On April 26, 1945, he was an Assistant Engineer aboard the B-24 44-40495, named the “Seldom Available”, on a mid-day bombing mission from Spinnazola Air Field to Klagenfurt (Austria) Rail Marshalling Yards. The ship suffered mechanical failure, and two engines feathered. He was last seen by the bomb bay doors, with his chute on. Witnesses reported seeing the ship go down in a slow spiral descent. One witness on the ground saw the plane circle around, causing two of the chutes to collapse. Out of a crew of nine, he was the only one unaccounted for. It was posited that his chute was one collapsed by the plane as it was spiraling down, and he fell to his death; one of the crew found his dog tags. All of the other crew members survived and returned to the States. The "Seldom Available" was probably the Fifteenth Air Force's last bomber lost to enemy action. Kovaleski was declared dead 366 days after the crash.
He was killed on his 15th mission, which was the final mission of the 460th BG, and 12 days before the end of the War in Europe. He was 25 years old, and left no children. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and Air Medal. He was married, about 1941, to Althea Hasty, also of Southbridge. They had no children. His wife subsequently married a man named Arthur Tetreault, and had three children. She died on October 17, 2002.
Units served with
Constituted as 460th Bombardment Group (Heavy) in May 1943. Activated on 1 July 1943. Activated as a B-24 Liberator heavy bombardment unit; assigned to II Bomber Command for training. Primarily trained in New Mexico and Utah. Received deployment orders...
Activated as a B-24 Liberator heavy bomber squadron in mid-1943, it was assigned to the II Bomber Command for training. It trained primarily in New Mexico and Utah. The squadron received deployment orders for the Mediterranean Theater of Operations ...