Nose art for 42-72873 in the 801st Bomb Group / 36th Bomb Squadron
Plaque in memory of the 7 crew members of 42-72873 who lost their lives on the night of 5 July 1944. Location : at the entrance to the municipal cemetery of Trancrainville (Eure-et-Loir), France.
Seven Killed In Action (KIA) : Pilot John O. Broten; Navigator Roy C. Gehue; Bombardier Alfred C. Emert; Radio Operator William Freidkas; Top Turret Gunner Harry L. Sparks; Left Waist Gunner Jessie R. Ellis; Tail Gunner Michael J. Pranzetelli. - Photo : family of the sole survivor, Co-Pilot Edward Tappan,
The John O. Broten crew, with Co-Pilot Edward Tappan, standing, second from left, Harrington, Spring 1944. (Official USAAF photo)
Born and raised in North Carolina, Ed Tappan and his family moved to Arizona in 1931. Ed attended the Evans School for Boys in Tucson and competed on the school’s early rodeo teams. He studied later at the University of Arizona, enlisting in September 1942, initially in the Cavalry as he was a gifted horseman. Transferred to the Air Forces, he followed pilot training and was sent overseas at the beginning of 1944. He was assigned to the 801st Bomb Group/36th Bomber Squadron and flew Carpetbagger missions.
2nd Lt Edward Tappan was Co-Pilot of B-24D '"Star Spangled Hell", 42-72873. Took off from Harrington at 23:13hrs on 4 July 1944 on a secret Carpetbagger mission of weapons and supplies delivery to the French Underground in the Loir-et-Cher area, France. Missing Air Crew Report - MACR 6990. After successful drop, shot down by ME110 over Orléans, France. A/c caught fire and crashed at 00:10hrs, 5 July, near Champgirault at Trancrainville (Eure and Loire). Edward Tappan was stuck in the top escape hatch after bail out order and was blown clear when a/c exploded. 7 members of the 8-man crew were killed in the explosion and they are commemorated on a plaque on a wall at the entrance to the Trancrainville cemetery. Ed Tappan was the only survivor of the 8-member crew and was helped by many French citizens in his evasion of capture in the Loir-et-Cher and Eure-et-Loir French Departments. Having reached a secret camp in the Foret de Fréteval, South of Châteaudun, France, he was liberated by US troops on 13 September 1944, together with 151 other Allied military evaders who had been sheltered in the woods. Ed Tappan would fly again, in a C-47 transport plane, with his brother Lt. Colonel Arthur E. Tappan, a pilot in the 62nd Troop Carrier Squadron, who managed to allow him on board as an observer on a few ferrying and supply missions over Europe. Ed flew back to the United States in late fall 1944 and after a short furlough, he taught Chinese students to fly the B-25 at Douglas Army Airfield in Arizona.
Honorably discharged the following year, he started raising and training quarter horses as well as managing a boat business in Tucson, Arizona. He raised four sons with his wife Margaret. Sadly, Margaret passed away in 1991 and couldn’t accompany Ed when he visited France in the summer of 1994 to reconnect with French people or their descendants who had helped him escape 50 years before.
See Ed Tappan’s evasion story at http://www.evasioncomete.org/ftappaned.html
Military | Second Lieutenant | Pilot | 492nd Bomb Group (Heavy)
John Broten attended the Culver Military Academy, Chicago, Illinois before entering Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey in September 1939 where he studied for one year. He entered the Service in February 1942 and trained as a pilot in the U.S...
Military | Sergeant | Radio Operator/Gunner | 801st Bomb Group
Jessie Ellis enlisted in the Air Corps in February 1943 and followed training in Aerial Gunnery before being sent overseas. He served as a Left Waist Gunner in the 801st Bomb Group/ 36th Bomb Squadron in England. Killed in the loss of B-24D '"Star...
Military | Second Lieutenant | Bombardier | 801st Bomb Group
Alfred Emert enlisted in the Air Corps in July 1942. Sent overseas in 1944, he served as a Bombardier in the 801st Bomb Group/ 36th Bomb Squadron in England. Killed in the loss of B-24D '"Star Spangled Hell", #42-72873. Took off from Harrington at 23...
Military | Staff Sergeant | Radio Operator | 801st Bomb Group
William Freidkas enlisted in the Air Corps in March 1943. After his training as a Radio Operator, he was sent overseas and served in that function in the 801st Bomb Group/ 36th Bomb Squadron in England. Killed in the loss of B-24D '"Star Spangled Hell"...
Military | Second Lieutenant | Navigator | 801st Bomb Group
Roy Gehue was living in Bear River, Canada, in 1935. He moved later to Sarasota, Florida. He enlisted in the Air Corps in January 1941 and was a Navigator in the 801st Bomb Group/ 36th Bomb Squadron in England. Killed in the loss of B-24D '"Star...
Military | Sergeant | Tail Gunner | 801st Bomb Group
Michael Pranzetelli enlisted in the Air Corps in April 1943 and followed training in Aerial Gunnery before being sent overseas. He served as a Tail Gunner in the 801st Bomb Group/ 36th Bomb Squadron in England. Killed in the loss of B-24D '"Star...
Military | Staff Sergeant | Engineer/Top Turret Gunner | 801st Bomb Group
Harry Sparks enlisted in March 1943. After training in Aerial Gunnery, he was sent overseas and served as an Engineer/ Top Turret Gunner in the 801st Bomb Group/ 36th Bomb Squadron in England. Killed in the loss of B-24D '"Star Spangled Hell", #42...
Units served with
The 801st Bomb Group was established as part of the Eighth Air Force in late March 1944 to carry out 'Carpetbagger' missions. These were night missions over France and other parts of occupied Europes to support resistance forces by dropping in agents,...
A) On 4 October 1943, B-24D Serial #42-72873 of 44th Bomb Group, 67th Bomb Squadron was flying a Diversion over the North Sea, feigning attacks toward Wilhelmshaven and Emden. The purpose was to draw German fighters from the B-17 formations on their...
Military site : airfield
Harrington was built by the 826th and 852nd Engineer Battalions of the US Army in 1943. Completed in 1944, it was the furthest Eighth Air Force combat airfield from the east coast.The Eighth's Special Operations Group was based at the airfield, first...
||North Carolina, United States
||9 August 1921
||Tucson, Arizona, United States
||Phoenix, Arizona, United States
||15 September 1942
||Bellande, Villebout, France
||5 July 1944 – 13 August 1944
Tappan landed in parachute near Neuvy-en-Beauce (Eure-et-Loir), France. Helped by French patriots, he managed to evade capture and reached a secret camp in the Fréteval Forest near Bellande, in the frame of Mission “Marathon” organized by the Belgian COMETE evasion network. Liberated by US troops. Escape & Evasion Report E&E 1016.
||Sonoita, Arizona, United States
||10 October 1996