’t get an individual fighter attack but our lead ship got some 20MM holes so they were around.  Decker saw a couple of 109’s but they didn’t come in.  We were the only ship in the group that didn’t get severe battle damage, only a few holes.  Bombed PFF again through 10/10 cloud.  Someone said we missed the target.  PFF bombing is tough.  The flak was the worst yet.  A lot of airplanes went down today.  I heard six straight flak bursts right underneath us and when you can hear ‘em, brother, they’re right on you.

Sept. 30
Ship – 215 “Glory Bound”
Alt. Bomb. – 26,000 ft
Take-Off – 0900
Land – 1528
On O2 – 3-hrs
Temp. - 38? below  F
Bomb. Load – 6,000 lb. G.P.’s.
They gave us a day off due to the weather and dragged us out this A.M.  This was the day of the big 200th mission blowout and we didn’t particularly care about flying.  But it was a good mission.  Didn’t have any flak over the target and no fighters on our group, but when we came across the coast of Holland we started letting down too soon and some battery was tracking us.  They got about 10 bursts up and they were right in there.  No ships were lost but they got a big hole in our stabilizer and a couple more small ones.  Some guy had his “head up and locked” or it wouldn’t have happened.  Target:  Bielefeld.

Oct. 2
Ship – #313
Alt. Bomb. – 27,000 ft
Take-Off – 0735
Land – 1530
On O2 – 6 hrs
Temp. - 39? below 0? F
Bomb. Load – 6,000 lb. G.P.’s.
This was the day after our two-day celebration, and there were a lot of “hang-overs” over “der Fatherland” today.  We were On O2 about 6 hrs. which really gets tiresome.
We hit the marshalling yards in the center of Kassel and boy, if any of the bombs were off the target the whole town probably went up.  The flak was there, from the I.P. to the target and worse onto the Rally point.  We got a few holes – one right about 18 inches in front of Dick’s feet and about 4 in. big.  Some of the ships bombed the enemy lines when we came over.  Charley saw one Fort blow up after diving straight down.  Blew up before going into the clouds.

Oct. 5
Ship – #535
Alt. Bomb. – 27,000 ft
Take-Off – 0820
Land – 1330
On O2 – 2-1/2 hrs
Temp. - 44? below 0? F
Bomb. Load – 5,000 lb. Incend.
The one today was all the way through a messed up deal.  We were supposed to bomb an airfield at Munster.  It was as clear as a bell and the only time since I’ve been there that we could have done a good visual job.  But the lead navigator got off the beam and there we were circling around by ourselves, just our one group.  We couldn’t even find a target or opportunity.  If the German fighters had been on the ball we would have been cold turkey and to top that, the Limeys shot at us when we hit the coast before our E.T.A.

Oct. 6
Ship –“Glory Bound” (215)
Alt. Bomb. – 25,000 ft
Take-Off – 0745
Land – 1505
On O2 – 4-1/2 hrs
Temp. - 30? below 0? F
Bomb. Load – 5,000 lb. demo.
Well today we hit the “Big B,” Berlin Boy, it was pretty rough.  The flak was so thick over the target until the sky was black.  The bomb run was 17 minutes long and we got flak the entire time.  I got four holes in the waist – 3 about 1-1/2” in. diameter.  I looked out my window and saw a half wing come pancaking by.  We got 13 holes in our ship.  Ha to feather no. 4 and come in by ourselves all the way from the target – Die we sweat!  This was our roughest one so far.  The fighters came up but didn’t hit our wing.

Oct. 7
Ship – “Glory Bound” (215)
Alt. Bomb. – 25, 500 ft
Take-Off – 0705
Land – 1515
On O2 – 6-3/4 hrs
Temp. - 37? below 0? F
Bomb. Load – 5,000 lb. G.P.’s.
Another rough one today.  Hit Rotia near Liepzig.  We caught flak from there, Liepsiz, Merzbourg, Madgeburg, and all around.  The flak was as much and more accurate than that of Berlin but didn’t last quite as long.  Dick caught flak in the left foot and right leg.  No morphine on the ship and the guy suffered all the way back.  Has he got guts!  Didn’t want to leave his seat.  Guess he’ll be laid up for awhile.  Also lost our navigator, Kreps, who’s going on a lead crew.  Mac had a close one today.  Leaned over to take a picture and a piece came through where his head had been.  The Good Lord was surely with him.

Oct. 19 
Oak Leaf Cluster
Ship – 815
Alt. Bomb. – 29,100 ft
Take-Off – 0920
Land – 1600
On O2 – 5-1/2 hrs
Temp. - 46? below 0? F
Bomb. Load – 1500 lb. Incend, 3500 lb. G.P.’s.
Ludwigshaefen
We flew our first one today since Ames got hit and since we’ve been in the 351st.  They briefed us for 230 guns at the target but the whole continent was under 10/10 overcast, and the flak didn’t find us.  They got on the group next to us tho’ and really poured it on.  We went over the target at almost 30,000 which is several thousand feet higher than usual so that might have accounted for some of the inaccuracy.  Pretty cold today - - 46? F.  All in all a good one.  Flew with a new co-pilot, nav., bombardier

Oct. 22
Ship – “Glory Bound”
Alt. Bomb. – 27,500 ft
Take-Off – 1015
Land – 1645
On O2 – 5 hrs
Temp. – 35 degrees F
Bomb. Load – 3500 lb. demo 2,000 Incend
Today, we had the marshalling yds. at Munster but again we had to do the job PFF through 10/10 cloud.  It was a milk run but I doubt if we did any good.  My heated suit didn’t get working until we got over the target so I had a pretty cold time of it.  There was a little flak but very inaccurate.  There were  a  lot of “bugs” in this new ship of ours but maybe we can work ‘em out.  This was No. 13.

Oct 26
Ship – “Glory Bound”
Alt. Bomb. – 28,000 ft
Take-Off – 0810
Land – 
On O2 – 
Temp. – 
Bomb. Load –
Today we bombed an electrical power plant and rail yards at Hanover.  There was very little flak in the target area and was very inaccurate again.  Our flak carpet seems to be doing a good job because the flak hasn’t been in there for the last three missions.  But as long as we do the damage, I’m satisfied.  However, we seldom get to do any visual jobs lately and I don’t have much faith in our PFF accuracy.  Ames is flying with us again now and it really feels swell having him back in that cockpit with Charley.

Nov 2
Ship – “Glory Bound”
Alt. Bomb. – 27,000 ft
Take-Off – 0715
Land – 
On O2 – 4-1/2 hrs
Temp. – 41 degrees
Bomb. Load – 5.000 lb. demo 
Today was a rough one.  We went back to Merzbourg and the flak was worse than before.  We got a direct hit against my armor plating in the waist and ripped up our stabilizer and about 12 feet of aluminum off the side of the ship averaging about a foot wide.  I guess the Lord took care of me.  I changed to the right waist enroute to the Dutch coast which probably saved my life.  Then I threw the extra equipment bag up against the fuselage which caught several pieces of flak coming at me.  Everyone says that I’m the luckiest guy in the world to be alive tonight and I believe it.

Nov 6
Ship – 936
Alt. Bomb. – 23,300 ft
Take-Off – 0725
Land – 1405
On O2 – 4-1/2 hrs
Temp. – 35  F
Bomb. Load – 5000 lbs. G.P.’s
Had an easy one today.  Had an airfield on the German peninsula in the North Sea for our target.  Neumunster was the place.  Flew an old crate with 84 missions on it.  This was the first time the 8th has been there, I think.  There was hardly no flak but a few J.P.’s were in the vicinity.  Didn’t like this ship as the chaff chute was in the waist, forward of the armor plating so I had no protection.  Glad we had an easy one for that last one was too rough!  Received my first cluster today.

Nov 9
Ship – 295
Alt. Bomb. – 24,000 ft
Take-Off – 0650
Land – 1320
On O2 – 3-1/2 hrs
Temp. – 40 F
Bomb. Load – 6,000 lbs. G.P.s
We were briefed to bomb a fort (?) today, one of the ones guarding Metz, in support of the ground troops.  However, we couldn’t do it visually so we continued on to the secondary target at Saurbrucken.  HI the marshalling yards PFF.  Think we hit it.  It was a pretty good mission.  The crew in our bks. Went down at Ludwigshafen a day or so ago.  I’ll be glad when they fill up those beds.  They were a really swell bunch of guys and I really hope they’re all o.k. Haven’t heard yet.

Nov 16
Oak Leaf Cluster
Ship – “Glory Bound”
Alt. Bomb. – 21,500 ft
Take-Off – 0740
Land – 1530
On O2 – 4 hrs
Temp. – -49  F
Bomb. Load – 7,800 lbs. frag (30-260-Pounders)
Had another tactical today in support of the doughboys trying to take Ershwillen near Aachen.  There were 1,400 Forts and Libs from the 8th, and the RAF, followed by the 9th A.F., Marauders and Havocs.  Guess we fairly smeared the joint.  The guys were going to start a big push as soon as we cleared out.  Those frag bombs really should have done a job.  They threw up a little feeble flak but couldn’t find our group.  This one put us over the hump-!!!$**!

Nov. 26
Ship – “Glory Bound”
Alt. Bomb. – 25,000 ft
Take-Off – 0830
Land – 1400
On O2 – 3-1/2 hrs
Temp. – 41?
Bomb. Load – 6,000 G.P.’s
Had a fairly easy one today.  Bombed railroad yards at Hamm.  They threw up a good bit of flak but didn’t find us much.  Our C.O., Col Emberson went down but heard he landed safely in Belgium.  We’re expecting fighters more and more now for they’ve really been coming up in strength.  However, they’re mostly concentrated around oil and when they hit an outfit they usually take a lot of ships.  Saw a couple of jets or V-2’s going up today.  Look plenty potent – couldn’t tell what they were exactly, tho.

Nov. 30
Ship – “Glory Bound”
Alt. Bomb. – 28,800 ft
Take-Off – 0820
Land – 1635
On O2 – 5 hrs
Temp. – 44
Bomb. Load – 4,500 G.P.’s
Back to Merzbourg.  Looks as if we are going to keep going back to this one until we hit it once and for all.  They have twice as much flak as “Big B” now.  385 guns at target not counting in and out.  One outfit really got shot up.  Some ships missing.  Four men injured, 1 killed.  Friend of Jonesy our Navigator.  Our No. 3 started cutting up just before target and we fell behind the formation and bombed there.  There was a ship right over us until just before bombs away.  De we sweat!!  Rough!!

Dec. 2
Ship – “Glory Bound”
Alt. Bomb. – 24,600 ft
Take-Off – 0900
Land – 1515
On O2 – 2-1/2 hrs
Temp. – 30 F
Bomb. Load – 6,000 G.P.’s
Recalled when we ran into a front just before the I.P.  We were 26 min.  passed the sortie line.

Dec. 4
Ship – “Glory Bound”
Alt. Bomb. – 24,600 ft
Take-Off – 0930
Land – 1700
On O2 – 4-1/2 hrs
Temp. – 36? C
Bomb. Load – 6,000 G.P.’s
The primary target was Cablenz again but the leader decided not to hit it so we went looking for a target of opportunity.  Finally got a visual crack at the city of Friedburg.  Somebody ahead of us got the yards before we bombed.  Good, for I found that we missed the entire town.  Our bombing is getting lousy.  The fighters were up again but didn’t get to us.  The escort was really swell.

Dec. 24
Xmas Eve
Ship – “Glory Bound”
Alt. Bomb. – 26,000 ft
Take-Off – 0915
Land – 
On O2 – 4 hrs
Temp. – 40? C
Bomb. Load – 3800 Frag. (100 lbs)
The fog held us in for several days but today we got off the ground to help the doughboys against the new Jerry counter offensive.  Our primary target was an airfield but we didn’t hit it.  We went over it with our doors opened but we closed them and went on to Kaiserslautern, an important supply center, and hit the marshalling yards.  The flak was really accurate but wasn’t so much.  They knocked one ship out over the line when we went over.  So much of the flak is uncharted now since they’re using railroad cars.  Think we hit the target – Xmas Eve.

Dec. 25
Xmas Day
Oak Leaf Cluster
Ship – “Glory Bound”
Alt. Bomb. – 25,000 ft
Take-Off – 0830
Land – 1505
On O2 – 4 hrs
Temp. – 42? C
Bomb. Load – 3800 Frag (100 lb.)
Today, we had Kaiserslautern again for the “C” target.  Think we took a little longer run on the target and  hit it.  Don’t know if we hit it yesterday yet.  The flak wasn’t quite as accurate as yesterday and we didn’t catch any when we came over the lines.  Most of the Continent that we flew over was covered with snow.  Really having a “White Christmas”.  We set a new record, around 2,000 heavies, for the 8th and wouldn’t be surprised if we did it again today.  Also have had two good visual days so should have had good bombing results – Xmas Day.

Dec. 28
Ship – “Glory Bound”
Alt. Bomb. – 25,000 ft
Take-Off – 0920
Land – 1615
On O2 – 4-1/2 hrs
Temp. – 38? C
Bomb. Load – 5,000 G.P.’s
This one today was a good mission as far as we were concerned but we bombed Koblenz, our “C” target, through 10/10 overcast.  I doubt if we hit it if our bombing was anything like our previous PFF jobs.  The flak was there but don’t think that it touched our formation.  Fighters have been coming up but they haven’t yet hit the 100th.  It’s really the truth about the “more missions, the more sweat.”  Tomorrow is a stand down for the 351st crews.

Dec. 30
Ship – “Glory Bound”
Alt. Bomb. – 25,000 ft
Take-Off – 
Land – 
On O2 –
Temp. – 
Bomb. Load – 6,000 lbs. G.P.’s
Kassel again today.  PFF bombing and not very much flak.  Doubt however, if we hit it.  Was a pretty good one.  They still can’t hit us very well when they can’t see us.

Dec. 31
Ship – “Glory Bound”
Alt. Bomb. – 25,500 ft
Take-Off – 0755
Land – 1540
On O2 – 4-1/2 hrs
Temp. – 46
Bomb. Load – 5,000 lbs. G.P.’s
This was Hamburg and the fighters hit us today.  We turned into the city and came down the Elbe River on the way in.  They got on us with tracking flak and boy they really poured it on for the entire bomb run.  Our wing man went down and carried another crew with him piggy-back.  Then FW 190’s & ME 109’s hit us right after the rally point.  About 25 of them.  I had a few pretty fair shots.  Some of the ships we shot at were seen to go down.  We didn’t claim any.  Our group lost 12 ships.  Our roughest and worse day in 1-1/2 months.
[The following note was taped on top of Dec 31.  “I flew Dec. 27 1944 as co-pilot with Floyd Henderson.  Target Fulda.  Henderson was on our left wing at Hamburg, Dec 31, and was shot down as described in Smitty’s diary.”]

Jan. 2
Ship – 071
Alt. Bomb. – 24,400 ft
Take-Off – 0825
Land – 1525
On O2 – 4 hrs
Temp. – 36
Bomb. Load – 5,000 G.P.’s 1,000 lb./Incend.
Hit a place near Kaiserlauturn named “Bad Kruznach.”  Was really milky.  No flak. Bandits in area but didn’t hit us this time.  We sweat ‘em all more now.

Jan. 5, 45
Ship – 047
Alt. Bomb. – 26,600 ft
Take-Off – 0730
Land – 1930
On O2 – 4-1/2 hrs
Temp. – 50 Cent.
Bomb. Load – 4,000 G.P.’s 1,000 lbs. Incend.
Today we hit the city of Frankfurt visually.  Don’t know about our bombing results but should have been for it was visual.  They flaked us up a little but not very much.  Saw where some group before us really hit a marshalling yard.  Last mission the 100th made there was one of the best patterns the 8th has had.  Saw strike photos myself.  Had to land at Loon Athis, France and refuel.  Somebody started throwing cal. 50’s at us when we came across France after dark.

Jan. 6, 45
Ship – 047
Alt. Bomb. – 25,400 ft
Take-Off – 0810
Land – 1510
On O2 – 4-1/2 hrs
Temp. – 48 Cent.
Bomb. Load – 6,000 lbs. G.P.’s
Anwiller
Today, we bombed this little place.  No results as yet.  Got a little flak from Stuttgart on the way in.  Was a nice milk run.  Nothing worthy of mention.

Jan 7, 45
Ship – 
Alt. Bomb. – 26,000 ft
Take-Off – 0730
Land – 1435
On O2 – 4-1/2 hrs
Temp. – 52 Cent.
Bomb. Load – 6,000 lbs. G.P.’s
Today, they scared us plenty when they briefed us for Cologne.  We bombed it PFF, and the flak wasn’t bad at all.  We sweat fighters every day now.

Jan 14, 45
Ship – 963 (New “Glory Bound”)
Alt. Bomb. – 26,000 ft
Take-Off – 0730
Land – 1530
On O2 – 4 hrs
Temp. – 42 Cent.
Bomb. Load – 6,000 lbs. G.P.’s
Missed this mission along with Kelly and Mac due to circumstances beyond our control.

Jan. 17, 45
Ship – 963
Alt. Bomb. – 25,800 ft
Take-Off – 0815
Land – 1540
On O2 – 5 hrs
Temp. – 46 Cent.
Bomb. Load – 6,000 lbs. G.P.’s
Boy, we really did sweat this one out.  Sending us back to Hamburg on this one was really a low blow.  However, no enemy fighters hit our group.  They routed us better this time and went over the target with 250? M.P.H. ground speed and only got flak for a total of about 5 minutes.  Flak was intense to moderate and accurate.  Was a better mission but we really were sweating.  Got tracking flak along the Elbe River on the way out.
That’s All Brother!!
33
(2 Excused to Uncontrollable Reasons)
1 – Frostbite (grounded)
1 – Delayed U.K. train arrival from Edinburgh

Lt Richard Ames flew Dec 27, 1944 as Co-Pilot with Floyd Herderson.  Target was Fulda.  Henderson was on our left wing at Hamburg (Dec 31, 1944) and was shot down as described in Smittys diary


With some changes, this became a Lead Crew.  On April 3, 1945 this crew's makeup was as follows

Maj. J.B. Milling                      Command Pilot  (351st BS C.O.)
Lt Raymond Wieland              Pilot
Lt Paul Valentine                   Co-Pilot (formation officer)
Lt Pranger                            Navigator
Lt Jack Tolliver                       Bombardier (originally on Lt Joseph King Crew)
T/Sgt David Clowe                 Top Turret Engineer
T/Sgt Arthur Edmonston         Radio Operator Gunner
Lt Ray Decker                        Mickey Operator (originally a Bombardier on Lt Walter Charles Crew, reclassifed to Radar Operator)
S/Sgt Ciaccia                         Waist Gunner
S/Sgt Fred "Tex" Appleby Jr.  Tail Gunner

Glad to see you have put James H Smith in TAPS, well not glad, but you know what I mean. For your info he was of the 351st BS and was a Waist Gunner,flew 33 missions mainly in "Glory Bound".

"Our first mission on my return from leave was a tough one.  There were many flak guns guarding the target and several German fighter airfields near our route to the target.  For this mission there would be a full colonel for division flying in my position.  Out squadron will be flying group lead.  In this position our plane is equiped with Mickey, a through the clouds bombsight.  The target is Nuremberg.  Meteorology has guarenteed a beautiful clear day, all day.  Today, I am supposed to ride in the tail as group fromation control officer. I didn't go there. I told our regular tail gunner to take his normal position.  In case of fighter attack he is the best man for that position.  The flight to the buncer beacon was pleasent and uneventful and the planes formed quickly into formation.  Our group entered the bomber steram on time and in the correct position.  The trip to the target was routine.  The sky was blue and the sun was bright.  The bombing altitude was twenty thousand feet.  This is the lowest I can ever recall going on a bomb run, since I have been with the group.
    When we reached the I.P. and turned on the bomb run, all hell broke lose.  There was heavy flak and German fighters coming in form all over.  I was manning a waist gun.  The next thing I remember was a big bang and the sound of shattering plywood and tin being crumbled up.  On the intercom, the radar operator in the radio room screamed, 'I have been hit.'  He came stumbling through a large hole where the partition and the door to the radio room used to be, between the waist and the radio room. There was a large hole through the radio room floor and the skin of the airplane.  About half of the radio room floor was gone.  The oxygen tanks were located in that area and the shell that hit us blew up the tanks, causing more damage to the plane.  The radio operator, sitting beside the radar operator, was perfectly all right.  I think that was a miracle.  He stayed at his postion and continued on whth his work, with half the radio room gone.
    At this late time on the bomb run, there was no way that we could abort the group lead position.  We had no oxygen and had to breath the air at this altitude.  The atmospher at twentythousand feet is sufficent to survive on without extra oxygen.  However, you would have to restrict your physical activity to an absolute minimum.  If we were to get excited or have physical activity, we could become light headed and even pass out.  It appeared to us that the Mickey operator had some small pieces of flak in the calf of his leg.  We made him as comfortable as we could back in the waist.  Our lives had been spared by the low altitude for this mission.  Had we been at twenty six or thirty thousand feet, where most of the missions I had been on were flown, we would have had to abort the formation and dive for a lower altitued.  Leaving the safety fo the group fire power would have given the fighters easy access to our crippled B-17. 
    As we started our long let down on the return trip, the lower the altitued, the easier it was to breath.  We had radioed ahead and after landing there was an ambulance waitinf for the Mickey operator.  He had some small pieces of metal removed from his leg and there was no after effects.  When he was back on his feet, the public relations officer had the radio operator and the radar operator stand on the ground with their heads and shoulders up through the hole into the radio room for a picture. 
    Once again everything worked out to our best advantage.   A hit a few feet in any direction would have been a tragic disaster.  Reality agin, that this is war, that men and and equipment are expendable.  The Air Force doctrin, 'We never miss a target because of enemy opposition.'


Hope the information wasn't too long.  Harry Valentine

MEMO 2:

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ID: 1221