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Eugene Robert Garner

Military

Crew member SSgt. Eugene Robert Garner flew on Operation Tidal wave and was one of two survivors of the crash of the B-24D, KICKAPOO, on takeoff for the Ploesti mission. He was assigned as part of a replacement crew for the B-24D, KICKAPOO, from the 344th Bomb Squadron, the 98th Bomb Group, and the 9th Air Force. Flown by replacement pilot, Lt. Robert Nespor, also from the 344th Bomb Squadron and the 98th Bomb Group, the KICKAPOO crashed shortly after takeoff for the Ploesti mission. The airplane lost an engine just after getting airborne and caught fire while attempting to land back at the Lete airfield. On Nespor's second approach, on short final, his left wing hit a concrete pole, crashing the aircraft into the desert, exploding in flames. Only two crew members survived their burns caused by the crash, Lt. Russell Polivka, and SSgt. Eugene R. Garner

Squadron: 93rd BG - TDY 98th BG
SSgt. Garner's Awards: Air Medal - Purple Heart.
Pilot 1st Lt. Robert J. Nespor - KIA

Target: Ploesti - White IV - Astra Romano Refinery
Missing Air Crew Report Details
USAAF MACR#:
Date Lost: 1-Aug-43
Serial Number: 41-11768
Aircraft Model B-24D
Aircraft Letter: D
Aircraft Name: KICKAPOO
Location: Crew of 10 - 8 KIA - 2 WIA - RTD
Cause: KICKAPOO aborted the mission due to mechanical difficulties.

Sgt. Garner flew as a replacement gunner on the B-24D, KICKAPOO, on Operation Tidal Wave, one of the most daring raids of WW2, flying into their targets at tree top level to destroy Romanian oil refineries. 1 Aug 1943.

The aircraft, KICKAPOO, was flown by replacement pilot, 1st Lt. Robert Nespor and a crew of 10 on loan from the 93rd Bomb Group. Briefed to fly in the extreme right position on first wave, Flight 1, attacking Target White IV. KICKAPOO's number 4 engine failed on take off. Lt. Nespor, after jettisoning his bombs at sea, was guided in for an emergency landing back at Lete. Due to conflicting aircraft on the runway, Nespor was forced to abort and approach the field a second time from the West. While doing so, his right wing caught on fire, and, on short final approach, he lost power on two more engines, sank and hit the runway hard, bounced, and drifted off the centerline, hitting a concrete pole, and exploded in flames on impact with the ground, killing all but two of the crew members, Lt. Russel Polivka and SSgt Eugene Garner, who were badly burned, but survived, recovered from their injuries and eventually returned to duty. RTD

Lt. Russell Polivka briefed the accident board of inquiry that Nespor lost two engines on his starboard side and, then, on the Port side just as they were coming in. He spent one and a half years in the hospital and went through many surgeries recovering from the burns he had suffered. Engineer Garner went through numerous plastic surgeries too. He survived 29 combat missions and three airplane crashes, including the crash of KICKAPOO.

Eugene Garner died October 25, 2005.

Lt. Robert Nespor was an original 98th copilot who was grounded with dysentery so he could not finish his tour with the rest of the original crews. Lt. Polivka revealed the fact that Nespor could have easily ditched in the Mediterranean but wanted to save the plane, as this was his last mission. He had been cleared by the tower to return for an abort landing.

Crew of KICKAPOO on Operation Tidalwave :

1st Lt. Robert J. Nespor - Pilot

2nd Lt. Thurman L. Ward - Bombardier

2nd Lt. John C. Riley - Co Pilot

TSgt. Vaun D. Wenrick - Engineer

SSgt. Eugene R. Garner - Gunner

TSgt. Armand R. Massart - Radio Operator

SSgt.Edwin J. Sliwa - Gunner

SSgt. George Warren Lawlor - Gunner

SSgt. John D'Amour - Gunner

Service

People

  • Robert Nespor

    Military | First Lieutenant | B-24 Command Pilot | 98th Bomb Group
    1st Lt. Robert James Nespor, Jr. was a B-24D command bomber pilot in the 9th Air Force, the 98th Bombardment Group, "The Pyramiders", and the 330th Bombing Squadron. For the huge mission to bomb the oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania, on Operation...

  • Russell Polivka

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Navigator | 93rd Bomb Group
    Lt. Russell W. Polivka was a navigator, and part of the replacement crew assigned to the B-24D Liberator, 41-11768, KICKAPOO, of 344th Bomb Squadron, the 98th Bomb Group, and the 9th Air Force, for Operation Tidal Wave over Ploesti, Romania. Flown by...

  • John Riley

    Military | Second Lieutenant | B-24 Co-Pilot | 93rd Bomb Group
    2nd Lt. John Clark Riley was a B-24D pilot in the 9th Air Force, the 93rd Bomb Group, and the 330th Bomb Squadron at Benghazi, Libya, in the Mediterranean theater (MTO) during WWII. Lt. Riley and his command Pilot Robert Nespor from the 98th Bomb...

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Units served with

  • 8th Air Force

    8th Air Force


    Eighth Air Force Bomber Command became the Eighth Air Force on February 1944, it oversaw bombardment of strategic targets in Europe until 1945. ...

  • 93rd Bomb Group

    93rd Bomb Group

    Group
    93rd Bombardment Group (Heavy) was activated 1-March-1942 at Barksdale Field, Louisiana. On 15-May-1942 the Group moved to Ft. Myers, Florida to continue advanced flight training and also to fly anti-submarine patrols over the Gulf of Mexico; they...

  • 330th Bomb Squadron

Aircraft

  • 41-11768 Kickapoo

    B-24 Liberator
    The B-24D Liberator, 41-11768, named, Kickapoo, was piloted by Lt. John S. Young from Dallas, Texas as part of the 9th Air Force, the 98th Bomb Group, and the 344th Bombing Squadron, which arrived in North Africa in early 1943. This airplane was...

Missions

  • 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...

Associated Place

  • Benina

    Military site : airfield

Events

Event Location Date
Born Musgrove County, OK 11 April 1923

Son of Elias and Martha Ada [Davis] Garner.

Enlisted Kansa City, IL, 1941

Kansa City, Illinois

Based Benina 1943 – 1944

Assigned to 344th BS, 98th BG, 8th AF.

Crash landed Benghazi, Libya 1 August 1943

Crew member B-24 liberator 41-11768 'Kickapoo' of 344th BS, 98th BG, 9th AF. Crashed shortly after take-off for the August 1, 43 low-level Ploesti, Romania mission. She lost an engine just after getting airborne and then caught fire while banking back toward the field to land, then a wing touched the ground and she smashed into a concrete pole and burst into flames. WIA.

Hospitalised 1 August 1943 – 1 February 1945

Year and a half reconstructive surgery for burns from accident.

Died Colleyville, TX 25 October 2005
Buried Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery Dallas, Dallas County TX 28 October 2005

Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery
Dallas, Dallas County
Texas, USA.

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
26 July 2021 10:21:41 Al_Skiff Changes to events, place associations and media associations
Sources

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/17620365/eugene-r-garner

Date Contributor Update
26 July 2021 07:26:43 Kickapoo Changes to awards
Sources

Dallas Morning News - Obituary - Eugene Robert Garner

Date Contributor Update
26 July 2021 07:19:02 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Addition to text for accuracy and clarity - Kickapoo

Date Contributor Update
26 July 2021 07:14:37 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Dallas Morning News - Obituary - Eugene Robert Garner

Date Contributor Update
26 July 2021 07:01:51 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Wording and spacing changes for accuracy and clarity - Kickapoo

Date Contributor Update
26 July 2021 06:49:18 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

FindAGrave Memorial - SSgt. Eugene Robert Garner

Date Contributor Update
26 July 2021 05:41:52 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

FindAGrave Memorial - Lt. Eugene R. Garner

Date Contributor Update
26 July 2021 00:31:39 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Personal Archives - Kickapoo

Date Contributor Update
26 July 2021 00:01:04 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Best Web - B-24 - KICKAPOO

Date Contributor Update
04 January 2021 10:28:14 Al_Skiff Changes to middlename, biography, awards, events, person associations and unit associations
Sources

https://www.fold3.com/image/627065444
https://www.fold3.com/record/60508507/social-security-death-index-eugene...
https://www.fold3.com/record/713065347/u-s-veterans-gravesites-ca-1775-2...
https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/17620365/eugene-r-garner

Date Contributor Update
23 April 2020 04:21:22 jmoore43 Changes to biography
Sources

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

Date Contributor Update
08 March 2017 15:01:14 general ira snapsorter Changes to biography and unit associations
Sources

Merged with duplicate entry to include details from:
- the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia

Date Contributor Update
18 April 2015 16:33:04 Al_Skiff Created entry with surname, middlename, firstname, nationality, highest rank, role, biography, events, unit associations, aircraft associations and mission associations
Sources

http://www.findagrave.com / USAAF Photo.

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