Captain Harold S. Leffel, O-683191

10th Air Force / 7th Bombardment Group / 492nd Bombardment Squadron

Squadron & Group Navigator

(Images & Info Courtesy of

Enlisted: 7 Jan 42

Distinguished Flying Cross w/3 Oak Leaf Clusters    Air Medal w/3 Oak Leaf Clusters

Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal w/4 Battle Stars

Leffel died August 25, 1952, in a crash of a B-17 that was accidentally shot down over the Gulf of Mexico.
   He entered service in 1941 as an aviation cadet and trained as an airplane mechanic at Sheppard Field, Texas. He received his navigator training and was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant at Ellington Field, Texas, at which time he was rated Celestial Navigator and Dead Reckoning Navigator.
   He was transferred to Scotts Bluff, Nebraska, where he became part of a B-24 crew of 10 men. In October, 1943, this crew joined the 492nd bomb Squadron of the 7th Bombardment Group in India, where they immediately began bombardment operations and flew missions in support of Allied operations in Burma, India, and China. During this period of his service, Lt. Leffel made frequent trips over the so-called “Hump” to China, flying gasoline to Gen. Chennault’s forces operating there.
   Shortly after his arrival in India, Lt. Leffel was chosen to be the Squadron Navigator, and within a brief time became the Group Navigator, a task which entailed supervision of all the navigators of the 7th Bombardment Group and assistance in the preparation and planning of all missions. He, at this time, was promoted to Captain.
   Although attaining the number of credits and missions flown which would entitle him to be returned to the United States, he remained, at his own request, on duty with his unit in combat long past the time when crews were normally rotated home. Eventually ordered back to the United States for a rest, Capt. Leffel and his crew entered a training course on new equipment and returned again to India to join the 7th Bombardment Group just the time the war with Japan was coming to a close.
   During the period of his service in combat, Capt. Leffel was given the following awards: Distinguished Flying Cross with three Oak Leaf Clusters, indicating that he had been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross four times, the Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters, the Commendation Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters as well as the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with four Battle Stars.
   After the war, Captain Leffel was assigned to an Army processing unit at Greensboro, NC and later to Fort Knox, KY at the task of processing personnel from the Armed Services in their return to civilian life. In 1946 Capt. Leffel was selected to be the Group Navigator for his unit, assigned to Project “CROSSROADS”. This unit had the assignment of flying radio-controlled B-17 aircraft. Capt. Leffel pioneered in this type of work and was later awarded the Commendation Ribbon for hi services. Upon completion of “CROSSROADS” project, Capt. Leffel was sent to Eglin Air Force Base, FL as Group Training Officer, and because of his varied background and vast experience in the navigational field, he was one of the first students selected to attend the Air Force Radar, Bombardier, and Navigator School at Sacramento, CA.
   Major Leffel was a volunteer observer on the four-engine B-17 acting as a director for a radio-controlled B-17 drone when the former was accidentally fired on by the jet fighter attempting to use the drone for a target. The plane in which Major Leffel was observing crashed into the Gulf of Mexico. Only two of the crew of the B-17 were rescued.

Major Leffel's Memorial

7th BG Personnel

492nd BS Personnel