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John Simmons Young

Military

Lt. 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" and "Big John" by his friends, his fellow cadets and, later, his fellow pilots and air crewmen.

After earning his pilot's wings and finishing advanced flight training, 2nd Lieutenant John Young was stationed at Morrison and Barksdale Fields, Louisiana, taking advanced bomber training from the 3rd Air Force, as a B-24 Liberator bomber pilot. On one of his early training missions out of Barksdale, Young and his crew bombed and sank one of several German submarines caught on the Gulf of Mexico's water's surface by the 98th Bomb Group's pilots.
After Young's 344th Bomb Squadron was trained up by the Third Air Force, and established as a B-24 Liberator heavy bombardment squadron, along with the rest of the 98th Bomb Group, they deployed to Egypt in June, 1942, over the South Atlantic Transport Route, transiting from Morrison Field, Florida, though the Caribbean, to Brazil, and flew the trans Atlantic crossing from Brazil to Liberia, then, transited east across central Africa to Sudan. Lastly, the 98th Bomb Group reformed with their ground echelon, which traveled by ship around the Cape of Good Hope, joining with their air echelon in British Palestine.

The 344th Bomb Squadron was assigned to the newly formed 9th Bomber Command, in North Africa, operating from airfields in Tunis, Tunisia, Cairo, Egypt, Tobruk, and Benghazi, Libya, supporting the British Eighth Army in the Western Desert Campaign to drive the German army out of North Africa. Later, they also staged long range strategic bombardment missions on enemy military and industrial targets in Sicily, Italy, and the Southern Balkans, including, eventually, attacking and bombing the German held oil refineries at Ploești, Romania, in August, 1943.

Lt. Young flew on that famous mission to Ploesti, Romania, assigned to fly with Group Commander Col. John R. "Killer" Kane, as Kane's copilot in, Hail Columbia, Kane's element lead aircraft. Kane's 98th Bombardment Group, the 389th Bomb Group, and the 44th Bomb Group, following him, led by Col. Leon Johnson, all took heavy losses flying into and through Ploesti's intense ground defenses, yet, they all attacked and bombed their targets, including the Astra Romana oil refinery, code named, "White IV", The Steaua Romano refinery at Campina, Ploesti, "Target Red", and "White V", the Columbia Aquila refinery, where Col. Addison Baker was shot down and killed.

From the time the 98th Bomb Group arrived in North Africa in 1942, the Group's B-24 squadrons, including John Young's 344th Bomb Squadron, bombed and strafed German and Italian Army land and sea targets, troops, tanks, and trucks, in the North African desert. They also attacked and bombed Axis shipping in the Mediterranean Sea, in the ocean harbors and enemy naval ships, installations, enemy ports, and port facilities in Libya, Sicily, Italy, Crete, and Greece, to cut the enemy's supply lines to the MTO, and to prepare for the Allied invasions of Sicily and Italy. Flying for the British, the 98th's B-24Ds flew out, mostly in small groups, from their bases, unescorted, often outnumbered and attacked by both Italian and German fighters. Strangely, the American flyers noticed that the Italian fighter pilots were not, so much, interested in fighting with the American bombers, as the Germans were. The Italian fighter pilots would often dive past the American B-24s, with their heads down, not even looking, aiming, or shooting at them, but, sometimes, waving at them. On one occasion, while flying low over some ships anchored in an Italian harbor, Young felt his bombardier, who hated the Germans, toggle two bombs, on his own, right into a hospital ship with big red crosses on it, and blew it up, just as they overflew it. Young knew that ship was off limits, and he had been warned not to bomb it. John Young fully expected to be court martialed when he returned to Benghazi. However, several days later, when he was asked about the bombing and told the intelligence people what happened, they told him they had learned that the ship had been running arms and supplies to the Germans. So, instead of being reprimanded, Young and his crew were commended for his bombardier's sinking it.

On April 3, 1943, after a bombing mission over Naples, Italy, Lt. Young and a flight of several other Liberator bombers were leaving the target area, one of Young's B-24's engines failed, as they often did because of the primitive and harsh operating conditions, in the heat and especially, the desert sand of North Africa. Young began falling behind, now with only three engines, and had to drop out of his formation just off the island of Crete. Separated from his flight, and alone, Young's B-24 and his crew were attacked by two squadrons, of a total of eight mixed German Focke Wulf FW-190 and ME-109 fighters, all looking to shoot down a lone straggler American bomber. As the German fighters flew in for the kill, Young and his copilot rolled their Liberator bomber over into a steep diving turn back toward the relative safety at Crete, while their gunners opened up on the German fighters with their .50 cal. guns. Now, it was a fight for their lives, a running gun battle over the ocean, eight against one. Using a trick he learned from the British Short Stirling bomber pilots he had talked to in England, Lt. Young held their huge bomber in a steep, power off, spiraling corkscrew descent to get their plane down to the Mediterranean water's surface as quickly as possible, to throw off the German fighter pilots' aim on the way down, and to rob them of their vertical plane of attack once he reached the ocean's surface. It took two pilots working together, to manhandle and maneuver the heavy Liberators. The two pilots firewalled the throttles on their three good engines, trying to make a run to safety back to the Turkish held island of Crete, with all eight of the German fighters in trail, making gunnery runs on their crippled Liberator.

For morale reasons, and, mostly, because he just disliked military protocol, Young ignored most of what he felt were the nonessential military protocols and rules, and insisted that his crewmen not salute him or call him by anything but his first name, or the nicknames they gave him, insisting, "As far as l am concerned, we're all in this fight together as equals." And, as such, he would, sometimes, go out in the desert heat of the middle of the day and work with his gunner/mechanics, SSgt. Treace, TSgt. Leard, his crew chief, TSgt. Weckesser, and the others, as they worked on his plane. But he confided, "They let me work with them, but, I was, mostly, in their way."

As the German fighters continually dove down on his B-24, raking it with their 20mm cannons, Young's top turret gunner, Tech Sergeant Fred Weckesser and the other gunners timed and called his turns, called, "breaks", for him over the intercom. "Fighter 8 o'clock, Johnny, break left !" "Two high, three and four o'clock, Big John, roll right !", so the two pilots could roll their big bomber and turn hard into the approaching fighters, just above the water's surface, to force the faster, but less maneuverable, German fighter planes, with the B-24's slower speeds and tighter turning radius, into overshooting Young's B-24D Liberator, and to continue to make his plane as difficult a moving target for them, as possible, putting his gunners in position to make passing shots at the fighters as they flew over and past his tighter turning bomber. Once clear, after the fighters flew past, Young and his copilot shoved for the island of Crete, in a desperate run for safety. The tactics worked well enough for the ten or fifteen minutes of the air fight, that Young's gunners shot down three of the German fighters, and damaged two others. Norman Whalen, Young's excellent navigator and nose gunner, from Denton, Texas, hit one of the 190s squarely with one of his .50 cal. nose guns and blew it out of the sky in a fireball and a loud explosion. He let out a war whoop on the intercom, "...the equal of any Texas cowboy." Young wrote, later, "I almost felt like we were home in Texas, when l heard Whalen yell !" That last kill seemed to take the fight out of the remaining German pilots, running low on fuel, or, maybe, they just decided they had had enough bad medicine for one day, after seeing three of their friends shot down, and two more of the German fighters damaged, and not likely to make it home, the Germans disengaged to the applause of the American fliers, all of whom knew, very well, they had just survived a fight that they shouldn't have.
But the German fighter pilots' 20mm cannons had taken a toll on the B-24 bomber. Now, shot up, with only two and a half, or three running engines, badly damaged and failing, trailing smoke and streams of gasoline, that could catch fire at any time, Young and his copilot were able to nurse their big plane almost all the way back to Crete, close enough to ditch it in the shallow water just off one of the island's beaches. Even though ditching a B-24 was usually disastrous, this time, the plane did not break up upon hitting the water, and everyone got out safely and swam to shore, probably because they were in such shallow water. For his actions on that flight, Lt. Young and his entire crew were all awarded their first Distinguished Flying Crosses for valor, their determination, and flying skill, in shooting down three German fighters, damaging two others, and successfully defending their airplane against eight, quite determined, enemy fighter pilots.

By the time the rumors of the big mission to bomb the German held oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania, turned into an announcement, in mid 1943, Young and his crew had fought through, and survived 27 combat missions, with over 300 combat hours logged. Like many of the 98th Bomb Group's men, most had flown more missions than the Army Air Force's 25 mission requirement to earn a trip home. But, given the desperate situation of the Allied forces at that time in the war, the destruction of the oil refineries became viewed as a mission critical to changing the direction of the war. So, Young and his crew were held over by their Group Commander Col. Kane, with all of the pilots and crewmen in the 98th Bomb Group. And, so were the men and planes of the 376th, the 93rd, and the 389th Bomb Groups, all from the 8th Air Force in Britain, and brought down to North Africa for the mission. Lt.Young was invited by Col. Kane to participate in the planning and training for the mission. Also, before the mission, Johnny Young and his crew were twice chosen to fly their long ranged B-24D, Liberator from North Africa to Britain and back, transporting military equipment and government VIPs back to Benghazi in preparation for the mission. After returning from his second ferry flight to Britain, Young figured out that the top secret individual he had transported back to Benghazi was Winston Churchill. He had suspected as much before it was later confirmed to him that it was Churchill because, as he said, the back of his B-24 "smelled like cigar smoke" after the trip back to Benghazi. Churchill wrote in his biography how he nearly froze his feet in the freezing temperatures in the back of Young's B-24 at the high altitudes they had to fly, over the European Alps, to get back to Libya.

Last minute staffing changes for security reasons, before the Ploesti mission, caused John Kane to replace Mission Commander, General Uzal Ent, from flying in Kane's plane. Ent was moved to Col. Keith Compton's lead B-24D, Teggie Ann, and several other generals were grounded for being security risks if they were shot down and caught by the Germans. Ent, also well known as a dangerously incompetent pilot, was reassigned to fly in the mission commander's cockpit observer seat, in, Teggie Ann. Kane assigned John Young, to fly as his copilot in his B-24D, 41-11825, Hail Columbia, formerly named, Grumpy, especially for the Ploesti mission, and which was now designated one of the mission's five element's lead airplanes. This reassignment proved fortunate for John Young, Kickapoo's regular pilot, and his regular crew, because Kane asked all of them to fly with him in, Hail Columbia, including, Lt. Norman, "The Baron", Whalen, Young's exceptional navigator, Lt. Harry Korger, his bombardier, and the rest of, Kickapoo's, regular crew, also Staff Sergeant Neville C. Benson, waist gunner, First Lieutenant Raymond B. Hubbard, Radioman, Staff Sergeant Joseph W. LaBranche, Gunner, Technical Sergeant Frederick A. Leard, Waist Gunner, Sergeant William Leo, Gunner, Staff Sergeant Harvey L. Treace, Gunner, Tech Sergeant, Fred Weckesser, Flight Engineer and Top Turret Gunner, all of whom were known as seasoned and exceptionally skilled airmen. Young often said after the war that Col. Kane designated him as, Hail Columbia's, command pilot on the Ploesti mission, and that Kane flew much of the mission as his copilot. Apparently, Col. Kane had asked his copilot, Lt. Young to take control of, Hail Columbia, in the commander's left seat as pilot in command, for the startup for the long mission, until they approached Ploesti, when Col. Kane switched places with his copilot, to take the airplane commander's left seat position to become the command pilot on, Hail Columbia, to aim and fire the extra four, fixed, forward firing .50 caliber machine guns installed in, Hail Columbia's, nose. Evidently, the plan was, for the "Killer" to take command of his plane on the run into their targets so he could be fresh for flying the bomb run into, and over, Ploesti's target area, and to lead two of his element's three Bomb Groups, the 98th and the 44th Bombardment Groups, on their approaches into their initial points (IPs) to their assigned targets.

As planning and training for the Ploesti mission progressed, and the day of the mission approached, some of the men of the 98th Bomb Group's morale was beginning to suffer. After having been told, at first, the mission was going to be a milk run, the men had gradually learned from British intelligence, what the specific defensive horrors at Ploesti really were: high concrete flak towers throughout the city, hundreds of hidden light and heavy flak guns, up to, and including, the dreaded German 88mm anti aircraft guns, with barrage balloons spread out in large rings around the city, with cables and explosive charges hanging from them, designed to cut the American bombers to pieces and/or blow them up. There were over two hundred German and Romanian fighter planes and pilots, assigned to Ploesti, trained and on guard, waiting to defend the city. The men already knew that their own B-24 bombers were flying fire traps in combat, and that they would be flying, as usual, without any protection from fighter escorts, into the heavily defended target area at very low levels, 10 to 20 feet off the ground, pulling up to bomb at no more than 200 to 250 feet, just high enough to clear the refineries' smoke stacks and other obstacles in their way. They also knew that getting hit by the explosions and splinters from the larger caliber (20, 30, and 88mm) exploding flak gun shells at 20 to 250 feet above the ground, would rule out much hope of crash landing or escaping from their airplanes, especially, if the planes caught fire, or, if the pilots lost control. After a year of living in the North African desert heat, the men were sick with dysentery and other desert diseases. They were physically and mentally worn out, and war weary, after months of constant combat missions and living in the hot harsh primitive conditions in the desert. For over a year, they had been strafing and bombing Italian and German army troops, trucks, tanks, on land, and the axis ships at sea, and in the Italian and Sicilian sea ports. But, now, instead of being able to look forward to going home after having completed their 25 mission requirement, they were training to fly another mission against a target, so well defended and dangerous, that the mission became viewed as suicide. Some of the men felt betrayed by their commanders and even by the the Army Air Force, itself. One pilot, reportedly, stood up in one of the mission briefings and angrily told the mission commanders, "We've flown all over North Africa, Sicily, Italy, Greece, and the Mediterranean. We've flown every tough mission and done everything you've asked of us. But, I'll be damned if I will fly my men into certain slaughter at Ploesti !" "You can bet on my plane turning back with mechanical trouble on the flight over !" And, he and several other pilots of the 98th Bomb Group's crews did turn back from the mission.

The pilots and flying officers in the 98th Bomb Group, were showing the symptoms of combat stress and fatigue. They were involved in drunken fighting at night over in Benghazi, sometimes inflicting serious injuries on themselves and the Australian and British military personnel they found there. The drunken 98th pilots were injured by crashing their captured German Zundapp motorcycles, racing with each other on the desert roads and the airfield runways at night. Several pilots nearly killed themselves in landing accidents on the three airbase's runways. The final straw was when several impaired bomber pilots ground looped and crashed one of the German twin engine JU-88 light bombers, left behind on the base by the Germans and rebuilt into flying condition by the American mechanics. These, and the other events, convinced the Ploesti mission planners and commanders that something had to be said and done, or the mission could be compromised. Or it might even fail !

On the last of the evening mission briefings, Gen. Lewis Brereton called the flying officers of each of the five bomb groups together, separately, for individual final briefings, and for a closing speech about the mission. After the tech briefings, Brereton added to the 98th Bomb Group's officers a final speech, something like this : " Now, I want talk to you about a very serious problem that can affect the success of this mission. I don't have to remind you what you already know. You know how tough this mission is going to be. You're thinking about home, your wives, and families. You're afraid you won't survive the mission to see them again. So, I want to remind you what you also already should understand about the harsh reality of this mission. Stop worrying about living past this mission. If that's not clear enough, get it straight, and get this straight, right now. Get it into your heads that you are probably not going to survive the mission to Ploesti. That is the harsh reality. Put your hopes for the future and seeing your loved ones again, behind you, and forget about them. Stop worrying about living past tomorrow, because you're not going to live past tomorrow. In fact, you're already dead men ! You died and were dead men three years ago when you signed up to fight this war. If you can't accept that, if you can't accept what you have to do tomorrow and what the consequences will be, then, you will not be able do your jobs, and you will not be able to accomplish this mission, which is critical to winning the war for the people back home that you love, and that you are fighting for. They are depending on you to destroy your targets at Ploesti and win the war. So think about them and what the consequences for them will be if you fail and we lose this war ! After a short pause, Brereton continued, "You all have some time this evening and tonight. Take that time and think about what I just said. Arrange your personal items on your bunks so they can be sent home if you don't return from the mission. Write your wives and families tonight and tell them whatever you need to tell them before we fly tomorrow. But, if you can't accept what I just told you, if you can't make peace with it and do your job tomorrow, then, come and see me before morning, and I will see that you are relieved of your duties for the mission, and we will find someone who can ! Finally, I want to make it absolutely clear again to all of you, how critically important this mission is to the war effort. If it is a success, it can change the direction of the war. If it fails, it could cost us the war effort. But, if all of you do your jobs and bomb your targets tomorrow, it will be worth it - even if we lose every airplane !"

Then, after each briefing to the flying officers of the five bomb groups, they were dismissed. It was reported that before morning a few officers did take Brereton up on his offer and asked to be relieved from flying the mission. But, there were many other officers, like Col. Ted Timberlake, who hated having been prohibited from flying the mission, for security reasons, because the last thing he, and they, wanted was to be viewed by their men as cowards. And, many more men, enlisted, noncoms, and officers, some of whom were not even on regular combat flying status, but wanted to fly on the mission so much that they stowed away on various airplanes and flew the mission as extras. And, at least, one pilot tried to go, but was so sick with dysentery, he finally had to stand down and stay home.

But, what none of the men knew, then, was that before the next day would be over, 446 of them would be injured, captured, crippled, maimed, missing, or dead, starting with the replacement crewmen flying in Lt. John Young's regular B-24D, Kickapoo.

Col. John Kane wrote about Brereton's speech to the 98th Group's officers, in his autobiography about the war and the mission. He wrote how serious and quiet the men were, and how pale and shocked they looked as they filed out of the briefing area. The desert stars were bright that night over the desert, as always. But, the mood was dark over the three airbases at Benghazi. No one slept very well, especially since the mechanics were replacing, running, and testing many of the B-24s' big Double Wasp, Pratt & Whitney engines, all throughout the night. But, if there had been any doubt about their status before, now there was none. Like so many other men, involved in fighting this desperate war for the survival of free nations, the men knew they were asked to give up everything they had, for this mission, no matter the cost.

Both Col. John Kane and Lt. Johnny Young had been in on the intelligence, the planning, and the training for the mission, from the beginning. They both knew how steep the odds against them were going to be over Ploesti. Later that night, Col. Kane walked out alone to his regular thinking place, out on the Lete Air Base flight line, and sat for a long time, by himself, under the desert stars beside his beloved B-24D, Hail Columbia, almost as if he felt this would be the last time he would have with his special airplane that he felt had saved his life more than once. He was among those convinced he would not survive the mission. So were, pretty much, the rest of Kane's crewmen from Johnny Young's plane, Kickapoo, including Lt. Young, who would be their copilot on, Hail Columbia, for this last mission. Also, their bombardier, Lt. Harold Korger, and Navigator, Lt. Norm Whalen, Lt. Raymond Hubbard, their radio operator, and the gunners, Staff Sergeants Leard, LaBranch, and Tech Sgt. Weckesser, most of whom, wrote as much to their families that night. John Kane wrote farewell letters to his wife and to his parents. Johnny Young wrote his goodbyes to his parents. He had no one else to say goodbye to. Weeks earlier, his mother had written him that his high school sweetheart in Dallas had gone back east to college and married the grandson of wealthy Texas oil wildcatters, the Slicks and the Urschels. Even with the desert stars shining so brightly, the night was black for the men of the 8th and 9th U.S. Army Air Forces, at Benghazi, the 98th Bombardment Group, and for the men of the other three bomb groups assigned to fly to Ploesti, and an especially dark one for John Young. Even before he had left the United States and deployed to North Africa, he had held onto the hope that, somehow, he would survive the war and return home and marry his high school girlfriend back in Dallas. But, he knew things were not well when she stopped answering his letters. He considered the irony that an oil man had taken his wife. He had gotten so close to release and a trip home. Now, fighting for oil would take his life. Still, he knew he had to let go of whatever hopes and dreams he had for any kind of life or future. He had to forget and stop thinking about all of those things, just as General Brereton had warned. The reality of the war, the difficult deadly mission they faced, and General Brereton's pointed speech, had ended them. Young, Kane, and all of their crew, knew that to hope for something better than the finality of this last mission, would be a distraction they could not afford. Young kept to himself that night and resigned himself to whatever would come. He knew his friend, John Kane, had picked him as his copilot because of Kane's respect for Young's flying skill and the aggressiveness and determination he had demonstrated in combat. He knew Col. Kane both depended on him, and had honored him, by asking him to fly with him on what might be their very last mission. Young also knew his own crewmen, and all of the men in his own 98th Bomb Group, the 389th, and the 44th Bomb Groups following them, also, depended on, Col. Kane, himself, and Norm Whalen, their element's lead navigator, to lead the planes following them, to their initial points and to get them as close as they could to their waypoints and to their targets at Ploesti. Then, he knew, how he and John Kane had to fly their element's airplanes into and through a five or ten mile wall of anti aircraft flak, a deadly hell on the earth, to get to their own targets and accomplish their mission. He was determined he would not let his commander and his crewmen down. He had heard Col. Kane tell his officers and the men of the 98th, the 44th, and the 389th Bomb Groups the same thing Col. Addison Baker told his men in the 93rd Bomb Group. Kane and Baker, both, promised their men, "I promise you I will lead you to your targets, or I will die trying !" Young had also made up his mind that he intended to do the same. As he put it, simply, "The night before the mission, after Brereton's speech, Col. Kane came to me and asked me, 'How are you doing, Johnny ?' I told him, 'Colonel, I'm fine.' He asked me how I felt about the mission. I told him, 'Killer, we've got a tough job to do, and we're going to do it !' And I could see in his eyes, he believed me. All he said was, 'Okay, Johnny, l'll see you in the morning.' " Later that night Young wrote to his parents what he thought about the coming mission. "I believe the mission will be worth it", he wrote, "even if I don't come home. Your son, Johnny "

The next morning, in the mass take off for Ploesti, things went bad early for, Young's plane, Kickapoo, and it's replacement pilots and crew. Young's close friend from the 98th's 344th Bombardment Squadron, Command Pilot Lt. Bob Nespor and his Copilot Lt. John Clark Reilly, crashed, Kickapoo, on takeoff and were killed, with all, but only two, of the rest of their crewmen, who, somehow, survived the crash and the resultant fire, crawled out of the burning wreckage, and survived the crash, and their burns. Eight men killed in action. Two men wounded in action, but retuned to service after long recoveries. 8 KIA. 2 WIA-RTS. Like all of the B-24s on the mission, Kickapoo, was grossly overloaded on takeoff with 500, and 1000 pound bombs, incendiary bombs, ammunition, extra gasoline in two extra 400 gallon gasoline tanks in it's bomb bays. Each B-24 needed all four of their Pratt & Whitney radial engines running at full war emergency power just to be able to reach takeoff speed and start a shallow climb out of ground effect, with all of the extra weight they were carrying. An engine failure on take off, with even one engine, especially a critical outboard one, could be disastrous. But, after it's long takeoff roll, just after it broke ground and was beginning to climb out, Kickapoo's #4 engine failed massively, seized up, and caught fire, another victim of the Libyan desert's sand and heat. It's two young replacement pilots, John Clark Reilly and Command Pilot, Bob Nespor, from John Young's own 344th Bomb Squadron, began a slow turn out over the ocean and jettisoned their bombs. They probably should have bailed out or ditched in the shallow water just off the beach at Lete airbase. Nespor could have taken either of those options, but he had already made the decision to try to save his valuable airplane, and began maneuvering for an approach back to Lete's runway. He had to abort his first approach and go around for another one because of all the red dust in the air, and to miss the planes still taking off for the mission. As Nespor attempted a second approach, his right wing became completely enveloped in flames, and his remaining engines began to fail. On short final approach back to Lete, losing power from his remaining three engines, Bob Nespor, John Riley, and, Kickapoo, sank to the runway, hit the ground hard, bounced, drifted off the center line, and hit a concrete telephone pole with their left wing tip, causing the plane to cartwheel off the left side off the runway, crashing into the desert opening the full wing gas tanks in a huge fireball. Lt. Nespor was badly burned and died from his burns two weeks later. The fireball also killed Copilot John Riley and the rest of the crew, except for two men, Lt. Russell Polivka, their navigator, and Staff Sgt. Eugene Garner, both of whom were badly burned, but escaped the crash's wreckage, both gradually recovering from their burns, and later returned to service (WIA-RTS) in 1944. The pilots and men taking off behind them, and those forming up above them, saw the flames and smoke plumes over, Kickapoo's, crash wreckage next to Lete's runway. They knew that the men in that fire would not be returning home to their loved ones. Kickapoo, and it's replacement crewmen were the very first casualties of the Ploesti mission before it had even started, with 9 men killed (9 KIA) and 2 badly wounded (2 WIA). But they would not be the last. The crash of the, Kickapoo, was a bad omen for what was to come.

After climbing away from Benghazi, and during the long flight over the Mediterranean Sea to Romania, Col. Kane and Lt. Young in, Hail Columbia, led their three bomb groups into Romania and the Ploesti area. They had lost sight of the third part of their element, Col. Jack W. Wood, and the 389th Bomb Group's "Sky Scorpions", who had fallen behind Kane before they all closed in on Ploesti. The 389th Bomb Group had not removed their ball turrets, as the other groups had done, for the reason that the weight and drag of the turrets slowed their planes. And the bottom turrets and guns were not needed for this low level mission.
As the 44th and 98th Bomb Groups approached their first initial points coming into Ploesti, the situation ahead had deteriorated and had become even more chaotic and dangerous than they could have imagined. Coming down out of the mountains, flying very low, down to 10 to 50 feet off the Danube River Valley approaching Ploesti, the two bomb groups began taking light and heavy anti aircraft cannon fire from Ploesti's outlying flak guns. And, in turn, the airplane gunners began shooting their fixed and flexible .50 caliber guns at the enemy flak guns ahead of, to the sides of, and behind them.

As they flew toward Ploesti, there were scattered rain clouds and rain cells throughout the area. Kane and Young could see ahead of them what, at first, looked like thunderstorm clouds and lightening over Ploesti in the distance. But it was, in fact, their principal target, the Astra Romano Refinery complex, already exploding and on fire, pouring flames and boiling black smoke into the sky, as it was being attacked and bombed by rogue planes that had broken away from their Group Leader, K.K. Compton, who had inexplicably, turned away from his targets after his first IP at Targoviste. These 93rd and 376th Bomb Groups' airplanes, had come in from the West, and were bombing the 98th's assigned targets, as Kane and the other pilots tried to comprehend what they were seeing. What previously looked like dark thunderstorm clouds and lightning over Ploesti from farther away, were actually the explosions, fires and smoke, over the already fiercely burning and exploding oil tanks of Kane's target, White IV. The flashes that had looked like lightning from farther away, were caused by the boiling flames and the Germans' green tracer flack rounds streaming up into the sky. And what had looked like dark thunder clouds, was actually the boiling smoke from the burning oil tanks.

As the planes of the 98th Bomb Group flew in closer, John Kane, looking intently ahead, out of his forward and left hand windscreens, and concentrating hard, so as not to miss his ground checkpoints leading to his target, he was also trying to make sense of what he was seeing, and said to himself, as much as to his young copilot, "Good God Almighty, Johnny, what is that !". But, Lt. Young, Col. Leon Johnson, the leader of the 44th Bombing Group in, Suzie Q, behind him, Lt. Robert Sternfels, the pilot of his B-24D, The Sandman, in the 98th's 345th Bomb Squadron, three flights behind, Hail Columbia, and all of the pilots of the planes following them, could now see clearly, what they were facing up ahead. The attacking 93rd Bomb Group's B-24s were flying, just like them, right down on the deck, but flying directly TOWARD them from the west and northwest, closing fast, some on fire, trailing flames, vapor, and smoke, also flying down low 20, at 200, to 250 feet altitudes, after bombing the 98th's assigned targets, White IV, the Astra Romano, and White V, the Columbia Aquila refineries. Kane's element's pilots all could now see what the full effects of the German anti aircraft defenses were, already shooting at and blowing the 93rd's and 376th's planes out of the sky. There were huge oil tank fires, bomb, and secondary, explosions obscuring their view, all around and over their assigned target areas. All of this was caused by the 93rd Bomb Group's leader, Col. Addison Baker, Major Ramsey Potts, and Lt. John Palm, along with Col. Walter Stewart, and the planes from the 376th Bombing Group, also ahead of them, all of whom were strafing and bombing White IV, White V, and the area around it, blocks of which were on fire with walls of flames shooting hundreds of feet into the air, with huge explosions from the delayed action 500 and 1000 pound bombs exploding ahead of the 98th and the 44th Bomb Groups, as Col. Kane's entire element of two bomb groups began a slow coordinated formation turn into their heavily compromised targets. Their throttles were pushed to their maximum war emergency power stops, flying down at 50 feet above the ground at nearly 250 miles an hour.

Southeast of them and also heading straight for them, Maj. Walter Travis Stewart in his B-24D, Utah Man, had just taken over leading the 93rd Bomb Group after his Group Leader, Col. Addison Baker and his copilot, Major John Jerstad in their B-24D, Hell's Wench, were shot down and killed ahead of him just minutes before, crashing in an explosion of flames into Ploesti's Columbia Aquila refinery, as the Kane's leading Flight 1, of his 98th Group were making ready to bomb his targets at White IV. But, Major Stewart, in his B-24D, Utah Man, and the rest of the 93rd's planes following him, converged with, and flew right through the 98th's formation, all at the same low altitude in the chaos created by a catastrophically wrong turn AWAY from Ploesti that had been ordered earlier by Mission Commander, Gen. Uzal Ent, and faithfully executed by his pilot, Col. Keith K. Compton, in their B-24D, Teggie Ann, leading both the 93rd and the 376th Bomb Group's formations south and east and away from Ploesti !

Still, Col. Kane in, Hail Columbia, Col. Leon Johnson, in his plane, Suzie Q, and the rest of the 98th Bomb Group's "Pyramiders", with Col. Jack Wood and the 389th's "Sky Scorpions" north of Ploesti now heading for the city of Campina, all without discussion or hesitation, continued following their attack plans, the 389th into the refinery at Campina, "Target Red", and the 44th into White V's walls of smoke, flames, and explosions, over the booming flak guns all around and south of Ploesti. These men were all quite determined to bomb their targets, just as Kane and Col. Baker had promised to lead them there, the day and the night before. Col. Addison Baker, and his copilot, Major John Jerstad, and their crew, were among the first of those who did "die trying" when their bomber, Hell's Wench, took direct hits from the deadly flak guns, caught on fire, pitched up into a climb and, then, crashed into the ground, instantly killing everyone on board their airplane.

All of this chaos was caused, partly, because south and east of Ploesti, Mission Commander Gen. Ent had deliberately failed to fly toward Ploesti at his first IP outside the city. Instead of staying on course to bomb his assigned targets, he decided the defenses over the targets were too formidable and ordered his pilot, Col. Compton, to turn southeast toward Bucharest, and refused to answer the desperate radio calls from Ramsey Potts, and Maj. Walter Stewart in, Utah Man, just behind him in the 93rd Bomb Group ! And he even ignored the calls on his own interphone from his navigator, Capt. Harold Wicklund, warning Compton and Ent that they had made a disastrously wrong turn away from Ploesti !

Col. Addison Baker, behind them, had also seen the wrong turn and quickly decided to break formation and take his planes to bomb Ploesti on his own, just like he had said he would ! He deliberately led part of the 93rd Bomb Group's planes, who followed him, and turned back toward the refineries at Ploesti. Walter Stewart and Ramsey Potts were also both in shock and disbelief at what they had just seen Ent and Compton do and, also, disobeyed their attack plan orders to stay with Ent and Compton and, also, turned back north and west following Col. Baker, all of them determined to attack Ploesti on their own initiative, in spite of Compton's wrong turn, away from their targets.

But Col. Compton with General Ent, in, Teggie Ann, twenty minutes after having turned south and east toward Bucharest, and leading the 376th planes that were still following them, were circling around Ploesti east of the city, instead of attacking their targets. They could see off to the west, thousands of the green German flak tracer rounds streaming into the sky, the smoke, explosions, and the fires of the exploding bombs dropped by the 93rd, the 44th, and the 98th Bomb Groups. And they could see their friends' American planes being shot out of the sky, burning, exploding, and crashing into the ground in flames, south of, Ploesti's refinery area.

Major Norman Appold in the B-24, G.I. Jennie, his wingman, Lt. John Palm, piloting Brewery Wagon, and two other ships from the 376th Bomb Group's formation had also seen the mistaken turn that Compton and Ent had made and had quickly decided that they, too, would bomb Ploesti on their own. So they, also, disobeyed their attack plan orders to stay with their assigned formation, and also left the 376th Bomb Group's main formation led by Col. Compton, and turned their planes back to the west, with a four plane section, looking for targets to bomb. On their run into the refinery area, they decided to attack Target White II, the Concordia Vega Refinery, Col. Addison Baker's assigned target. After bombing White II, Major Appold's surviving planes, along with Major Potts and the 93rd's planes, now fleeing the area, also passed right through John Kane’s 98th and the 44th Bomb Groups still heading for White IV. The confusion resulted in more ongoing moments of terror and violent maneuvering as three layers of formations of B-24 bombers from the 98th, the 44th, the 93rd, and Major Appold's planes from the 376th Bomb Group, all desperately maneuvered their airplanes vertically, pulling up, or pushing their yokes forward, to barely avoid mid air collisions with each other's planes, as the converging planes all flew through Col. Kane's formation from two different directions in the mad confusion of the broken mission that Operation Tidal Wave had become.
Lt. John Palm was also one of the rogue pilots from the 376th Bomb Group, who had elected to turn away from Bucharest toward Ploesti, and was heading for targets of opportunity at tree top level. But he never made it that far. He took a number of direct flak hits and had to release his bombs just to keep his crippled and sinking ship in the air, when he suffered another direct 88mm explosive flak hit on Brewery Wagon's nose, instantly killing his navigator and his bombardier up front, destroying flight control cables, and taking out two engines. Now, with his plane descending, on fire, and he himself seriously wounded with his right leg blown almost completely off, and being attacked by two ME-109s, Lt. Palm crash landed, Brewery Wagon, his failing B-24D into an open field, to be captured alive, along with three other surviving crew members.

Col. Jack Wood, leading the 398th's "Sky Scorpions", and Lt. "Pete" Hughes had fallen behind Kane before their run into Ploesti, but all of them found and bombed their targets north of Ploesti at Campina, Romania, including Target Red, the Steaua Romano refinery, with Col. Wood losing four of his group over their targets. Pete Hughes had his B-24's wings and fuselage set aflame after flying right through a wall of fire between himself and Target Red after two direct flak hits on his airplane approaching his target, north of Ploesti. Pete ran out of luck after flying right through a wall of flames before bombing his refinery, which turned his plane into a blow torch of flames. He tried to crash land his burning B-24 in the Prahova River dry valley. But, before he could, his left wing folded, crashing his plane into the ground in a fireball, instantly killing him and all but two of his crew, who, somehow, crawled out of the flaming bomber badly burned, but survived. For his bravery, his leadership, and his absolute determination to bomb his target, Lt. Lloyd "Pete" Hughes was posthumously awarded the Medal Of Honor. He had deliberately given everything he had, including his life, to accomplish his mission.

Col. John Kane and John Young, leading the 98th and the 44th Bomb Groups, and their followers, made their final sweeping formation turn into their bombing run, and began making more large sweeping formation turns, weaving back and forth, individually and in groups, flying around and between the oil fires, explosions, and smoke pouring skyward from the huge fires, and other obstacles in their way, as they pressed home their attack, looking for the waypoints to their targets at the Astra Romano refinery complex. All this time, the lead planes' pilots and gunners were strafing the flak guns ahead of them with their .50 cal. machine guns, and the four extra fixed .50 cal. guns in the noses of their planes, operated in, Hail Columbia, by John "Killer" Kane, destroying every flak gun he could hit. His top turret was modified for Fred Weckesser, to fire his two .50 cal. guns forward, as well. The waist gunners and tail gunner were also shooting at flak guns out of the sides and the back of their B-24s. All this time, Col. Kane and Lt. Young were working hard just to keep their airplane flying. Kane wrote that it took all of his and Young's combined arm strength to manhandle Hail Columbia's yokes and rudder pedals, to turn between and around the obstacles ahead of them, trying to control the vibrating monster that their airplane became in White IV's rough air, boiling with flames and explosions around and under them, in and out of the huge updrafts and the wake turbulences from the 93rd's airplanes, and, yet, still managing to avoid the other American B-24 bombers flying through their formation. At the same time, Kane and Young could see the enemy's flak rounds crossing in front of them from all directions and could hear and feel them hitting their plane. They could see their friends, including Col. Baker and Major Jerstad, crashing in flames off to their front, their right sides, and behind them, with others, like their friend, Lt. Sam Neeley and his crew in the B-24D, Raunchy, blown up by a barrage balloon cable's explosive charge to the left of them. They saw planes catching on fire simply by flying through the 300 foot high flames and being blown up from both the flak rounds and the explosions from the 93rd's delayed action bombs exploding under them, with other planes crashing into the oil tanks and the refinery buildings on the ground. As the 93rd's delayed action bombs began exploding in front of them, Norm Whalen, firing his nose mounted .50 cal. gun at the flak guns ahead of him, and watching all of this out of his forward nose position, wrote later, "I thought I was going to die right there. I thought we all were. I never thought any of us could make it out of there alive !" Then, just like Pete Hughes had done, Kane flew his plane right through one of the huge columns of boiling flames that he couldn't avoid, which reached up even higher than his airplane's 250 feet of altitude and burned his left arm resting on his left side sliding window sill. Yet, somehow, the flames did not ignite the gasoline leaking from, Hail Columbia's, wings or the gasoline fumes inside it's bomb bay and fuselage. By some kind of a miracle, Kane, Young, and Harry Korger were all able to visually locate to line up on Korger's target, and drop their bombs on the Astra Romano refinery complex. Just then, Hail Columbia, took a direct flak round hit with a loud explosion in it's number 4 outboard engine, destroying it and knocking it partly off it's mounts. Kane called to his copilot, " Feather it, Johnny !", to secure the dead engine and feather the engine's propeller, which Young did. Then, their number 3 engine's propeller was hit and holed by a small caliber round, and it started vibrating and shaking their plane. The number 2 engine's propeller on the left side was also hit and damaged. Things were quickly going bad for Kane and his crew. One engine was out, and two more engines were shaking the whole ship, with propeller damage. And, coming out of White IV, they were now heading into the heaviest of the flak areas, south of Ploesti, that had just killed Col. Addison Baker, Major Jerstad, and their crews. Kane had been flying his engines at war emergency power, for much longer than the placarded five minutes. Copilot Young pulled the three good engines' throttle levers back slightly, out of the war emergency power detent. Kane asked him, "What are you doing, Johnny?" Young answered, "We've got to save the engines, Killer, or we'll lose 'em !", to which Kane, thinking moment to moment, yelled back, "Damn it, make them save our asses first, then, we'll save them !", and slammed the three good engines' throttle levers forward, back to full war emergency power. By that time, several of, Hail Columbia's, gunners had been hit by flak splinters and were wounded and bleeding, but not seriously so. As they began leaving the refinery area behind them, the 98th Bomb Group's planes had been flying through the destruction around the greater Ploesti area for a very long half hour. They lost 67 percent of their Group's B-24s over White IV.

In contrast, after having been in the area for over 20 minutes, Col. Compton, Gen. Ent, in, Teggie Ann, and the main force of the 376th Bomb Group who stayed with them, finally, dropped their bombs harmlessly over the hills north of Ploesti and headed southwest for home, undamaged and intact.

But not so intact were the men and the planes of the other bomb groups, and the rogue planes from the 93rd and the 376th Bombing Groups led by Major Appold, Major Potts, and John Palm, that had all been thoroughly decimated by the German defenses over their targets. As these remnant survivors were still trying to escape the area alive, they were attacked by German and Romanian fighters, who dove down on them and shot down several more of the American bombers. Kane had to make defensive turns to throw off the German fighter planes' aim, and they did avoid being hit by any of them. Several other shot up, or just straggler planes, including Robert Sternfels' plane, The Sandman, Col. Walter Stewart in, Utah Man, Gib Hadley in, Hadley's Harem, and later, Lt. Royden LeBrecht and his plane, The Squaw, all joined up with John Kane with his skilled and careful lead navigator, Lt. Norman Whalen, who navigated the slow group of survivors south, all the way out of Ploesti, through Turkey, over the Pindus Mountains, down to the Aegean Sea, then, all the way to the British airbase at Nicosia on the Greek island of Cyprus, where the planes, still flying, landed safely.

As the group was approaching Cyprus just after dark and just before they got to Cyprus, Lt. Gib Hadley lost the fight with his damaged, failing, shot up B-24, Hadley's Harem, just after they all reached the Aegean Sea and flew past the Turkish coast in the darkness, toward safety at Cyprus. But, low on gas and engine oil, Hadley realized he couldn't make it to Cyprus and radioed a goodbye to Col. Kane and his friends in the other 98th Group's planes, and turned back to the Turkish coast. He crashed into the sea in the dark, descending, trying to ditch his plane in the ocean just off the coast. After surviving the fight at Ploesti, escaping the south Ploesti flak area, and getting so close to safety, Lt. Gilbert "Gib" Hadley was killed, trapped in his crashed and sinking B-24, with his copilot and bombardier. Seven other crewmen escaped from, Hadley's Harem, and swam to shore. The rest of the planes, still with Kane, made it to the British air base at Cyprus and landed safely. Kane and Young crash landed and destroyed, Hail Columbia, after hitting a ditch running across the airbase's runway threshold. Somehow, minus Gilbert Hadley and two of his crew, they had all survived the mission to Ploesti ! Robert Sternfels gave both Col. Kane and Lt. Young rides back to Benghazi in, The Sandman, after the mission.

After the Ploesti mission, John Young and his crew, flew, first, back to Britain, and, later, back to Fort Worth, Texas, in the B-24D, The Blue Streak, along with Capt. Walter Stewart and his crew flying the B-24D, Bomerang, and Lt. Royden LeBrecht and crew flying his plane, The Squaw, on a nationwide war bond tour, telling Americans about their desperate deadly mission over Ploesti. After returning to America, Johnny Young was promoted to Captain. He reunited in Dallas with his high school sweetheart, who was divorced by then, and married her. He continued to serve as a flying officer in the Army Air Corps until he was honorably discharged from the Army in 1946 with the final rank of Major. In civilian life, he became an officer and a vice president of the First National Bank in Dallas for many years and later became the owner and president of Herrin Motor Freight Trucking Company in Dallas. John Young died in 1983.

Service

People

  • Herbert Arens

    Military | First Lieutenant | B-24 Command Pilot | 98th Bomb Group
    2nd Lt. Herbert W. Arens was a B-24D command pilot in the 9th Air Force, the 98th Bomb Group, and the 344th Bomb Squadron. He flew the B-24D Liberator bomber, 41-11803, named, Rosie Wrecked 'Em, on the mission to destroy the oil refineries at Ploesti,...

  • Neville Benson

    Military | Staff Sergeant | B-24 Waist Gunner | 98th Bomb Group
    SSgt. Neville C. Bensen took part in Operation Tidal Wave, over Ploesti, Romania, on 1 Aug 43. 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 survived...

  • John D'Amour

    Military | Staff Sergeant | B-24 Gunner | 93rd Bomb Group
    Staff Sgt. John D'Amour was killed in action (KIA) after being reassigned as a replacement gunner, from the 93rd Bomb Group, in the 8th Air Force, reassigned to Lt. John S. Young's regular B-24D, 41-11768, named, Kickapoo, as part of the 344th Bomb...

  • Gilbert Hadley

    Military | First Lieutenant | B-24D Command Pilot | 98th Bomb Group
    Gilbert Ben "Gib" Hadley was born and raised in Arkansas City, Kansas. He was the son of Perry Arthur Hadley and Beulah Pearl Bacastow, born 6-May-21. Kansas was his home and enlistment state, and Cowley County was included within the archival record. ...

  • Kittredge Hamlin

    Military | Captain | B-24 CoPilot | 98th Bomb Group
    Lt. Kittredge "Kitt" Hamlin was assigned as CoPilot on the B-24D Liberator bomber, 41-11803, Rosie Wrecked 'Em, in the 344th BS, the 98th BG, and the 9th AF, "The Force For Freedom", in the MTO in North Africa. He flew on the Ploesti oil refinery...

  • Raymond Hubbard

    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...

  • Leon Johnson

    Military | Brigadier General | B-24 Command Pilot - Commanding Officer 44th Bomb Group | 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs
    Col. Leon Johnson, the commander of the 44th Bomb Group from the 8th Air Force in Britain provided superior leadership in planning and training his pilots from the 8th Air force from the U.K. to employ very low altitude flying, before and during...

  • John Kane

    Military | Colonel | B-24 Bomb Group Commanding Officer / B-24 Command Pilot | 98th Bomb Group
    John Riley Kane was a colonel in the United States Army Air Corps and, later, in 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 leadership, courage, and...

  • Harold Korger

    Military | Colonel | B-24 - B-52 Bombardier | 98th Bomb Group
    Lt. Harold Francis Korger was a B-24 bombardier in the 344th Bombardment Squadron, the 98th Bomb Group, and the 9th Air Force, based in Benghazi, Libya, 1943. He flew on the B-24D, Hail Columbia, with the Element Group Leader Col. John R. Kane, on the...

  • Joseph LaBranche

    Military | Staff Sergeant (3rd Grade) | 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, Hail Columbia. 1 Aug 1943.

Show more

Units served with

  • 98th Bomb Group

    98th Bomb Group

    Group
    The 98th trained for bombardment missions with B-24 Liberators during the first half of 1942. ...

  • 344th Bomb Squadron

    344th Bomb Squadron

    Squadron
    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...

Aircraft

  • 41-11613 - The Blue Streak - Florine JuJu - Liberandos - Teggie Ann

    B-24 Liberator
    The B-24D, 41-11613, that was in the 376th Bomb Group, had several names : Florine JuJu - The Blue Streak - Liberandos - Teggie Ann. It should not be mistaken for another B-24D Liberator bomber, 42-40664, also named, Teggie Ann, which was flown on the...

  • 42-40402 - The Sandman

    B-24 Liberator
    The B-24D Liberator bomber, named, The Sandman, was named, and flown, by Lt. Robert Sternfels and his co-pilot, Lt. Barney Jackson, in the 9th Air Force, the 98th Bomb Group, and the 345th Bomb Squadron, on Operation Tidal Wave, the famous mission to...

  • 41-24198 - The Vulgar Virgin - Hell From Heaven - Shoot You're Faded

    B-24 Liberator
    - The B-24D, 41-24198, in the 9th Air Force, the 98th Bomb Group, and the 344th Bomb Squadron, was one of 2 B-24Ds in the MTO based at Benghazi, Libya, with identical nose art pictures, and both named, The Vulgar Virgin, this one, 41-24198, flown...

  • 41-24311 - Hadley's Harem

    B-24 Liberator
    The B-24D, named, Hadley's Harem, was Lt. Gilbert Hadley's personal airplane and the one he flew, with his CoPilot, Lt. James Lindsey, on the mission to destroy Hitler's oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania. As Hadley was approaching his target refinery,...

  • 41-11819 - Raunchy

    B-24 Liberator
    The B-24D Liberator, Raunchy, 41-11819, was in the 344th Bomb Squadron, the 98th Bomb Group, and the 9th Air Force, based at Benghazi, Libya, North Africa, in early 1943. ...

  • 41-11825 - Hail Columbia - Little Chief Big Dog - Grumpy

    B-24 Liberator
    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, Col. John R. Kane's, personal aircraft until Kane became the 98th Bomb Group's...

  • 41-11768 - Kickapoo

    B-24 Liberator
    The B-24D Liberator, 41-11768, named, Kickapoo, was Lt. John S. Young's regularly assigned B-24D, after his 98th Bombardment Group moved out of Egypt, to the air bases at Benghazi, Libya. John Young was from Dallas, Texas, like so many of the men...

  • 42-40629 - The Scorpion

    B-24 Liberator
    The B-24D Liberator, 42-40629, The Scorpion, in the 8th Air Force, the 389th Bombardment Group, and the 565th Bomb Squadron, flew on Operation Tidal Wave, the bombing mission on the oil refineries, piloted by Lt. Kenneth M. Caldwell and Col. Jack Wood...

  • 41-24194 - Ubangi Bag

    B-24 Liberator
    The B-24D, named, Ubangi Bag, was originally assigned to the 14th Air Force, the 308th Bomb Group, and the 374th Bomb Squadron. It was sent back to the united states in late 1943 on a War Bond Tour.

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

Events

Event Location Date

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
21 May 2022 04:45:01 Kickapoo Changes to awards
Sources

Black Sunday-Ploesti - Michael Hill ------- Personal Archives - Kickapoo

Date Contributor Update
21 May 2022 04:42:51 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Black Sunday-Ploesti - Michael Hill ------- Personal Archives - Kickapoo

Date Contributor Update
13 May 2022 22:45:24 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Black Sunday-Ploesti - Michael Hill ---- Air Force Magazine - Nov 1944 - Over The Target - Capt. John S. Young

Date Contributor Update
08 May 2022 20:14:06 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Black Sunday-Ploesti - Michael Hill ---- Air Force Magazine - Nov 1944 - Over The Target - Capt. John S. Young

Date Contributor Update
08 May 2022 20:01:55 Kickapoo Changes to unit associations
Sources

Black Sunday-Ploesti - Michael Hill ---- Air Force Magazine - "Over The Target" - Capt. John S. Young

Date Contributor Update
08 May 2022 19:56:52 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Black Sunday-Ploesti - Michael Hill. - "Air Force Magazine" - Over The Target - Capt. John S. Young

Date Contributor Update
05 May 2022 04:23:25 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Black Sunday-Ploesti - Michael Hill ------- Personal Archives - Kickapoo

Date Contributor Update
30 April 2022 09:13:18 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Black Sunday-Ploesti - Michael Hill ----- Personal Archives - Kickapoo

Date Contributor Update
30 April 2022 09:09:29 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Black Sunday-Ploesti - Michael Hill ----- Personal Archives - Kickapoo

Date Contributor Update
28 March 2022 22:47:49 Kickapoo Changes to biography and person associations
Sources

Black Sunday-Ploesti - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
28 March 2022 22:36:23 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Black Sunday-Ploesti - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
11 March 2022 23:44:47 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Black Sunday-Ploesti - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
10 February 2022 10:32:14 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Details added. - Kickapoo

Date Contributor Update
19 January 2022 13:57:37 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Details added, wording, spelling, punctuation changes. - Kickapoo

Date Contributor Update
31 December 2021 01:42:47 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Spelling changes, wording, details added. - Kickapoo ---- Black Sunday-Ploesti - Michael Hill ---- Into The Fire - Duane Shultz

Date Contributor Update
21 October 2021 09:20:45 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

The Great Ground-Air Battle Of 1 August 1943 - James Dugan & Carroll Stewart ----- "He brought Us Home" - Capt. John S. Young

Date Contributor Update
19 October 2021 05:00:20 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Added details, word spacing, punctuation. - Kickapoo

Date Contributor Update
14 October 2021 02:04:32 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Personal Archives - Kickapoo

Date Contributor Update
13 October 2021 22:44:59 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Detail fact changes for accuracy, punctuation, and spelling changes. - Personal Archives - Kickapoo

Date Contributor Update
03 September 2021 20:02:36 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Personal archives. - Kickapoo

Date Contributor Update
01 September 2021 15:29:41 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Mostly, personal memories and archives. - Kickapoo

Date Contributor Update
06 August 2021 17:55:24 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Wording and factual changes - Personal Archives - Kickapoo

Date Contributor Update
06 August 2021 17:40:19 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Black Sunday - Michael Hill ---- The Great Ground-Air Battle Of 1 August 1943 - James Dugan & Carroll Stewart ---- Personal Archives - Kickapoo

Date Contributor Update
26 July 2021 07:22:43 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
21 July 2021 16:34:52 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Spelling changes - Kickapoo

Date Contributor Update
21 July 2021 16:15:32 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Wording, punctuation, and spelling of aircraft names, and other details changed for accuracy and clarity - John S Young Jr

Date Contributor Update
17 July 2021 15:03:38 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Wording changes for clarity and accuracy - John S Young Jr

Date Contributor Update
24 June 2021 09:38:24 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Minor wording changes - John S Young Jr

Date Contributor Update
17 June 2021 18:07:51 Kickapoo Changes to nickname and biography
Sources

Punctuation and wording changes for accuracy and clarity - John S Young Jr

Date Contributor Update
01 June 2021 08:32:23 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Personal Archives - John S Young Jr

Date Contributor Update
01 June 2021 08:15:35 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Personal Archives - John S Young Jr

Date Contributor Update
15 May 2021 23:48:11 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Personal Archives - John S Young Jr --- Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
15 May 2021 23:42:37 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Personal Archives - John S Young Jr --- Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
15 May 2021 23:26:12 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Personal Archives - John S Young Jr --- Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
11 May 2021 13:34:02 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Personal Archives - John S Young Jr

Date Contributor Update
11 May 2021 13:19:37 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Personal Archives - John S Young Jr

Date Contributor Update
07 May 2021 01:29:09 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Best Web - B-24 - 'Bomerang'

Date Contributor Update
04 May 2021 12:45:17 Kickapoo Changes to nickname and biography
Sources

Black Sunday - Michael Hill ---- Personal Archives - John S Young Jr ---- The Great Ground-Air Battle Of August 1, 1943 - James Dugan & Carroll Stewart

Date Contributor Update
15 March 2021 09:00:24 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

The Great Ground-Air Battle of August 1, 1943 - James Dugan & Carroll Stewart

Date Contributor Update
23 February 2021 10:50:13 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Black Sunday - Michael Hill ---- Personal Archives - John S Young Jr

Date Contributor Update
23 February 2021 10:46:56 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Black Sunday - Michael Hill ---- Personal Archives - John S Young Jr

Date Contributor Update
23 February 2021 10:41:24 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Black Sunday - Michael Hill ---- Personal Archives - John S Young Jr

Date Contributor Update
23 February 2021 10:24:47 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Black Sunday - Michael Hill ---- Personal Archives - John S Young Jr

Date Contributor Update
18 February 2021 19:34:30 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

The Great Ground -Air Battle Of 1 August 1943 - James Dugan & Carroll Stewart ---- Personal Archives - John S Young Jr

Date Contributor Update
04 February 2021 21:16:29 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

The Great Ground-Air Battle Of 1 August 1943 - James Dugan & Carroll Stewart ------ Black Sunday - Michael Hill ~ Personal Archives - John S Young Jr

Date Contributor Update
02 February 2021 00:28:30 Kickapoo Changes to place associations
Sources

Into The Fire - Duane Schultz

Date Contributor Update
26 January 2021 10:00:24 Kickapoo Changes to awards
Sources

Personal Archives - John S Young Jr

Date Contributor Update
23 January 2021 09:14:11 Kickapoo Changes to awards
Sources

Personal Archives - John S Young Jr

Date Contributor Update
23 January 2021 09:07:59 Kickapoo Changes to awards
Sources

Personal Archives - John S Young Jr

Date Contributor Update
23 January 2021 08:46:50 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Personal Archives - John S Young Jr

Date Contributor Update
23 January 2021 08:19:18 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Personal Archives - John S Young Jr

Date Contributor Update
10 January 2021 17:45:01 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Personal Archives - John S Young Jr

Date Contributor Update
01 January 2021 13:17:35 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

personal archives - John S. Young Jr ---- Lt. Lloyd H. Hughes - Wikipedia

Date Contributor Update
31 December 2020 06:08:26 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

personal archives - John S Young Jr

Date Contributor Update
28 December 2020 13:19:48 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

personal archives - John S Young Jr ---- The Great Ground-Air battle Of 1 August 1943 - James Dugan & Carroll Stewart

Date Contributor Update
26 December 2020 11:23:41 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

personal archives - John S Young Jr ---- The Great Ground-Air battle Of 1 August 1943 - James Dugan & Carroll Stewart

Date Contributor Update
26 December 2020 11:11:57 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

personal archives - John S Young Jr ---- The Great Ground-Air battle Of 1 August 1943 - James Dugan & Carroll Stewart

Date Contributor Update
26 December 2020 11:06:30 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

personal archives - John S Young Jr ---- The Great Ground-Air battle Of 1 August 1943 - James Dugan & Carroll Stewart

Date Contributor Update
26 December 2020 10:54:40 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

personal archives - John S Young Jr ---- The Great Ground-Air battle Of 1 August 1943 - James Dugan & Carroll Stewart

Date Contributor Update
23 December 2020 10:44:04 Kickapoo Changes to person associations, unit associations and place associations
Sources

personal archives - John S Young Jr

Date Contributor Update
23 December 2020 10:21:32 Kickapoo Changes to awards
Sources

personal archives - John S Young Jr

Date Contributor Update
23 December 2020 10:18:59 Kickapoo Changes to person associations, unit associations, aircraft associations and mission associations
Sources

personal archives - John S Young Jr

Date Contributor Update
23 December 2020 09:51:02 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

personal archives - John S Young Jr

Date Contributor Update
23 December 2020 00:03:23 Kickapoo Changes to service number, highest rank, role and awards
Sources

personal archives - John S Young Jr

Date Contributor Update
22 December 2020 23:15:33 Kickapoo Created entry with surname, middlename, firstname, nickname, nationality and biography
Sources

Ploesti The Great Ground-Air Battle Of August 1 1943 - James Dugan & Carroll Stewart ---- Into The Fire - Duane Schultz Persoanl archives - John S Young Jr

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