Tuesday, March 25, 2008


A-26 Invader

Completed Tour of Duty with 65 Combat Missions
Pottsville Journal, February 1945

First Lieutenant James Madenffort, 26, Pottsville recently completed a tour of duty as a bombardier navigator with a U.S. Ninth Air Force 669th Attack Squadron, A-26 Invader group in France. His 65th mission the 13th of December was flown against the defended village of Tomdorf, Germany. Despite dense cloud cover which hampered all observations the bombs were dropped onto the enemy positions in the town. Lt. Madenfort, who has received the Purple Heart Medal and the Air Medal with 12 oak leaf clusters
The A-26 which he flew on:
The A-26, the last aircraft designated as an "attack bomber," was designed to replace the Douglas A-20 Havoc/Boston. It incorporated many improvements over the earlier Douglas designs. The first three XA-26 prototypes first flew in July 1942, and each was configured differently: Number One as a daylight bomber with a glass nose, Number Two as a gun-laden night-fighter, and Number Three as a ground-attack platform, with a 75-millimeter cannon in the nose. This final variant, eventually called the A-26B, was chosen for production.
Upon its delivery to the 9th Air Force in Europe in November 1944 (and the Pacific Theater shortly thereafter), the A-26 became the fastest US bomber of WWII. The A-26C, with slightly-modified armament, was introduced in 1945. The A-26s combat career was cut short by the end of the war, and because no other use could be found for them, many A-26s were converted to JD-1 target tugs for the US Navy.

From the 669th Squadron Web site actions that lt. Madenfort was listed in.

August 1944
The first mission, on the 4th, was an attack on the Beauvals marshalling yard. All through lines and choke points were severed by several direct hits. Major Napier, Lt. Madenfort, B-N, led the flight.
The sixth was another two-mission day. In the morning, Major Napier led the second box of a formation attacking the last remaining bridge across the Seine River at Cissel. Capt. Huff was a flight leader, Lt. DeMun, Lt. McQuade, led the window flight. Bad weather forced the formation to return from the target area. The same crews returned in the afternoon to attack the same target. On the bomb run, Lt. Madenfort was hit in the face by flak so the Major Napier's flight did not bomb. Capt. Huff's flight, however, scored an excellent. The flak was intense and four planes were lost. Severe battle damage forced Lt. Blomgren to crash land at Tanguere - - - none of the crew was injured. Lt. Jack P. Smith also crash-landed at Tanguere due to flak damage. His brakes were shot out, and, when his plane nosed in at the end of the runway, it was washed out. None of the crew was injured.
The first mission, on the 4th, was an attack on the Beauvals marshalling yard. All through lines and choke points were severed by several direct hits. Major Napier, Lt. Madenfort, B-N, led the flight.
That afternoon the radar installations in the Bois du Pierre were the targets. Again the results ranged from good to excellent, the bombs hitting around the chateau probably destroying or damaging it. Major Napier, Lt. Madenfort, B-N, and Capt. Huff, Lt. Kupits, B-N, led the second and third flights of the first box. Just one of those things happened, though, and although it looked like our bombs hit their mark, photo reconnaissance showed no evident damage to the installations.
September 1944
Again in the morning of the 3rd, the bombers failed to bomb because of weather. The target was Brest. Capt. Huff and Captain Hulse were flight leaders. That afternoon only 12 planes could drop on another attack on Brest. Capt. Peck, Lt. Madenfort, B-N, led one of the flights that bombed with fair results.
November 1944
The following day, the 18th, Lt. Greene, Lt. Nichols, B/N, led a flight in an attack on the Breisach Railroad Bridge. Although their bombs did not destroy the bridge, they damaged the approach so badly that the line was now unserviceable. Captain Peck, Lt. Madefort, B/N, had trouble with the bombsight releasing the bombs on three attempts over the target. They finally decided to make a run on the town of Gebweiler. The bombs were released this time with excellent results. It was through this town that the 6th Army Group made its advance a couple of days later.
January 1945
DISTINGUISHED FLYING CROSSES were awarded to Captain Hugh A. Monroe, First Lieutenants James Madenfort and Jack F. Smith, and a gunner, S/Sgt. John E. Wilson. (Exhx # 1-3, Jan, 45). Besides Air Medals, Oak Leaf Clusters and Purple Hearts to flying personnel, (Exhs #4-14, Jan, 45), ground personnel received awards.

B-26 Marauder

Bailed Out Of B-26 at 9,000 Feet
Pottsville Journal, February 1945

At 9,000 feet, Staff Sergeant James F. Smith, Pottsville a B-26 Marauder gunner in the 495th Bomber Squadron. surveyed the situation and then without hesitation, dove out of the B-26 waist window into the ice and snow. Returning from a mission over Hellenthal, Germany, on December 12, in support of the U.S. First Army, a flight of “Silver Streaks” medium bombers ran into extremely rough weather. The icy temperature caused the plane Smith was riding into a bank when the controls locked. Seeing the helpless Marauder headed for another ship in the flight, and knowing she was out of control, Smith bailed out. The Pilot Lt. John Havener, jerked back at the controls which broke free a split second before disaster. The bomber , no longer paralyzed zoomed over the other ship avoiding a collision, The 24 year old gunner landed safely in the vicinity of Lieger, Belgium. Smith has been decorated with the Air Medal and eight oak leaf clusters.

Check out the web site WWW.b26.com and the story entitled “Time Over Targets” given to the site by the brother of James E. Smith.

Flies 65th Combat Mission
Pottsville Journal February 1945

1st lieutenant Joseph W. Gould, Pottsville has flown his 65th combat mission in the Mediterranean Theater of operations. He is a bombardier with a B-25 Mitchell Bomber Group out of Corsica.

Crew Positions on the B-17

B-17 Top Turret Gunner Served In Three Different Branches Of The Service
Pottsville Journal, February 1945

For the third time and third branch of service, three stripes now decorate the sleeve of Frank Farone, Pottsville. He is presently a top turret gunner in a 15th Air Force B-17 Flying Fortress squadron based in Southern Italy. The 24 year old land, sea and air veteran enlisted in the Navy on July 20th, 1937, and after a few months in the Caribbean aboard the destroyer ‘Schenck” was chosen to be a member of the initial crew of the Enterprise when she was commissioned at Norfolk, Va. He joined a fighter squadron on the floating airdrome, and, in the course of maneuvers and cruises throughout the Pacific, worked his way up to the grade of Aircraft Machinist Third Class. Equivalent to a buck Sgt. In the Army. After his discharge from the Navy in July 1941, Farone became a man behind the gun working in a defense plant in Eridge, Conn. On March 28, 1942, he again signed up for active duty, this time in the Infantry. He was assigned to the 77th Division, since famed for its exploits in the South Pacific, and while on maneuvers from coast to coast, rose to the position of squad leader-which made him a three striper once more. In November of 1943 he transferred to the Air Corps, relinquished his Infantry rating. He left the U.S. on January 5, 1945 and became a member of the veteran 15th AF Flying Fortress squadron that has seen service in England, Africa and Italy during two and a half years it has been overseas. He once again holds the rank of Sgt.

Wow what a career, I would have loved to talked with this man!

B-24 Gunners Position

B-24 Gunner Promoted to Staff Sergeant.
Pottsville Journal, 1945

Carl W. Weber, 22 Auburn an aerial gunner on a B-24 Liberator, has recently been promoted to Staff Sergeant. He is authorized to wear the Distinguished Unit Badge as a member of a Heavy Bombardment group which has been cited by the War Department for “outstanding performance of duty while in armed conflict with the enemy” Since his arrival overseas in August of last year he has been in action over such important targets as the enemy airdromes, bridges, oil storage plants in Rumania, Austria, Italy, France and Germany. He s stationed in Italy.

2nd Oak Leaf Cluster Awarded To The Air Medal.
Pottsville Journal , 1945

S/Sgt. Lewis J. Shank, Schuylkill County has been awarded a second Bronze Oak Leaf cluster to his Air Medal for meritorious service as a member of a combat crew of a C-47 Troop Carrier Skytrain.

While researching info on Sgt. Shank I found this memoir that he wrote about his service.
On a file on the internet… http://www.msveteransparade.com/CWO3%20Lewis%20Shank%20Memoirs.doc

CWO3 Lewis Shank Memoirs – told in his own words

My story of World War II

This is the memoirs of Lewis J. Shank, born in Ringtown, Pennsylvania on December 21, 1923. I graduated from Ringtown High School in the spring of 1941 at age 17.

I was the second son to enlist in the service- due to my age; my father had to sign for him to join the United States Army Air Corps in November 1942. My older brother, Lavern, had joined the United States Army Air Corp in 1940 at the age of 21 and my younger brother, Tommy, was at age 12 still in school. Lavern had lost his life at Bataan in the Philippines and I was eager to due part duty.

I was sent to the United States Army Air Corps Miami Beach Training Center in November, 1942 for Basic Training.

After Basic Training, I received orders to transfer to Sioux Falls, South Dakota for the five month Radio Operators School.

Next I was stationed to Fort Wayne, Indiana, for a few months and then assigned to the Headquarters Squadron 437th Troop Carrier Group. As we started our training, we found out that they only had six Piper Cub planes for all the students to train with. They hadn’t received the C-47 planes that we were to train with. We received one each day that passed until we had planes enough for each squadron.

I was assigned to the Communications Officer for Headquarter, Lt. Smith. My duties as a Corporal were to formulate the flimsy – a procedure book that the radio operators would use to communicate with the ground. I flew a couple of months without flight pay, for the TO & E (Table of Operations and Equipment) because TO & E position was not allowed to fly and I was doing both.

Each day Captain Rice, the Communication Officer of the 85th Group would come by and visit with my boss. Captain Rice and I got to know each other. Lt Smith was leaving and I told Captain Rice of my displeasure about pay and how my buddies were getting promoted and I was still a corporal doing both jobs with no extra flight pay. He told me to ask for a transfer and he would put me on flight pay promoting me to Sergeant as soon as possible and did just that. I made Staff Sergeant within months.

The 437th Group was sent to Knobnoster, Missouri, near Sedalia where we learned how to fly missions and practiced how to tow gliders.

Next we were transferred to Pope Field, North Carolina, where we started to carry paratroopers and tow loaded gliders.

While training we were notified that we were going overseas and would leave in a few days. I was very eager to go overseas, but I wanted to see my parents before I left. We were told that one person was to be picked as honor guard and that person would receive a three day pass. So I read the Army Regulation book on the procedures for Inspection of Guard Duty for the best dressed solider in formation. As we were packing and marking our clothing and personal items, I turned as said “I want that three day pass and will challenge that person that is picked!” I made sure that my uniform and personal items were in excellent condition each day. It worked out that my name was picked and I did not have to challenge anyone. I went home on my three day pass.

We traveled from Pope Field to Homestead, Florida, near Miami, for further flight training and then on to England.

The trip to England was made over several legs. Homestead, Florida to Puerto Rico to Trinidad to Georgetown, South America, to Belem, Brazil, to Natal, Brazil, to Ascension Island , in the Atlantic Ocean, to Accrue, Africa, to Liberia, Africa to Marrakech, French Equatorial, North Africa and finally to Ramsbury, England

After we arrived in Marrakech, we spent several days sightseeing. We lived in tents near a pool house and date grove owned by the local Sheik. The weather was hot during the day a cold at night (highs in the 90’s and lows in the 30’s). The Atlas Mountains were within 30 miles of the base. All I know is that we needed plenty of blankets!

One night three of us decided to go to town where we ran into some soldiers of the French Foreign legion. We went to a bar and after a few beers and glasses of wine we exchanged hats. We had a good time, but to this day I can’t figure out what I did with the Legionnaire’s hat!

Another time, I remember one very tragic moment. We could hear planes taking off. A B-17 would take off every five minutes then a C-47 followed by a B-24. This went on all day and night. The B-17 and B-24 were protection for the unarmed C-47’s as they flew across the ocean to England. We were on the briefing room on the second floor of the Operations Building as one group took off. As the B-24 took off, it got to about 300 feet and blew up. Later it was discovered that the electric motors had brushes that cause fuel fumes to ignite and cause the plane to explode. The B-24 had DC motors in the bomb bay and carried extra gas in the cargo to cross the ocean. Gas fumes gathered and caused an explosion. I wonder how many men and plane were lost because of this problem.

In Brazil we acquire a monkey. He was a real mess. Once he got into a box of gum from the navigators table and got it all over the plane. If you mad him mad he would urinate in his hands and throw it at you. Other times he would swing on the static line in the plane. We were not allowed to take him to England. As our plane was being inspected before leaving Marrakech, we hid him in the wheel well. Our crew chief, Sergeant Sullivan, pulled out the wheel chalks and slipped to monkey under his jacket and boarded the plane. Later he tore up the pictures of the men and we were ordered to get rid of him. So we gave the monkey to the paratroopers.

In January 1944 the 437th Group arrived in Ramsbury, England. We began training for all types of flying. The radio operators were training in the use of the British flimsy. We received a new flimsy each day containing a new code every day. This was a great idea as the enemy would not have time to decode them. The 437th group trained, towing gliders and dropping paratroopers for six months working up to the invasion of Normandy

Close Calls before D-Day

We use to take off with planes loaded with paratroopers and fly out over the English Channel just to shake up the Germans. We would have all the Troop carrier Groups in a line at about 1000 feet. One night we were near reading, England, and the Germans were bombing the town. They dropped Chandelier Flares and lit up the whole sky. When they saw the C-47 they started show at us. About the same time a group from the 436th squadron was flying at the same elevation and turned in front of us. This was a hairy experience for all of us!!! While passing each other, their landing lights came on and we flew through each others formation (about 80 planes in each group). Miraculously no planes were lost and all returned safe.

Another time we took off for a night mission in clear weather. About 10 pm the entire island was covered by a snowstorm. I was in the first formation of six planes to return to base and made it safely to the ground. Planes were all over the sky trying to locate the airfield. We shot flares for a couple of hours to help get them down safely. I know that some planes didn’t make it and others were scattered all over England. What a night!!! I know my heart was in my mouth and I sure puckered up. I have often wondered how my pilot, Dunko, got us on the ground in one piece. David “Dunko” D’Armond was my pilot. We were together from the start of the war and he was a damn good pilot. We had other crew members, co-pilots, navigators and crew chiefs, but we stayed together throughout the war.

Another night we were loaded with paratroopers and a jeep trailer. We had just added a new co-pilot and he wasn’t use to the flap and landing gear controls being so close to each other. On coming in to land, “Dunko” asked for flaps up and the co-pilot had not locked the landing gear control. He reached down and pulled up the wrong control. I was about half asleep and then the props stated to eat up the runway. I could see the trailer was coming through the cabin. You do a lot of thinking and praying when you are sliding down the runway. After we got the plane back from maintenance, I sat and cut the piano hinge off our cabin door. This took me several hours for the pin was as long as the door. Dunko came in and asked “Where’s the door?” I told him, “I took it off. And -- I was never going to be pinned in my seat as the door swung in toward me – and it wasn’t ever to be put back on again!!!!” I was determined to come home in one piece.

Normandy Invasion

It was about the first or second of June when were we sent to the 436th Group. All the way to Membury, England about 10 miles from Ramsbury. We were taken to the auditorium and given all our briefings on the invasion of Cherbourg, France. We were shown all the 25 divisions, 20 of which were American. The rest were English, French, Canadian, and Polish. But we were not told when the invasion would happen. That was “Top Secret” and we were under guard from that point until we were to leave.

We were directed to a truck after the briefing and taken to the Officer’s Mess Hall to eat. We were sent by groups of eight to wash, shower and shave while being guarded my MPs. Our days were spent playing cards, watching movies and attending religious services. On the day they came in and gave us paint and brushes and ordered us to paint stripes on the wings and tails of our planes, we knew this was it.

The paratroopers were sent in later. We took off about 10:30 pm on June 5th for the Invasion of Normandy. The weather cooperated and was crystal clear over the English Channel.

Above us were the British Sterling Bombers which were to drop paratroopers made of straw and rubber as a diversion. Above them you could see the fighter plans making lazy eights to keep up with us. We flew on the south side of Cherbourg Peninsula so not to fly over our invasion ships. They would have shot at us not knowing it was the invasion force.

Our C-47 carried paratrooper of the 101st Airborne Division and dropped them at 2:30 a.m. on June 6, 1944. The first night over 1000 American and British planes with more than 19,000 paratroopers were towed to the battle field. The next day, we towed the English Horsa glider that carried 30 men and dropped them during combat in Normandy. Later on the planes would land to pick up wounded men, bodies and prisoners. Back in England the squadron had about 150 nurses that would fly in the C-47’s to take care of the wounded on the flight back to England. Lewis and the other flight crew member would aid the nurses on the flights to base.

On the fourth or fifth day, the planes flew ammunition in, landing on a metal runway on Omaha Beach. Here we saw a large bulldozer being used to dig a ditch to bury 20 to 30 truckloads of U.S. and British soldiers. We learned later that over 9,500 bodies were moved about 2 miles to a cemetery in Normandy.

After Normandy in August the group went flew to Montalbo, Italy, for the support of the invasion of Southern France, where they dropped 5,700 paratroopers. In September 10 planes were lost in about 10 minutes during the invasion of Holland where we conducted four drops.

Battle of the Bulge

Late in 1944 the German began a large counter offensive that is now called “The Battle of the Bulge”. Our troops were fighting in bitter cold, snow and ice. The fog was so bad troops and supplies had to be trucked in. Finally we were able to fly. Our mission was to re-supply the encircled city of Bastogne. The C-47’s loaded with bundles of supplies reached Bastogne two days before Christmas and dropped supplies in the snow. My plane made two drops before Christmas and two after Christmas. On the third mission, we had very bad weather and were forced to land at Drew, France. As we landed at the field, one of our tires was shot out and we went down the runway on one tire, we made it down safe. As the crew chief, Brett, and I changed the wheel it was cold a hell. One thing that I will always remember is the way our P-47’s pilots would dive down on the guns that were shooting at us on our missions. They were marvelous and so brave.

I also remember fly over Bastogne at 400 feet. The fields were all white with snow. When we dropped the supply bundles, the men on the ground would swarm out like flies to recover them. It made me feel so good to help them.

When the relief of Bastogne was over, the Group moved the gliders and equipment to A-58 in France about 30 kilometers east of Paris. Once again we were in the job of re-supplying the troops. One of our missions was carrying gasoline to tanks out of gas at the Marginot Line. About six cans were placed on pallets and dropped from 300 feet without a parachute. Some of the cans would explode when they impacted the ground but enough survived to refuel the tanks.

After this we flew to Dublin, Ireland and had self-sealing fuel tanks installed on our aircraft. This was the first armament our planes received.

The next mission was Wesel, Germany and the Battle at the Rhine River. The planes pulled two gliders each. This was a very successful mission conducted with the British Airborne and our 17th Airborne resulting in the captured of the bridge.

I can not tell you how much I admire the glider pilots. They had to be both pilots and infantry at the same time. Remember they flew in plywood planes without engines or armament and hard to fight on the ground after they landed.

Last Day of the War

On the last day of the war in Europe, we were flying into Leipzig, Germany with gasoline and to pick up freed American POWs (Prisoners of War). As we were on our final approach to land someone shouted on the radio “Bandits”. (Bandits meant enemy aircraft.) I looked out the dome and saw two German FW-190’s behind us. I thought “the last of the war and we have had it”. To my and everyone else surprise the FW-190’s flew past us and landed on the grass. After we landed the American POW’s ran out and surrounded the German planes. We found out later the German pilots were fleeing the Russians. The first plane contained the pilot, his wife and their baby. The second plane had the pilot and his wife. The POW’s were very happy to see us.

After the war Ended

I had meet Queenie in England during training and fell in love. I did not want to marry while the fighting was still going on. After the war ended, I went back to England to marry her.

MSgt Cook and I had both met English girls and we both went back to marry them. I arrived on Friday and had five days to plan the wedding. Queenie went one way to make arrangement at the reception hall and I went another. Her father sent me to a flower shop. When I got there, I gave the lady owner my order. She took it all down and said “that they would be delivered”. When I asked for the bill she said, “That there was none”. It seems her son had been a RAF flyer killed during the war and this was in “remembrance of him”. This was one of the most heart rendering things to ever happen to me…
What a gracious and wonderful lady she was. I thanked her. How this touched my 21 year old heart. I remember thinking “There are some beautiful people in this world”. We spent our honeymoon in Torquay, England.

I retuned the A-58 where we started to haul Russians to Leipzig, Germany and Czechs to Pilsen, Czechoslovakia. One day I was told I had enough “points” to go home. I was given my choice of staying with the Army of Occupation in Europe, go home to the USA, or go the Pacific campaign with 437th Group and fight the Japanese.

I was sent to Paris to the LeBourge Airport where I was being processed and then I was to be sent to Antwerp to catch a ship home. Queenie was one of the first 17 English war bribes to be sent on the Queen Mary to the USA. I was in the processing out area when “they” came in. I was told that “we” needed aircrew to fly home Group planes that had been left behind. The 437th Group had something like 100 aircraft. Some had been flown out already. Some had been damaged, many very severally, and had been left behind.

On the Trip Home

I was put on a crew where I only knew the crew chief. We went back to A-58 and picked up the “Wreck”. We had five passengers who were Fighter pilots that had done double tours of at least 150 missions. Now they got to go home is “style”. We retraced our route home. Back to Marrakech as the first stop. Here the planes engines were give their 100 hour checkup; the engines had over 1000 hours on them.

After leaving Marrakech, we flew over the Atlas Mountain which stand over 8,000 feet high. We blew out an engine and dropped to 3,000 feet. Ahead were hill with peaks over 3,500 feet. We began to throw out all the equipment possible. Even the our pilot a Colonel took off his coat and helped. As we threw out the jeep loading ramps, one of them hit the tail and damaged the elevator. The plane when down. I radioed Atar Base who sent a B-25 to pick us up. When we landed at Atar Base one of the strangest event occurred. As I got off the B-25 the MSgt in charge was standing there. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I come from a small Dutch farming town in Pennsylvania. There standing in front of me was Sgt ham Faust from my own home town. Ham and my older brother, Lavern, run together before the war. He lived about a quarter-of-a-mile from my grandmother’s farm. What are the odds of something like that happening? As we stood there gathering our wits, we realized… We had thrown the Colonel coat that had $800 in it out with the jeep ramps. He kept chewing us out until the navigator told him “Your ass is here isn’t it”. The B-25 took us to Dakar where we transferred to a C-54 plane for home.

I wish to explain that I never shot or killed anyone, but I saw the most death and destruction in a year and half than most people. The credit of the war should go to those brave paratroopers and glidermen. It was such an honor to carry them to battle and then from bring them back to try to save their lives. Any war is won by the person there on the ground.

My children have always wanted me to write about WWII. So here it is to the best of my knowledge. As time goes by I will add to this.

C-47 Type S/Sgt Shank Flew, Un-armed and Un-afraid

Being Reassigned After Combat Tour
Pottsville Journal, 1945

S/Sgt Robert M. Pope, 22, of Pottsville is at a Miami Beach, Fla. being reassigned after seeing action in an active duty B-17 Squadron. He flew as a B-17 ball turret gunner and photographer in the European theater.


T/Sgt George Dikun Awarded Third Oak Leaf Cluster To The Air Medal
Pottsville Journal, 1945

Technical Sgt. George Dikun of Pottsville has been awarded a Third Oak Leaf Cluster to the Air Medal “For meritorious achievement in accomplishing with distinction aerial operational missions over enemy occupied Continental Europe.” He is an aerial gunner of a B-24 Liberator, Eight AF, England, and has participated in bombing missions over Kassel, Cologne and flew in support of General Patton’s Third Army at Metz. He entered the service November 13, 1941.
M/Sgt Dikun is interred at Fort Indiantown Gap.
Dikun, George, b. 04/26/1919, d. 10/20/1996, US Air Force, MSGT, Res: Pottsville, PA, Plot: 10 0 911, bur. 10/24/1996

Glider Pilot Learns The Ropes
Pottsville Journal,

Flight Officer Joseph L. Bowler of Tumbling Run, Schuylkill County recently arrived at A U.S. Strategic Air Force Base in England and received a Brief orientation course to help him adjust to a life in a combat zone.
There is a book entitled “War Stories” By Bart Hagernan That contains a short story about Flight Officer “Cannonball” Bowler. Making a combat glider landing.

Bombardier's View on a B-17

B-17 Lead Bombardier Earns Distinguished Flying Cross
Pottsville Journal, December 21, 1944

First Lieutenant John Androkitis bombardier, Port Carbon, has been awarded the coveted Distinguished Flying Cross. Androkitis, a B-17 Flying Fortress Bombardier, received the DFC for outstanding performance of duty during the great aerial attack on the synthetic oil works at Politz, Germany, October, 7th He was lead bombardier of one of the formations that participated in this assault on Germany’s fast dwindling oil reserves. A very intense anti aircraft barrage was encountered over the target and the objective was obscured by a highly effective smoke screen. Despite these obstacles, however, Lt. Androkitis used a triangulation method to plot the position of the aiming point and dropped his bombs into the smoke. Subsequent damage assessments indicated that the bombing by Lt. Androkitis, and the bombardiers in his formation who dropped on his command, was very effective and the target suffered extreme damage and was probably destroyed.
The 21 year old flier is a veteran of 29 aerial attacks on Germany and besides the DFC he wears the Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters. A graduate of Port Carbon High School, Lt. Andokitis was employed in Philadelphia before entering the service on June 27, 1942.

On this mission 142 of 149 B-17s hit the oil refinery at Politz; 17 B-17s are lost and
106 damaged; 2 airmen are KIA, 17 WIA and 171 MIA. Escort is proivded by 93
of 108 P-51s; they claim 7-0-3 aircraft; 1 P-51 is lost (pilot MIA).

B-24 Liberator

B-24 Pilot Lieutenant Andrew Shellick Flies 50th Combat Mission.
Pottsville Journal, December 21, 1944

Lieutenant Andrew Shellick, Minersville has flown his 50th mission in aerial combat as a pilot of a B-24 Liberator Bomber. He is a member of a veteran 15th AAF flying in the 450th BG(H) 723rd Squadron that is playing a leading role in the strategic bombing offensive against the Reich. In course of rounding out 50 missions, he has taken part in such important operations as the attacks on Ploesti, Romania oilfields industrial areas of Vienna and Munich and Friedrichshafen. He also participated in the pre invasion hammering of coastal installations and gun emplacements in Southern France.
For meritorious achievement in sustained activities, Shellick has been awarded the Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters. He is a graduate of Minersville High School and prior to entering the Armed Forces in September 1942 was a machine operator for the Aluminum Company of America, N.J. He earned his commission in February, 1944 receiving flight training at Bennettsville S.C. Shaw Field Sumter S.C. and Stewart Field, West Point New York.

Ball Turret B-24

Pacific Theater………………………………………………

A Ball Turret Gunner on B-24 Liberator “Miss Lace”
Pottsville Journal, February 1945

As a member of the famed 11th Heavy Bombardment Group of the 7th A.A.F. Corporal Walter B. Hoffman, St. Clair has been commended by Major General Robert D. Douglas, Jr. Commanding the 7th A.A.F. in the Marianas , for his part in the “Campaign which has taken a large section of the Pacific from the enemy’s hands.” The 11th Air group has participated in almost every major move of the great offensive that has rolled the Japanese back more than 3,000 miles to their own front yard. “The valiant record of your group is the valiant record of its men. Both as a unit and as individuals,” the General Said.
He graduated from St. Clair High School in 1939 and entered the service in October 1942. He has been with the 7th A.A.F. in the Pacific since June 1944 and is a ball turret gunner on the 11th Group Liberator “Miss Lace”.

*It is interesting to note that the ball turret was the worst crew position on the aircraft. The confining sphere fastened to the underside of the aircraft required a small statured man an agile occupant immune to claustrophobia and to be brave enough to be without a parachute close by. The turret moved in a full 360 degrees, providing an excellent vantage point underneath the aircraft and covering all enemy aircraft that tried to attack from below.

Flew 70 Combat Missions in China Burma Theater
Pottsville Journal, !945

The Air Medal has been awarded to M/Sgt. John F. Brommer 26, Pine Grove an aerial engineer with a troop carrier squadron of the Tenth AF, in Burma, who has chalked up 70 combat missions totaling 213 hours during his two year’s service in the India Burma Theater. A graduate of Pine grove High School, Sgt. Brommer was an independent coal miner prior to entering the armed forces over eight years ago.

Pilot Earns 2nd Oak Leaf Cluster To The Air Medal
Pottsville Journal, 1945

The second oak leaf cluster to the Air Medal has been awarded to Lt. John E. Zerbe, 22, Valley View a combat cargo pilot serving in the 10th Air Force in Burma. He has chalked up 168 combat missions totaling 670 hours during his eight months of service in the India-Burma Theater. He also holds the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Aerial Gunner is Awarded The Distinguished Flying Cross
Pottsville Journal January 4, 1945

Staff Sergeant Robert H. True, Pottsville a gunner on a 7th AAF bomber, in the Marianas, has been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for aerial operations against the Japs in the central Pacific. Presentation was made by Col. John J. Morrow Commanding Officer of the 7th AAF Service group at a base in the Marianas.

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