William J O'Leary


Assigned to the 384th Bomb Group, 547th Bomb Squadron on AAF Station 106 Special Orders #254 dated 23 December 1944, George F. Ruckman Crew. 22 combat missions

In O'Leary's own words: "I'm proud to say that I flew my first Mission as a co-pilot on a B-17 while still 19 years of age. On my 9th Mission, Feb 1, 1945, as a co-pilot on Ruckman's crew, I suffered a damaged ear drum as the result of flying with a very bad cold. I was confined to the Base Hospital for thirteen days, plus a few trips to the Thrapston General Hospital.

On February 3rd, 1945, Ruckman's Crew, with a replacement for me, flew a mission to Berlin where our B-17 Stardust sustained major flak damage, and was forced to land on a Russian controlled airfield in Poland. The fate of the Crew was not known for over forty days. When Doc Vivian, 547th Flight Surgeon, cleared me for flight duty, I had no crew or airplane to fly.

Captain Shelley, 547th Flight Operations Officer, called and asked if I would like to get some missions in flying as Group Observer in the tail gunner's position in the Group Lead airplane. I flew several missions in that capacity, as well as a replacement for co-pilots on other crews. I completed a total 22 missions. In the interim I was commissioned from F/O, and 'checked-out' as a First Pilot. I participated in the Green Project and other minor projects, before returning to the U.S. on 21 April 1946."


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Units served with

The insignia of the 384th Bomb Group.
  • Unit Hierarchy: Group
  • Air Force: Eighth Air Force
  • Type Category: Bombardment


  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 384th Bomb Group 547th Bomb Squadron
  • Service Numbers: O-777244
  • Highest Rank: Second Lieutenant
  • Role/Job: Pilot


  • Aircraft Type: B-17 Flying Fortress
  • Nicknames: Stardust
  • Unit: 384th Bomb Group 547th Bomb Squadron



Event Location Date Description


New York, NY, USA


Date27 Sep 2014 18:28:22