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Arizona Todd Harris

Military

Shot down 3 January 1943 in B-17F #41-24470 'Sons of Fury' while serving as Engineer/Top Turret Gunner. Aircraft was ditched into the English Channel and then strafed by German fighters. TSgt Harris remained in his turret, continuously firing at the German fighters that were strafing the aircraft in the water. He perished when the aircraft sank beneath the waves. He was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service cross for his gallant actions. Killed in Action (KIA). DSC awarded posthumously. According to the book 'First Over Germany' this was the only posthumous award of the 7 highest decorations.
Arizona's award citation reads : “Arizona T. Harris (Army Serial No. 6296272), technical sergeant, 369th Bombardment Squadron (H), Army Air Forces, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in military operations against an armed enemy of the United States. While on a combat mission over enemy occupied Continental Europe, January 1943, the airplane on which he was serving as top-turret gunner was badly damaged by enemy anti-aircraft fire and forced out of formation. A large force of enemy fighter planes then concentrated their attacks on this lone airplane, finally driving it to a crash landing in the sea. Throughout the descent, and as the airplane disappeared beneath the waves, Sergeant Harris was seen to be still firing his guns at the enemy airplanes. The dogged determination to fight against all odds and sheer bravey displayed by Sergeant Harris upon this occasion upholds the highest traditions of the armed forces of the United States. Home address : 603 W. 8th St., Tempe, Arizona. (AG 220.5 M)”

Service

People

  • Albert Brunsting

    Military | First Lieutenant | Co-Pilot | 306th Bomb Group The Reich Wreckers
    Shot down 3 January 1943 in B-17F #41-24470 'Sons of Fury' while serving as Co-Pilot. Aircraft was ditched into the English Channel and then strafed by German fighters. Killed in Action (KIA). Target was the U/B (submarine) base at St. Nazaire, France.

  • Paul Byer

    Military | First Lieutenant | Navigator | 306th Bomb Group The Reich Wreckers
    Shot down 3 January 1943 in B-17F #41-24470 'Sons of Fury' while serving as Navigator. Aircraft was ditched into the English Channel and the strafed by German fighters. Killed in Action (KIA). Target was the U/B (submarine) base at St. Nazaire, France.

  • Kermit Constantine

    Military | Sergeant | Radio Operator | 306th Bomb Group The Reich Wreckers
    Shot down 3 January 1943 in B-17F #41-24470 'Sons of Fury' while serving as Radio Operatot. Aircraft was ditched into the English Channel and then strafed by German fighters. Killed in Action (KIA). Target was the U/B (submarine) base at St. Nazaire,...

  • Charles Cranmer

    Military | First Lieutenant | Pilot | 306th Bomb Group The Reich Wreckers
    Shot down 3 January 1943 in B-17 #41-24470 'Sons of Fury' while serving as Pilot. Aircraft was ditched into the English Channel and then was strafed by German fighters. Killed in Action (KIA). Target was the U/B (submarine) base at St. Nazaire, France.

  • Harry Meyers

    Military | Technical Sergeant (2nd Grade) | Waist Gunner | 306th Bomb Group The Reich Wreckers
    Neal Meyers was a waist gunner on a B-17, surviving 5 missions. He was awarded the Air Medal and Purple Heart on Nov 8, 1942 for downing a Focke-Wulf FW-190 aircraft, wounded on the same mission. ...

  • William Musick

    Military | Sergeant | Ball Turret Gunner | 306th Bomb Group The Reich Wreckers
    Shot down 3 January 1943 in B-17F #41-24470 'Sons of Fury' while serving as Right Waist Gunner. Aircraft was ditched into the English Channel and then strafed by German fighters. Target was the U-Boat pens as St. Nazaire, France. Killed in Action (KIA).

  • Robert Ransom

    Military | Sergeant | Ball Turret Gunner | 306th Bomb Group The Reich Wreckers
    Robert Ransom was shot down 3 January 1943 in B-17F #41-24470 'Sons of Fury' while serving as Ball Turret Gunner. Aircraft was ditched into the English Channel and then strafed by German fighters. Killed in Action (KIA). Target was the U/Bote ...

  • John Reed

    Military | First Lieutenant | Bombardier | 306th Bomb Group The Reich Wreckers
    Shot down 3 January 1943 in B-17F #41-24470 'Sons of Fury' while serving as Bombardier. He was killed by a Flak burst over the target. The aircraft was ditched into the English Channel and the strafed by German fighters. Killed in Action (KIA). Target...

  • Charles Wall

    Military | Sergeant | Left Waist Gunner | 306th Bomb Group The Reich Wreckers
    Shot down 3 January 1943 in B-17F #41-24470 'Sons of Fury' while serving as Left Waist Gunner. Aircraft was ditched into the English Channel and then strafed by German fighters. Killed in Action (KIA). Target was the U/B (submarine) base at St. Nazaire...

  • Edgar Whittaker

    Military | Sergeant | Tail Gunner | 306th Bomb Group The Reich Wreckers
    Shot down 3 January 1943 in B-17F #41-24470 'Sons of Fury' while serving as Tail Gunner. Aircraft was ditched into the English Channel and then strafed by German fighters. Killed in Action (KIA). Target was the U/B (submarine) base at St. Nazaire,...

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Units served with

  • 306th Bomb Group The Reich Wreckers

    306th Bomb Group The Reich Wreckers

    Group
    Constituted as 306th Bombardment Group (Heavy) on 28 Jan 1942. Activated on 1 Mar 1942. Trained for combat with B-17's. Moved to England, Aug-Sep 1942, and assigned to Eighth AF Eighth Air Force in September 1942 Station 111 Thurleigh. During combat,...

  • 369th Bomb Squadron

Aircraft

  • 41-24470 Sons of Fury

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    B-17F 41-24470, assigned 369BS/306BG [WW- ] Westover 22-Aug-42; damaged in taxi accident Westover Fd 26-Aug-42; Thurleigh 2-Oct-42; Missing in Action St Nazaire 3-Jan-43. Severely hit by enemy aircraft, ditched into the English Channel off Brest...

Missions

  • VIII Bomber Command 28

    3 January 1943
    The U-Boat pens at St. Nazaire, France are once again the target for this mission. This is proving to be a particularly difficult target to destroy due to its massive, reinforced concrete design. It consists of 14 individual pens connected together in...

Associated Place

  • Thurleigh

    Military site : airfield
    Built for RAF use in 1941-42, Thurleigh was initially used by RAF Bomber Command before being handed over to the Eighth Air Force. Its runways and hardstandings were improved, and the B-17s of the 306th Bomb Group began using the base. It was their...

Events

Event Location Date
Born Douglas, Cochise County, Arizona 21 September 1918
Killed in Action (KIA) English Channel 3 January 1943

Killed when aircraft was ditched into the English Channel and then strafed by German fighters. He remained in his turret firing at the attacking German fighters as they strafed the aircraft in the water. He perished with the aircraft into the sea. For his gallantry he was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. His remains have never been recovered.

Commemorated Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial, Madingley Road, Coton, Cambridgeshire CB23 7PH, UK 1945

Commemorated on the Wall of the Missing, Cambridge American Cemetery.

Lived in

Tempe, Maricopa County, Arizona

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
20 July 2020 13:31:17 ED-BB Changes to events
Sources

November 2004 e-mail correspondence with niece Linda Fleener

Date Contributor Update
20 July 2020 08:27:38 ED-BB Changes to biography
Sources

General Order 19 (3 April 1943) for DSC award

Date Contributor Update
24 March 2020 04:17:12 jmoore43 Changes to middlename and events
Sources

Added birth date and middle name per Find-a-grave Memorial ID 56290467.

Date Contributor Update
24 March 2020 04:06:10 jmoore43 Changes to biography
Sources

Added a "#" to the A/C serial number in the "Summary biography" to aid clarity.

Date Contributor Update
26 December 2019 18:01:04 jmoore43 Changes to biography
Sources

Corrected a typo in the "Summary biography".

Date Contributor Update
16 January 2015 18:57:41 Lee8thbuff Changes to service number
Sources

Lee Cunningham 16-Jan-2015. Added SN per MACR 16427.

Date Contributor Update
16 January 2015 18:49:23 Lee8thbuff Changes to role, biography, awards, events, place associations, aircraft associations and mission associations
Sources

Lee Cunningham 16-Jan-2015. Added SN, crew position and KIA event per MACR 16427; Added decorations and Commemorate event per American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) record; made connections to Place, AIrcraft and Mission within existing website data; Edited biography adding crew position and loss details per "Losses of the 8th & 9th Air Forces" Stan Bishop & John A. Hey MBE.

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:03:55 AAM AAM ingest
Sources

Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia / Roll of Honor, MACR 16427, Losses of the 8th and 9th Air Forces Vol. 1 by Bishop and Hey p. 61 , First Over Germany by Strong p. 61.

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