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William J Budai

Military

Born in Toledo, Ohio in 1921, he enlisted in the Army in Aug. 1942. Despite surviving the harrowing Ploesti raid in August 1943, he was shot down on 18 November 1943 while a gunner on the B-24 "Vagabond King" (42-40787). He was killed when his plane crashed into North Sea.

"Staff Sergeant William J. Budai grew up at 324 Craig St. in Toledo (corner of Craig and Valentine Sts., Birmingham Hungarian neighborhood), he attended Waite High School as part of the class of 1938, where he played in the band. William went to work as a sweeper at National Milling Co. on Front St. before enlisting in the Army on August 25, 1942 in Toledo. ... William was assigned as a turret gunner on John McCormick’s plane which was called the 'Vagabond King'." During the Ploesti mission he served as a waist gunner. The ship was badly damaged and headed for Cyprus. Budai's luck ran out on 18 November 1943 when his plane crashed into the North Sea resulting in his death.

Dan Masters, "Dragged Through the Mouth of Hell: Toledo's Contribution to Operation Tidal Wave, August 1, 1943," Northwest Ohio History Journal, Vol. 84, No. 1 (October 6, 2016).

Service

People

  • John McCormick

    Military | Captain | Pilot | 389th Bomb Group
    Shot down 18 November 1943 in B-24 #42-40787 'Vagabond King'. Plane crashed into North Sea. Killed in Action (KIA). ...

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Units served with

  • 389th Bomb Group

    389th Bomb Group

    Group
    The 389th Bomb Group, known in more familiar terms as "the Sky Scorpions", flew strategic bombing missions in B-24 Liberators from Hethel, England. They also sent detachments to join bases in North Africa at Benghazi No. 10, Libya, between 3 July 1943...

  • 565th Bomb Squadron

Aircraft

  • 42-40787 "Vagabond King"

    B-24 Liberator
    B-24D Liberator #42-40787 "Vagabond King" was in the 565th Bombing Squadron, the 389th Bombing Group, the 8th Air Force. It flew on 1st Aug, 1943 on Operation Tidal Wave, to destroy the oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania, piloted by John B McCormick....

Missions

  • Operation Tidal Wave

    1 August 1943
    Operation TIDAL WAVE. B24D Liberators attack the oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania. The bombers flew low to avoid radar detection and dropped time delayed bombs. Out of the 177 B-24s that took part in the raid 167 managed to attack their targets. 57 B...

  • VIII Bomber Command 132

    18 November 1943
    The German airfield of Oslo/Kjeller, Norway is the target for a force of 102 B-24s from 2nd Bomb Division that included: 44BG (34); 93BG (20); 389BG (26); and 392BG (22). 82 aircraft are effective on the target. 9 aircraft Failed to Return (FTR) 61KIA...

Associated Place

  • Berca

    Military site : airfield

Events

Event Location Date
Born Toledo, Ohio, USA 5 July 1921
Enlisted Toledo, Ohio, U.S.A. 25 August 1942
War Experiences Related in Journals 1 August 1943

Concerning the Ploesti Mission:

"The last bombs of Tidal Wave were deposited on the powerhouse and boiler of Steaua Romana by Vagabond King, piloted by John McCormick. Toledoan William J. Budai was a waist gunner on this ship. The ship took a beating from anti-aircraft fire over the target, but they barreled through the smoke and flames. Vagabond King bombed amidst exploding kettles and the crumble and crash of a high smokestack. McCormick thought 'from an esthetic point of view, the best thing was incendiaries flickering up and down in the smoke like fireflies.' Looking back, his tail gunner saw the 45 second delay bombs exploding and commented 'they didn't give us much time for a getaway.' After dropping their bombs and assessing the damage, McCormick remarked that he didn't know whether the crew would make it back. 'Our plane was in bad shape. We got into formation at the treetops with another wounded ship and three good ones that stayed outside to protect us, and got a heading into Cyprus'."

Dan Masters, "Dragged Through the Mouth of Hell: Toledo's Contribution to Operation Tidal Wave, August 1, 1943," Northwest Ohio History Journal, Vol. 84, No. 1 (October 6, 2016).

Killed in Action (KIA) North Sea 18 November 1943

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
25 October 2019 12:20:37 general ira snapsorter Changes to events
Sources

Ploesti Sortie Reports, 389th Bomb Group

Date Contributor Update
17 March 2019 20:17:00 Dieterle Changes to mission associations
Sources

From the 42-40787 Aircraft page.

Date Contributor Update
17 March 2019 20:00:35 Dieterle Changes to events and person associations
Sources

Richard Dieterle, adding more material from Dan Masters, "Dragged Through the Mouth of Hell: Toledo's Contribution to Operation Tidal Wave, August 1, 1943," Northwest Ohio History Journal, Vol. 84, No. 1 (October 6, 2016).

Date Contributor Update
17 March 2019 19:38:53 Dieterle Changes to biography
Sources

Richard Dieterle, expanding slightly on the summary biography based on data already entered.

Date Contributor Update
17 March 2019 19:30:44 Dieterle Changes to events, place associations and mission associations
Sources

Richard Dieterle, adding more material from Dan Masters, "Dragged Through the Mouth of Hell: Toledo's Contribution to Operation Tidal Wave, August 1, 1943," Northwest Ohio History Journal, Vol. 84, No. 1 (October 6, 2016).

Date Contributor Update
05 September 2017 06:34:35 Beth Wood Changes to events
Sources

Beth Wood

Date Contributor Update
05 September 2017 06:32:40 Beth Wood Changes to service number
Sources

Beth Wood

Date Contributor Update
05 September 2017 06:30:58 Beth Wood Changes to nickname and awards
Sources

submitted by Beth Wood for Alex and Esther Budai in remembrance of their beloved son

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:28:15 AAM AAM ingest
Sources

Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia / MACR 2885 / Paul Andrews, Project Bits and Pieces, 8th Air Force Roll of Honor database

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