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A Memorial Tribute to the B24 Combat Crew on which I served as the Bombardier:

During the period March thru August 1944 we were based in southern Italy on an airfield near San Pancrazio Italy.  We were assigned to the 15th Air Force/47th Wing/376th Heavy Bombardment Group/512th Bombardment Wing.  There were ten men on our crew.

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From Bob Lehnherr:
In the back row, left to right: Horsak, Grooms, Jolitz, #4?
In the front row at this point I cannot identify any of them.
I am not in the picture as I was taking the picture...
and I cannot tell you who the tenth man is missing from the picture.

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We had gone through phase training at Clovis AAF, Almogordo AAF and Charleston AAF.  In January 1944 we were shipped via troop train to Mitchell Field NY, where we picked up a new B24G.  


15star.gif (5941 bytes)In February 1944 we departed Mitchell Field and flew the southern route via the Azores, South America, Africa and thence to San Pancrazio, Italy .  On 15 March 1944 we flew our first combat mission bombing Monte Cassino, Italy. 

Thereafter we each successfully flew a total of 50 or 51 missions against targets in southern Europe and the Balkans.  We generally flew together as a crew, but for various reasons this was not always true.  All returned safely to the United States in September 1944.

This is the crew roster:

2nd Lt GROOMS, Wayne G Pilot - Currently living in Winchester, OH
2nd Lt JOLITZ, Gordon D     Co-pilot *
2nd Lt HORSAK, Rudolph J Navigator - Currently living in Houston, TX
2nd Lt LEHNHERR, Robert E Bombardier - Currently living in Kent, WA
S/Sgt MORRISON, Joseph C  AEG - Unable to locate
S/Sgt WETZEL, William H ROG - Died 22 July 1989
S/Sgt WIEWIORA, Walter J AAG - Unable to locate 
Sgt ANDERSON, Warren C AEEG - Currently living in Lindstrom, MN   
Sgt BASCOM, Albert W        AG  - Unable to locate
Sgt BOGUE, Robert L         AROG - Unable to locate

*Believed to be deceased, but unable to confirm.

All were brave young men who believed, and practiced DUTY-HONOR-COUNTRY! Each of whom voluntarily put themselves at risk in the defense of their country.

If anyone has knowledge of any of these once young "flyboys" of World War II, I would appreciate hearing from them...all of us are now in our mid seventies.  We have not done very well with regard to 'keeping in touch' their still time?  Only if we hurry!

I did visit with Jolitz several times in the late '47-'50 time period. Grooms and I have communicated by letter and telephone.  And in May 1997 while visiting in Houston I was able to spend an afternoon with Rudy Horsak.

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The old wornout ifmo  -- Bob Lehnherr



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