The B-24D, 'Raunchy's crew. Pilot Lt. Sam Neeley front row, second from right, smiling. 'Raunchey' was lost over White IV at Ploesti after hitting a barrage balloon cable which snagged on the right wing and pulled an explosive charge down and blew off the wing. Lt. Neeley and all but two of the crew were KIA in the crash. August 1, 1943
Pilot Lt. Sam Neeley flew his B-24D, named, 'Raunchy' on "Operation Tidal Wave", the famous bombing raid to destroy the German held oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania, one of the most desperate and daring bombing raids of WWII.
1st Lt. Samuel R. Neeley and crew flew in the 1st wave of the 98th Bomb Group's bombers attacking White IV, at Ploesti. Coming in at tree top level on the far left side of "Flight One", the first wave of the 98th Bomb Group's planes, immediately after bomb release, Lt. Neeley's B-24, 'Raunchy' was hit by the very accurate ground fire, and one wing, apparently, hit one of the many barrage balloons' cables, which didn't break, but pulled down an explosive charge that detonated and blew off one of 'Raunchy''s wings, which sent the bomber crashing down to the ground, killing Lt. Neeley and most of his crew, instantly. The radio operator and a gunner survived the crash and became POWs. Some of the crew members' remains were never recovered or identified.
1st Lt. Samuel Robert “Sam” Neeley
BIRTH : 1921
Scottsbluff, Scotts Bluff County, Nebraska, USA
DEATH : 1 Aug 1943 age: 21–22
Ploesti, Prahova, Romania
Ardennes American Cemetery and Memorial
Neuville-en-Condroz, Arrondissement de Liège, Liège, Belgium
PLOT Plot A Row 39 Grave 43
MEMORIAL ID 56360023
Pilot 1st/Lt. Samuel R. Neeley DFC KIA
Hometown: Scottsbluff, Nebr.
Squadron: 344th BS 98th Bomb Group 9th Air Force
Service # O-728710
Awards: Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters, Purple Heart
Target: Ploesti (White IV)
Missing Air Crew Report Details
Date Lost: 1-Aug-43
Serial Number: #41-11819
Aircraft Model B-24D
Aircraft Letter: G
Aircraft Name: 'RAUNCHY'
Location: Lost near the target, the Astra Romano Refinery complex, Ploesti, Romania
Cause: crew of 10: 8 KIA, 2 POW
RAUNCHY B - 24 D - CO #41-11819 9 98 344 ~ G 01-1 N/A Lost on OPERATION TIDAL WAVE, 1 Aug 43, Ploesti Romania - MACR 169 -
Crew of 'RAUNCHY' :
1st/Lt. Samuel R. Neeley - Pilot
1st/Lt. Joel I. Corn - Navigator
2nd/Lt.Herman H. Henslee - Co Pilot
2nd/Lt. Eugeen L. Rodgen - Bombardier
Sgt. Robert P. Schultz
Sgt.Charles P. Geers - Gunner
Sgt. Earl T. Edelen - Gunner
Sgt. Alfred D. Cason - Gunner
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 | Staff Sergeant (3rd Grade) | Gunner | 98th Bomb Group
Gunner Sgt. Alfred D. Cason DFC MIA/KIA
Military | First Lieutenant | B-24D Pilot | 98th Bomb Group
First Lieutenant Gilbert Benny Hadley was a B-24D Liberator bomber pilot with the 9th Air Force, the 98th Bomb Group, "The Pyramiders", and the 344th Bombing Squadron, from Texas, based at Cairo, Egypt, Tobruk, and Benghazi, Libya, in the Mediterranean...
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 took part in Operation Tidal Wave, the raid on Ploesti on 1 August 1943, flying as a Waist Gunner and...
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 | Captain | B-24 Command Pilot | 98th Bomb Group
Lt. Royden Louis LeBrecht was a B-24D command pilot in the 9th Air force, the 98th Bomb Group, and the 344th Bomb Squadron. He flew his B-24D, he named 'The Squaw' on Operation Tidal Wave, the large mission to destroy the German held oil refineries at...
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...
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, named 'The Sandman' and flown by Lt. Robert Sternfels in the 9th Air force, the 98th Bomb Group, and the 345th Bomb Squadron, flew on the famous mission to destroy the German held oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania. Lt. Sternfels flew in...
B-24D-CO Liberator - 'Raunchy'
The B-24D, 'Hail Columbia', # 41-11825, originally served in the 9th Air Force, the 98th Bomb Group, and the 344th Bombing Squadron. It was, first, the 344th Squadron's CO, Col. John R. Kane's, personal aircraft until Kane became the 98th Bomb Group's...
The B-24D Liberator, SN # 41-11768, '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...
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...