Lester Hale

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Lester Hale, Les Hale
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NOSE - GUNNER DIARYThe Combat Mission Diary of a B-24 Nose Gunner in World War 11My father, Lester Hale, served as a nose turret gunner on a B-24 heavy bomber during

the Second World War. He was assigned to the 304 th Heavy Bombardment Wing's 459 th Heavy Bombardment Group, 756th Bombardment Squadron. The nose turret gunner was stationed at the very front of the heavy bomber and he fired his machine guns at attacking enemy fighters. His assigned station gave him an incredible view of the entire bombing flight. During the entire period of this diary covering his 50 credited missions (actually 46 were flown but the crew received double credit for several missions because of their great length to the target and resultant added danger), my father was only 19 years old. His story can be found under Lester Hale at www.vourtruehero.org . Lester Hale kept a diary of each of the bombing missions that his crew undertook in their B-24 heavy bomber. I compared his diary entries with the excellent chronology provided in the wonderful book "AIR WAR EUROPA: America's War against Germany in Europe and North Africa; CHORONLOGY 1942-1945" by Eric Hammel. Pacifica Press publishes this book and they can be reached at:Pacifica Press 1149 Grand Teton Drive Pacifica, CA 94044 (800) 4533152

The strategic bombing campaign of the 15 th Air Force was based at Giulia Field near Cerignola, Italy. Giulia Field was less than ten miles from the Adriatic shore and 30 miles south of the Gargano Promontory, known as the "Spur" because of its resemblance to a spur on the back of the Italian "boot". The airfield was built on property known as the Pavoncelli Estate, a collection of vineyards and orchards along the low, level Plain of Apulia. The natural formation of the land made it an excellent site for the distances needed for the take-offs and landings of the B-24 Liberator and B-17 Flying Fortress heavy bombers. This diary covers the period from March 3r d through July 2 nd of 1944. The bombing runs were concentrating on Hitler's airfields, munitions and ball-bearing factories and oil production facilities. The combat mission numbers and dates track Lester Hale's diary entries. Lester Hale was an original member of the Fifteenth Air Force's renowned 459 th Bomber Group of the United States Army Air Corps. Eric Hammel's chronologies of the events of that date in the European Air War follow the diary entries. You will notice recurring names of the crew flying under the pilot, Lt. John Dabbert. The only living members of that crew today are Crockford, Hale and Redfield. The publication of this diary is dedicated to the entire crew's extraordinary devotion to our nation and their brave service during World War II.

Gary Hale.wvourtehg,

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1st Combat Mission: March 1944Landed: 13:45 Take off: 08.45 Bomb Load: 120 Twenty-lb. Fragmentation bombs Target: Viterbo Airport in Italy Lester Hale's diary entry:.

"This airfield is reported to be the largest one in central Italy. We met some flak and a few enemy fighters. Two planes missing. Our crew didn't get any shots in." CREWPilot: Copilot: Nay. Bombardier: Engineer: Lt. Koefood F/O Newhouse Lt. Costikyan Lt. Buck Pvt. Bosik Radio Operator: Pvt. Morgese Asst. Engineer: Sgt. Doyle Asst. Radio Operator: Pvt. Crockford Turret Gunner: S/Sgt. Verdier Armored Gunner: Pvt. Hale

From AIR WAR EUROPA by Eric Hammel:... Fifteenth Air Force B-24s attack the landing ground at Canino, and the Fabrica di Roma and Viterbo airdromes, but results are poor due to cloudy weather over the targets...

2 nd Combat Mission: March 15, 1944Take Off: 08:00 Landed: 11:15 Bomb Load: 6 1000 lb. Bombs (demolition) Target: Cassino, Italy Lester Hale's diary entry:

"This was the first mission pulled with our original crew. No flak and no fighters, no planes lost. An easy mission."CREW Pilot: Lt. Dabbert Copilot: Lt. Williams, W.W. Navigator: Lt. Olszanowski Bombardier: Lt. Glick Engineer: S/Sgt. Redfield Radio Operator: Pvt. Morgese Asst. Engineer: Sgt. Doyle Asst. Radio Operator: Pvt. Crockford Turret Gunner: S/Sgt. Verdier Armorer Gunner: Pvt. Hale

From AIR WAR EUROPA by Eric Hammel:...In the largest air operation in the theater to date, more than 1000 Allied warplanes level Monte Cassino monastery and nearby German Army defensive positions with 1200 tons of bombs. The Twelfth and Fifteenth air forces provide 275 heavy bombers and nearly 200 medium bombers, which drop more than 2000 thousand pound bombs. Although the Benedictine monastery is utterly demolished, the ground attack fails.

Although no official start date is ever set, Allied warplanes in Italy effectively commence Operation STRANGLE, the aerial interdiction of the supply network in use by German forces in Italy. The wide ranging operation will continue into late May and will eventually result in an 80 percent reduction in the German Army's ability to supply its combat divisions in Italy...

3 Combat Mission: March 18 1944rd

Take Off: 07:30 Landed: 13:15 Bomb Load: 120-201b. Fragmentation bombs Target: Maniago Airport, Italy Lester Hale's diary entry:

"Light flak over the target, no enemy fighters. All planes returned safe."CREW: Pilot: Lt. Dabbert Copilot: Lt. Williams, WW Navigator: Lt. Burns Bombardier: Lt. Ford Engineer: S/Sgt. RedfieldRadio Operator: Pfc. Morgese Asst. Engineer: Sgt. Clawson Asst. Radio Operator: Pfc. Crockford Turret Gunner: S/Sgt. Verdier Armorere Gunner: Pfc. Hale

From AIR WAR EUROPA by Eric Hammel: .... Responding to reports that as many as 235 GAF fighters have returned to the Udine Airdrome complex in northeastern Italy, Fifteenth Air Force planners conceive a brilliant plan to eradicate them. First, 95 P-38s strafe lines of supply and communications in northeastern Italy and conduct a sweep over the Udine-Villaorba area, an operation that hold most GAF fighters in the area on the ground. Next, 113 B-17s make a feint toward southern Germany by way of the Yugoslav coast, a move that draws up GAF fighters based at Klagenfurt and Graz airdromes, in southern Austria. These b-17s next turn sharply west, which in turn draws the GAF interceptor force toward northeastern Italy. The b-17s drop 20 lb. Fragmentation bombs on Udine and Villaorba airdromes at 1013 hours, and the USAAF fighters in the area attack the GAF fighters out of Graz and Klangenfurt. As the B-17s and all the USAAF fighters leave the area, the GAF fighters must land at the Udine area's three undamaged airfields to rearm and refuel. As the GAF fighters are being serviced at the Gorizia, Lavariano, and Mantiago satellite fields, those bases are bombed between 1059 and 1111 hours by, respectively, 72, 67 and 121 B-24s, which sow 32370 20-pound fragmentation bombs that destroy or damage 56 GAF aircraft on the ground. Also, in the air between 0925 and 1005, Fifteenth Air Force P-38 and P-47 pilots down 17 GAF aircraft. The cost to the Fifteenth Air Force, in the course of 406 heavy-bomber and 168 fighter sorties, is seven bombers and four fighters lost...

4 th Combat Mission: March 19, 1944Landed: 15:55 Take Off: 09:30 Bomb Load: 10- 500-pound demolition bombs Target: Klagenfurt, Austria

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Lester Hale's diary entry: " We encountered heavy, accurate flak. About 20 ME 109s were seen

attacking another group. Our escort (P-38s) chased them off from us. We didn't lose any planes."CREW Pilot: Major Christy Copilot: Lt. Dabbert Navigator: Lt. Cook Bombardier: Lt. Davis Engineer: S/Sgt. Redfield

Radio Operator: Pfc. Morgese Asst. Engineer: Sgt. Hollis Asst. Radio Operator: Pfc. Crockford Turret Gunner: S/Sgt. Verdier Armorer Gunner: Pfc. Hale

From AIR WAR EUROPA by Eric Hammel: ... Although unable to reach their briefed target at Steyr because of bad weather a total of 234 Fifteenth Air Force B-17s and B-24s attack Klagenfurt Airdrome with 183 tons of bombs. Twelve B-24s are lost at Klagenfurt, including two lost in a collision...

5" Combat Mission? March 24 19441

Landed: 14::40 Take Off: 07:35 Bomb Load: - 10 - 500 pound demolition bombs

Target: Rimini, ItalyLester Hale's diary entry:

"We dropped our bombs on the railroad yards. No fighters and the flak wasn't up to our range. Very successful - all planes returned."CREW Pilot: Lt. Dabbert Copilot: Lt. Williams, WW Navigator: Lt. Olszanowski Bombardier: Lt. Glick Engineer: S/Sgt. Redfield

Radio Operator: Pfc. Morgese Asst. Engineer: Sgt. Rich Asst. Radio Operator: Pfc. Crockford Turret Gunner: S/Sgt. Verdier Armorer Gunner: Pfc. Hale

From AIR WAR EUROPA by Eric Hammel: .... Under relentless attack as part of Operation Strangle, the rail lines to Romefrom northern Italy are completely severed following week-long attacks by the Twelfth and Fifteenth Air Forces. Hereafter, until the city is liberated in June, no rail car is able to get through Rome in any direction. Although more than 200 Fifteenth Air Force B-17s and B-24s abort in the face of bad weather, approximately 100 B-24s attack a marshaling yard at Rimini, and 32 B-24s attack Ancona, Senigallia, and several rail and road bridges spanning the Vomano River...

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6 th Combat Mission: March 26, 1944Landed: 14:00 Take Off: 08:05 Bomb Load: 10 - 500 pound demolition bombs Target: Steyr, Austria

Lester Hale's diary entry: "Today was really a bad day for flying. None of us thought we would ever take off It was really bad up. We were tossed around like eggshells on the ocean. We cheated death today, but only by the Grace of god and the best pilot in the 15th Air Force. We were about a /2 hour from the target when we ran into a snowstorm over Yugoslavia. The plane on our left wing suddenly started sliding right into us. The copilot was flying at the time and he cut the throttles immediately. This made us stall out. Well, the pilot grabbed the controls and both pilots were fighting to get the plane under control. We almost went into a spin. We dropped 6000 feet in no time at all. We went right through the whole formation of 40 planes that were flying below and in back of us. I was in the nose turret and when I saw what was happening I got halfway out. We missed one 24 by inches. It is as if I could reach out of the turret and touch it. I never want to go through anything like that again. The whole group returned home without going on to the target."1

CREWPilot: Lt. Dabbert Copilot: Lt. Williams, WW Navigator: Lt. Olszanowski Bombardier: Lt. Glick Engineer: S/Sgt. Redfield-

Radio Operator: Pfc. Morgese Asst. Engineer: Sgt. Doyle Asst. Radio Operator: Pfc. Crockford Turret Gunner: S/Sgt. Verdier Armorer Gunner: Pfc. Hale

From AIR WAR EUROPA by Eric Hammel: ...Forced to turn back by bad weather while bound for Steyr, Austria, fifteenth Air force B-24s attack the Udine Airdrome complex and marshaling yards at Rimini, and Fifteenth Air Force B-17s attack port facilities and shipping at Fiume. However, approximately 150 B-17s and B-24s return to their bases with their bombs aboard...

7 th Mission: March 29. 1944Landed: 15:00 Take Off: 08:00 Bomb Load: 10 500 pound demolition bombs Target: Milan, Italy

Lester Hale's diary entry: " We picked up 30 P-38s at 11:00. They were our escort in and out of the target. It was a very beautiful sight to see them fooling around above us. We were told that we would meet about 60 fighters and heavy flak, but we didn't see any fighters or flak. It was a very good mission."

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CREWPilot: Lt. Dabbert Copilot: Lt. Williams, WW Navigator: Lt. Olszanowski Bombardier: Lt. Glick Engineer: S/Sgt. Redfield Radio Operator: Pfc. Morgese Asst. Engineer: Sgt. Doyle Asst. Radio Operator: Pfc. Crockford Turret Gunner: S/Sgt. Verdier Armorer Gunner: Pfc. Hale

From AIR WAR EUROPA by Eric Hammel: ... In the Fifteenth Air Force's largess mission so far in the war, nearly 300 Fifteenth Air Force B-24s attack-marshaling yards at Bolzano and Milan...m i ss i ns: A HI 2 1944 (Double Credit Mission) Take Off: 08:35 Landed: 15:00 Bomb Load: 10 500 pound demolition bombs Target: Steyr, Austria8 th and 9 th Combat

Lester Hale's diary entry: " We finally got to the target we have been trying for three weeks. It was the roughest mission so far. The flak was so thick we could have lowered our landing gear and taxied on it. The Lutwaffe sent about all of their planes up to meet us. F.W. 190s, ME109s, Me 210s, and Macche 202s. We had P-38s as escort. I saw two B-17s go down. One went into a spin and both wings ripped off No one escaped. On the other 17, all of them got out. I also saw 5 enemy planes go down. 3 ME109s, 1 FIN 190, and 1 ME 210. I got some shots in but we were in the middle of the formation and it was hard for me to shoot. This is the first time we went so far in enemy territory to get the double credit." CREWPilot: Lt. Dabbert Copilot: Lt. Williams, WW Navigator: Lt. Olszanowski Bombardier: Lt. Glick Engineer: S/Sgt. Redfield Radio Operator: Cpl. Morgese Asst. Engineer: Sgt. Doyle Asst. Radio Operator: Cpl. Crockford Turret Gunner: S/Sgt. Verdier Armorer Gunner: Cpl. Hale

(NOTE: Lester Hale was promoted from Private First Class to Corporal prior to this mission.) From AIR WAR EUROPA by Eric Hammel: ... Following four aborts due to weather during the preceding two weeks, fifteenth Air Force heavy bombers are finally able to get through heavy clouds to Steyr. A phased escort - the first of its kind in the theater is provided by the Fifteenth Air Force's three P-38 groups and one P-47 group. Between 1213 and 1231 hours, 125 Fifteenth Air Force B-17s and 30 B-24s attack the ball - bearing plant; 168 Fifteenth Air Force B-24s attack the Steyr Airdrome; and 125 B-24s bomb the Daimler-Puch aircraft

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components factory. Of 280 heavy bombers taking part in this mission, 20 are lost to enemy fire.... 10 th a c d 11 th Combat Mission: April 4 1944 Take Off: 09.40 Landed: 17:20 Bomb Load: 10 500 pound demolition bombs Target: Bucharest, Romania

Lester Hale's diary entry: "This mission was the closest one we ever had. It seemed as if it was only a miracle that brought us back. We were about 20 minutes from the target when we were attacked by about 30 ME 109s. Their first attack gave us trouble. He hit with one explosive 20 millimeter in the wing between No. 1 and No. 2 engines. It cut our fuel lines on No. 1 engine and caused all the gas to leak into the wing and into the bomb bay. "Red" finally stopped it. He does a very good job. The pilot feathered No. 1 engine and we came in that way. The fourth and last attack by the 109s was fatal to one of them. He came in on our nose, so I got my turret on him. I heard a loud snap and saw that he had hit my turret. I got my sight on him and then held the trigger switch down. I got him. The Copilot, waist gunner and tail gunner saw smoke pouring out of him. It was a very rough mission and again we can thank Lt. Dabbert for bringing us in." CREWPilot: Lt. Dabbert Copilot: Lt. Williams, WW Navigator: Lt. Olszanowski Bombardier: Lt. Glick Engineer: S/Sgt. Redfield Radio Operator: Cpl. Morgese Asst. Engineer: Sgt. Doyle Asst. Radio Operator: Cpl. Crockford Turret Gunner: S/Sgt. Verdier Armorer Gunner: Cpl. Hale

From AIR WAR EUROPA by Eric Hammel: el:... In the first of many strategic missions made under commitment by the Fifteenth Air Force to aid the advance of the Red Army across the Balkans by disrupting Balkans transportation centers in use to supply the German Army in the East, 350 B-17s and B-24s, escorted by 119 P-38s, are dispatched to attack rail facilities in Bucharest. GAF fighter opposition is fierce, especially against the 449 th Bombardment Group, a 47 th Heavy Bombardment Wing B-24 unit that becomes separated from the rest of the wing in bad weather. Seven of the group's 28 B-24s are downed by the Axis fighters, but the survivors attack the target and make it home. Altogether, 93 B-17s and 220 B-24s drop 863 tons of bombs, mostly on marshaling yards at Bucharest. Also, 30 B-24s from two groups attack the Bucharest/Otepni Airdrome. Bomber gunners are awarded credit for 50 GAF fighters...

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112 th Combat Mission: April 7 1944Take Off: 09:45 Landed: 15:45 Bomb Load: 40 100 pound demolition bombs

Target: Bologna, Italy

"It was a very easy mission. We didn't meet any enemy fighters and what flak we did see didn't amount to anything. We really did a good job on the marshaling yards. We estimated that there were about 700 cars in the yards. They aren't there any more."CREW Pilot: Lt. Oliver, T.K. Copilot: F/O Curtis Navigator: Lt. Thibodeau Bombardier: Lt. Gracz Engineer: S/Sgt. Oliver, J.T. Radio Operator: S/Sgt. Sullivan Asst. Engineer: S/Sgt. Keepers Asst. Radio Operator: S/Sgt. Bartels Turret Gunner: S/Sgt. Smith Armorer Gunner: Cpl. Hale

Lester Hale's diary entry:

From AIR WAR EUROPA by Eric Hammel:Fifteenth Air Force B-17s attack a marshaling yard at Treviso, and Fifteenth Air Force B-24s attack marshaling yards at Bolgna and Mestre... 13 and 14 th Combat Missions: April 12,1944 Take Off: 08:10 Landed: 13:30 Bomb Load: 40 100 pound general-purpose bombs Target: Bad Voslau, Austria Lester Hale's diary entry:th

"This was a pretty rough mission. We didn't meet any enemy fighters until we were about 5 minutes from the target. Then everything broke loose. We saw ME 109s, ME 110s, ME 210s and JEI SSs. They shot out plenty of rockets and for about 20 minutes it was really hell. Our ball gunner got one ME 210. I saw two B-24s get shot down. Nine fellows got out of one and about seven got out of the other one. One plane exploded and one crashed into the ground. They weren't from our Group. One crew failed to return from our Squadron. They feathered two engines and fell behind us and two ME 109s jumped them. It is reported that both enemy planes were shot down by the crew." (Later entry: "That crew returned 72 hours later and were sent back to the States immediately. The Yugoslav partisans helped them.")

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CREW Pilot: Lt. Dabbert Copilot: Lt. Williams, WW Navigator: Lt. Olszanowski Bombardier: Lt. Glick Engineer: S/Sgt. Redfield

Radio Operator: Cpl. Morgese Asst. Engineer: Sgt. Doyle Asst. Radio Operator: Cpl. Crockford Turret Gunner: S/Sgt. Verdier Armorer Gunner: Cpl. Hale

From AIR WAR EUROPA by Eric Hammel: ...In an all-out effort against aircraft-industry targets in the Vienna area, 172 Fifteenth Air Force B-17s attack the aircraft components factory at Fischamend Markt; 140 Fifteenth Air Force B-24s attack the Messerchmitt assembly plant at Bad Voslau; and 134 Fifteenth Air Force B-24s attack the Bf-109 components and assembly factory at Wiener-Neistadt. One B-17 and six B-24s are lost...

15 th Combat Mission: Aril 16 19449

Take Off: 07:10 Landed: 13:05 Bomb Load: 10 500 pound demolition bombs Target: Turnu Severin, Yugoslavia Lester Hale's diary entry: " It was a very easy mission. No flak, no fighters. I don't know how the results were but they didn't look good at all." CREW Pilot: Lt. Dabbert Copilot: Lt. Williams, WW Navigator: Lt. Olszanowski Bombardier: Lt. Glick Engineer: S/Sgt. Redfield

Radio Operator: Cpl. Morgese Asst. Engineer: Sgt. Doyle Asst. Radio Operator: Cpl. Crockford Turret Gunner: S/Sgt. Verdier Armorer Gunner: Cpl. Hale

From AIR WAR EUROPA by Eric Hammel: ...Fifteenth Air Force B-17s and B-24s attack marshaling yards at Brasov, and B24s attack a marshaling yards at Turnu Severin....

16 th Mission and 17 th Combat Missions: A ril 21 1944(Double credit mission) Take Off: 08:30 Landed: 17:30 Bomb Load: 10- 500-pound general-purpose bombs Target: Bucharest, Romania Lester Hale's diary entry: "We started on the bomb run on Bucharest and we had about two minutes to go when the Leader signaled to abandon the target. We then went to the secondary target and we started on the run there and we abandoned that also.

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There was a heavy undercast. We started for home and the lead navigator got lost and we didn't know where we were. We flew over Belgrade without knowing it and they really caught us. We were only at 13000 feet and they really sent up a lot of flak. None of our group got knocked but I did see a plane from another group get it. We were molested by some enemy fighters, but they didn't seem eager at all. They didn't attack us, but stayed just out of range. All in all, it wasn't a bad mission."CREW Pilot: Lt. Dabbert Copilot: Lt. Williams, WW Navigator: Lt. Olszanowski Bombardier: Lt. Glick Engineer: S/Sgt. Redfield

Radio Operator: Cpl. Morgese Asst. Engineer: Sgt. Doyle Asst. Radio Operator: Cpl. Crockford Turret Gunner: S/Sgt. Verdier Armorer Gunner: Cpl. Hale

From AIR WAR EUROPA by Eric Hammel:... More than 100 304 th Heavy Bombardment Wing B-24s attack Turnu Severin and marshaling yards at Bucharest, and 14 th Fighter Group P-38 pilots down ten Axis fighters between 1435 and 1445 hours...

18th and 19 th Combat Missions: April 23 1944Take Off: 09:40 Landed 16:45 Bomb Load: 10-500 pound R.D.X. bombs

Target: Bad Voslau, AustriaLester Hale's diary entry:

"This was the about the best bombing mission we have ever been on. We really smashed our target today. It was an assembly plant for ME 109s and I don't think they will ever assemble planes there again. We ran into pretty heavy flak. This was the first time I ever heard flak burst. It was really close. We had very good fighter escort al the way around. About ten ME 109s attacked us but the P-38s took care of them. It was a very good mission."CREW Pilot: Lt. Dabbert Copilot: Lt. Williams, WW Navigator: Lt. Olszanowski Bombardier: Lt. Glick Engineer: S/Sgt. Redfield

Radio Operator: Cpl. Morgese Asst. Engineer: Sgt. Doyle Asst. Radio Operator: Cpl. Crockford Turret Gunner: S/Sgt. Verdier Armorer Gunner: Cpl. Hale

From AIR WAR EUROPA by Erie Hammel: ...In the theater's largest heavy-bombing mission to date 171 Fifteenth Air ForceB-17s attack the Bf-109 assembly plant at Wiener-Neustadt; 33 B-24s attack the WienerNeustadt/Nord airdrome; 107 B-24s attack the bf-109 assembly plant and GAF base at Bad Voslau; and 143 B-24s attack aircraft industry factories at Schwechat. Two B-17s

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and 11 B-24s are lost, and many others are damaged by flak and unremitting GAF fighter attacks...

2(1 Combat Mission: A Hi 25 fi 944D

Take Oft: 08:20 Landed: 16:40 Bomb Load: 10 - 500 pound demolition bombs Target: Turin, Italy

Lester Hale's diary entry:"This wasn't a bad mission except for the flak over the target and over a city we ran into by mistake. We didn't lose any ships due to enemy action, but we did lose four ships that day. One crashed on take-off, all killed. One crashed just before landing, 5 killed. While in flight toward the target one ship chewed the tail half off of another ship! The one with the tail gone seemed to be under control. It didn't come back to the field. The other one went into a spin and crashed. 1 saw a P47 knock a ME 109 down over the target. All in all the whole flight was "SNAFU"."

(Later note: The plane with the severed tail landed safely at Corsica.)

CREWPilot: Lt. Dabbert Copilot: Lt. Williams, WW Navigator: Lt. Olszanowski Bombardier: Lt. Glick Engineer: S/Sgt. Redfield Radio Operator: Cpl. Morgese Asst. Engineer: Sgt. Doyle Asst. Radio Operator: Cpl. Crockford Turret Gunner: S/Sgt. Verdier Armorer Gunner: Cpl. Hale

From AIR WAR EUROPA by Eric Hammel:

... Although more than 300 Fifteenth Air Force heavy bombers abort in the face of bad weather, nearly 150 B-24s attack Varese and an aircraft factory at Turin...

21 st Combat Missi n: April 30 1944Take Off: 08:10 Landed: 15:30 Bomb Load: 10 500 pound demolition bombsTarget: Milan, Italy

Lester Hale's diary entry: "Again today we hit the same target as we did on March 29th. It was the same thing, no flak over the target and we didn't see any fighters at all. We did run into flak over different cities. It wasn't anything though. On about the last 3-4 missions we have just been fooling around Italy going all over different cities and airdromes trying to draw up enemy fighters but so far we haven't had any luck. A very easy mission."

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C EW Pilot: Lt. Dabbert Copilot: Lt. Williams, WW Navigator: Lt. Olszanowski Bombardier: Lt. Glick Engineer: S/Sgt. Redfield

Radio Operator: Cpl. Morgese Asst. Engineer: Sgt. Powell Asst. Radio Operator: Cpl. Crockford Turret Gunner: S/Sgt. Verdier Armorer Gunner: Cpl. Hale

From AIR WAR EUROPA by Eric Hammel: ...Fifteenth Air Force B-24s attack marshaling yards at Alessandria and Milan; and Fifteenth Air Force B-17s attack the airdrome at Reggio Emilia and aircraft industry targets at Milan and Varese...

22 nd Combat Mission: A nil 28 1944Take Off: 11:35 Landed: 16:50 Bomb Load: 10- 500-pound demolition bombs Target: San Stefano, Italy Lester Hale's diary entry:

"This was a very easy mission. We just cruised around north Italy looking for enemy fighters but we didn't see any. The flak at the target wasn't very bad and the bombing results looked good."CREW Pilot: Lt. Dabbert Copilot: Lt. Williams, WW Navigator: Lt. Olszanowski Bombardier: Lt. Glick Engineer: S/Sgt. Redfield

Radio Operator: Pfc. Morgese Asst. Engineer: Sgt. Doyle Asst. Radio Operator: Pfc. Crockford Turret Gunner: S/Sgt. Verdier Armorer Gunner: Cpl. Hale

From AIR WAR EUROPA by Erie Hammel: ... One hundred sixty-eight Fifteenth Air Force B-24s attack the port area at San Stefano al Mare... 23 rd and 24 th Combat Mission: May 5, 1944 Take Off: 10:00 Landed: 18:00 Bomb Load: 10- 500-pound demolition bombs Target: Ploesti, Romania

Lester Hale's diary entry:

" This wasn't a very rough mission for our group, but it was very hard on the group ahead of us. I saw three of their ships go down over the target and one went down on the back. On this last plane that went down, we were almost to Yugoslavia and we were watching this ship which kept getting lower and lower. All at once it exploded. Six men got out and the hard part was that three of the

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chutes burned on the way down. We didn't get any flak hits on our plane but it was very thick over the target. We had four promotions for E.M. today and our pilot made 1st Lt."CREW Pilot: Lt. Dabbert Copilot: Lt. Williams, WW Navigator: Lt. Olszanowski Bombardier: Lt. Glick Engineer: S/Sgt. Redfield

Radio Operator: Sgt. Morgese Asst. Engineer: Sgt. O'Flaherty Asst. Radio Operator: Sgt. Crockford Turret Gunner: S/Sgt. Verdier Armorer Gunner: Sgt. Hale

(Note: Lester Hale was promoted from Corporal to Sergeant on this day)

From AIR WAR EUROPA by Eric Hammel:...Four hundred eighty-five Fifteenth Air Force heavy bombers attack marshaling yards and a pumping station at Ploesti; and 39 B-17s attack a marshaling yard at Turnu Severin, Nineteen bombers are lost over Ploesti to Axis fighters...

25 th Combat Mission: May 12, 1944Take Off: 04:55 Landed: 12:35 Bomb load: 10-500 pound demolition bombs

Target: La Spezia, ItalyLester Hale's diary entry:

"Today we were supposed to make two combat missions into northern Italy. We made the first one all right but weather kept us down on the second. It wasn't a bad mission, we saw some flak over the targets but we didn't see any enemy fighters. Col. Munn led our group and the entire 15th Air Force went up and we flew over the front lines to give the boys a show of our strength."CREW Pilot: Lt. Dabbert Copilot: Lt. Williams, WW Navigator: Lt. Olszanowski Bombardier: Lt. Glick Engineer: S/Sgt. Redfield

Radio Operator: Sgt. Morgese Asst. Engineer: Sgt. O'Flaherty Asst. Radio Operator: Pfc. Crockford Turret Gunner: S/Sgt. Verdier Armorer Gunner: Sgt. Hale

From AIR WAR EUROPA by Eric Hammel:... During the course of the day, the Fifteenth Air Force mounts 1143 heavybomber sorties loaded with 1912 tons of bombs against numerous targets in Italy as part of Operation DIADEM, the general Allied air offensive aimed at breaking the will of German Army forces facing Allied ground troops. Among many targets attacked are the German Army headquarters at Massa d'Albe and Monte Soratte. Harbors and rail targets

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are also attacked. Escort is provided by more than 250 Fifteenth Air Force fighter sorties, and 25 Fifteenth Air Force P-38s strafe Pacenza Airdrome...

26 Combat Mission: May 13, 1944th

Take Off: 10:10 Landed: 17:10 Bomb Load: 6 1000 pound demolition bombs Target: Bologna, Italy Lester Hale's diary entry:

"This was a very easy mission. We didn't hit the target very good although we had a very good bomb run."CREW Pilot: Lt. Dabbert Copilot: F/O Olen Navigator: Lt. Olszanowski Bombardier: Lt. Fisher Engineer:

Radio Operator: Sgt. Gardner Asst. Engineer: Asst. Radio Operator: Sgt. Crockford Turret Gunner: S/Sgt. Verdier Armorer Gunner: Sgt. Hale

From AIR WAR EUROPA by Eric Hammel: ...The Fifteenth Air Force dispatches more than 670 heavy bombers on missions in support of the Allied ground offensive: B-24s attack marshaling yards at Bologna, Piacenza, and Vicenza; and B-17s attack a rail bridge and marshaling yards at Bolzano, and marshaling yards at Bronzola and Trento.

27 th Combat Mission: May 14, 1944Take Off: 08:50 Landed: 16:00 Bomb Load: 240- 20 pound fragmentation bombs Target: Reggio Emilia, Italy Lester Hale's diary entry:

"This was a very easy mission. We didn't see much flak and no fighters. We really hit the target good. Five clusters hung up in the bomb bay and had a helluva time getting the bombs out."CREW Pilot: Lt. Dabbert Copilot: Lt. Williams, WW Navigator: Lt. Olszanowski Bombardier: Lt. Buchmeier Engineer: S/Sgt. Redfield

Radio Operator: Sgt. Morgese Asst. Engineer: Sgt. O'Flaherty Asst. Radio Operator: Sgt. Crockford Turret Gunner: S/Sgt. Verdier Armorer Gunner: Sgt. Hale

From AIR WAR EUROPA by Eric Hammel: ...Fifteenth Air Force B-24s attack the Piacenza and Reggio Emilia airdromes and a marshaling yard at Vicenza...

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28 th Combat Mission: M. y 19 1944Take Off: 06:40 Landed: 14:30 Bomb Load: 10-500 pound demolition bombs Target: Genoa, Italy

Lester Hale's diary entry: " We had engine trouble before we got to the target. No. 4 shot al the oil out and ruined the engine. We had to feather it and then after we got off the target No. 2 started throwing oil. So we landed at Corsica. That is quite a place. While we were there a B-25 caught on fire, burned for awhile and then exploded. "Red" and I were right close to it and then when it exploded, it almost knocked us out of the jeep we were in. It killed 7 men and put a couple in the hospital. Also, we had to sweat out the "Jerries" bombing us. They had bombed a field just above us and killed about 20 and put about 300 in the hospital."CREW Pilot: Lt. Dabbert Copilot: Lt. Williams, WW Navigator: Lt. Olszanowski Bombardier: Lt. Sanns Engineer: S/Sgt. Redfield Radio Operator: Sgt. Morgese Asst. Engineer: Sgt. Heller Asst. Radio Operator: Sgt. Crockford Turret Gunner: S/Sgt. Verdier Armorer Gunner: Sgt. Hale

From AIR WAR EUROPA by Eric Hammel:... Fifteenth Air Force B-24s attack port facilities at Leghorn and La Spezia...

29 th Combat Mission: May 25, 1944Take Off: 09:25 Landed: 15:45 Bomb Load: 240 20-pound fragmentation bombs

Target: Piacenza, Italy

Lester Hale's diary entry: "A very easy mission. We really plastered the target. We saw some 109s and 190s but they didn't bother us. I only saw two puffs of flak over the target."CREW Pilot: Lt. Dabbert Copilot: Lt. Williams, WW Navigator: Lt. Olszanowski Bombardier: Lt. Sanns Engineer: S/Sgt. Redfield

Radio Operator: Sgt. Morgese Asst. Engineer: Sgt. Heller Asst. Radio Operator: Sgt. Crockford Turret Gunner: S/Sgt. Verdier Armorer Gunner: Sgt. Hale

From AIR WAR EUROPA by Eric Hammel:...Following the Allied breakthrough near Cassino and the long-awaited continuation of the drive on Rome, the German Army attempts to establish a new

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defensive between Frascati and Tivoli...Fifteenth Air Force B-24s attack the port area at Monfalcone, Piacenza Airdrome and oil industry targets at Marghera. During the attack on h Piacenza Airdrome. 2d Lt. Warren L. Jones, a P-38 pilot with the 14 th Fighter Group's t Fighter Squadron, achieves ace status when he downs a Bf-109 at 1300 hours. In all, 49 14 th Fighter Group P-38 pilots down eight Bf-109s in this action...

30 th Combat Mission: May 26, 1944Take Off: 05:45 Landed: 14:30 Bomb Load: 10 500-pound demolition bombs Target: Chambery, France Lester Hale's diary entry:

" This was the longest mission I have been on so far. I'm really tired tonight and I have to fly again in the morning. We didn't see any flak or fighters. It was really a milk run. I was greatly surprised, because we went quite a way into France."CREW Pilot: Lt. Dabbert Copilot: Lt. Williams, WW Navigator: Lt. Olszanowski Bombardier: Lt. Gunderson Engineer: S/Sgt. Redfield

Radio Operator: Sgt. Morgese Asst. Engineer: Sgt. Cachidi Asst. Radio Operator: Sgt. Crockford Turret Gunner: S/Sgt. Verdier Armorer Gunner: Sgt. Hale

From AIR WAR EUROPA by Eric Hammel: ...FRANCE... In the south, Fifteenth Air Force B-17s attack a marshaling yard at St. Etienne, and B-24s attack a bridge spanning the Vat River and marshaling yards at Chambery, Grenoble, Lyon and Nice...

31" Combat Mission: Ma7,1244Take Off: 05:30 Landed: 14:15 Bomb Load: 40 100-pound general-purpose bombs Target: Montpellier, France Lester Hale's diary entry: " We hit the hangers and other buildings on the field. We really did a good

job. Going over the coast of France, the group in front of us ran into heavy flak and lost a plane. Eight men bailed out and they landed in the water 5 or 6 miles from shore. One of our planes was hit by flak on the way back it had to crash land on the Anzio beachhead. We haven't heard from the crew yet."CREW Pilot: Lt. Dabbert Copilot: Lt. Williams, WW Navigator: Lt. Olszanowski Bombardier: Lt. Sanns

Radio Operator: Sgt. Morgese Asst. Engineer: Sgt. Bellohausen Asst. Radio Operator: Sgt. Crockford Turret Gunner: S/Sgt. Verdier

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Engineer: S/Sgt. Redfield

Armorer Gunner: Sgt. Hale

From AIR WAR EUROPA by Eric Hammel: ...In southern France, nearly 700 Fifteenth Air force B- l 7s and B-24s attack Montpellier and Salon-de-Provence airdromes and marshaling yards at Avignon, Marseille, Montpellier, and Nimes...

32" Combat Missi n: May 29, 11944Take Off: 06:30 Landed: 11:30 Bomb Load: 40 - 100-pound demolition bombs Target: Peijedor, Yugoslavia Lester Hale's diary entry: "We helped Marshal Tito out today by bombing German troop concentrations. The hits on then target were very good." CREW Pilot: Lt. Dabbert Copilot: Lt. Williams, WW Navigator: Lt. Olszanowski Bombardier: Lt. Grosenbach Engineer: S/Sgt. Redfield

Radio Operator: Sgt. Morgese Asst. Engineer: Sgt. Strickland Asst. Radio Operator: Sgt. Crockford Turret Gunner: S/Sgt. Verdier Armorer Gunner: Sgt. Hale

From AIR WAR EUROPA by Erie Hammel: ... Fifteenth Air force B-24s and their P-38 escorts attack numerous German Army troop concentrations and supply dumps...

33 rd Combat Mission: May 29 19449

Take Off: 13:30 Landed: 16:15 Bomb Load: 40 - 100-pound demolition bombs Target: Livina, Yugoslavia

Lester Hale's diary entry:"It was the same as the morning mission. No flak, no fighters. I let the Nay. Ride in the nose turret and all I did was sit up on the flight deck. We led "E" flight both times - "BTOs". CREW Pilot: Lt. Dabbert Copilot: Lt. Williams, WW Navigator: Lt. Crawford Bombardier: Lt. Grosenbach Engineer: S/Sgt. Redfield

Radio Operator: Sgt. Morgese Asst. Engineer: Sgt. Strickland Asst. Radio Operator: Sgt. Crockford Turret Gunner: S/Sgt. Verdier Armorer Gunner: Sgt. Hale

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From AIR WAR EUROPA by Erie Hammel: ... Fifteenth Air force B-24s and their P-38 escorts attack numerous German Army troop concentrations and supply dumps...

Combat Missions 34 z 35: M 31 1944.. double credit missislTake Off: 05:30 Landed: 13:30 Bomb Load: 10-500 pound demolition bombs Target: Ploesti, Romania (oil fields)Lester Hale's diary entry:

"We went to the oil fields again. We had a pretty rough mission. The flak was really heavy. One piece hit square in my nose turret and it didn't miss my leg by more than 1". We flew a ship that was made out of two ships. From the ball turret forward it was one ship that had its tail cut off by another one. The tail was from a ship that had crash-landed. We took it on its first real missiory Our nay. didn't show up so the bomb. Did both jobs."CREW Pilot: Lt. Dabbert Copilot: Lt. Williams, WW Navigator: (bomb.) Bombardier: Lt. Norfleet Engineer: S/Sgt. Redfield

Radio Operator: Sgt. Morgese Asst. Engineer: Sgt. Strickland Asst. Radio Operator: Sgt. Crockford Turret Gunner: S/Sgt. Verdier Armorer Gunner: Sgt. Hale

From AIR WAR EUROPA by Eric Hammel: ...Fifteenth Air Force B-17s and B-24s attack oil facilities at Ploesti. Fifteen heavy bombers are lost. P-38 and P-51 escort pilots down 21 GAF and Romanian Air Force fighters between 1000 and 1050 hours. 1 st Lt. John A. Maloney, a P-38 pilot with the 1 st fighter Group's 27 th Fighter Squadron, achieves ace status when he downs a Bf-109 over Ploesti at 1045 hours.

Combat Mission 36: June IQ, 1944Take Off: 07:40 Landed: 12:50 Bomb Load: 240- 20 pound fragmentation bombs Target: Ferraro, Italy (Airfield)Lester Hale's diary entry:

"This wasn't a very bad mission. Slight flak and no enemy fighters. We lost one plane through carelessness. He got caught in the slipstream of another plane and it threw back and over. He was too low to pull out of the dive and they crashed. All of the boys were killed."18

CREWPilot: Lt. Dabbert Copilot: Lt. Williams, WW Navigator: Lt. Cohen Bombardier: (nay.) Engineer: S/Sgt. Redfield Radio Operator: Sgt. Morgese Asst. Engineer: Sgt. Watson Asst. Radio Operator: Sgt. Crockford Turret Gunner: S/Sgt. Verdier Armorer Gunner: Sgt. Hale

From AIR WAR EUROPA by Erie Hammel: ...Fifteenth Air Force B-17s and B-24s aircraft attack Ancona, the Ferrara airdrome, a marshaling yard and oil-industry targets, a marshaling yard and oil industry targets at Mestre, a marshaling yard at Porto Marghera, and oil-industry targets in Trieste...

37 th and 38 th Combat Missions: June 13, 1944 (double credit mission)Take Off: 05:45 Landed: 13:15 Bomb Load: 6-1000-pound demolition bombs Target: Munich, GermanyLester Hale's diary entry:

"This was a pretty tough mission. The flak over the target area was heavy, intense and accurate. We saw enemy fighters, but they didn't bother us very much. Two tried to come in from 7 o'clock low, but "Mole" and "Junior" chased them away. Our squadron lost one ship due to carelessness. Two ships collided on the way home, five boys got out. Our group lost 4 planes and one ditched, but the crew is all safe."CREW Pilot: Lt. Dabbert Copilot: Lt. Williams, WW Navigator: Lt. Glick Bombardier: (nay.) Engineer: S/Sgt. Redfield

Radio Operator: Sgt. Morgese Asst. Engineer: Sgt. Cody Asst. Radio Operator: Sgt. Crockford Turret Gunner: S/Sgt. Verdier Armorer Gunner: Sgt. Hale

From AIR WAR EUROPA by Eric Hammel: ... A large force of Fifteenth Air Force B-24s and B-17s is dispatched against marshaling yards, an airdrome, and industrial areas in Munich. However, after fighting their way to Munich against determined GAF fighter opposition, the bomber formations are prevented from dropping their bombs because of solid man-made smoke cover throughout the area. Nearly all the bombers then fly through continuous and determined fighter opposition to bomb their alternate targets, the marshaling yards at Innsbruck, Austria. P-51 escort pilots of the 31 st , 52d, and 325 th Fighter groups down 20 GAF fighters over northern Italy, Austria, and southern Germany between 0933 and 1145 hours...

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39 Combat Missi

th

June 22 1944

Take Off: 06:45 Landed: 14:00 Bomb Load: 10-500-pound demolition bombs Target: Turin, Italy Lester Hale's diary entry:

"Again to Turin. This as really a very good mission as far as bombing is concerned. The factory was completely demolished. Flak was moderate, heavy and accurate. Our plane got a few holes in it. Our navigator and bombardier, Lts. Olszanowski and Glick went on a mission to Vienna, Austria yesterday and they were shot down. Every one got out of the plane, so the worst is that they are POWs. Hozzay was on his last mission and Glick had about 5 more to go. Another navigator was on the same ship, Lt. Bloom, and this was his last mission too. "CREW Pilot: Lt. Dabbert Copilot: Lt. Williams, WW Navigator: Lt. Greenmore Bombardier: Lt. Sanns Engineer: S/Sgt. Redfield

Radio Operator: Sgt. Morgese Asst. Engineer: Sgt. Evtel Asst. Radio Operator: Sgt. Crockford Turret Gunner: S/Sgt. Verdier Armorer Gunner: Sgt. Hale

From MR WAR EUROPA by Eric Hammel: ... More than 600 Fifteenth Air Force B-17s and B-24s attack nine marshaling yards in northern Italy, a motor transport factory in Turin, a motor transport depot, an airdrome, three rail and road bridges, and oil tanks...

40 th Combat Missio m Julie 24 1944Take Off: 06:00 Landed: 12:45 Bomb Load: 10 500-pound demolition bombs Target: Craiova, Romania Lester Hale's diary entry:

"No flak and no fighters. A milk run and in Romania too. I still can't believe it. The bomb hits weren't too good. The weather was pretty bad but it was fairly clear over the target."CREW Pilot: Lt. Dabbert Copilot: Lt. Williams, WW Navigator: Lt. Buchmeir Bombardier: (bomb.) Engineer: S/Sgt. Redfield

Radio Operator: Sgt. Morgese Asst. Engineer: S/Sgt. Fletcher Asst. Radio Operator: Sgt. Crockford Turret Gunner: S/Sgt. Verdier Armorer Gunner: Sgt. Hale

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From AIR WAR EUROPA by Erie Hammel: ...Fifteenth Air Force B-24s attack oil-industry targets at Ploesti and the rail depot at Craova, and Fifteenth Air Force B-17s attack a rail bridge. Pilots of the 31 , 82d, and 325 Fighter groups down 14 Axis fighters over Bulgaria and Romania between 0850 and 1030 hours...st th

41 st and 42 nd Combat Missions: June 24. 1944Take Off: 05:15 Landed: 13:00 Bomb Load: 40 100 pound demolition bombs Target: Moosbierbaun, Austria Lester Hale's diary entry: " A very rough mission. The flak was heavy, accurate and intense. It really scared me. We were attacked by 11.188s and ME 210s. They only made one pass. I couldn't shoot for fear of hitting the other ships. A 757th ship caught on fire after we left the target and blew up. 4 got out. Two of our bombs hung up, so we brought them back. When we landed they both smashed through the doors onto the runway. The pilot called the tower and they shot up flares so the other ships wouldn't land until the runway was cleared. One nose gunner was killed in our squadron. A piece of flak hit him. That is the first man in our squadron to be killed like that." CREW Pilot: Lt. Dabbert Copilot: Lt. Newhouse Navigator: Lt. Crawford Bombardier: (bomb.) Engineer: S/Sgt. Redfield

Radio Operator: Sgt. Morgese Asst. Engineer: S/Sgt. Fletcher Asst. Radio Operator: Sgt. Crockford Turret Gunner: S/Sgt. Verdier Armorer Gunner: Sgt. Hale

From AIR WAR EUROPA by Eric Hammel: ...Six hundred seventy-seven Fifteenth Air Force B-17s and B-24s, escorted by 260 fighters attack five of the seven oil refineries and an oil depot in the Vienna area. Thirty USAAF heavy bombers are downed by more than 150 Axis fighters during then target penetration phase. 82d Fighter Group P-38 pilots down 13 of the GAF fighters, mostly twin-engine Messerchmitts, over Bratislavia, Czechoslovakia. 2d Lt. James D. Holloway, of the 82 fighter Group's95th Fighter Squadron, achieves ace status when he downs two ME-410s and a Bf 110.In all, along the bomber routes between 0855 and 1015 hours, pilots of the 1 , 31 , 52d and 82d Fighter groups down 44 GAF aircraft, including a number of rocketfiring JU-88s...51 st

43 Combat Mission: June 28, 1944rd

Take Off: 05:50 Landed: 13:00 Bomb Load: 18-250-pound demolition bombs Target: Karlovo, Romania

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Lester Hale's diary entry:

"This mission could be classified as a milk run. It was quite a way in but just a few miles from being a double. I saw altogether about 14-16 bursts of flak. We didn't see any enemy fighters. We had P-47s & P-38s as escort. The bomb hits were very good. Our group has been on the ball lately."CREW Pilot: Lt. Dabbert Copilot: Lt. Klingerhoffer Navigator: Lt. Swanay Bombardier: (bomb.) Engineer: S/Sgt. Redfield

Radio Operator: Sgt. MorgeseEngineer: S/Sgt. Fletcher Asst. Radio Operator: Sgt. Crockford Turret Gunner: S/Sgt. Verdier Armorer Gunner: Sgt. Hale

From AIR WAR EUROPA by Eric Hammel: ... Fifteenth Air Force B-24s attack Karlova Airdrome and oil-industry targets around Bucharest, and 40-escort fighters conduct a sweep over Bucharest. Pilots of the 31 st , 52d and 325 th Fighter groups down 20 Axis fighters over and around Bucharest between 0958 and 1025 hours...

44 th Combat Mission: June 30, 1944Take Off: 06:40 Landed: 12:50 Bomb Load: 10-500 pound demolition bombs

Target: Odertal oil refinery, GermanyLester Hale's diary entry:

We didn't get to our target, but we got credit for one mission. We saw one plane away out at 2 o'clock explode. We don't know what caused it. We had a pretty bad gas leak, but we stayed with the group. The "Mudcat" broke the world's record for 24's. The record was 38 consecutive missions."CREW Pilot: Lt. Dabbert Copilot: Lt. Williams, WW Navigator: Lt. Glover Bombardier: (bomb.) Engineer: S/Sgt. Redfield

Radio Operator: Sgt. Morgese Engineer: S/Sgt. Fletcher Asst. Radio Operator: Sgt. Crockford Turret Gunner: S/Sgt. Verdier Armorer Gunner: Sgt. Hale

From AIR WAR EUROPA by Eric Hammel: ...Fifteenth Air Force heavy bombers dispatched against targets at Blechhammer,Germany, are diverted by bad weather against a variety of targets of opportunity in Hungary and Yugoslavia...

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45 th and 46 th Comb t Missi J I 2 1944 du hie credit mission) Take Off: 06:25 Landed: 13:00 Bomb Load: 16-250-pound bombs Target: udapest oil storage, Hungary Lester Hale's diary entry:

"This was really a heartbreakerr. It was a real rough mission. We lost the "Mudcat" today. That's the ship that beat the world's record. We knew that 3 got out and the rest had very good chances of getting out. We also lost "Fearless Fosdick" today. We don't know what happened to them. The bomb hits were very good. We could see smoke for 40 minutes after we left the target."CREW Pilot: Lt. Dabbert Copilot: Lt. Williams, WW Navigator: Lt. Glover Bombardier: (bomb.) Engineer: S/Sgt. RedfieldRadio Operator: Sgt. Morgese Engineer: S/Sgt. Fletcher Asst. Radio Operator: Sgt. Crockford Turret Gunner: S/Sgt. Verdier Armorer Gunner: Sgt. Hale

(Note: Lester Hale was promoted to Staff Sergeant after this mission.)

From AIR WAR EUROPA by Eric Hammel: ...Fifteenth Air Force B-24s attack marshaling yards, the airdrome, and oilrefining facilities at Budapest through intense antiaircraft fire and repeated fighter attacks... A total of 35 Bf-109s and FW-190s are downed by escort fighters of the 1', 31", 52d, 82d 325 1h and 332d Fighter groups- and eight additional Bf-109s are downed near Budapest by visiting P-51 pilots of the Eighth Air Force's 4 1h Fighter Group which is transiting through Italy with Eighth Air Force heavy bombers returning to England from a FRANTIC shuttle mission to the Soviet Union...

47 48th COM bat missio Aso Julth

1944 "double credit mission

Take Off: 07:50 Landed: 15:55 Bomb Load: 1100 - 4 pound incendiary bombs Target: Bucharest, Romania (locomotive works) Lester Hale's diary entry:

"This was a very easy mission although a long one. We didn't have much flak and no fighters. We really did a good job today. I don't think they will build anymore locomotives there. We saw one P-51. We were supposed to have a couple of groups as escort. The "Mole" (S/Sgt. Verdier) finished today."

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CREW Pilot: Lt. Dabbert Copilot: Lt. Williams, WW Navigator: Lt. Glover Bombardier: (bomb.) Engineer: T/Sgt. Redfield

Radio Operator: Sgt. Morgese Engineer: S/Sgt. Fletcher Asst. Radio Operator: S/Sgt. Crockford Turret Gunner: S/Sgt. Verdier (finished) Armorer Gunner: S/Sgt. Hale

From AIR WAR EUROPA by Eric Hammel: ...Fifteenth Air Force B-17s and B-24s attack oil-industry targets at Giurgiu and Bucharest, repair shops at Arad, a rail bridge, and a marshaling yard. th 31s t and 325 Fighter group P-51s escort pilots down eight Axis fighters over Romania between 1140 and 1205 hours...

49 and 50 th Combat Missions: July 7, 1944th

Take Off: 06:15 Landed: 14:50 Bomb Load: 40 - 100 pound incendiaries Target: Odertal, Germany - (oil refineries) Lester Hale's diary entry:

"This was my last mission and just about my roughest one. The flak at the target was really intense and accurate. I still don't know how we got through it. We saw about eight 24s and one 17 go down after the target. This finished me as far as combat flying goes. 3 others who were also on our plane finished also. "Junior", Joe Nenning and Powell."CREW Pilot: Lt. Dabbert Copilot: Lt. Becraft Navigator: Lt. Sanns Bombardier: (bomb.) Engineer: T/Sgt. Redfield Radio Operator: Sgt. Morgese Engineer: S/Sgt. Powell Asst. Radio Operator: S/Sgt. Crockford Turret Gunner: S/Sgt. Nenning Armorer Gunner: S/Sgt. Hale

From AIR WAR EUROPA by Eric Hammel: ... Fifteenth Air Force B-17s and B-24s attack two synthetic-fuel plants at Blechhammer, and B-24s also attack a synthetic-fuel plant and a coke plant at Odertal. Escort pilots from the 52d, 82d and 325 th Fighter groups down 13 Axis fighters along the bomber routes between 0950 and 1240 hours. Overall, 18 Fifteenth Air force aircraft are lost on the day's various missions...

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