I am John S. Young, Jr. - I am a private pilot and and worked as an aircraft mechanic for the Boeing Company and a west coast airline for thirty years. My father was Lt. John S. Young. He was born and lived in Dallas, Texas, all of his life. He was a WWII B-24D Liberator bomber pilot and served with the 9th Air Force, the 98th Bomb Group - The Pyramiders, and the 344th Bombardment Squadron. Flying a training mission out of Luke Field, Louisiana, he and his crew bombed and sank a German submarine in the Gulf of Mexico before deploying to North Africa in 1942. After deployment to North Africa, he was based for combat at Tunis, Tunisia, Cairo, Egypt, Tobruk, and Benghazi, Libya, in 1942-3. After he was shot down in his first B-24, his personal airplane in combat was another Consolidated B-24D, he named, Kickapoo, which crashed on takeoff on the mission to Ploesti. He flew tactical missions from July 1942 to June or July in 1943, attached to the British Expeditionary Force against assigned targets and targets of opportunity, German land targets in North Africa, shipping in the Mediterranean Sea, and against enemy ports and port facilities in North Africa, Italy, Crete, Greece, and Sicily. He greatly admired the aggressiveness and tenacity, in combat, of his commander, John Kane, and considered him a mentor. Lt. Young and his crew flew and survived over 300 combat flight hours and 28 total combat missions. On one occasion after bombing Naples, he was attacked by two squadrons of German fighters, mixed ME-109s and FW-190s, and was awarded the Silver Star for that air fight in which Young's gunners shot down three of the attacking fighters, including one of the FW-190s shot down by Lt. Norman Whalen, his navigator, and three more of the remaining five were damaged before they disengaged and flew home. After the fight, Young and his copilot, were able to successfully ditch their shot up and failing B-24 in the shallow water just off the beach at the Island of Crete, with no one in the crew killed or seriously injured. - Finally, for his very last combat mission, starting in June and July of 1943, John Young was asked to help with the planning and training for the Ploesti mission, and flew as a copilot with John Kane, in Hail Columbia, one of the five element lead aircraft for the mission. Lt. Young was asked by the 98th Bombing Group's commander, Col. John R. " Killer " Kane to fly with him as his copilot in the 98th Bomb Group's lead B-24, Hail Columbia, replacing Major General Uzal Ent, who was reassigned to fly with Col. K.K. Compton in the B-24, Teggie Ann. Lt. Norman Whalen, Young's excellent navigator, Lt. Harry Korger, his bombardier, and the rest of John Young's regular crew from Kickapoo were also reassigned to fly with Kane in Hail Columbia for the Ploesti mission.
On takeoff for the mission, young's regular plane, Kickapoo, flown by a replacement crew for the mission, suffered a massive failure of the #4 engine which caught on fire, as well. With multiple engines failing shortly thereafter, Kickapoo crashed in flames, as it's replacement pilot, a personal friend, Lt. Robert Nespor, also from Young's 344th Bombing Squadron, attempted to save the valuable B-24 and return to Lete to land. The crash and fire killed all, but two of the replacement crew members, including 27 year old Lt. Nespor. - The 98th Bomb Group suffered 46 per cent casualties over Ploesti. Several crewmen in Hail Columbia were injured by flak splinters, as the airplane absorbed over a hundred and fifty flak hits over Ploesti. Kane and crew bombed their target, White IV, and escaped the target area and nursed their shot up, crippled airplane on to crash land on the British airbase at Nicosia, Cyprus. Lt. Gilbert Hadley in his plane, Hadley's Harem, Col. Walter Stewart in Utah Man, Lt. Robert Sternfels in the B-24D he named, The Sandman, and Lt. Royden LeBrecht in, The Squaw, all followed Kane in Hail Columbia, out of the greater Ploesti area and flew on south, through Turkey, knowing, with the exception of Royden Lebrecht, who flew cover for the other planes, that they couldn't make it home to Benghazi. Norm Whelan navigated them all to Cyprus, minus Gib Hadley and his shot up plane. Hadley was killed, trapped and drowned, in his beloved airplane, Hadley's Harem when it ran out of gas, crashed and sank as Hadley was descending for ditching in the Aegean Sea just off the Turkish coast. Bob Sternfels gave Col. Kane and John Young a ride home to Benghazi a day or so later after the mission. Col. Kane, Col Stewart, Lt. Sternfels, Lt. LeBrecht and their crews all survived the Ploesti mission. For his part in the mission, Lt. John Young was awarded another Oak Leaf Cluster to his Distinguished Flying Cross and his Air Medal. Lt. Whelan, and Walter Stewart both received Distinguished Service Crosses for their parts in the mission. John Kane, of course, was awarded the Medal Of Honor. John Young returned home after the Ploesti mission and went on a year long war bond tour, flying, The Blue Streak, with Royden LeBrecht and his plane, The Squaw, and Walter Stewart in, Bomerang. He was promoted to Captain, shortly thereafter, and remained a flight officer in Fort Worth, Texas, until he was honorably discharged from the Army Air Force, with the final rank of Major, in 1946. - John Young died in 1983. John S. Young, Jr. - dcwriter / Randolph Wells - Your research information and historical information and additions are much appreciated. Thank you, and please keep in touch. And the same for anyone else with any information or suggestions to share. JSY, Jr. firstname.lastname@example.org