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Leonard Jack Mendelson


Assigned to 612BS, 401BG, 8AF USAAF. Gaston Fox crew. Shot down 10-Apr-44 in B-17 42-31511 'Fool's Luck III'. Prisoner of War (POW). MACR 3939

On 24 Dec 1943 Gorenflos mission: Good visibility and good results characterized the mission, but Mendelson's crewmates had a few anxious moments when 3 bombs became "hung up". They might have exploded in 15 seconds, but Mendelson hurriedly kicked at the bombs and managed to jar them loose in the nick of time.

"We owe our lives to his heroism" said 2nd Lt. Gaston Fox, the pilot.

Awards: POW, WWII Victory, EAME.



  • Gaston Fox

    Military | First Lieutenant | Pilot | 401st Bomb Group
    Assigned to 612BS, 401BG, 8AF USAAF. Shot down 10 April 1944 in B-17 42-31511 'Fool's Luck III. ' Prisoner of War (POW). ...

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Units served with

  • 401st Bomb Group

    401st Bomb Group

    The 401st Bomb Group flew B-17 Flying Fortresses from Deenethorpe, Northamptonshire, from November 1943 to June 1945. Starting their missions at that time meant the focus was very much on the coming invasion attempt of France planned for the following...

  • 612th Bomb Squadron


  • 42-31511 'Fools Luck III'

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Denver 16/11/43; Kearney 3/12/43; Presque Is 9/12/43; Assigned 612BS/401BG [SC-D] Deenethorpe 1/1/44; Missing in Action Evere A/fd 10/4/44 with Gaston Fox, Co-pilot: Francis Hoad, Navigator: Darrel Wilson, Bombardier: Leon Mendelson, Ball...


  • VIII Bomber Command 164

    24 December 1943
    This mission is directed at V-Weapon sites in the Pas-de-Calaise area of France. The attacks are made between 1330-1510hrs. The mission is composed of three elements. The first element is a force of 277 B-17s from 1st Bomb Division that included: 91BG ...

Associated Place

  • Deenethorpe

    Military site : airfield
    Deenethorpe was a base purpose-built for American heavy bombers, with the Class A regulation 2,000 and 1,400-yard runways. All the buildings on site,such as the accommodation and administrative blocks, were temporary. In December 1943, several local...

  • Stalag Luft I

    Other location

  • Dulag Luft 12

    Other location


Event Location Date
Born New York State 27 May 1921

Son of Celia Mendelson.

Enlisted New York City, NY 27 June 1942

New York City, New York

Based Deenethorpe 1944 – 10 April 1944

Assigned to 612BS, 401BG, 8AF USAAF.

Prisoner of war (POW) Barth, Germany 10 April 1944 – May 1945

Prisoner of war (POW). Stalag Luft I.

Baled out POW 3 miles W of Calais 10 April 1944

Shot down 10-Apr-44 in B-17 42-31511 'Fool's Luck III'. Prisoner of War (POW). MACR 3939

Died Hillsborough, NJ 11 February 2005
Buried Washington Cemetery South Brunswick, NJ 15 February 2005

Washington Cemetery
South Brunswick,
Middlesex County, New Jersey


Date Contributor Update
23 February 2020 13:55:42 Al_Skiff Changes to biography and events

Date Contributor Update
23 February 2020 10:43:04 Al_Skiff Changes to middlename, firstname, service number, biography, awards, events, person associations, unit associations and place associations

Date Contributor Update
22 February 2020 04:30:43 jmoore43 Changes to firstname, service number and biography

Added the missing data in the "Summary biography" from the news article attached to the person.

Date Contributor Update
21 June 2017 15:41:17 general ira snapsorter Changes to biography, events, aircraft associations and mission associations

Merged with duplicate entry to include details from:
- MACR 3939;
- Paul Andrews, Project Bits and Pieces, 8th Air Force Roll of Honor database

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:18:38 AAM AAM ingest

Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia / MACR 3939,