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 Col S. G. Passen photographed shortly before his retirement in 1972. Passen was the 418th Command Navigator. Detailed Information 


Comments1: 24 MAR 45 ZIEGENHAIN



Lt John P. Ernst                   P   POW    3/2/45  BERLIN  Taps 1993
Lt James P. Olmsted           CP   SWA   10/1/45  COLOGNE sn# 0-767625
Lt Seymour G. Passen       NAV   CPT    24/3/45  ZIEGHEHAIN
Lt Robert J. Doucette       BOM   POW  5/11/44  LUDWIGSHAVEN (With crew of O.E. Hopkins)
T/Sgt. Charles H. Webber  ROG   CPT     3/2/45  BERLIN  
T/Sgt Duyger C. West       TTE   POW   3/2/45  BERLIN 
S/Sgt Warren Winters       BTG   POW    3/2/45  BERLIN 
Cpl Orrell J. Brooks  WG     NOC
S/Sgt George Windisch      TG   CPT      3/2/45  BERLIN 
Cpl Anthony A. Covino       WG   NOC

351st Sqdn. Crew, as above, joined the 100th Group on 23 JUL 44.  After 7 missions they became a lead crew.  
Lt. Passen became Squadron Nav. for 351st Sqdn.
On Jan 10, 1945 Lt James Olmsted was seriously wounded in action.  Sent to 65th General Hospital.  Achieved rank of  Capt. Did not return to combat.  Was sent home.  

Dad was shot (took flak from blast above fuselage) on the 25th mission.  Will have to look up the bomb target.  Plane dropped out of formation after bombs away and returned speedily to base.  Dad was hospitalized when John Ernst crew was shot down over Berlin.  I think they flew another plane when the did the 30th Berlin run.  Remember that Rosenthal (higher ranked than John) was with them, as co-pilot on lead crew, took dad's place on that one.  So dad, James Olmsted, was not on that mission and thus was not caught behind enemy lines like Doug was on that last Berlin mission. He was not a POW, or get to the underground and brought out.  He was in the hospital recovering from surgery.  Dad had damage to his left hand, nose, and left temple from flak burst.  I still have the piece of flak.
I will send you the list of missions.  When dad was injured and what position they flew.  Most missions were as lead crew, either squadron, high or low command, in the group.  That being the case, they always were the target ship for the German Nazi gunnery to take aim.  Dad said after the British escort fighters would drop off a hundred miles past the Channel, German Luftwaffe would come up but out of range of the turret gunner machine guns, never fire a shot, and fly at altitude and radio down the elevation so that gunnery would always fix on the lead crew.  This was typically more accurate than their radar at the time (if they had radar then, I think they did by 1944-45).  That is why flak field was so black and dense, and why John would always try to outfox the gunnery sets by shifting elevation.  Even when they began the bomb runs.  Command at base, always established that elevation for bomb drops to get the most accurate pattern, but pilots like John knew the guns were targeted at the right elevation.  So, they often changed up dependent upon flak filed pattern.  He was always the rebel, but the best pilot!  Not sure what they did when Rosenthal was on board, the day Doug went down.  Dad always said that there where fights, in the cockpit, on that last mission according to John when he visited dad on hospital visits and when he'd come down to stay with us in Pacific Beach in the 50s.
Rosenthal was Jewish (as was Passin), and they did not want to get caught behind enemy lines and be sent to concentration camps, though others were anyway (Jewish and non Jewish) so Rosenthal did not want John to go down behind enemy lines, and he and John fought over how long to stay with the ship trying to get it further into allied held territory, or so the story goes.  There are lots of things that went down between John and my dad that never went into the "storybooks of glory" and all that stuff.  Historians would have a field day!
So, that is what I know.  I have a few other stories, and things stated in letters between my dad and my mom, Kay.  Someday I'll dig though those letters to read about things.  Can't do it now.
And that is why Dad is not listed on that last 30th mission of the Ernst crew, that Doug is mentioned in.
We'll stay in touch.
Jim Olmsted Jr.

When this crew went down on 3/2/44, the crew list was as follows:  MACR #12046, A/C#44 8379.  MICRO - FICHE #4417

Maj Robert Rosenthal           Command Pilot     Landed in Russian Lines
Capt John Ernst                        P                  POW
1st Lt Arthur I.Jacobson          CP                  POW  (from Crew of Lt. G. Brown)
1st Lt Stewart J. Gillison      Command NAV      POW   (from Crew of Lt W. Terminello)
1st Lt Louis C. Chappel           NAV                 KIA     (from Crew of Lt W.J. Wilson)
1st Lt Robert H. Stropp       Radar NAV          Landed in Russian Lines
1st Lt Eugene E. Lockhart     BOM                  KIA   (from the Crew of Lt Oren Hopkins)
T/Sgt Charles H. Webber     ROG                Landed in Russian Lines 
T/Sgt Dugger C. West        TTE                  POW
S/Sgt Warren Winters         WG                  POW
S/Sgt G.A. Windisch            TG                  Landed in Russian Lines
Ernst's leg amputated  in German Hospital night of 3/2/45 & he was soon exchanged.

See "CONTRAILS" p.131 & S.O.C. p.95. Also p.219/223 of "FLYING FORTRESS" by E.Jablonski.

EYEWITNESS REPORT from MACR #  "A/C #44 8379 was hit by flak,reported to be a ground 
rocket a few seconds before bombs away. A/C continued on run and dropped bombs.  Fire and 
dense white smoke was seen in the fuselage and bomb bay, including the cockpit.  Bomb bay 
doors closed and then reopened.  Pilot opened his window and peeled gently off to the 
right,  directing deputy leader to take over on VHF.   A/C headed NE and flew level for a few 
moments while six members bailed out (3 appeared to come from waist or tail and 3 from 
bomb bay..There was a small explosion in #3 engine nacelle and thd A/C headed down, burning 
and beginning to spin when last seen at 15/000 feet.  Observers believe entire crew had an 
excellent chance to bail out."

TAPS: 1993 
JOHN ERNST. Last month, in California. As S.J.
Passen put it, "Congestive heart failure got him his final
flight to the Great Airfield in the sky." 351st Squadron.
With Bob Rosenthal as command pilot, John was the
lead pilot of the entire 8th Air Force on the February 3,
1945, maximum effort to Berlin. Shot down by flak,
seven of the crew became German prisoners, with one
of them Iynched by civilians. Three were picked up by
Russian soldiers. As he left the plane, John caught his
leg on the jagged edge of the bomb bay door, cutting it
so badly that it had to be amputated by a Russian doc-
tor without anesthesia. About him, Bob Rosenthal wrote,
"I regard John as one of the most skillful, courageous
and dedicated men I ever encountered." (Wayne Page,
Bud Vieth)

First 26 Missons of John Ernst

8/5/44  Mageburg
8/11/44 Paris - VillaCoubleu
8/15/44 Venlo
8/25/44 Politz
8/26/44 Long Island - Brest
8/27/44 Berlin  (Recalled at 31,000 feet)
9/12/44 Fulda
9/18/44 Warsaw (Russia Mirgorod - Ukraine)
9/19/44 Szolnok (Hungray) Deputy Lead with Scott)
9/22/44 Foggia (Return to England, no mission credit)
10/9/44 Mainz (Wing Lead)
10/12/44 Bremen (High Squadron)
10/19/44 Mannheim (Group Lead)
10/26/44 Hannover (High Squadron)
11/6/44 Neumunster (Group Lead)
11/9/44 Saarbrucken (Group Lead)
11/30/44 Leuna  (High Squadron)
12/2/44 Koblenz (High Squadron)
12/3/44 Friedburg (Wing Lead)
12/11/44 Koblenz (Group Lead)
12/18/44 Mainz (High Squadron)
12/24/44 Biblis (High Squadron)
12/27/44 Fulda (Group Lead)
12/28/44 Koblenz (Group Lead)
12/29/44 Frankfurt (Low Squadron)
1/10/45 Cologne (High Squadron) (Lt Olmsted wounded)
2/3/45  BERLIN (3rd Air Division Lead) SHOT DOWN 

Our Pilot (Capt Ernst) told a story on himself. He made lead crew on his 10th Mission.  While taking lead crew training, he was returning to base but in the co-pilot seat. As they pulled up to the hardstand and got the signal to stop, he reached down to pull the parking breaks.  Instead he mistakenly pulled the fire extinguisher for the engine.  Fire retardent poured all over the right wing.  The crew had a good laugh over that...Capt Jim Olmsted


     Excerpts: Letter to pw 23 Feb 1993

... First of all  I'll explain what my duties were as Command Navigator..
It was the duty of the Com Nav to assemble the aircraft around the Buncher (Radio Beacon) for a starter.. He had the expertise to control the timing, radius of circling, etc. to get the various aircraft and squadrons together so as to complete the assembly of the group.. It involved circling, climb and zig zagging to lose or gain time, in order to get the group to the various bomber stream assembly  points  at  the  planned  times..  This  had  to  be  done precisely so that the proper time intervals firmed up between the various Groups of aircraft.

Once enroute, the Crew Navigator handled the duties of getting the airplane to the target zone.  The Command Navigator just followed along and tried to be helpful to the Crew Nav..

Addition to MEMO : (refers to extract from Sqd 

When we experienced our second fire, we were given the word to Prepare to Bail Out.. By procedure, I was to be the first one out.. As such, I disconnected from the ship's intercom and crouched at the escape hatch waiting for someone to push me out.. After a wait of what seemed to be ten minutes, but wasn't,  I got pulled
back from the hatch and was told we weren't going...

Correction to MEMO :  (refers to extract from Sqd 

George Rhoades (the regular Crew Navigator) may not have had maps but I did... They included Sectional type charts and a long range chart.. I used the long range chart to give the pilot (James S. Seamans) the heading to the emergency field which I had previously marked on the chart during mission briefing.. As we were heading for the battle line  I observed the launch of a V 2 rocket from a clearing in a section of woods.. The sectional  charts were so detailed that I was able to pinpoint the exact launch site.. When they started to debrief us at the emergency field, the debriefing Officer left us in a rush when I gave him the info on the V 2 launch site.. I guessed he was getting the information to the P 47 boys !

I had the feeling that the crankshaft was broken on the #2.. At times it must have disconnected and the prop windmilled without 
vibration.. At other times it really shook up the aircraft.. I had moved to the main cabin and was sitting on the deck with my back 
against the bulkhead of the radio room and with my feet bracing against the ball turret mount,  when the prop flew off on final 
approach.  I went back into the plane when the dust had settled and saw that the prop had come through the nose over the nav table and crushed the "G" box.. I don't think it was salvageable...

All in all it was an experience one doesn't look forward to repeating.   I flew thousands of hours afterwards and had a few 
close calls but nothing quite as excitinq as that mission..

When we finished debriefing, Emberson (EMBERSON ,C.B. LT COL), Frye (FRYE, E.L. LT), and I decided to catch a ride to Brussels and see the sights...We managed to get back to the emergency field in time to get our ride back to the 100th..

Frye was the Radar Navigator and as such flew with various crews as I did.. Learned at our "91" reunion Fyre had committed suicide many years ago but did not learn why..

George Rhoades (RHOADES, G.C. LT) was at our reunion (1991) along with Bill Brice (BRICE ,  W.R. LT).. Rhoades is an advanced case of Parkinson's Disease and was in bad shape.. He left the reunion early.. Bill Brice looked and felt good..

I'm in good shape for touching on 70 this coming April (1993).. Did  a total of 30 years in the active and reserve Air Force.. Finished up in " 72 " after having done some time over Viet Nam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand..

2nd Lt James S.Seamans       P CPT   26/11/44  TARGET WAS HAMM
2nd Lt Clyde W.Lollis           CP CPT  26/11/44
2nd Lt George L.Rhoades   NAV CPT   26/11/44 This is on of the 100th's better known crews  
2nd Lt William R.Brice        BOM CPT   26/11/44 . See Passen and Rhoades Memo Files..
 S/Sgt Herbert A.Grand     ROG CPT   26/11/44
 S/Sgt Paul A.Ross            TTE CPT   26/11/44
   Sgt Homer Goodman      BTG CPT  26/11/44
   Sgt Snthony T.Schimmel  WG  NOC   '
   Sgt Edward J.Tatro          TG  CPT    26/11/44
   Sgt John J.Sheehan        WG  NOC 

418th Sqdn. Crew,as above,joined the 100th Group on 4/7/44. It appears as Crew #85 on Roster 
OF  3/8/44 and as a PFF crew on 13/9/44. On 26/11/44 thls PFF crew was as follows on a mission 
to Hamm:

    Lt.Col Channing Emberson    Air Commander
   Capt James Seamans P
  1st Lt Clyde W.Lollis  CP (Formation Officer)
   Capt George L.Rhoades Lead NAV
   Capt William R.Brice Lead BOM
 1st Lt Seymour Passen Command NAV
 1st Lt Earl Frye  Radar NAV
 T/Sgt Paul A.Ross  TTE
 T/Sgt Herbert A.Grand ROG
 S/Sgt Homer Goodman RWG
 S/Sgt Edward J.Tatro LWG

LT. J.D.  BOHRER                 RADAR NAVIGATOR
LT. D.D. CRICHTON            BOM  FEH
CPL PAUL M. NEFF               WG FEH




                                          HEADQUARTERS 3D AIR DIVISION
                                            Office of the Commanding General
                                                             APO 559
General Orders                                                                                                                  24 February 1945
NUMBER 267                                                                                                                            SECTION:
AWARDS OF THE DISTINGUISHED FLYING CROSS.....................................................................I
AWARDS OF THE BRONZE STAR MEDAL....................................................................................III
I. Under the provisions of Army Regulation 600-45, 22 in September 1943, and pursuant to authority contained in letter 200.6, HQ Eighth Air Force, dated 23 September 1944, subject: "awards and decorations," the Distinguished Flying Cross is awarded to the following named officers for extraordinary achievement as set forth in the citation,

Seymour G Passen, 0719999, First Lieutenant, Army Air Forces, United States Army. For extraordinary achievement while serving as lead navigator of group and squadron formations on heavy bombardment missions against the enemy. Lieutenant Passen demonstrated exceptional proficiency in guiding his formations to the assigned targets in devastating attacks against Mainz, Germany, 9 October 1944; and Hamm, Germany, 26 November 1944 despite adverse weather conditions and anti- aircraft fire on each occasion. The outstanding devotion to duty and expert navigational technique displayed by lieutenant Passen on these occasions reflect the highest credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of United States.

(Courtesy of 486th Bomb Group website and Jack O'Leary)






 From left: Seymour Passen, Leo Kimbell and William Urban in the 351st area at Thorpe Abbotts. (100th Photo Archives) 

Thank you so much for the add!  Here is a photo of me with 351st Lead Navigator Sy Passen sometime in the mid 90s.  Great honor to wear his A2 jacket!!  Incredible guy. Courtesy of William George



Crew 1

ID: 4021