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John J Pesch


B-17G #42-38157 'Four Freedoms' was severely damaged by fighters on a mission to Brunswick, GR on 23 Mar 1944 and after falling out of formation was attacked again on the return. Eight crewman baled out over Holland, but the pilot and co-pilot returned and crash landed near Ashford, Kent. RTD.

Gen. Pesch led the Air National Guard from 1974 to 1977, when he retired
from the military after a 35-year career. He continued to work as a
consultant to General Electric and Northrop until 1987.

Gen. Pesch was a native of Maspeth, N.Y. He joined the Army Air Forces in
1942, flying a single-engine dive bomber and then B-17s over Europe during
World War II. Most of his missions were deep penetrations into Germany. He
led his squadron on the first shuttle raid from England to Poltava, Russia.
He had flown 31 combat missions by the end of the war.

He left the military in 1946, joining the Maine Air National Guard while
attending the University of Maine. He was recalled to active duty in 1950
and sent to Landsberg, Germany. He later served at the Pentagon in Air Force
operations, at the headquarters of the Air Defense Command in Colorado
Springs and at the National Guard Bureau in the Pentagon. In 1974, he
received his final assignment: leader of the Air National Guard.

Among his military awards were the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion
of Merit, two awards of the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Meritorious
Service Medal and five awards of the Air Medal.


Units served with

  • 452nd Bomb Group

    452nd Bomb Group

    The 452nd Bomb Group flew B-17 Flying Fortresses from Deopham Green, Norfolk, from January 1944. The air crews hit strategic sites in Germany but also supported the movement of ground forces across Europe after D-Day. On 6 June 1944 itself, the Group...

  • 731st Bomb Squadron


  • 42-38157 Four Freedoms

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Denver 1/1/44; Grenier 16/1/44; Assigned 731BS/452BG [7D- ] Deopham Green 24/2/44; on Brunswick mission 23/3/44 with John Pesch, Co-pilot: J.C. Amley (2 Returned to Duty); Navigator: Orrin Webb, Bombardier: Art Rubebstein(wia, Flight engineer...

Associated Place

  • Deopham Green

    Military site : airfield
    Deopham Green was another air base constructed after America's entry into the war to Class A standards for use by the B-17 Flying Fortress heavy bomber. When the 452nd Bomb Group arrived in January 1943 they found a main runway of 2,000 yards, two...


Event Location Date
Died 10 January 2010


Date Contributor Update
25 October 2017 00:30:00 SFCBILL Changes to awards


Date Contributor Update
25 October 2017 00:28:24 SFCBILL Changes to awards


Date Contributor Update
25 October 2017 00:22:42 SFCBILL Changes to media associations

Photographs of Bomb Group L. B-17G 42-38157 “Four Freedoms”. 1944 March 24 Image number 5WS-5-125-PB1 through 5WS-5-125-PB6, Box 5, Folder 125, William E. Shuttles Collection, 1907-1994, The University of Texas Dallas, Eugene McDermott Library

Date Contributor Update
23 October 2017 12:34:10 SFCBILL Changes to service number

Missing Air Crew Report

Date Contributor Update
19 October 2017 00:35:45 SFCBILL Changes to media associations

Date Contributor Update
19 October 2017 00:33:21 SFCBILL Changes to media associations

Date Contributor Update
19 October 2017 00:31:06 SFCBILL Changes to media associations

USAF and family records

Date Contributor Update
18 October 2017 23:32:55 SFCBILL Changes to highest rank and biography

January 25, 2010

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

1999 Unit Roster, MACR 3550, Losses of the 8th & 9th Air Forces / Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia