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John H McKee

Military

Born and raised in Illinois, John McKee moved to Michigan City in 1941 and worked in the refrigeration service industry. He enlisted in the Air Corps in July 1942. After training, he was sent overseas and assigned to the 44th Bomb Group/506th Bomb Squadron in Shipdham, England. On his 7th mission, he was Radio Operator/Gunner on B-24 # 42-100415 when it ran into mechanical trouble on return in the afternoon from the 8 August 1944 mission to bomb the airfield at Romilly-sur-Seine, France. He bailed out of the aircraft and broke his leg in landing in the Department of the Marne, France. Hospitalized by the Germans, he was cared for in a hospital in Paris then transferred to Stalag Luft 4 in Gross Tychow (presently Tychowo) Poland. As Russian troops were approaching, the camp was evacuated on 6 February 1945 and the POWs were force-marched on what was to be known as the “Black March”, which brought the survivors to Stalag 357 (Stalag XI-B) near Fallingbostel. They arrived there about 3-4 April 1945 and were liberated by British troops on 2 May 1945. Back in the States, John stayed in the refrigeration business and opened his own company, John H. McKee Appliances in 1954. An active member of many POW and Veterans’ organizations, he was named Veteran of the Year by the Great Lakes Museum of Military History in 2013.

Service

People

  • Walter Bohenko

    Military | Sergeant | Left Waist Gunner/Armorer | 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs
    Walter Bohenko was a graduate of McKeesport High School, Class of 1940 and worked as an electrical apprentice before enlisting in the Air Corps in August 1942. Sent overseas after training as an aerial gunner, he was ssigned to the 44th Bomb Group...

  • Nelson Brott

    Military | Sergeant | Right Waist Gunner | 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs
    On his 6th mission, Nelson Brott was Top Turret Gunner on B-24 # 42-100415 when it ran into mechanical trouble on return in the afternoon from the 8 August 1944 mission to bomb the airfield at Romilly-sur-Seine, France. He and seven other crew members...

  • Winfield Gippert

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Co-Pilot | 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs
    On his 6th mission, Winfield Gippert was Co-Pilot of B-24 # 42-100415 when it ran into mechanical trouble on return in the afternoon from the 8 August 1944 mission to bomb the airfield at Romilly-sur-Seine, France. He and seven other crew members...

  • Stanley Hulewicz

    Military | Sergeant | Tail Gunner | 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs
    A machinist when he enlisted in the Air Corps in August 1943, Stanley Hulewicz was sent overseas in 1944 and was assigned to the 44th Bomb Group/506th Bomb Squadron in Shipdham, England. On his 4th mission, he was Tail Gunner on B-24 # 42-100415 when...

  • Bernard Komasinski

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Pilot | 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs
    Bernard Komasinski was on his 6th mission, piloting B-24 # 42-100415 when it ran into mechanical trouble on return in the afternoon from the 8 August 1944 mission to bomb the airfield at Romilly-sur-Seine, France. He and seven other crew members...

  • Charles Lain

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Bombardier | 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs
    On his 6th mission, Charles Lain was Bombardier of B-24 # 42-100415 when it ran into mechanical trouble on return in the afternoon from the 8 August 1944 mission to bomb the airfield at Romilly-sur-Seine, France. Cut over his left eye by his parachute...

  • Edgar Michaels

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Navigator | 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs
    Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Edgar Michaels enlisted in the Air Corps in September 1942. He trained as an aerial navigator on B-24s at Ellington Field, Texas, in San Marcos, Texas, Harlingen, Texas and Pueblo, Colorado. Sent overseas,...

  • Coley Richardson

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Ball Turret Gunner | 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs
    Coley Richardson wasn’t a regular member of the Bernard Komasinski crew. As the usual Ball Turret Gunner of the crew, Sgt Frank LaFazia, had been assigned guard duty that day, 8 August 1944, Richardson volunteered to take his position on board B-24 #...

  • Frank Schaeffer

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Flight Engineer; Top Turret Gunner | 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs
    S/Sgt Frank N. Schaeffer was Engineer/Top Turret Gunner on B-24 "My Peach", Serial 42-100415. On a mission to bomb the La Perthe airfield in France on 8 August 1944, he bailed out of the burning plane and landed near Orbais-L'Abbaye (Marne Department),...

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Units served with

  • 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs

    44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs

    Group
    The 44th Bombardment Group (Heavy) was activated 15-January-1942 at McDill Field, Florida and equipped with B-24Cs. The Group moved to Barksdale Field, Louisiana and acted as a training unit for the 90th 93rd and 98th Bomb Groups and flew anti...

  • 506th Bomb Squadron

Aircraft

  • 42-100415 My Peach

    B-24 Liberator
    B-24 "My Peach" Serial 42-100415 encountered little to no Flak up to the point of the target area [Primary target for the Squadron: the airfield at La Perthe, NE of the other target for the Group, the airfield at Romilly-sur-Seine.] ...

Missions

  • 530

    8 August 1944

Associated Place

  • Shipdham

    Military site : airfield
    Shipdham was built in 1941-1942, the first US heavy bomber airfield in the English county of Norfolk. It was a standard design, with T2-type hangars and a domestic site dispersed to the south east. Improvements were carried out to increase the number...

Events

Event Location Date
Born Paris, Illinois, United States 29 June 1921

the son of John F. and Lyda (Moss) McKee

Enlisted Chicago, Illinois, United States 22 July 1942

as a Private in the Air Corps

Prisoner of War (POW) Gross Tychow/Tychowo, Poland 8 August 1944 – 2 May 1945

Breaking his leg in landing, Sgt McKee was immediately made prisoner in the Vauchamps area (Marne, France). After hospitalization in Paris, the Germans sent him to Stalag Luft 4 in Gross Tychow (presently Tychowo) Poland. Liberated by British troops 2 May 1945 in Fallingbostel, Germany.
NARA WWII POW records : “Returned to Military Control 22/05/1945”

Died Michigan City, Indiana, United States 8 September 2005
Lived in Michigan City, Indiana, United States
Buried Swan Lake Memorial Gardens, Michigan City, Indiana, United States

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
13 October 2015 13:17:19 ED-BB Changes to service number, role, biography, events, person associations, place associations, aircraft associations and mission associations
Sources

NARA WWII Enlistment Records
NARA WWII POW records
US 1940 Census

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:16:10 AAM AAM ingest
Sources

Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia / MACR 8080

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