Noel H Howard


Died 9/26/43 aboard a B-17F #42-30337 'Eight Ball' or 'Flak Hack' in the European Theater. Believed to have died from lack of oxygen due to damage to air supply in the plane during a bombing run. (not able to find squadron or info cross referencing this) Losses has no details other than Killed/died on this date. ABMC lists him with 30th Station Complement Squadron. Losses lists (390th B) 30th STN COM SQ

My name is Kenneth Howard, and am a first cousin to Noel Howard. The following is information that is explained in the text submitted.

Sometime around 2003, I was able to talk by phone with Dean Ferris, Bombardier of the  B-17 crew on the flight that Noel Howard died. Noel was my first cousin, and it was only known that he died from lack of oxygen. It is a long story about finding someone who put me in touch with Dean, so I will skip to the conversation.

Dean said that the mission that Noel died on, he was a fill in Radio operator, the regular R. O. was ill or otherwise unavailable for the flight.  Noel ran out to catch up with the crew, and introduced himself to Dean as the fill in for the mission.  Dean said he asked Noel if he was qualified also for gunnery as well as R.O., which he was. The mission took them over France, and heavy fighter aircraft was encountered,  as well as thunderstorms and turbulence. Dean said it was his duty to radio check with all crew members regularly to insure they were OK. Due to the fighter attack, he was delayed in making a scheduled oygen check, and when he did check, Noel didn't respond.  Dean then grabbed a portable oxygen tank and made his way to the R.O. station where he found Noel on the floor and unresponsive.  Also, his oxygen mask was off, and filled with frozen vomit which had clogged the mask. It was never determined whether he was airsick, or frightened causing the vomiting.  Upon return to base, an ambulance met the plane and took Noel away. Dean never saw him afterward.  A sad side note to the incident is that Dean said he never knew Noel's name until contact was made due to my attempt to learn more detail of Noel's death.  I was very grateful for his explanation, and as a result I was able to share the information with Noel's family and others.  Dean seemed pleased that after almost 60 years he finally learned who the young Radio Operator was that substituted that day, and gave his life in the process.


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Units served with

The insignia of the 390th Bomb Group.
  • Unit Hierarchy: Group
  • Air Force: Eighth Air Force
  • Type Category: Bombardment


A bomber crew of the 390th Bomb Group return to base after a mission in their B-17 Flying Fortress nicknamed "Flak Hack 8". Image stamped on reverse: ‘Fox.’ [stamp], ‘passed for publication 21 Oct 1943.’ [stamp] and ‘289357.’ [Censor no.] Printed caption on reverse: ‘THE FORTRESSES GO OUT AGAIN. US bombers day raid on German works. A Brilliant series of pictures secured by our cameraman when the USAAF kept up the offensive from an English base against a factory in western Germany, they had a
  • Aircraft Type: B-17 Flying Fortress
  • Nicknames: Eight Ball, 8 Ball, Flak Hack
  • Unit: 390th Bomb Group 570th Bomb Squadron 571st Bomb Squadron



Event Location Date Description


Biardstown, Texas 8 February 1917


26 September 1943


Plot F Row 3 Grave 45
Lamar County, TX, USA


Date14 Jan 2020 19:18:17

Added the cemetery to the Burial event per Find-a-grave Memorial ID 56290844.

Date22 Dec 2016 10:56:38
ContributorLucy May

Corrected serial number. Sources:
List of WWII Army and Army Air Force casualties for Lamar County, Texas via

Date17 Jun 2015 02:13:24
ContributorKenneth Howard

Family records.

Date17 Jun 2015 02:11:40
ContributorKenneth Howard

Conversed with a crew member, Dean Ferris

Date16 Jun 2015 23:14:07
ContributorKenneth Howard

Information obtained from crew member on the mission when Noel Howard died.

Date27 Sep 2014 18:20:35

Cousin, Unit Website, Losses of the 8th & 9th AFs Vol. 1 by Bishop & Hey p. 508, WWII Memorial / Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia