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James Francis Gerrits


Assigned to 567BS, 389BG, 8AF USAAF. TDY 9AF USAAF. Failed to Return (FTR) Ploesti raid in B-24 'Hitler's Hearse' 42-40544 1-Aug-43; pilot killed by flak, landed his A/C in Izmir, Turkey despite his wounds, where he and the crew where interned. INT

Awards: DSC, DFC, PH, WWII Victory, EAME.

DSC Citation
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Captain (Air Corps), [then Second Lieutenant] James F. Gerrits (ASN: 0-795937), United States Army Air Forces, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving as Co-Pilot of a B-24 Heavy Bomber in the 567th Bombardment Squadron, 389th Bombardment Group (H), NINTH Air Force (Attached), on 1 August 1943. While participating in an attack against heavily defended oil refineries at Ploesti, Rumania, the B-24 type aircraft on which Captain Gerrits served as co-pilot was severely damaged by anti-aircraft fire, the pilot killed, and several crew members seriously wounded. Despite his own painful injuries, Captain Gerrits assumed command of the damaged aircraft and maintained his position in the formation until the bombs were released on the target. Realizing that leaking fuel tanks and damaged controls precluded the safe return of his aircraft to its home station, Captain Gerrits left the formation and succeeded in manoeuvring his crippled aircraft to an emergency landing in neutral territory without further injury to members of the crew. The heroism, leadership, and exemplary devotion to duty displayed by Captain Gerrits in his determination to inflict maximum damage on a vital enemy installation reflect the highest credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of the United States. [This award supersedes the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross to Captain James F. Gerrits for heroism on 1 August 1943, as published in General Orders 89, Ninth Air Force, European Theater of Operations, 16 September 1943.



  • Robert Mooney

    Military | Captain | Pilot | 389th Bomb Group
    Assigned to 567BS, 389BG, 8AF USAAF. TDY with 9AF USAAF. Failed to Return (FTR) Ploesti raid in B-24 42-40544 'Hitler's Hearse'. A/C and crew interned Izmir, Turkey. Killed in Action (KIA) Awards: DSC, AM, PH.

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Units served with

  • 389th Bomb Group

    389th Bomb Group

    The 389th Bomb Group, known in more familiar terms as "the Sky Scorpions", flew strategic bombing missions in B-24 Liberators from Hethel, England. They also sent detachments to join bases in North Africa at Benghazi No. 10, Libya, between 3 July 1943...

  • 567th Bomb Squadron

    567th Bomb Squadron

    567th Bombardment Squadron, 24 December 1942 - 13 September 1945 ...


  • 42-40544 'Hitlers Hearse'

    B-24 Liberator
    Failed To Return - Ploesti oil refinery raid, 1st Aug 1943, landed near Izmir, Turkey, pilot Robert C Mooney, crew interned.


  • Operation Tidal Wave

    1 August 1943
    Operation TIDAL WAVE. B-24D Liberators attack the oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania. The bombers flew low to avoid radar detection and dropped time delayed bombs. Out of the 177 B-24s that took part in the raid 167 managed to attack their targets. 57...


Event Location Date
Born Little Chute, WI 14 November 1921

Son of Martin James and Nellie L [Hall] Gerrits.

Enlisted Philadelphia, PA 28 January 1942

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Based 1943 – 1 August 1943

Assigned to 567BS, 389BG, 8AF USAAF.

Interned İzmir, Turkey 1 August 1943

Failed to Return (FTR) Ploesti raid in B-24 'Hitler's Hearse' 42-40544 1-Aug-43; Interned Izmir, Turkey.

Died Saint Clair, MI 13 December 2006
Buried Saint Marys Cemetery Saint Clair, St. Clair County, MI 15 December 2006

Saint Marys Cemetery
Saint Clair, St. Clair County, Michigan


Date Contributor Update
18 February 2021 14:09:52 Al_Skiff Changes to middlename, service number, biography, awards, events and unit associations

Date Contributor Update
15 November 2019 12:36:19 general ira snapsorter Changes to biography, events and unit associations

Ploesti Sortie Reports, 389th Bomb Group

Date Contributor Update
15 March 2015 19:25:43 Al_Skiff Changes to biography, events, unit associations, aircraft associations and mission associations

AAM Database.

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:14:21 AAM AAM ingest

Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia / Losses of the 8th & 9th AFs Vol I p. 223