98th Bomb Group

Group
Three airmen of the 389th Bomb Group stand with a B-24 Liberator used as a Flight Assembly Ship. Image via Tim Bivens. Handwritten caption from Bivens: 'My friend remembers it being named "Bucksheesh Benny" that it was used to fly Jack Benny around USA shows. Says it flew in North Africa with Benny and was eventually assigned to 389th as a hack and later as a form-up ship. He thinks it was originally with another group (possibly 376th or 98th).' Handwritten caption on reverse: '389th BG Form-up ship.'

Object Number - FRE 1530 - Three airmen of the 389th Bomb Group stand with a B-24 Liberator used as a Flight Assembly Ship. Image via Tim Bivens. Handwritten caption from...

The 98th trained for bombardment missions with B-24 Liberators during the first half of 1942.

The group was alerted and departed for the Middle East on 15 July 1942, arriving in Palestine in late July 1942. The 98th was initially assigned to the USMEAF (United States Middle East Air Force). However, the USMEAF was dissolved on 12 November 1942. At that time, the 98th came under the 9th Air Force. It flew its first mission to Mersa Matruh, Libya on 1 August 1942, with the aircraft being serviced by Royal Air Force personnel until 98th maintenance personnel arrived in mid-August 1942.

It supported the British Eighth Army in its westward advance from Egypt into Libya and Tunisia. It bombed land targets, air fields, railroad lines, shipping, and harbor installations in North Africa, Sicily, Italy, Crete, and Greece to cut enemy supply lines to Africa and to prepare for the Allied invasion of Sicily and Italy. The 98th earned a Distinguished Unit Citation (DUC) for action against the enemy in the Middle East, North Africa, and Sicily from August 1942 to August 1943. It received a second DUC for participation in a low-level bombing raid on enemy-held oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania, on 1 August 1943. On this raid, of 47 B-24s launched, only 21 returned safely. One, the 'Kickapoo', crashed on takeoff with the loss of all crew members except two. Six planes aborted before reaching the target. Seventeen went down in enemy territory. Two went down at sea. The Group Commander, Col. John R. (Killer) Kane was awarded the Medal of Honor for his leadership. Kane's copilot, Lt. John S. Young, was awarded an Oak Leaf Cluster to his Distinguished Flying cross for his part in the mission.

The 98th was under the command of the Twelfth Air Force in September and October 1943. From 1 November 1943 it was under the Fifteenth Air Force and moved to Italy. It flew many long-range missions to France, Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Romania to bomb enemy heavy industries, airdromes, harbors, oil fields, and communication centers. On another raid on Ploesti on 9 July 1944, Lt. Donald D. Pucket sacrificed his life trying to save three of his crew members who could not or would not bail out of their doomed B-24. Donald Pucket was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for his sacrifice.

In the summer of 1944, the 98th participated in the invasion of southern France, assisted in the Soviet advance into the Balkans, and supported the partisans and guerrillas in Yugoslavia and neighboring countries. It flew a total of 417 missions and earned a total of 15 battle streamers as well as two Presidential Unit Citations.

The group returned to the United States as the war was ending in Europe, where it trained in preparation for movement to the Pacific Theater. It was re-designated the 98th Bombardment Group (Very Heavy) and equipped with Boeing B-29 Superfortresses, but the war with Japan ended before redeployment.

The 98th was inactivated as a group on 10 November 1945. However, the 343rd, 344th, and 345th Squadrons were reassigned to B-29 groups. The 343d Squadron was assigned to the 40th Bomb Group at March Air Force Base, California. and inactivated on 27 November 1946. The 344th was assigned to the 444th Bomb Group at Davis-Monthan Field, Arizona and inactivated on 1 October 1946. The 345th was assigned to the 462nd Bomb Group at McDill Field, Florida and inactivated on 31 March 1946.

Commanding Officers

  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs
  • Highest Rank: Colonel
  • Role/Job: Commanding Officer
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs
  • Highest Rank: Lieutenant Colonel
  • Role/Job: Commanding Officer
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 98th Bomb Group 344th Bomb Squadron
  • Service Numbers: O-29680
  • Highest Rank: Colonel
  • Role/Job: Commanding Officer / Pilot
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 98th Bomb Group 343rd Bomb Squadron
  • Service Numbers: O-222423 / 1782A
  • Highest Rank: Colonel
  • Role/Job: Pilot

Connections

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Unit stations

Station Location Date

Based

Fayid 11 November 1942 - 9 February 1943

Based

Benina 14 February 1943 - 25 March 1943

Based

Berca 26 March 1943 - 4 April 1943

Based

Benina 4 April 1943 - 25 September 1943

Based

Lecce 17 January 1944 - 19 April 1945

Other

Assigned 9th Air Force

Other

Assigned 12th Air Force

Other

Assigned 15th Air Force

Encompassing

  • Unit Hierarchy: Squadron
  • Air Force: Ninth Air Force Fifteenth Air Force
  • Type Category: Bombardment
  • Unit Hierarchy: Squadron
  • Air Force: Ninth Air Force Twelfth Air Force Fifteenth Air Force
  • Type Category: Bombardment
  • Unit Hierarchy: Squadron
  • Air Force: Ninth Air Force Twelfth Air Force Fifteenth Air Force
  • Type Category: Bombardment
  • Unit Hierarchy: Squadron
  • Air Force: Ninth Air Force Twelfth Air Force Fifteenth Air Force
  • Type Category: Bombardment

People

  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 491st Bomb Group 98th Bomb Group 343rd Bomb Squadron
  • Highest Rank: Captain
  • Role/Job: Pilot
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 98th Bomb Group 345th Bomb Squadron
  • Service Numbers: 19114586
  • Highest Rank: Staff Sergeant
  • Role/Job: Tail Gunner
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 98th Bomb Group 345th Bomb Squadron
  • Service Numbers: 34352519
  • Highest Rank: Staff Sergeant
  • Role/Job: Tail Gunner
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 98th Bomb Group 343rd Bomb Squadron
  • Service Numbers: 19032952 / O-736686
  • Highest Rank: Second Lieutenant
  • Role/Job: Bombardier
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 98th Bomb Group 343rd Bomb Squadron
  • Service Numbers: 15074175 / O-728742
  • Highest Rank: Second Lieutenant
  • Role/Job: Pilot

Aircraft

  • Aircraft Type: B-24 Liberator
  • Nicknames: Edna Elizabeth
  • Unit: 376th Bomb Group 98th Bomb Group 343rd Bomb Squadron 512th Bomb Squadron 1st Provisional Group
  • Aircraft Type: B-24 Liberator
  • Nicknames: Sleepy, The Squaw
  • Unit: 93rd Bomb Group 98th Bomb Group 343rd Bomb Squadron
  • Aircraft Type: B-24 Liberator
  • Nicknames: - Chug-A-Lug
  • Unit: 98th Bomb Group 345th Bomb Squadron
  • Aircraft Type: B-24 Liberator
  • Nicknames: - Kickapoo
  • Unit: 98th Bomb Group 344th Bomb Squadron
  • Aircraft Type: B-24 Liberator
  • Nicknames: - Bashful - Jersey Jackass - Jersey Jerks
  • Unit: 389th Bomb Group 98th Bomb Group

Mission

  • Date: 1 August 1943
  • Official Description: 177 B-24’s, of IX Bomber Command (including Heavy Bombers on loan from Eighth AF) are dispatched to bomb oil refineries at Ploesti and nearby Campina. The operation (TIDALWAVE) is costly, 54 planes and 532 airmen being lost, but damage to the targets...

Revisions

Date3 Apr 2021 23:18:37
Contributordecwriter
Sources

Added middle initial for Lt. Pucket.

Date2 Apr 2021 09:27:26
ContributorKickapoo
Sources

Personal Archives - John S. Young , Jr

Date16 Sep 2020 01:47:57
Contributordecwriter
Sources

NARA files verified decorations to Ploesti raiders.

Date26 Sep 2019 14:23:05
ContributorEmily
Sources

Air Force Combat Units of World War II

Date1 Jul 2019 07:30:58
ContributorKickapoo
Sources

Anatomy Of A Disaster - Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg ---- Black Sunday - Michael Hill ---- Together We Served.com ---- Into The Fire - Duane Schultz

Date17 Mar 2019 23:32:53
ContributorDieterle
Sources

98th Operations Group site.

Date17 Mar 2019 23:25:34
ContributorDieterle
Sources

98th Operations Group site.

Date8 Apr 2018 06:03:28
ContributorKickapoo
Sources

Black Sunday by Michael Hill

Date12 Mar 2018 13:06:02
ContributorKickapoo
Sources

Burning Hitler's black Gold by Robert Sternfels

Date13 Jan 2018 23:10:42
ContributorKickapoo
Sources

"Into The Fire" by Duane Schultz Part III Chap 6 , page 105 : " Not all of the planes made it [ the takeoff ]. 'The Kickapoo of the 376th lost an engine shortly after getting airborne. With a sickening jolt the Kickapoo hit the runway, smashed into a concrete telephone pole, and exploded.' Only two of the crew survived, one with horrible burns over most of his body."

98th Bomb Group: Gallery (154 items)