(From Will Lundy’s ”44th Bomb Group Roll of Honor”, 1987)

Airdrome, Langenhagen, Germany

7 July 1944

Aircraft Factory, Bernberg, Germany On the wallmap of Europe a red tape was stretched all the way from England to Bernberg, deep into Germany. We were briefed to expect fighters and heavy flak as the target in a fighter production area. About five minutes before reaching the target we were hit by fighters, approximately sixty, lined up fifteen abreast, who came in at us from 1 o’clock and slightly higher. They fired as they came in and you could see their orange 20-mm shells coming through the air. Three 68th Squadron aircraft were hit, one going down early, while the other two straggled and so were escorted by P-38s. Both were lost on the return.

E.A. Meyer, the navigator on the Rickett’s crew, wrote: “This was the day of the ‘Big Shoot.’ We could not get fighter cover because our fighters were engaged with German fighters. We were attacked by many types of enemy aircraft coming out of the sun just as we prepared to turn on the IP. Three aircraft were hit.” Rickett’s aircraft was also hit and the navigator’s window was shot out. Rickett’s crew became the lead 68th aircraft. Some bombs hit the target, an aircraft plant, but most took out the main road through town.

68th SQUADRON: 68th Sq., #42-110035 Y, Steinke, ANY GUM CHUM, MACR #7355 68th Squadron Crew:

STEINKE, DONALD H. Pilot 1st Lt. Toluca, IL, ASN 0-807537, KIA
SOUTHERN, WILLIAM A. Co-pilot 2nd Lt. Staten Island, NY, ASN 0-886976, KIA, buried Ardennes (D-9-37)
MITCHELL, DUANE E. Navigator 1st Lt. Grant City, MO, ASN 0-698751, POW, seriously injured
HYBARGER, TOM P. Bombardier 1st Lt. Brackettville, TX, ASN 0-666673, KIA
RICH, FRED A. Engineer T/Sgt. E. Los Angeles, CA, ASN 39276079 KIA, buried Ardennes (D-37-16)
DUNN, EDWARD K. Nose Turret S/Sgt. New York City, NY, ASN 12126659 KIA
MALINOWYCZ, JEROME F. Radio Oper. S/Sgt. Elmer Heights, NY, ASN 32286655, POW
RABB, HAROLD M. RW Gunner S/Sgt. Point, TX, ASN 18218358, KIA, buried Ardennes (A-28-4)
CHRISTIAN, CHARLES M. LW Gunner S/Sgt. Rome, GA, ASN 14094288 KIA
JONES, PHILIP G. Tail Turret S/Sgt. Palatine, IL, ASN 36726983, KIA

The MACR states in part that this aircraft was hit by the first enemy aircraft attack on this formation at 0928 hours at the IP. #4 engine was shot out and began smoking as the aircraft went into a steep right bank. One crew reported that this plane crashed and no chutes were seen. However, the entire formation was under a heavy attack and most crewmen had little time for observations.

Lt. Hybarger, bombardier, was a temporary fill-in this day, normally flying with Captain Charles Koch’s crew. He did not survive. Only two members got out to become POWs and I was able to contact only Lt. Mitchell, the navigator.

He adds, “I was on my 29th mission when we were hit by enemy aircraft between the IP and target. Our plane received a direct hit, and we immediately went into a spin. I do not know how I left the plane, but have always felt that the bombardier, Tom Hybarger, pushed me out the nose wheel door. I remember trying to exit, but the spin was throwing the doors shut. Therefore, I feel that he held the door handle and pushed me out as I was badly injured.
I regained consciousness while free falling at about 4,000 feet. I realized I had a badly broken leg and was paralyzed from my waist down. I made a delayed jump, opened my chute at about 800 feet and slipped the chute to land in a small wheat field. I was knocked out again on landing and was out for some time. When I came back to consciousness, I realized that I was badly wounded and unable to move my legs. So I removed my Mae West vest and waved it above the wheat in hopes of summoning assistance. In a short time I was captured by a group of civilians. They took me to a small village and placed me in a barn.
After about eight hours, I was picked up by a military ambulance and taken to a German hospital, where I was given an anesthetic and my leg was placed in traction. I was placed in a very small room with no windows, where I remained in traction for three months.
At Frankfurt, I was told that the rest of my crew were alive and I would see them when I reached a POW camp. However at the small village, a German man and a young girl who spoke English told me that all of my crew were killed and they showed me pictures of them. These were the pictures we carried in our escape packs. After three months in this room, I was placed in a long cast and transferred by train with a 1st Lt. escort to the Dulag at Frankfurt. I had recovered from my paralysis during the three months. From there I was shipped by train with a group of wounded prisoners to Ober Masfield and a POW hospital. Here an American physician, who was a prisoner, reset my leg. After a few weeks at this hospital, I was sent to a POW hospital at Meinnigen, where I remained until liberated on April 9, 1945.
It was not until I arrived in New York that I learned positively that all my crew were killed except Jerome Malinowycz and myself. I’ve tried several times to contact his family but was never successful.”

Return To Previous Page