B-24D - 'Hail Columbia' - After Crash Landing at Nicosia, Cyprus - Aug 1, 1943. From left : Lt. Harry Korger/ Bombardier - Lt. Norman Whalen Navigator/nose gunner - kneeling, second from right, 1st Lt. Raymond Hubbard/ radio operator/ gunner, SSgt. Harvey Treace/gunner, TSgt Clarence Weckesser/ Engineer/ top turret gunner, SSgt. Neville Benson/waist gunner, SSgt. Joseph LaBranch/ gunner, SSgt. Frederick Leard/waist gunner . The next morning after the Ploesti mission, Monday August 2nd, 1943.
Technical Sgt. Frederick A. Leard was a waist gunner assigned to the Element Lead B-24D Liberator bomber, named 'Hail Columbia', SN # 41-11825, flown by Col. John R. "Killer" Kane and Lt. John S. Young on Operation Tidal Wave, the large mission to destroy the oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania on August 1, 1943.
TSgt. Leard had been flying and fighting over North Africa and all over the Mediterranean Theater of War for many months when he learned he would be flying to Ploesti with Col. Kane and Lt. John Young in 'Hail Columbia' instead of flying with Lt. Young in their regularly assigned airplane, the B-24D, 'Kickapoo', which was given a replacement crew for the Ploesti mission. This seemingly random crew reassignment proved fortunate for Sgt. Leard and all of his crew mates from 'Kickapoo', including his pilot, Johnny Young, because 'Kickapoo''s replacement crew were killed, KIA, minus two, who survived but were badly burned, WIA on takeoff for Ploesti after suffering multiple engine failures and a fire shortly after getting 'Kickapoo' into the air, when they crashed in flames trying to land back at Lete Airbase at Benghazi, Libya. Fred Leard and all of 'Hail Columbia''s crew survived the Ploesti bombing mission, with minor injuries to several of the gunners.
Sgt. Frederick Leard received the Distinguished Flying Cross medal for his actions over Ploesti, August 1, 1943.
Military | Staff Sergeant | Waist Gunner | 98th Bomb Group
SSgt. Neville C. Bensen took part in Operation Tidal Wave, the raid on Ploesti on 1 August 1943. He was a waist gunner in the Element Lead B-24D Liberator, # 41-11825, 'Hail Columbia', piloted by Col. John R. "Killer" Kane and Lt. John S. Young. He...
Military | First Lieutenant | Radio Operator | 98th Bomb Group
Lt. Raymond B. Hubbard was assigned to the 9th Air force, the 98th Bombardment Group, and the 344th Bombing Squadron in Libya, North Africa, 1943. He flew in Operation Tidal Wave, the raid on Ploesti on 1 August 1943, flying as a Waist Gunner and Radio...
Military | Colonel | Commanding Officer, Command Pilot | 98th Bomb Group
John Riley Kane (January 5, 1907 – May 29, 1996) was a colonel in the United States Army Air Corps and later the United States Air Force. He received the U.S. military's highest decoration, the Congressional Medal of Honor in World War II, for his...
Military | Colonel | Bombardier Navigator | 98th Bomb Group
Lt. Harold Korger was a bombardier in the 344th Bombardment Squadron, 98th Bomb Group, 9th Air Force. He flew on the famous mission, Operation Tidal Wave, Aug 1, 1943, to knock out the oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania. ...
Military | Sergeant | Gunner | 98th Bomb Group
Took part in Operation Tidal Wave, the raid on Ploesti on 1 August 1943, flying in B-24 Liberator 41-11825.
Military | Technical Sergeant | Right Waist Gunner | 98th Bomb Group
Technical Sgt. Frederick A. Leard was a waist gunner assigned to the Element Lead B-24D Liberator bomber, named 'Hail Columbia', SN # 41-11825, flown by Col. John R. "Killer" Kane and Lt. John S. Young on Operation Tidal Wave, the large mission to...
Military | Staff Sergeant (3rd Grade) | Gunner | 98th Bomb Group
SSgt Harvey L. Treace - Born Dec 19,1918 -
Military | Staff Sergeant (3rd Grade) | B-24D Flight Engineer / Top Turret Gunner | 98th Bomb Group
SSgt. Clarence Weckesser was the flight engineer and top turret gunner on the B-24D, named, 'KICKAPOO', in the 9th Air force, the 98th Bomb Group, called 'The Pyramiders', and the 344th Bomb Squadron out of Benghazi, Libya in 1942 and 1943. He flew on...
Military | Major | Navigator / Nose Gunner | 98th Bomb Group
Norman Whalen joined the Army Air Corps in 1941. After graduating from Navigator School in Monroe, Louisiana, he received his commission as a Second Lieutenant and was assigned to the 9th Air force, the 98th Bomb Group, and the 344th Bombing Squadron...
Military | Major | B-24 Command Pilot | 98th Bomb Group
Lieutenant John S. Young was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. Bored with college at SMU in Dallas, and knowing the country was headed for war, he joined the Army Air Force early in 1941 and began training as an aviation cadet. He was known as "Johnny"...
Units served with
The 98th trained for bombardment missions with B-24 Liberators during the first half of 1942.
The 344th Bombing Squadron was first activated at MacDill Field, Florida as one of the original three squadrons assigned to the 98th Bombardment Group. The 344th soon moved to Barksdale Field, Louisiana, where it began to train as a Consolidated B-24...
The B-24D, HAIL COLUMBIA, 41-11825, was assigned to the 9th Air Force, the 98th Bomb Group, and the 344th Bombing Squadron. It was first assigned to the 344th Squadron's CO, as Col. John R. Kane's, personal aircraft until Kane became the 98th Bomb...
1 August 1943
Operation TIDAL WAVE. B24D 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 B...