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Personnel

Lt

Gerald J. KLECKER

Assigned to the 100th Bombardment Group
Location:
Unit: 350th Bombardment Squadron
Rank:
Position: Navigator

Additional 100th Service Notes

Status: CPT
Comments: 10 JAN 45 COLOGNE

Comments and Notes

Memo 1:
CREW

1st Lt Thomas I.Anderson P CPT 10/1/45 COLOGNE
2nd Lt William M.Fratus CP CPT 10/1/45 COLOGNE
2nd Lt Gerald J.Klecker NAV CPT 10/1/45 COLOGNE
1st Lt Frederick H.Schmidt BOM CPT 10/1/45 COLOGNE
T/Sgt Glenn A.Smiley ROG CPT 10/1/45 COLOGNE
T/Sgt Michael Garemko TTE CPT 10/1/45 COLOGNE
S/Sgt Angelo J.Cioffi WG CPT 10/1/45 COLOGNE
S/Sgt Lewis E.Herron TG CPT 10/1/45 COLOGNE sn# 35708020
Sgt Anthony P.DeMarco BTG RFS
Sgt Charles R.Cramer WG XFR To 9th Air Foce when reduced to 9 man crew. Flew in B-26

350th Sqdn.Crew,as above,joined 100th Group on 2/8/44. Crew roster of
30/9/44 shows this crew as #43 but Demarco was replaced at BTG by either
T/Sgt W.G.Jarrell sn# 14049842 & S/Sgt C.L.Doyle.

Crew flew "HEAVEN SENT"

Michael Garemko entered the Royal Canadian Air Force in early 1941 and was sent by train to Toronto for basic training at Mannign Depot. He was going through advanced training in Winnipeg, Manitoba in early 1941 when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. He never completed pilot training in RCAF but transferred to USAAF and went to Officer Cadet Pilot Training. He washed out as a pilot and without a college degree, he could not qualify for Bombardier or Navigational training. His love of the air kept him in the Air Corp and he went to Gunnery training/Engineering School. He became a TTE and flew on "Heaven Sent" and completed 34 Missions. Garemko was also responsible for painting the aircraft nose art and A-2 jackets.

The only story that he (S/Sgt Garemko, TTE) frequentl recalled was when they were on the shuttle they were near Warsaw and an FW190 came in so close that he flew between the Heaven Sent and their wingman and by the time my dad got around on him the adjacent B-17 was more likely to be the recipient of the damage than the FW so held his fire. This got him a pretty stiff chewing out from Tom Andersen the pilot and it seemed to always bother him. I think my dad felt that it was a judgement call and he had made the right call but that he wasn't vindicated by the pilot. They landed in Poltava and my Dad could speak a little russian and he was able to cajole a bottle of Vodka from the locals for the crew. Not sure what he gave up in return???I am hoping to start a deeper dialog with the remaining crew to get more information before it is all gone. Thank you for your interest and any help you give me in verifying the DFC (or putting the issue to bed once and for all) will be deeply appreciated.
Thanks again
Michael Garemko, Jr.

Letter from Lewis Herron to Paul West; 31 Oct 1993

Lewis E. Herron
Route 3 Box 101 A
Leicester, NC 28748
(704) 683-16S5

October 31, 1993


My name is Lewis E. Herron and I was the tail gunner on the crew of
'Heaven Sent" of the 350th Bomb Squadron, of the 100th Bomb Group,
8th Air Force. I am going to try and give a brief history of our
tour of duty, as I remember it after 50 years. I am also enclosing
some pictures.

Our crew members were: Thomas Anderson, Pilot; Bill Fratus, Co-
Pilot; Fred Schmidt, Bombardier and Gerald Klecker was Navigator.
Mike Garemko was our Engineer and Glenn Smiley was Radio Operator.
Our Gunners were Angelo Cioffi, Waist Gunner and I (Lew Herron) was
tail Gunner. Gerald Easy was the Ball Turret Gunner.

We flew our first combat mission on August 24, 1944 to Rhuland,
Germany. In early September we flew missions on the 8th, 9th and
10th. We were in luck and did not fly on September 11th because
our Bombardier was ill. September 11th was the day that the 350th
Squadron was wiped out and the 100th lost 13 air planes. It was a
lonely feeling being the only crew in the quarters that night, as
the other four crews who lived there were shot down that day. At
2 o'clock the next morning the orderly opened our door and when I
asked him who he was look for he said, "The Anderson Crew". We
flew that day and the three missions after that, which included the
shuttle to Russia and Italy.

On September 17, 1944, our Squadron Commander, Major Robert
Rosenthal pinned the Air Medal on the members of our crew.
(picture enclosed). This was the day before we flew the first leg
of the shuttle mission to drop supplies to the Polish underground
in Warsaw, Poland. As I remember, in addition to our regular crew
we carried a Ground Mechanic, who was flying his first mission. We
went in over Warsaw at 10,000 feet and received extremely heavy
anti-aircraft fire. As we were leaving the drop area, the German
Fighters came at us but the U. S. P-51 Fighters prevented them from
getting close enough to do any damage. After leaving Warsaw we
flew on to Mirogrod, Russia. The flying time was 11 hours and 20
minutes.

After we landed in Russia our Flight Engineer, Michael Garemko, who
could speak some Russian, started talking to one of the local
soldiers (Picture enclosed, Mike is in the center and Bill Fratus,
Co-Pilot is in the foreground). We had a pleasant surprise that
night when we entered the Chow Hall. There sat the Flight Surgeon
with our 2 ounces of bourbon, just like it was at Thorpe Abbots
after a regular mission. The Commanding Officer had been very
thoughtful to bring him and several cases of bourbon along on the
trip .

page 2

Our next leg of the shuttle was to Budapest, Hungary where we
bombed a railroad bridge over the Danube river. From there we flew
to Italy where we landed at an American Air Base near Foggia. The
enlisted men along with our Co-Pilot, Bill Fratus took a sight
seeing trip to Foggia the next day.

The flight back to England was rather uneventful. The only thing
I remember was flying over Rome and seeing the Colosseum.

Our crew flew three missions to Merseberg, Germany, which was the
most heavily defended target in Europe. Intelligence reported that
there were 1,000 88mm guns around the synthetic oil plant, which
was our target. On November 2, 1944 the Third Division lost 40
planes over Merseburg and when we went back on Novemher 30, 1944,
the division lost 56 planes. As I recall this was all due to anti-
aircraft fire and not from enemy fighters.

Our crew also flew on Christmas Eve 1944, which was the first day
the weather broke during the Battle of the of the Bulge. Reports
said that this was the largest raid on Germany with 2,000 bombers
in the air. Our group led the Third Division and I remember that
afternoon on our return to England, there were still groups
crossing the English Channel on their way to Germany. We did not
fly the mission to Hamburg on December 30, when the Hundredth lost
10 aircraft.

Our last mission was January 10, 1945, and we were the first crew
in the 350th Squadron to complete a tour of missions between August
1944 and January 1945. The Enlisted Men's Mess Hall had a special
table called the "Lucky Bastards' Table", complete with a checkered
table cloth, China and silverware. That is where the Mess Sergeant
served our specially prepared meal for our entire crew the next
night.

This completes this report of my remembrances of Lt. Thomas
Anderson's Crew.

Lewis E. Herron

Missions of S/Sgt Lewis E. Herron (mpf 2002)

# DATE MISSION TIME

10/08/44 PRACTICE MISSION 5:10
11/08/44 PRACTICE MISSION 3:30
11/08/44 2ND PRACTICE MISSION THAT DAY 3:15
12/08/44 PRACTICE MISSION 5:05
16/08/44 PRACTICE MISSION 4:55
17/08/44 PRACTICE MISSION 3:20
17/08/44 2ND PRACTICE MISSION THAT DAY 4:30
19/08/44 PRACTICE MISSION 3:10
23/08/44 PRACTICE MISSION 2:25
1. 24/08/44 RUHLAND 8:20
2. 25/08/44 POLITZ 9:10
3. 30/08/44 BREMEN 7:05
31/08/44 PRACTICE 3:50
4. 1/09/44 MAINZ 7:10
5. 3/09/44 BREST 7:35
6. 8/09/44 MAINZ 7:15
7. 9/09/44 DUSSELDORF 6:25
8. 10/09/44 NURNBURG 8:00
9. 12/09/44 MAGDEBURG 7:50
10. 13/09/44 SINDELFINGEN 7:10
15/09/44 "OPERATION FRANTIC" RECALL 6:10
11. 18/09/44 WARSAW (2ND RUSSION SHUTTLE) 11:10
12. 19/09/44 SZOLNOK 7:50
22/09/44 RETURN FROM ITALY 9:05
13. 28/09/44 MERSEBURG 8:15
14. 30/09/44 BIELEFELD 6:25
15. 2/10/44 KASSEL 7:20
16. 3/10/44 NURNBURG 8:20
17. 5/10/44 HANDORF (RECALL) 5:55
18. 6/10/44 BERLIN 7:50
19. 7/10/44 BOHLEN 8:50
20. 9/10/44 WEISBADEN & MAINZ 6:40
10/10/44 PRACTICE MISSION 3:15
11/10/44 PRACTICE MISSION 1:00
21/10/44 PRACTICE MISSION 3:45
22/10/44 PRACTICE MISSION OR ABORT 2:40
28/10/44 PRACTICE MISSION 4:10
29/10/44 PRACTICE MISSION 3:35
21. 2/11/44 MERSEBURG 8:00
22. 6/11/44 NEUMUNSTER 7:15
23. 9/11/44 SAARBRUCKEN 7:30
20/11/44 PRACTICE MISSION 4:50
24. 29/11/44 HAMM 6:30
25. 30/11/44 MERSEBURG 8:30
8/12/44 PRACTICE MISSION 2:30
9/12/44 PRACTICE TAKEOFF AND LANDINGS :40
26. 11/12/44 GIESSEN 7:30
13/12/44 OSNABRUCK (RECALL, BAD WEATHER) 5:50
14/12/44 PRACTICE MISSION 1:40
27. 24/12/44 KAISERLAUTERN 8:00
28. 27/12/44 FULDA 7:50
29. 29/12/44 FRANKFURT 7:50
30. 30/12/44 KASSEL 7:30
31. 5/01/45 FRANKFURT 10:15
32. 7/01/45 COLOGNE 8:00
33. 10/01/45 COLOGNE 7:00



Pic1: William. G.(Easy) Jarrell S/Sgt AF 14049842 (Heaven Sent) Ball Turret Gunner.
Pic2: Back Row Right as you're Looking W.G. Jarrell, Kneeling: L to R: Mike Garemko(Eng), T.I. Anderson(Pilot Cmdr),Fred Schmidt(Bomb), Unknown, Gerald Klecker(Nav). Dad couldn’t remember who was who, but one waist gunner was named Angelo Cioffi, Glenn Smiley was the Radio Operator. He flew 14 missions on Heaven Sent. 13 before the aircraft had a name. He was assigned to the crew because the Ball Turret Gunner that came over with the Crew, after talking with the others, decided he didn't want the job.
Pic3: The Ground Crew. Dad couldn't remember their names.
Pic4: L to R: 1st Lt T.I. Anderson, 2nd Lt William Fratus, and 2nd Lt Fred Schmidt
Pic5: L to R: 1st Lt. T.I. Anderson, 1st Lt Fred Schmidt, and 2nd Lt William Fratus

Dad was a spare gunner before being assigned to Lt T.I. Anderson's Crew. He Bailed out of Lil' Casino when it ditched after being shot down over Holland. Only mission he flew on it as a waist gunner. My dad's first 5 missions were on Roger's Raider, then that crew went home. All were as a waist gunner.

He Flew to the following targets: Germany: Berlin, Bremen, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Hanover, Magdeburg, Merseburg, Munich, Munster, Regensburg, Schweinfurt, Stuttgart, and Wilhelmshaven. France: Brest, Normandy, St. Nazaire, and Near St. Lo. Norway: Trondheim. Russian Shuttle Mission: Poltava(sp), after dropping arms in Poland.
Bombers he was a spare Gunner on: 418th: Royal Flush (2:waist), Messie Bessie (1;Waist): 350th: Rogers Raiders (5; Waist), Lil' Casino (2;Waist), Big Casino (2; Ball Turret), Fireball Empress (2; Ball Turret), Fireball Express (2; Tail, Waist), and Heaven Sent (14; Ball Turret), Fletcher’s Castoria (1;waist) He thinks this is right, the only two he was sure of was Rogers Raiders and Heaven Sent. He said the numbers should be right for the others but wasn't sure.

Bill Jarrell Jr.


UNAME = Michael A. Garemko, Jr.
CONNECTION = I am a relative of a 100th veteran
COMMENTS = Remarks made by
Michael A. Garemko, Jr.

At the funeral of his father,

June 26, 2002

The poet said, “No man should die unwept, unhonored, and unsung”.

If you met my father on the street, there was a better than 50/50 chance that within 10 minutes you would know that he had flown 34 combat missions in a B-17G with the Bloody Hundredth Bomb Group. I don’t think he ever missed a chance to tell people about this. I have often wondered why this was so and after much reflection I believe that I now have a pretty good understanding. Like so many men of his generation, the experiences he endured between 1940 and 1945 shaped everything that was to come after for him.

My uncle Bud, who also passed away earlier this year, was a great pal of my Dad’s before the war. They were both interested in flying and they both set out to obtain their pilot’s licenses in the late 1930’s. I can only go by the stories, but it sounded like they were both quite dashing and daring. I hear tales of flying under the Portland Bridge and the Charter Oak Bridge in Hartford.

Dad was quick to laugh in those days and with great reflexes and outstanding athleticism, he was well equipped to become a pilot. But a little guy with a funny moustache in Europe had other plans. It was obvious to my father that war was surely coming and he didn’t want to spend it as a “ground-pounder”. The Royal Canadian Air Force had a severe need to increase its pilot corps to prepare for war and, best of all they were willing to give guys without college degrees a chance to become pilots. That was all my dad needed to hear, and he enlisted early in 1941 and was sent by train to Toronto to basic training at Manning Depot. He was going through advanced training in Winnipeg Manitoba when in December 1941 the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, and just as it did last year in 9/11, this country underwent a sea change. The game had been changed, and my father knew he would want to serve with his country and the US forces. The Canadians discharged him from the King’s service and he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps and he was accepted as an Officer Cadet in Pilot Training.

I never really knew why, but he washed out of Pilot Training, still his love of flying kept him in the Air Corps. Without a college degree, he wasn’t eligible for Navigator or Bombardier training, and so he was sent to Gunnery School and Aircraft Engine School where he gained the skills to become the top turret gunner and Flight Engineer on a B-17.

By the time my dad was in combat it wasn’t uncommon to mount raids with over 1000 bombers in the sky. That is 10,000 men! There were times when the crews at the end of the bomber stream would meet the lead crews coming home over the channel. I have listened to the engine roar of a single Fortress at airshows and I just cannot imagine the deafening roar when America’s youth set out to do battle in 1944. It is little wonder that my father like so many of the other aviators of the era, were without their hearing in the end years of their lives.

They flew at altitudes as high as 32,000 ft (the cruising altitudes of today’s commercial aircraft) but with no cabin pressurization, wearing oxygen masks that must have froze to their faces. With open bomb bays they were all exposed to the 60 to 100 degree below zero temperatures with only their finicky electrically heated flying suits and lot’s of wool and leather to keep them from freezing at their positions. Guns would freeze and ungloved hands attempting to clear a jam would almost instantly be frostbitten. Taking on a good hearty breakfast in the predawn hours of a flying day could come back to haunt you when you felt the need to relieve yourself in the cold of high altitude flying and with the fighters coming at you. More than a few crewmembers must have had the very unglamorous experience of flying with loaded pants.

Still they flew on, 10 men in an aluminum can with little to keep them from the flak and the fighters but that thin aluminum skin of the plane, their courage, their combined resourcefulness, and ultimately their indomitable will to win and go home to their futures.

And so, my father got up 34 times in the cold hours before dawn went to the briefings on flak and fighters, dressed, ate, I am sure he prayed, and then pulled himself up through the hatch and into the area right behind the pilot and co-pilot. Watching the engine gauges he would help the pilots go through the preflight checklist as they started the mighty engines. He would double check the bomb racks, verify the control linkages were operating properly. He would help the pilot steer the ungainly bird around the taxiways of Thorpe Abbots and into the takeoff line. Later climbing into the top turret, undoubtedly the best seat in the house, (with the possible exception of the Bombardier in the front nose cone) he would cock and test fire his twin 50 cal. Browning machine guns. Then the waiting began, when would the fighters come for him, when would the flak rip into his flesh, would he even hear the explosion when the plane went down? Would the US fighters scare the Hun off today? Ever alert scanning the sky to see them when they were the size of pinheads, watching until they grew big enough to take a few bursts at them and then, after a violent instant, they would be gone.

Over the target, if for some reason the bombs got hooked up in the racks, it was he who would step out over oblivion on a six-inch metal plank with the doors open and nothing between him and Freistung Germany to free the recalcitrant cargo to wreck havoc below.
For 34 times he marshaled the courage, and for 34 times he was able to nurse the engines of the Heaven Sent back to the safety of Thorpe Abbots and to do his duty.

Crew List

1st Crew List

Use your thumb to scroll through the results box below.

Rank Name Pos Status
LT ANDERSON, Thomas I. P CPT
LT FRATUS, William M. CP CPT
LT KLECKER, Gerald J. NAV CPT
LT SCHMIDT, Frederick H. BOM CPT
T/Sgt GAREMKO, Michael A. TTE CPT
T/SGT SMILEY, Glenn A. ROG CPT
SGT DEMARCO, Anthony P. BTG RFS
S/SGT DOYLE, C.L. BTG NOC
S/SGT CIOFFI, Angelo J. WG CPT
S/SGT CRAMER, Charles R. WG XFR
S/SGT HERRON, Lewis E. TG CPT