Username
Kickapoo
First Name
John Simmons
Surname
Young, Jr.
Bio
I am John S. Young, Jr. - I am a private pilot and an aircraft mechanic for a major west coast airline for thirty + years. - My father was Major John Simmons Young. He was born in Dallas, Texas. He was a WWII B-24D bomber pilot with the 9th Air Force, the 98th Bombing Group and the - the Pyramiders, and the 344th Bombing Squadron. He bombed and sank a German submarine in the Gulf of Mexico before deploying to North Africa in 1942. He was based for combat at Cairo, Egypt, Tobruk, and Benghazi, Libya, in 1942-3. His personal airplane for part of his time in combat was a Consolidated B-24D, he named, 'KICKAPOO'. He flew many tactical missions from July 1942 to 1943 attached to the British Expeditionary Force against assigned targets and targets of opportunity, German land targets in North Africa, shipping in the Mediterranean Sea, and against enemy ports and port facilities in North Africa, Italy, Crete, Greece, and Sicily. He flew over 300 combat flight hours and 28 total combat missions. He was attacked and shot down by German fighters at least once during that time and was awarded the Silver Star for that air fight in which his gunners shot down three of the ME-109s that attacked his B-24, and damaged two others before they disengaged. He was able to successfully ditch his B-24 in the shallow water just off the beach at the island of Crete with none of his crew lost or injured. - Finally, for his very last combat mission, starting in June and July of 1943, he helped plan and flew copilot on one of the five lead aircraft on the desperate mission to destroy the Romanian oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania, and also, per the planners, to change the direction of the war. Lt. Young was picked by the 98th Bombing Group's commander, Col. John R. (Killer) Kane, to replace the Ploesti Mission Commander, Major General Uzal Ent, to fly as Kane's copilot in the 98th Bomb Group's lead airplane, 'Hail Columbia', along with Lt. Norman Whalen, navigator, and Lt. Harry Korger, as bombardier, and the rest of the 'KICKAPOO''s regular crew. Upon takeoff for the Ploesti mission, 'KICKAPOO' had an engine failure on takeoff and multiple engine failures shortly thereafter and crashed in flames, as it's replacement pilot, Lt Robert Nespor was attempting to save the valuable B-24 and land. The crash killed all but two of the replacement crew members, including the 27 year old pilot, Lt. Nespor, a personal friend of John Young's. The 98th Bomb Group suffered 46 per cent casualties over their target, White IV at Ploesti. Everyone on board 'Hail Columbia' survived the Ploesti mission with no crewmen seriously injured and escaped the target area to crash land their badly damaged plane on the British airbase at Nicosia, Cyprus. Lt. Gib Hadley in 'Hadley's Harem', Col. Walter Stewart in 'Utah Man', and Lt. Robert Sternfels in the B-24 named 'The Sandman', followed 'Hail Columbia' out of the Ploesti area and landed safely on the airbase at Nicosia, Cyprus behind 'Hail Columbia', minus Gib Hadley and his shot up plane. Lt. Hadley was killed, trapped and drowned in his beloved airplane, 'Hadley's Harem' when it sank after ditching in the Aegean Sea just off the coast of Turkey. Lt. Sternfels gave Col. Kane and Lt. Young a ride back to Benghazi from Nicosia in his airplane the next day. Capt. Young, Col. Kane, Col Stewart, and Lt. Sternfels all survived the Ploesti mission and the war. For his contribution to the Ploesti mission, Lt. John Young was awarded another Oak Leaf Cluster to his Distinguished Flying Cross, and for his many other combat missions in the Mediterranean theater, the Silver Star with one oak leaf cluster, the Bronze Star, the Air Medal with several Oak Leaf Clusters, and the Distinguished Flying Cross with five Oak Leaf Clusters. He was honorably discharged with the final rank of Major in 1946 - John Young died in 1983. -- John S. Young, Jr.
Member since
2 years 8 months