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Harold Francis Korger

Military

Lt. Harold Korger was a bombardier in the 344th Bombardment Squadron, 98th Bomb Group, 9th Air Force. He flew on the famous mission, Operation Tidal Wave, Aug 1, 1943, to knock out the oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania.

Harold F. Korger was born October 7, 1918 to German American parents in Eau Claire Wisconsin. Growing up. He graduated from High School and attended the University of Wisconsin and earned a Bachelors Degree in Music in 1940. He would put that degree to use as the music director of the Eagle River Schools until the war would cut his teaching career short. In December 1941, Harry made a decision that would change his life forever. He enlisted in the US Army Air Force. He graduated from Bombardier School at Midland Field in 1942 and was commissioned a 2nd Lt. He was stationed at various locations in the USA before transferring overseas in February 1943 and was assigned to the 98th Bomb Group, the 344th Bomb Squadron, then, stationed in the Middle East. The 98th Bomb Group were known as the 'Pyramiders'. The 98th Bomb group left the United States on July 15, 1942 and arrived in Palestine in late July. They flew their first mission to Mersa Metruh on August 1, 1942. The 98th was initially assigned to the USMEAF (United States Middle East Air Force). However, the USMEAF was dissolved on November 12, 1942. At that time, the 98th came under the 9th Air Force. The 98th was under the command of the 12th Air Force in September and October 1943. Then, it was under the 15th Air Force beginning on 1 Nov, 1943. Harry started flying missions with the 98th shortly after he arrived in North Africa, bombing mostly targets in Italy. He had 23 missions and almost 300 hours of flying time under his belt when the mission that would define his military career was announced. It was the mission to attack the oil refineries at Ploesti Romania.

Harry was hand picked by Col. John “Killer” Kane to be his Bombardier for the mission. Col. Kane earned the Medal of Honor as the Pilot of “Hail Columbia” and as group commander during the raid.

On the Morning of August 1, 1943 “Hail Columbia” took off from their base in Libya. In letters Harry wrote home he related that he flew with Colonel John R. Kane, former West Point all-American football player, on the Ploesti mission. "I saw old friends crash to a flaming death before my eyes," he wrote. "The Jerries were throwing up everything at us. Our plane was shot to shreds but, by sheer flying skill, Colonel Kane got us out." "My bombs hit dead center on my target and we wiped the place out. Then, the fighters jumped us and more of our friends went down, but they took at least four or five Jerries down with them for every one of us." Once the bombs were dropped after escaping the fighters leaving Ploesti, and after a long harrowing flight, Korger and the "Hail Columbia" reached a friendly airfield, Lieutenant Korger related. “Hail Columbia” crash landed on Cyprus and everyone survived thanks to the flying skills of both Col. John Kane and his copilot, Lt. Johnny Young. Capt. Korger was awarded an oak leaf cluster to his Distinguished Flying Cross for his service and valor on the mission. The following day the crew spent the day looking over the plane and marveling at the number of bullet and shell holes, each wondering how no one got seriously wounded. This would not be the only plane Harry flew in that would be destroyed. He would get chance number 2 in a month.

On September 3, 1943, Harry would fly what he thought would be his last (30th) mission before going home to his beloved Bernice. He was given the option of flying home and doing a bond tour, but Harry decided he should finish his missions. It was a decision he would later regret. His final mission was supposed to be routine, over Sulmona, Italy. On the way to the target, his assigned plane, “Big Operator” was attacked by JU-88’s and ME-110’s shooting rockets. They were hit several times and went into a flat spin. Harry jumped and earned the first of his two Caterpillar Club pins. Four of the crew were killed. Harry was injured and wounded.

In the years between WWII and his retirement, he never again saw combat, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t risk his life.

On Feb 16, 1956 he was the Navigator of a B-52 on a mission Near Tracy, CA. The plane caught on fire after an alternator failed, and exploded. Harry earned his 2nd Caterpillar Club pin. He ejected from the B-52 at 36,000 feet breaking his arm. He and 3 other crewmen survived, 4 did not. His B-52 was the first to be lost by the USAF.

After his retirement from the USAF in 1971, he eventually settled in Oregon where he lived with his wife and family until he passed away in 1995 at the age of 77.

For his career service Harry was awarded the following decorations: Distinguished Flying Cross with one Oak Leaf Cluster, the Air Medal with 5 Oak Leaf Clusters, the Purple Heart, the Meritorious Service Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, the Joint Services Commendation Medal, the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, Prisoner of War Medal, WWII Victory Medal, and the Distinguished Service Medal

Service

People

  • Gilbert Hadley

    Military | First Lieutenant | B-24D Pilot | 98th Bomb Group
    First Lieutenant Gilbert B. Hadley was a B-24 pilot and was killed participating in Operation Tidal Wave, the mission to knock out the oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania. Hadley was assigned to the 9th Air force, the 98th Bombing Group known as 'The...

  • 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...

  • Robert Sternfels

    Military | Major | Command Pilot | 98th Bomb Group
    Lt. Robert Sternfels was a B-24D command bomber pilot in WWII in the 9th Air Force, the 98th Bombing Group, the Pyramiders, and the 345th Bombing Squadron, who flew the famous B-24D bomber, 'The Sandman' on the mission Operation Tidal Wave to bomb the...

  • Norman Whalen

    Military | Major | Navigator / Nose Gunner | 98th Bomb Group
    Norman Whalen joined the Army Air Corps in 1941. After graduating from Navigator School in Monroe, Louisiana, he received his commission as a Second Lieutenant and was assigned to the 9th Air force, the 98th Bomb Group, and the 344th Bombing Squadron...

  • 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

  • 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

  • 41-24311 'Hadley's Harem'

    B-24 Liberator
    The B-24D, named 'Hadley's Harem' was Lt. Gilbert Hadley's personal airplane and the one he flew on the mission to destroy Hitler's oil refineries at Ploesti Romania in 1943. ...

  • 41-11825 'Hail Columbia' 'Grumpy' 'Little Chief Big Dog'

    B-24 Liberator
    This aircraft originally served in the 9th Air Force, the 98th Bomb Group, and the 344th Bomb Squadron as 'HAIL COLUMBIA'. It was 344th's CO Col. John R. Kane's personal aircraft until Kane became the 98th Bomb Group CO and turned it over to Herman ...

  • 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...

  • 41-24040 'Big Operator' 'Whats Cooking Doc ?'

    B-24 Liberator
    Started out on the 1 Aug 43 Ploesti oil refinery raid, piloted by Lt Hoover Edwards and aborted near Corfu with turbo supercharger problems. Converted to a transport on 17 Aug 43. ...

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...

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
29 June 2019 23:10:51 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

TogetherWeServesd.com Black Sunday - Michael Hill Into the Fire - Duane Schults

Date Contributor Update
14 June 2019 05:04:15 Kickapoo Changes to role, biography and awards
Sources

FindaGrave Memorial ---- Black Sunday - Michael Hill ---- The Return Of Hadley's Harem - Michael Schultz

Date Contributor Update
22 May 2019 22:37:28 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Togetherweserved.com Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
22 May 2019 14:42:39 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Into the fire - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
01 September 2018 10:44:10 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
26 May 2018 20:17:51 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Into The fire - Duane schultz

Date Contributor Update
26 May 2018 20:12:58 Kickapoo Changes to media associations
Sources

Into The Fire - Duane schultz

Date Contributor Update
15 January 2018 12:04:32 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Air Force - Together We served

Date Contributor Update
14 January 2018 03:28:14 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Air Force - Together We Served

Date Contributor Update
14 January 2018 03:21:05 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Air Force - Together We Served

Date Contributor Update
14 January 2018 03:15:47 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Air Force - Together We Served

Date Contributor Update
14 January 2018 03:06:55 Kickapoo Changes to person associations and unit associations
Sources

Air Force - Together We Served

Date Contributor Update
14 January 2018 02:56:04 Kickapoo Changes to awards
Sources

Air Force - Together We Served : Col. Harold Francis Korger

Date Contributor Update
14 January 2018 02:43:21 Kickapoo Created entry with surname, middlename, firstname, nickname, nationality, highest rank, role, biography, aircraft associations and mission associations
Sources

Air Force - Together We Served : Col Harold Francis Corger

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