9th AF Patch

416th Bombardment Group (L)

Mission # 246 -- March 21, 1945, Wednesday PM

Vreden, Germany

Road Junction



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Summary of Operations

Field Order        : 217-807
OpRep #            : 352a
Nature of Mission  : Bombing
Mission Status     : Attacked
Bombing Altitude   : 10,000 - 12,000 feet
Take-off Time      : 1524
Time Over Target   : 1649 - 1700
Landing Time       : 1825
Duration (Hrs:Min) : 3:01

Place of Take-Off  : A-69 Laon/Athies, France
A/C Dispatched     : 51 Total -- 51 A-26's
Modified British System Reference: A-374827
Secondary Target   : Neede (A-235945)
Summary of Results : Four flights scored Excellent, one Superior, two Undetermined, one Unknown. 42 a/c attacked Primary, 6 attacked Flak Positions (location A-05806580, A-08835793, A-07206310), 3 a/c dropped Window.

Primary Target Latitude/Longitude: 52.03886,6.82506 (52° 2' 20" N, 6° 49' 30" E)
(Latitude/Longitude based on The "Coordinates Translator", (NGZ) rA374827)
(See Latitude/Longitude Coordinates and Target Identifiers for more information.)

Scanned original Mission 246 documents (multipage PDF files)

Mission Folder       Reports Folder       OpRep # 352a       Fuel Use

If nothing happens on Click, check to see if the PDF file was automatically saved to your computer. Depending on Internet speed, the display or download may be slow.
These Public Domain, Declassified Mission documents were graciously provided to the 416th BG Archive by the dedicated staff of the Air Force Historical Research Agency (AFHRA).
An on-line index of records held by AFHRA up to 2001 is available at Air Force History Index.org.
Most of these PDF files are unaltered originals provided by the AFHRA, a few have been re-organized.
Pages may be out of sequence; files may contain scanned blank pages and/or pages scanned upside-down; some pages may be included in more than one file.
The "Mission Folder" usually contains the majority of documents for a Mission, including Field Orders, Status Reports, Pilot Interrogations, Photos (if available), etc.

Target Map

Mission Map

Route Map

Route Map

Loading List 1

Loading List 1, Box I
With Three Additional Window Mission Aircraft

Loading List 2

Loading List 2, Boxes II and III

Bomb Run Photo

Bomb Run Photo
(Lt. Robert S. Bower Combat Journal)

Missing Air Crew Reports, Aircraft Accident Reports, and other incidents

         Date          Report

Serial #
Location Personnel (Status when available)
Mar 21, 1945
AAR 45-3-21-517 / MACR 15911 43-22523
246 668 4 miles NW Neerpelt, Belgium (E-350990) Andersen, Charles Jay Jr. (KIA)
Babbage, Westmoreland NMI (KIA)
Roman, Leo J. (KIA)
Heitell, Stanley L. (KIA)
Mar 21, 1945
246 670 4 miles NW Neerpelt, Belgium (E-350990) Rooney, Robert John (KIA)
Kirk, Robert L. (WLD)
Kamischke, Robert J. (KIA)
Slaughter, Chester C. (KIA)
Mar 21, 1945
No_Report   43-22320
246 670 A-69 Laon/Athies, France Downing, Wayne E. (Not Injured)
Sgroi, Anthony P. (WIA)
Mar 21, 1945
No_Report   41-39250
246 671 Edstrom, Lawrence W. (WIA)
Pompa, P. A. (Not Injured)

To view more information regarding an Incident/Report, click on the Report hyperlink.
( = Entries having actual Reports available for review.   = Entries having additional Images or Photos.)
To view an individual's Memorial page, click on the "Name" hyperlink.

Mission Loading Lists Transcription

Mission # 246 -- March 21, 1945, Wednesday PM
Vreden, Germany -- Road Junction

Included are Box, Flight and Position; Bomb Squadron; Aircraft Serial Number, Fuselage Code and Model; and Crew Members
transcribed from individual mission Loading List documents by Chris and Mary Adams and Carl Sgamboti.
Some information, such as Squadron, Serial Number, etc. has been expanded from other documents.

Box I -- Flight I
  1  670th                   
  43-22528  F6-T  A-26C
  Maj Ferris, C.H.
  Lt Royalty, P.G.
  Lt McNutt, M.C.
  S/Sgt Rio, D.J.
  2  670th                   
  41-39205  F6-M  A-26B
  Lt Bishop, E.G.
  Sgt Hudnutt, L.W.
  3  670th                   
  43-22315  F6-L  A-26B
  Lt Ford, R.
  Lt Curtis, J.C.
  Sgt Murro, D.J.
  4  670th                   
  41-39416  F6-O  A-26B
  Lt Singletary, R.B.
  S/Sgt Wiggins, H.G.
  Capt Koch, R.J.
  [Koch (Infantry)]
  5  670th                   
  41-39315  F6-F  A-26B
  Capt Borman, H.W.
  Pfc Finnell, D.O.
  6  670th                   
  43-22330  F6-P  A-26B
  F/O Boerner, S.B.
  S/Sgt Hummer, J.A.

Box I -- Flight II
  1  668th                   
  43-22523  5H-N  A-26C
  Capt Andersen, C.J.
  Lt Babbage, W.
  Lt Roman, L.J.
  S/Sgt Heitell, S.L.
  2  668th                   
  43-22389  5H-X  A-26B
  Lt Laseter, W.H.
  Sgt Clute, F.M.
  3  668th                   
  43-22321  5H-T  A-26B
  Lt Carver, J.H.
  S/Sgt Graham, N.M.
  4  668th                   
  41-39274  5H-S  A-26B
  Lt Prucha, L.J.
  S/Sgt Ferguson, L.C.
  5  668th                   
  41-39305  5H-U  A-26B
  Lt Blevins, J.W.
  Sgt Gentry, F.
  6  668th                   
  41-39264  5H-I  A-26B
  Lt Lackner, R.J.
  Sgt Musarra, A.J.

Box I -- Flight III
  1  668th                   
  43-22505  5H-Y  A-26C
  Lt Brewster, F.S.
  Lt Dennis, L.W.
  S/Sgt Clark, W.O.
  Col Aylesworth, T.R.
  2  668th                   
  41-39325  5H-L  A-26B
  Lt Hale, W.L.
  S/Sgt Geyer, J.F.
  Lt Reamey, S.
  [Reamey (Infantry)]
  3  668th                   
  43-22385  5H-D  A-26B
  Lt Montrose, J.H.
  S/Sgt Gandy, R.S.
  4  668th                   
  41-39335  5H-W  A-26B
  Lt Wright, J.W.
  S/Sgt Profita, P.J.
  5  668th                   
  41-39259  5H-H  A-26B
  Lt Long, R.H.
  S/Sgt Roberts, J.H.
  6  669th                   
  43-22383  2A-V  A-26B
  F/O Gunkel, H.G.
  S/Sgt Calabrese, C.L.
  Sgt Miller, H.K.

Box I -- Flight WINDOW
  1  671st                   
  43-22498  5C-R  A-26C
  Lt Cannon, L.E.
  Lt Reeves, F.A.
  S/Sgt Robinson, J.W.
  S/Sgt Brzezinski, E.P.
  2  668th                   
  43-22378  5H-O  A-26B
  Lt Allen, J.F., Jr.
  S/Sgt Getgen, L.R.
  S/Sgt Veazey, C.W.
  3  668th                   
  41-39233  5H-F  A-26B
  Lt Weinert, C.E.
  Sgt Dubi, R.
  Sgt Francis, R.D.

Box II -- Flight I
  1  670th                   
  43-22507  F6-Q  A-26C
  Capt Rooney, R.J.
  Lt Kirk, R.L.
  Sgt Kamischke, R.J.
  Capt Slaughter, C.C.
  [Missing Slaughter (Infantry)]
  2  670th                   
  43-22307  F6-N  A-26B
  Lt Stankowski, J.F.
  Sgt Vellinga, J.R.
  3  670th                   
  41-39223  F6-B  A-26B
  Lt Bower, R.S.
  Sgt Puskas, N.A.
  4  670th                   
  43-22320  F6-S  A-26B
  Lt Downing, W.E.
  Sgt Sgroi, A.P.
  5  670th                   
  41-39224  F6-E  A-26B
  Lt Wallace, J.F.
  Sgt Plant, R.
  6  669th                   
  41-39229  2A-B  A-26B
  Lt O'Brien, J.V.
  Sgt Wright, H.T.
  S/Sgt Ottaviano, J.O.
  [Ottaviano (670)]

Box II -- Flight II
  1  671st                   
  43-22497  5C-E  A-26C
  Lt Hall, R.B.
  F/O Goss, T.L.
  S/Sgt Majewski, S.J.
  2  671st                   
  41-39250  5C-A  A-26B
  Lt Edstrom, L.W.
  Sgt Pompa, P.A.
  3  671st                   
  41-39209  5C-M  A-26B
  Lt Murray, T.J.
  M/Sgt Wells, J.J.
  4  671st                   
  41-39239  5C-N  A-26B
  Lt Merchant, W.A.
  S/Sgt Davis, H.R.
  5  671st                   
  41-39297  5C-T  A-26B
  Capt Moore, Z.R.
  Sgt Ruskiewich, J.J.
  6  671st                   
  43-22356  5C-C  A-26B
  Lt Hlivko, A.E.
  Sgt Farmer, L.J.

Box II -- Flight III
  1  669th                   
  43-22492  2A-E  A-26C
  Lt Blomgren, J.E.
  Lt Johnson, G.G.
  S/Sgt Bookach, M.
  Capt Chidley, H.W.
  [Chidley (Weather)]
  2  669th                   
  43-22351  2A-F  A-26B
  Lt Willard, J.A.
  S/Sgt Hinker, C.V.
  Lt Tait, H.R.
  [Tait (Infantry)]
  3  669th                   
  41-39314  2A-H  A-26B
  Lt Martin, E.C.
  Lt Britt, J.W.
  Sgt Sumner, W.R.
  4  669th                   
  41-39362  2A-Y  A-26B
  Lt Hayter, E.R.
  S/Sgt Basford, F.P.
  5  669th                   
  41-39244  2A-I  A-26B
  Lt Smith, D.E.
  S/Sgt Kirik, S.J.
  6  669th                   
  41-39328  2A-U  A-26B
  Lt Harper, R.B.
  Cpl Black, R.M.

Box III -- Flight I
  1  671st                   
  43-22499  5C-G  A-26C
  Lt Brown, C.J.
  Lt Kerns, J.E.
  S/Sgt Sunderland, H.E.
  2  671st                   
  43-22419  5C-Z  A-26B
  Lt Remiszewski, A.
  S/Sgt Miguez, J.H.
  3  671st                   
  41-39360  5C-L  A-26B
  Lt Gary, J.C.
  Cpl Schoen, A.E.
  4  671st                   
  41-39249  5C-F  A-26B
  Lt Herman, A.E.
  S/Sgt Barber, F.E.
  5  671st                   
  41-39332  5C-P  A-26B
  Lt Fero, D.A.
  S/Sgt Skelton, T.W.
  6  671st                   
  43-22352  5C-J  A-26B
  Lt Graeber, T.E.
  Sgt Miller, A.H.

Box III -- Flight II
  1  669th                   
  43-22304  2A-T  A-26C
  Lt Turner, D.O., Jr.
  Lt McGivern, P.J.
  S/Sgt Reyes, M.R.
  2  670th                   
  43-22503  F6-X  A-26C
  Lt Jacobsen, O.F.
  F/O Harvest, R.W.
  Lt Martin, R.L.
  S/Sgt Gooch, H.I.
  3  670th                   
  43-22469  F6-A  A-26C
  Capt Tutt, R.J.
  Lt Orr, L.A.
  Sgt Wood, W.
  4  669th                   
  41-39338  2A-O  A-26B
  Lt Sorrels, D.W.
  S/Sgt Malara, V.A.
  5  669th                   
  43-22496  2A-L  A-26C
  Lt Haskell, R.W.
  S/Sgt Martin, G.A.
  6  669th                   
  41-39263  2A-G  A-26B
  Lt Dunn, F.G.
  Sgt Pikel, J.M.

Group and Unit Histories

Mission # 246 -- March 21, 1945, Wednesday PM
Vreden, Germany -- Road Junction

"416th Bombardment Group (L) - Group History 1945"
Transcribed from USAF Archives

[The remainder of page 20 and the first line of page 21 are missing. ]

A maximum effort of 31 planes attacked road junctions at Vreden and flak positions that afternoon. Due to the similarity of targets and terrain, two flights attacked the town of Stadtlohn with excellent results. The rest of the formation scored excellent to superior results on the primary target, dropping 1,000-pounders. Results on the three flak positions were unobserved because of the type of bomb used. Weak to moderated flak was encountered from the bomb line to the target. Major Ferris, Lts. Royalty and McNutt, B&N, and Captain Rooney, recently promoted, Lt. Kirk, B-N, were the box leaders.

Coming back over friendly territory about 25 miles northeast of St. Trond [Sint Truiden], Captain Andersen, leading the second flight of the first box, was attempting to regain his position in the first box. He slid his plane over the plane flown by Captain Rooney and chewed off its tail. The two planes collided in mid-air and fell to the ground and burned. Lt Kirk, B-N in Capt Rooney's plane, bailed out safely with only minor injuries. All the others were killed in the crash, which happened without warning. Captain Rooney was completing his 65th mission when the accident occurred. The reason for the crash is unknown. Flying with Captain Andersen were Lt W. Babbage, Lt. L.J. Roman, and S/Sgt S.L. Heitell. Captain Rooney had Capt C.C. Slaughter of the Infantry and Sgt. R.J. Kamischke flying with him. Lt W.E. Downing's gunner, Sgt. A.D. Sgroi, flying in #4 position behind Capt Rooney, realized that a collision was imminent. He opened the bomb bay doors, preparing to bail out. The drag on the plane was sufficient to slow it down and keep it out of the way of the colliding planes. Had it not been for his action, his plane might well have been struck by Captain Andersen's plane. Sgt Sgroi was slightly injured in the eye during the collision.

"Attack Bombers, We Need You! A History of the 416th Bomb Group"
Ralph Conte
Pages 234 - 237

Mission #246 - 21 March - PM - Vreden Communication Center. Major Ferris with Lts. Royalty and McNutt, BNs in Box I and recently promoted to Captain, Rooney with Lt. Kirk, BN leading Box II. The flights in Rooney's box were each assigned a different target to bomb. Flights were led by Lt. Andersen and Lt. Babbage, BN, - Lts. Brown and Kerns, BN,- Captain Tutt and Lt. Orr, BN. Captain Rooney had another Infantry Observer riding with him, Captain Chester C. Slaughter.

The second box was to have each of its flights to bomb different targets and then join up behind Rooney's flight to go back to base. After dropping their bombs, Captain Andersen leading flight B was coming in to rejoin behind Rooney, all flying west, into a setting sun. The gunner in Lt. Downing's ship, who was flying in the #4 slot right behind and below Rooney's ship called Downing, telling him Andersen was leading his flight straight into theirs, and before any correction could take place, Andersen's plane got into Rooney's flight. This is the story as related by Lt. Robert Bower who was flying on the left side of Rooney, in the No. 3 position of Box B, known as position B-1-3.

Bower, now a Reverend in Maryland, wrote on 19 February, 1999 as follows:

Today I rechecked my diary. Now I wish my writing had been more, much more detailed. The date is recorded for my 28th mission with a good bomb report encountering flak going in and exiting. Flight leaders did fine evasive action.

A clear day, away from flak, it had every appearance of being a Sunday afternoon family ride home. It was that, except for flying into the sun necessitating a lot of squinting.

While flying number B-1-3 on Rooney, I was flying my usual formation mode, style, or what have you? One gunner, Ike Hummer said of one mission with me, 'My God, you scared the hell out of me.' 'How did I do that?' 'You flew so damn close, I could count the rivets on the lead ship.' I was in a close position to Rooney. I was in tight enough to readily see him.

The flight was proceeding without incident, figuring we would soon be on the ground without having to do an instrument let-down. My unworried state of mind was abruptly, suddenly, instantaneously alerted when from somewhere a strong command type voice hit my ear phones, 'Bower, move out!' I could tell it wasn't Rooney. Who? Where did it originate? Responding to what I sensed was an urgency in the voice as well as the nature of an order, I instantaneously jammed left rudder and right aileron and slid out!

As I did, I looked to my right. Dumfounded, I saw the nose of an A-26. Immediately, it was obvious that something bad was going to happen. Consequently, pulled back on my power setting while pulling back on the wheel. This retarded my air speed to the point where I could observe and not fly beyond what was an ensuing tragedy.

The invasive ship had flown into my spot and at a speed that surpassed us. The right wing of the invasive ship struck the tip of Rooney's left wing. About that time, Rooney looked over to where I had been. As he did, I saw a smile on his face - seeming to say 'I'm glad it isn't you.' I can see that handsome face today. The invasive aircraft proceeded in an upward angle, something like a gentle stall. As it did, it fell off on the right wing toward Rooney. The invasive aircraft continued to fall toward Rooney's left wing. I watched the left prop of Rooney's ship cut through the aft bomb bay of the invasive ship. Whirling away that prop looked like a giant pair of scissors.

The empenage of the invasive craft flew over my plane. Both ships then fell off to the right. Someone called out, 'All ships continue on in formation!'

While the two aircraft spun to the right, I continued to hold back on power and went to my left. In no time, I saw them. Realizing that each aircraft was doomed, I hit the mike and called out 'Rooney, for God's sake, jump, jump, go, go!'

I floated around and saw Kirk's chute blossom. What a lovely sight! I understood Kirk called Rooney at 5,000 feet to say he was going. 'Go ahead, Good Luck!' Rooney was reported to say to Kirk. When both aircraft hit the ground, they exploded. A ball of fire formed out from underneath each aircraft. Then I left.

Why didn't Rooney jump? I've wondered. He was conscious. He was functioning. Did the canopy get jammed? Could be quite possible if the invasive craft continued to fall toward the nose of Rooney's craft. Did Captain Slaughter panic - possible and yet he too may have been trapped.

My diary has a note - 'I fell sick and weak - so near and yet so far - it was really wonderful to get back on the ground.

If I differ from other accounts you'll have to overlook my memoried observations of what? A greatful survivor.

Lt. Downing, flying behind and below Rooney in B-l-4 spot reported the two planes, Rooney's and Andersen's props were slicing up each other's aluminum fuselage, with pieces of metal dropping all over him. Downing said he knew enough not to pull out to right or left, which would be the natural thing to do, because he would crash into the number 5 or 6 plane. Going down would have been out and certainly flying up would be right into the two merged aircraft. Downing held his position, watching all the pieces of both planes going down. Fortunately for him, nothing severely damaged his plane. Downing's gunner, Sgt. Sgroi was injured in the mishap from falling debris.

The massive irony of this incident is that Captain Rooney was on his last, 65th mission, having just received his Captain's bars, and a celebration awaited him by his tent mates, cake and all. The second irony, Captain Slaughter, the Infantry observer, lost his life. Rooney's gunner Sgt. Robert J. Kamischke went down with the plane. The gunners in Andersen's plane perished with Andersen, so six fatalities resulted from this act of God. Was that it? Rooney's flight undoubtedly was flying right into the setting sun, which was blinding Andersen.

"668th Bombardment Squadron (L) History"
Transcription from USAF Archives

A tragic accident on 21 March deprived the Squadron of one of its outstanding combat crews. Captain Charles J. Andersen, leading a flight on the return lap of a combat sortie, had dropped behind his position in the first box, and was endeavoring to bring his flight into its proper place. Flying directly into the sun, which may have blinded his vision, and passing beneath an element of the second box, Captain Andersen pulled up, and in so doing his aircraft collided with the lead ship of the second box flight, piloted by Captain Rooney. Both ships crashed. Captain Andersen, 2nd Lt Westmoreland Babbage, his bombardier, 2nd Lt Leo J. Roman, and Staff Sergeant Stanley L. Heitell were instantly killed.

"669th Bombardment Squadron (L) History"
Transcription from USAF Archives

The Coesfeld Road Junction, in Holland, was the first target attacked on the 21st of March. Numerous fires were started from one end of the town to the other. Box I of the formation was led by Capt. Miller with Lts. Conner and Calloway. Lt. Col. Napier, with Lt. Moore flew in the lead position of the second box.

For the afternoon mission of this day, the Vreden Road Junctions were attacked. Lt. Johnson, flying with Lt. Blomgren, achieved superior resutls. The flight led by Lt. Turner and Lt. McGivern attacked flak positions in the vicinity of the target.

"670th Bombardment Squadron (L) History"
Transcription from USAF Archives

That afternoon another mission took off and bombed the Vreden Road Junction and communication center with excellent results. Fourteen of our crews took part. Captain Rooney was leading his flight homeward into the setting sun at about 12,000 feet, when another flight leader, who was also flying into the sun, collided with him. Apparently Captain Rooney tried to get his airplane under control in an attempt to save his crew, but it went into a spin and crashed near Peers, Belgium. All personnel in both airplanes were killed instantly when the aircraft crashed into the ground, with the exception of 1st Lt Robert L. Kirk, Caption Rooney's bombardier-navigator, who successfully parachuted to the ground. Captain Chester C. Slaughter of the 29th Inf Div, who was riding as an observer with Capt Rooney, and Sgt Robert J. Kamischke, the gunner, were killed. Three officers and one enlisted man in the other airplane were also killed. This was Captain Rooney's 65th mission and constituted his tour of combat duty.

"671st Bomb Squadron (L) Unit History"
Gordon Russell and Jim Kerns

March 21st, 1945

The 416th continued its fast pace on March 21st when it attacked two targets in the Munster area opposite the Ninth Army. Three more 671st pilots

chalked up No. 65 on the second mission...Lt.William A. Merchant, Lt. Thomas J. Murray and Lt. Arthur E. Herman. Lt. Merchant who has been with this Squadron since July of 1943, waited a long time for his 65th, having flown No. 64 on the 28th of February. He had quite a few close calls in those 65 missions, picking up a Purple Heart and DFC on the way. Merchant did not limit his close calls to A-20s and A-26s. He had a few narrow escapes in AT-6s, L-4s and other training ships, the tales of which are recorded in length in previous pages of the Diary. Lt. Murray and Lt. Herman, a couple of New England boys joined the 671st Squadron together back in May of 1944 and were in on their share of rough missions throughout their tour. The three crafty airíplane drivers followed the example of Lt. Henderson and Lt. Miller by giving out with a series of buzz-jobs which just about took the roofs off all the buildings in the area, and almost blew away the tents.

In the morning the formation attacked the Goesfeld Communication Center, dropping 222 x 500 lb. incendiaries into the smoke of previous bombs. A rating could not be given due to the smoke and the type bomb, but results were highly favorable. There were no losses, casualties or battle damage.

The afternoon mission which saw the communication center of Vreden take a sound beating was marred by a mid-air collision coming off the target. The lead aircraft of Box II, flown by Lt. Roney of the 670th Squadron, and the lead ship of Flight B, Box I, flown by Captain Anderson of the 668th Squadron, collided in mid-air as the latter was attempting to regain hi position in Box I. The reason for the crash is undetermined. Both ships had completed operations and were over friendly territory when the collision occurred. Lt. Kirk, Capt. Roney's bombardier, bailed out and returned safely, but all the other personnel, including an Infantry Captain, were found dead. This was Captain Roney's 65 mission and he had just made Captain...and ironical fact.

Fifty-one aircraft were dispatched on this maximum effort mission, 42 dropping thousand pounders on the primary, 6 ships dropping frags on flak positions and three ships throwing window. Four excellents and a superior were annexed and three undermined, all of which were believed to have caused severe damage, but all except the two, which crashed, returned safely.

[March 21, 1945], HQ Twelfth Army Group situation map

Map showing Western Allies and Axis troop position details in Western Europe
as of approximately 1200 hours, March 21, 1945
World War II Military Situation Maps Collection
Library of Congress

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