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Joseph L Russo


Mid air collision 31 December 1944 in B-17 42-31987, 'The Little Skipper', Killed in Action (KIA). Body never found (Piggyback Mission) It was called the 'Piggyback' mission because a B-17 had jammed up into this B -17 trying to fill an open place in the box pattern. Captain Rojohn was pilot of 'The Little Skipper'.

Sergeant Russo was heard over the intercom in the plane reciting his 'Hail Marys' in preparation for his death as he could not get out of the jammed ball turret. Several fellow crew members attempted to release Russo but were unable to save him.

Awards: PH.



  • Prosper Pinto

    Military | First Lieutenant | Pilot | 466th Bomb Group
    Crashed after takeoff on a mission to Biarritz airfield, FR on 27 Mar 1944 in B-24H #42-52562. Collided with another 466th plane in low visibility. Killed in Action (KIA).

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Units served with

  • 100th Bomb Group

    100th Bomb Group

    "The Bloody Hundredth", so-called because of a reputation for losing a high number aircraft and crews, flew B-17s from Thorpe Abbotts, Norfolk. Their losses were not the highest of any Eighth Air Force Group but on several occasions the Group lost many...

  • 350th Bomb Squadron


  • 42-31987 'Shilaylee' aka 'The Little Skipper'

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 13/1/44; Kearney 22/1/44; Romulus 23/2/44; Grenier 28/2/44; Assigned 350BS/100BG [LN-A] Thorpe Abbotts 10/3/44; 418BS [LD-D]; Missing in Action Misburg 31/12/44 with Glen Rojohn, Co-pilot: Bill Leek, Navigator: Bob Washington,...


  • 772

    31 December 1944

Associated Place

  • Thorpe Abbotts

    Military site : airfield
    Home of the 'Bloody Hundredth’, a Bomb Group with a reputation for high casualty rates, Thorpe Abbotts was under USAAF control from June 1943 to the end of the war. Some of the airfield survives today, and the control tower houses the 100th Bomb Group...


Event Location Date
Born Chicago, Illinois, USA 2 March 1921

Son of Frank and Frances [Sapienza] Russo.

Lived in Cook County, IL, USA 1941
Enlisted Chicago, IL, USA 8 October 1942

Chicago, Illinois

Based Thorpe Abbotts 1944 – 31 December 1944

Assigned to 350BS, 100BG, 8AF USAAF.

Died Kleingärtnerverein Rüstringen e.V., Neuengrodener Weg 50, 26386 Wilhelmshaven, Germany 31 December 1944

Failed to Return (FTR) mission to Wilhelmshaven Mid air collision near Rustringen in B-17 43-38457 trapped in ball turret Killed in Action (KIA) 31-Dec-44. MACR 11359.

Buried St Adalberts cemetery Niles Cook County IL 27 January 1949

St Adalberts cemetery
Cook County


Date Contributor Update
18 January 2021 21:09:28 Al_Skiff Changes to biography and events
# removed from A/C serial No. to aid clarity and consistency.

Date Contributor Update
17 May 2020 19:49:29 jmoore43 Changes to biography

Added a "-" to the A/C serial # in the "Summary biography" to aid clarity & consistency.

Date Contributor Update
14 October 2017 16:54:20 Al_Skiff Changes to service number, biography, awards, events, unit associations and place associations

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:17:26 AAM AAM ingest

100th Bomb Group Foundation Directory, 2000 - 2001, MACR 11550 / Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia / MACR 11550 / Paul Andrews, Project Bits and Pieces, 8th Air Force Roll of Honor database