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B-24 liberator #41-11768 'Kickapoo' of 344th BS, 98th BG, 9th AF. Crashed shortly after take-off for the August 1, 43 low-level Ploesti, Romania mission. She lost an engine just after getting airborne and then caught fire while banking back toward the field to land, then a wing touched the ground and she smashed into a concrete pole and burst into flames, killing all but two of the crew.

1st Lt. Robert J. Nespor - Pilot (KIA), 2nd Lt. John C. Riley - Co Pilot (KIA) Detached Service from 93rd BG
2nd Lt. Russell W. Polivka - Navigator (WIA) D.S. from 93rd BG, 2nd Lt. Thurman L. Ward - Bombardier (KIA) D.S. from 93rd BG
T/Sgt. Vaun D. Wenrich - Engineer/Top Turret (KIA) D.S. from 93rd BG, T/Sgt. Armand R. Massart - Radio Op (KIA) D.S. from 93rd BG
S/Sgt. George W. Lawlor - Gunner (KIA) D.S. from 93rd BG, S/Sgt. Edwin G. Sliwa - Gunner (KIA) D.S. from 93rd BG
S/Sgt. Eugene R. Garner - Gunner (WIA) D.S. from 93rd BG, S/Sgt. John P. D'Armour - Gunner (KIA) D.S. from 93rd BG.

B-24D 'Kickapoo'
B-24 liberator #41-11768 'Kickapoo' of the 344th BS, 98th BG, 9th AF. This was Capt. John S. Young's regular aircraft. He and most of his regular crew were reassigned to fly with Col. John R. Kane on the 'Hail Columbia' for the August 1, 1943 low-level mission. Kickapoo with a replacement crew crashed after losing an engine on takeoff for the Ploesti mission, killing all but two of the crew, including the pilot, Lt. Robert Nespor.



  • 344th Bomb Squadron

    344th Bomb Squadron

    Established as a B-24 Liberator heavy bomb squadron and trained by Third Air Force. Deployed to Egypt in June 1942 over South Atlantic Transport Route transiting from Morrison Field, Florida though the Caribbean to Brazil; performed trans-Atlantic...

  • 98th Bomb Group

    98th Bomb Group

    The 98th trained for bombardment missions with B-24 Liberators during the first half of 1942. ...


  • 41-11768 Kickapoo

    B-24 Liberator
    B-24 liberator #41-11768, 'Kickapoo', of the 344th Bombing Squadron, 98th Bomb Group, 9th Air Force. This was Lt. John S. Young's second regular aircraft after he lost his first B-24 in theater, which was shot down earlier in 1943 in an air fight near...


Date Contributor Update
04 February 2019 10:27:17 Emily Changes to caption and unit associations

Added caption information from UPL 15174 (now deleted) added by user Al_Skiff sourced from USAAF Official photo 26136 AC

Date Contributor Update
14 December 2018 05:05:03 Kickapoo Created entry with caption

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