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Robert James Nespor Jr

Military

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1st Lt. Robert Nespor was a B-24 bomber command pilot in the 9th Air Force, the 98th Bombing Group the "Pyramiders", and the 344th Bomb Squadron. For the huge mission to bomb the oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania, for Operation Tidal Wave on 1 August 1943, Nespor was assigned as a replacement pilot to fly in the B-24D Liberator 'KICKAPOO' in place of Lt. John S.Young, with Lt. John Clark Riley from the 93rd Bomb Group, assigned as his copilot, with a replacement crew, also from the 93rd Bomb Group. 1st Lt. Robert Nespor was an original member of the 98th Bomb Group, but did not complete his tour at the same time as many of the original 98th Bomb Group airmen, as he had been grounded for a period with dysentery. Lt. John Young, 'KICKAPOO''s regular pilot, and his crew had been reassigned by the 98th's Group Leader Col. John R. Kane to fly with him in his lead B-24, 'Hail Columbia'. This late crew change proved a life saver for Lt. John Young and his crew, but it cost Lt. Nespor his life.
On his takeoff run for the Ploesti mission, Lt. Nespor in 'KICKAPOO' had a complete #4 engine failure and fire. Nespor and his copilot, Lt. John C. Riley, turned out over the sea, jettisoned their bombs, and were trying to make their second approach back into the Lete runway when they lost power from the remaining engines on short final approach, and descended, hitting a concrete post with the left wing, and cartwheeled into the ground in flames killing Lt. Nespor, his copilot, Lt. Riley, and all but two of their crew. Nespor and Riley could have crash landed 'KICKAPOO' on the beach or in the shallow water just off the beach at Benghazi after jettisoning their bombs over the water, but elected to try to return to the airfield and try to save their valuable airplane, after they had been cleared by the tower to return for an abort landing. Robert Nespor, John Riley, and their replacement crew were the very first casualties of Operation Tidal Wave. For his flying leadership and sacrifice, Lt. Nespor was posthumously awarded another Oak Leaf Cluster to his Distinguished Flying Cross and the Purple Heart. Lt. Robert James Nespor was 27 years when he gave his life for freedom and his country.

Nespor was posthumously awarded another Oak Leaf Cluster to his Distinguished Flying Cross and the Purple Heart.

Service

People

  • John Kane

    Military | Colonel | Commanding Officer, Command Pilot | 98th Bomb Group
    John Riley Kane (January 5, 1907 – May 29, 1996) was a colonel in the United States Army Air Corps and later the United States Air Force. He received the U.S. military's highest decoration, the Congressional Medal of Honor, in World War II, for his...

  • John Riley

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Co-Pilot | 93rd Bomb Group
    Lt. John Clark Riley was a B-24 pilot in the 9th Air Force, the 93rd Bomb Group, and the 330th Bomb Squadron at Benghazi, Libya, in the Mediterranean theater during WWII. Riley and his crew from the 93rd Bomb Group were placed on temporary duty with...

  • John Young

    Military | Major | B-24 Command Pilot | 98th Bomb Group
    Lieutenant John S. Young from Dallas Texas was a B-24D Liberator bomber pilot with the 9th Air Force, 98th Bomb Group and the 344th Bombing Squadron, based at Cairo, Egypt, Tobruk, and Benghazi, Libya, in the Mediterranean theatre 1942-3. ...

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Units served with

  • 9th Air Force
  • 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

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

Aircraft

  • 41-11768 'Kickapoo'

    B-24 Liberator
    The B-24D Liberator #41-11768, 'KICKAPOO', was piloted by Lt. John S. Young from Dallas, Texas as part of the 9th Air Force, the 98th Bomb Group, and the 344th Bombing Squadron, which arrived in North Africa in early 1943. This airplane and was...

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...

Associated Place

  • Mellaha

    Military site : airfield

  • Berca

    Military site : airfield

  • Lete

    Military site : airfield

Events

Event Location Date
Born Oklahoma, USA 1921

1921,Oklahoma, USA.

Killed in action Benghazi, Libya 1 August 1943

Reassigned as part of a replacement crew from his own 98th Bomb Group to fly as command pilot for the B-24D 'Kickapoo' behind Group Leader Col. John Kane in the 98th Bomb Group in place of Lt. John S.Young for Operation Tidal Wave. Nespor crashed shortly after take-off for the August 1, 1943 low-level mission. Nespor lost the #4 engine just after getting airborne and, then, lost all three of the remaining engines and caught fire while banking back toward the field trying to land. After losing all power on short final approach, the left wing hit a a concrete pole. The plane cart wheeled into the ground in flames killing Lt. Nespor, his copilot Lt. John C. Riley and all but two of the rest of the replacement crew.

Lived in Oklahoma, USA
Assigned Benghazi, Libya

330th BS, 98th BG, 9th AF.

Buried Fort Scott National Cemetery, 900 East National Avenue, Fort Scott, KS 66701, USA

Fort Scott National Cemetery
Fort Scott, Bourbon County
Kansas, USA.

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
08 September 2019 07:20:23 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

FindAGrave.com ---- Black Sunday - Michael Hill ---- Into The fire - Duane Schultz ---- John S. Young, Jr. - personal archives

Date Contributor Update
11 August 2019 19:56:48 Kickapoo Changes to biography, person associations and media associations
Sources

FindAGrave.com ---- Black Sunday - Michael Hill ---- Into The fire - Duane Schultz ---- John S. Young, Jr. - personal archives

Date Contributor Update
07 August 2019 08:12:50 Kickapoo Changes to middlename, service number, role, biography, events, unit associations and place associations
Sources

FindAGrave Memorials

Date Contributor Update
06 August 2019 13:18:25 Emily Changes to role, biography, events and unit associations
Sources

Consolidated repetitive biographies of Nespor into one narrative, corrections and further information from Ploesti Roster, Sortie Reports for the Ploesti mission held in Roger Freeman's document collection , in which the circumstances of Nespor's crash are widely reported, and Fortress Ploesti by Jay Stout.

Date Contributor Update
06 August 2019 08:12:12 Kickapoo Changes to role
Sources

Ploesti - Anatomy Of A Disaster - HistoryNet - Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg - Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
01 March 2019 02:44:00 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Ploesti - Anatomy Of A Disaster - HistoryNet - Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg - Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
04 February 2019 10:15:07 Emily Changes to biography
Sources

Transferred information from Media record to biography added by user Kickapoo sourced from Find a Grave

Date Contributor Update
28 January 2019 13:59:18 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
15 October 2018 22:57:28 Kickapoo Changes to biography and events
Sources

Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
09 August 2018 11:29:36 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Find A Grave

Date Contributor Update
02 August 2018 08:53:13 general ira snapsorter Changes to biography and person associations
Sources

Merged with duplicate entry to include details from:
- user "Kickapoo" https://www.americanairmuseum.com/user/36739

Date Contributor Update
22 March 2018 09:48:57 Kickapoo Changes to biography and unit associations
Sources

Black Sunday - Ploesti ! by Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
22 March 2018 09:42:25 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Black Sunday - Ploest ! by Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
22 March 2018 09:14:46 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Black Sunday - Ploesti ! by Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
08 March 2017 15:08:37 general ira snapsorter Changes to biography, events and unit associations
Sources

Merged with duplicate entry to include details from:
- the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia

Date Contributor Update
18 April 2015 14:25:47 Al_Skiff Created entry with surname, middlename, firstname, suffix, nationality, service number, highest rank, role, biography, events, unit associations, aircraft associations and mission associations
Sources

http://usaafdata.com / http://www.findagrave.com

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