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Frank Burgmeier

Military

Lt. Burgmeier grew up in Upstate New York. He married his wife, Tedi, in July 1943, just days before he left for his tour of duty as a navigator for the 323rd Bombardment Group. He kept a diary, which has been invaluable to historians studying the 323rd BG and 456th Bombardment Squadron.

Lt. Burgmeier flew his first combat mission from Earls Colne Airfield on Wednesday, December 22, 1943 to Cornette with Lt. John D. Helton, most likely in WT-B "The Gremlin II" Serial No. 41-31708.

On June 6, 1944, Lt. Burgmeier-Navigator flew the 323rd's first mission of the day with Capt. John Bull Stirling-Pilot and Lt. W. R. Hutchins-Bombardier in a Flight Lead to a German coastal battery on Utah Beach. It was his 39th combat mission. Lt. Burgmeier wrote Chapter One of Marauder: Memoir of a B-26 Pilot in Europe During World War II by Louis S. Rehr with Carlton R. Rehr. It is an excellent account of his D-Day mission. Frank also was interviewed by the local television news station on the 70th anniversary of D-Day.

On August 25, 1944, Lt. Burgmeier landed on French soil for the first time at an airfield near Lessay. Lt. Burgmeier and Lt. Walt Foster set up a tent, which they shared with another officer. During the remainder of their stay in France, Lts. Burgmeier and Foster were close friends and tent mates along with their pets, PFC. Pat(ricin), a mutt, and PFC. Oscar, a Jack Russell Terrier, who, along with the sense of humor that was typical of the 456th combat crews, kept their morale up and kept them warm during a bitterly cold winter.

On Sunday, August 27, 1944, Lt. Burgmeier flew as GEE Navigator with the Barker crew (Lt. Col. Robert O. Barker-Pilot, Lt. Al Allision-Navigator, Lt. Walt Foster-Bombarider) from Lessay, France to a Rouen Bridge. (GEE Navigation was a form of navigation using radar.) This was Lt. Burgmeier's 54th combat mission. Footage of this mission is at National Arhives in College Park, Maryland. It was the first combat mission flown by the 9th AF off of French soil.

On November 19, 1944, Lt. Burgmeier, with Capt. Louis Rehr-Pilot and Lt. Victor Jacobs-Bombardier, flew in a Box Lead to a heavily defended area in Germany, the Merzig Strong Points. For this mission, the Reher crew was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

On December 16, 1944, Lt. Foster left for home, leaving Lt. Burgmeier to sweat out the one additional mission he needed to complet his 65 missions for a complete tour of duty. Tensions were high, as the Battle of the Bulge had just broken out only a few miles from Laon/Athies Airfield. The ground shook from artillery mortars exploding nearby. The 323rd prepared for an emergency evacuation, not knowing if they would make it out. The weather kept the 323rd grounded until December 23, 1944, when the they flew to the Eller Bridge in Germany.

The mission to the Eller Bridge was one of the roughest flown by the 323rd, and Lt. Burgmeier, flying once again with the Rehr crew, was very fortunate to have returned form it alive. Another B-26 BG had preceded the 323rd to the target area without the fighter escort that was to have acompanied them, and lost many aircraft to fighter attacks. The 323rd did have fighter cover and still lost six aircraft (one over the target and five back at base), three officers and three enlisted men were killed on that mission.

Shortly after December 27, 1944, Lt. Burgmeier was flown back to England where he spent New Year's Eve. In early Janiuary, he boarded the New Amsterdam and headed home to his wife, Tedi---his reason for fighting.

"Reflecting on my departure from my wartime buddies----it was a period of withdrawl for me. My close tent buddies, my crew and the entire squadron had been my family for over a year----a year filled with memorable events that are still sharp in my memory. I felt that I had come into my own in a position of responsibility where I had won mutual respect. I went home with mixed emotions facing my new bride whom I had only been with a couple of nights before we were shipped out. I was entering into this new phase of life almost with the same trepidation that I launched iinto combat. I was very perplexed in this period as I had expected a great exhultaiton when I hit the States but arrived here in a somewhat dulled and confused state. The flight surgeons recognized this and I was sent to a luxurious rest camp at Lake Lure in the North Carolina Mountains where I gradually statrted to come around thanks to my patient and understading wife--- and I statrted to feel human again. "

-Combat War Diary, Lt. Frank Burgmeier

Lts. Burgmeier and Foster finally reconnected in 2008, after nearly 65 years. Lt. Burgmeier and Tedi had three children. He still lives in Upstate New York with his faithful companion, Sparky, where he runs a public relaitons firm.

Service

People

  • Walter Foster

    Military | Lieutenant Colonel | Bombardier | 323rd Bomb Group
    Lt. Walt Foster was a navigator and bombardier from Upstate New York who served with the 456th BS during the Second World War. His first combat mission was flown from Earls Colne Airfield on February 3, 1944 to the Ruisseville "No Balls” secret weapon...

  • John Helton

    Military | Colonel | Pilot | 323rd Bomb Group
    JD Helton was from the Waco, Texas area and served as a B-26 Marauder pilot during the Second World War. He was part of the original Myrtle Beach contingent that comprised the 456th BS. ...

  • Louis Rehr

    Military | Lieutenant Colonel | pilot - B-26 Marauder | 323rd Bomb Group

  • Leo Rush

    Military | Lieutenant | Bombardier, B-26 Marauder | 323rd Bomb Group
    Dale Rush served with the 456th BS as a bombardier. He was killed on May 20, 1944 on a mission to Dieppe when "Ole 33 Gal" WT-A Serial No. 41-35033, flying in the Box II, Flight 3 lead position, took a direct hit of heavy flak that shattered the...

  • Robert Smith

    Military | Pilot | 323rd Bomb Group
    Lt. Smith flew as Co-Pilot in "The Gremlin II" WT-B with Capt. JD Helton -Pilot (who had returned from leave), Lt. Frank Burgmeier - N, Lt. Walt Foster - B from Chartes on October 8, 1944 to the Eskirchen Supply Depot, Holland.

  • John Stirling

    Military | Colonel | B-26 Marauder Pilot | 323rd Bomb Group
    Maj. Stirling served as a B-26 Marauder pilot with the 456th Bomb Squadron, 323rd Bomb Group, and 9th Air Force during the Second World War. He was part of the original Myrtle Beach, South Carolina group that first comprised the 456th Bomb Squadron....

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Units served with

  • 323rd Bomb Group

    323rd Bomb Group

    Group
    The 323rd Bombardment Group operated with B-26 Marauders, American medium bombers. They were the first Eighth Air Force Group to fly a medium level bombing mission with this aircraft on 16 July 1943. After flying a total of 33 missions with the Eighth,...

  • 456th Bomb Squadron

    456th Bomb Squadron

    Squadron
    Selected Bibliography of Publications: ...

Aircraft

  • 41-31708 "The Gremlin II"

    B-26 Marauder
    The Gremlin II took part in a D-Day Mission to Caen Road Junctions with crew Lt. John D. " JD" Helton - Pilot, Lt. Watson - Navigator and Lt. Walt Foster - Bombardier. ...

Associated Place

  • Earls Colne

    Military site : airfield
    Earls Colne was built in 1941 as an airfield for No.3 Group, RAF Bomber Command, although never used as such. Assigned to the US Eighth Air Force (as Station 358) in 1942, its 36 hardstands were increased to 50, bringing the airfield up to Air Ministry...

  • Marks Hall

    Military site : non-airfield
    Marks Hall's estate was requisitioned in 1941 for the construction of Earls Colne airfield (USAAF Station 358). ...

Events

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Revisions

Date Contributor Update
09 April 2016 01:25:53 JMF Changes to place associations
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JMF

Date Contributor Update
08 April 2016 03:10:30 JMF Changes to media associations
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Jmf

Date Contributor Update
05 April 2016 17:15:09 JMF Changes to biography
Sources

JMF

Date Contributor Update
05 April 2016 06:12:40 JMF Changes to biography
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JMF

Date Contributor Update
05 April 2016 00:28:43 JMF Created entry with surname, firstname, nationality, highest rank, role, biography, person associations, unit associations and place associations
Sources

JMF

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