First Lieutenant Gilbert "Gib" Hadley, the well liked young pilot in the 344th bomb Squadron of the 98th Bomb Group, and 9th Air Force. He named his airplane 'Hadley's Harem' to denote how many women he said were fond of him. hadley flew on "Operation Tidal Wave" with his friends in the 344th Bomb Squadron of the 98th Bombardment Group and bombed his target, White IV, at Ploesti, Aug 1 1943. He survived attacking Ploesti and had joined Col. John Kane south of Ploesti to fly home. He made it as far as the south Turkish coast close to Nicosia, Cyprus, but had to turn a away from the group in the darkness due to low fuel, and tried to ditch his B-24 just off the Turkish beach but was trapped in the plane's collapsed cockpit and drowned.
B-24D 'Hail Columbia' After Crash Landing at Nicosia, Cyprus - Aug 1, 1943 - From left : Lt. Harry Korger Bombardier - Lt. Norman Whalen Navigator/nose gunner - kneeling, second from right, 1st Lt. Raymond Hubbard Radio operator/ gunner, and crew, the next morning after the Ploesti mission, Monday August 2nd, 1943.
# 42-40753 ~ B-24D 'OLE KICKAPOO' - Command Pilot 2nd Lt. Lloyd Hughes, Copilot 2ndLt. Ronald Helder, and Crew 1943. Aircraft was lost at Campina, Ploesti with both pilots and all crewmen, except two, KIA. Two crewmen survived the crash, WIA on "Operation Tidal Wave" 1 Aug 1943 - Pilot Lt. Lloyd "Pete" Hughes was awarded the Medal Of Honor for his determination to press on and bomb his target without regard to his life and safety. His copilot, Lt. Ronald Helder was awarded The Distinguished Service Cross. - All crewmen on 'Ole Kickapoo' were awarded The Distinguished Service Cross and The Distinguished Flying Cross for their bravery, skill, and sacrifice in participation with Operation Tidal Wave.
Pilot: 2Lt Lloyd H. Hughes, Jr. KIA : Congressional Medal of Honor posthumously
Co-Pilot: 2Lt Ronald L. Helder. KIA : Distinguished Service Cross posthumously
Navigator: 2Lt Sidney A. Pear. KIA : Died of wounds August 6, 1943, surgery hospital in Campina, Rumania : Distinguished Service Cross posthumously
Bombardier: 2Lt John A. McLoughlin. KIA : Escaped burning wreckage - Died of wounds on August 3, 1943, surgery hospital in Campina, Rumania : Distinguished Service Cross posthumously
Engineer/Top Turret Gunner: T/Sgt Joseph E. Mix. KIA : Distinguished Service Cross posthumously
Radio Operator: T/Sgt Louis N. Kase. KIA : Distinguished Service Cross posthumously
Waist Gunner: S/Sgt Malcolm C. Dalton. KIA : Distinguished Service Cross posthumously
Waist Gunner: S/Sgt Edmond H. Smith. WIA POW : Distinguished Service Cross
Tail Gunner: S/Sgt Thomas A. Hoff. WIA POW : Distinguished Service Cross
Tunnel Gunner: Sgt Avis K. Wilson. KIA : Distinguished Service Cross posthumously
Pilot: 2Lt Lloyd Herbert Hughes, Jr.
Co-Pilot: 2Lt Ronald Lee Helder
Navigator: 2Lt Sidney Allen Pear
Bombardier: 2Lt John A. McLoughlin
Engineer/Top Turret Gunner: T/Sgt Joseph Elzie Mix
Radio Operator: T/Sgt Louis Norman Kase/Kassowitz
Waist Gunner: S/Sgt Malcolm Clay Dalton
Waist Gunner: S/Sgt Edmond Howard Smith
Tail Gunner: S/Sgt Thomas Albert Hoff
Tunnel Gunner: Sgt Avis Kenneth Wilson
Operation Tidal Wave - Last Briefing. - 1943
First Lieutenant Gilbert B. Hadley was a B-24D Liberator bomber pilot with the 9th Air Force, the 98th Bomb Group, "The Pyramiders", from Texas, and the 344th Bombing Squadron, based at Cairo, Egypt, Tobruk, and Benghazi, Libya, in the Mediterranean Theatre 1942-3. He flew on Operation Tidal Wave, the mission to destroy Hitler's oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania, Aug 1, 1943. He was KIA on his return from Ploesti when his shot up and failing B-24D bomber, 'Hadley's Harem', ran out of fuel and forced Hadley to leave a small group of crippled stragglers led by Col. John R. Kane in 'Hail Columbia' and attempt a ditching at night off the Turkish coast. Three of his crew members escaped, but Hadley was trapped in his cockpit and drowned.
“He looked like Clark Gable,” a Kansas City newspaper wrote about Gib when he was young. He “could talk his way into or out of virtually anything and loved to wear his cowboy boots and pearl-handled revolvers into battle.” He was a handsome, rowdy, flamboyant guy, liked by everybody who met him, particularly his own flight crew.
Like many young men in those hard times before World War II, Hadley joined the Army for the pay, meager as it was, it was better than no job at all. He scored high enough on the army’s intelligence test to be selected for flight training, and he loved it.
Gib’s early training took place not far from where he grew up, and he took great delight in buzzing the houses of his parents and friends, flying only a few feet over their rooftops. When he was assigned to the huge four-engine Consolidated B-24 Liberator bombers during the war, he flew them the same way, scaring everyone but himself. When he got his own B-24, he named it 'Hadley’s Harem' because he liked to think he had a way with the ladies. He wanted to paint nudes on the plane below the name, but the chaplain objected.
Gib Hadley died piloting his damaged B-24 after flying his B-24 1,200 miles, with two engines out, on the way home after attacking Ploesti and trying to return to the British air base at Nicosia, Cyprus. 'Hadley’s Harem' was one of 177 B-24 Liberators that had set out that morning on August 1, 1943, to bomb the major source of oil for Nazi Germany. The men had been told that the mission was vital and would help end the war. They were also told, just before the mission, that they, likely, would not survive the mission. Lt. Hadley and his crew did survive the first and most dangerous part of the Ploesti mission, but, after completing their bombing run over the Astra Romano Refinery, his bomber was severely shot up and damaged by flak leaving the target. South of the refinery area, Hadley joined a group of crippled stragglers from his own 98th Bomb Group led by his Group Leader, Col John R. Kane, in 'Hail Columbia', also leaving the area. Hadley was still following them hours later that evening, when his badly damaged B-24 airplane finally ran out of luck and fuel just short of the island of Cyprus and safety. He crashed in the dark trying to ditch the 'Harem' in the Aegean Sea just off the Turkish coast and drowned, trapped in his sinking airplane. Hadley was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal, and the Purple Heart, posthumously for his part in the Ploesti mission. In 1977, Lt. Hadley was found, still in the wreck of his sunken plane in the ocean off the Turkish coast. Later, he was brought back to the U.S. to be buried with honors back home in Kansas in 1997, some 54 years after he was killed in action on the Ploesti mission, August 1, 1943.
Lt. Gilbert Hadley was just 22 years old when he gave his life for his god, his country, and for freedom.
Military | Second Lieutenant | B-24D Co-Pilot | 389th Bomb Group
2nd Lt. Ronald Lee Helder was a B-24 pilot in the 8th Air Force, the 389th Bomb Group, and the 564th Bombing Squadron in WWII. He flew as Co-pilot with his friend, Command Pilot Lt. Lloyd H. Hughes, in the B-24D Lt. Helder called, 'Ole Kickapoo',...
Military | Second Lieutenant | B-24 Command Pilot | 389th Bomb Group
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...
Military | Colonel | Bombardier Navigator | 98th Bomb Group
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. ...
Military | Captain | B-24 Command Pilot | 98th Bomb Group
Lt. Royden LeBrecht was a B-24 Command pilot of the B-24D, #4111761, The 'Squaw' in North Africa in 1942-43. Lt. Lebrecht flew on Operation Tidal Wave, the Aug 1 1943 Ploesti raid, with the 9th Air Force, the 98th Bombardment Group, and the 344th Bomb...
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...
Military | Major | B-24 Command Pilot | 98th Bomb Group
Lieutenant John S. Young was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. Bored with college at SMU, and knowing the country was headed for war, he joined the Army Air Force early in 1941 and began training as an aviation cadet. He was known as "Johnny" or "Big...
Units served with
The 98th trained for bombardment missions with B-24 Liberators during the first half of 1942.
The 344th Bombing Squadron was first activated at MacDill Field, Florida as one of the original three squadrons assigned to the 98th Bombardment Group. The 344th soon moved to Barksdale Field, Louisiana, where it began to train as a Consolidated B-24...
Assigned to Col. Walter T. Stewart of the 330 Bomb Squadron, 93rd Bomb Group, 8th Air Force, USAAF for the mission to bomb the refineries at Ploesti Aug 1,1943. Col. Stewart named this plane, 'Utah Man', to underscore his Utah Morman background to all...
- Not to be confused with 42-30406, 'The Vulgar Virgin' of the 8th Air Force - 93rd Bomb Group - 328th Bomb Squadron - Also flew Ploesti mission - Interned Turkey Aug 1, 1943
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.
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...
|Killed in action
||1 August 1943