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Search No.   1030 - Donald William Merchant

From: Jeanette Merchant;
Sent: Monday, November 12, 2001 3:11 AM
Subject: Donald William Merchant

I am searching for information about my father, Donald William Merchant. He passed away when I was 4 years old and there is not much information about his military career. He was a pilot of the B-17 "Bolevich". Numbers on his letters were 379th bg, 525 sa, asn 727246. A newspaper clipping stated he was shot down during a raid on a ball-bearing factory in Schweinfurt, Germany where he was a POW for 20 months at Stalagluft 3. If you have information about his military career or crew please contact me.
Thank you, Jeanette Merchant

Lt Donald W. Merchant, pilot, was in the 379th Bomb Group 525th Squadron and flew 10 missions before being shot down. Lt Merchant and crew were one of the original crews at Kimbolton (Station 117). Lt. Donald W Merchant and crew were shot down on their 11th mission to Schweinfurt, Germany (Ball Bearing Plant) on 8/21/43. This was the first of several missions the 379th Bomb Group flew to Schweinfurt, Germany. The following is the crew and their positions on aircraft 42-30191 "The Belovich" on 8/21/43:

Merchant Donald W. -Capt, P, 0-727546, Jamestown, ND, POW
Sullivan James E. -2nd Lt, CP, 0-728765, Minneapolis, MN, POW
Keith Ernest K. -2nd Lt, N, 0-664895, Houston, TX, POW
Roman Leonard J. -2nd Lt, B, 0-729503, Dunkirk, NY, POW
Hecht Gene R. -T/SGT, TT, 19005193, Plainview, NE, KIA
Johnson Johannes J. -T/SGT, RO, 32218491, Bronx, NY, POW
Tonge Robert T. -S/SGT, BT, 16097023, Joliet, IL, POW
Van Valkenburg Edgar (NMI) -S/SGT, LW, 32287715, Syracuse, NY, POW
Ridgley Harold B. -S/SGT, RW, 33079391, South Ardomore, PA, POW
Wierzbanowski John J. -T/SGT, TG, 36350476, Chicago, IL, POW
Van Valkenburg Edgar (NMI) -killed by the SS
Ridgley Harold B. -killed by the SS

We do not show any members of this crew in the current roster of 379th BG Association. However, there may be some current association members that might have known your father.

Responding4 11/26/01

Search No. 1028 - Serial No 42-31050 Crash on Jan 29, 1944

From:  Didier Petit;
Sent: Mon 11/5/2001

Dear Sir,
I am looking for information on the B-17 serial number 42-31050 who crashed in 29th January 1944. He belongs to 379th Bomb Group, 527th Bombing Squadron. Any information whould be welcome.

525th Sq. Frankfurt, Germany (engine components) January 29, 1944 mission # 61 Aircraft 42-31050. The following are the crew and their positions:

Rhyner Jack O. -1st Lt, Pilot, Oshkosh, WI, Returned
Levens Leon E. -2nd Lt, Co-P, Abilene, TX, Returned
Dennis James C. -2nd Lt, N, Cranston, RI, POW
Walz Harry G. -2nd Lt, B, New York, NY, POW
Brown Fred D. -S/SGT, R, Pittsburgh, PA, Returned
Ventimiglia Joseph A Jr.S/SGT TT Brooklyn, NYRTMC
Eckleberry Malcom F. -SGT, BT, Vancouver,WA, Returned
Giles Larry D. -SGT, RW, Fackler, AL, RTMC
Ault John E. -SGT, LW, Lackwood, NY, POW
Mabante Frank G. -SGT, TG, Nogales, AZ, POW

Responding4 11/5/01

Search No. 1027 - Lt. Merlyn Pershing Wilson

From: "Bob-Wilson" <>
To: <>
Sent: Tuesday, October 23, 2001 1:21 PM
Subject: Lt. Merlyn Pershing Wilson

My name is Merlyn Robert Wilson, son of second lieutenant Merlyn Pershing Wilson. He was stationed at Kimbolton in spring of 1944. Do you know of any of the crewmwmbers that may still be alive? I know that there was a bombadier by the name of McGreavy but I don't know if he is still alive. My father died in 1967 and never talked about the war or POW camp at all.

I am writing a short paper on my dad for my children and their children and I would like to get any information that I could. He kept a record of the songs, poems and tributes that he and the other POW's had made for the planes that they flew or flew in and the longings for home and a good meal.

I talked to Mrs. Fred High the navigator on the B-17 but she had stated that her husband never talked much if at all about the war with her. Any information that you have would be greatly appreaciated. I am planning to go to Rattlesnake Bomber Base at Pyote Texas this next February and plan to video and take pictures of what is left of the training base, let me know if I can help your association out in any way. I am a member, and thank you for all that you do and have done.
Merlyn Robert Wilson

We don't show any crewmembers from Lt. Merlyn Pershing Wilson's crew on the current 379th BG Association roster. The 303rd BG has a good list of POW links that may be useful in your research.

responding4 11/4/01

Search No.  1026 - William (Bill) J. Kari

From: Kari, Wm. Doug <>
To: <>
Sent: Sat 10/13/2001
Subject: Re: William J. Kari (1015)

Mike, I was hoping you might have an answer to a research question. My father's old uniform has the ribbon for an Air Medal. Because he got to Kimbolton near the end of the war, I believe the only missions he flew were in April 1945. The 379th Bombardment Group Anthology states in Vol. II, page 393, that 90 Air Medals were awarded at station 117 in April 1945. However, the Medals and Awards summary for April 1945 (pages 385-388 of Vol. II) only lists approximately 33 recipients. Where can I find a list of the other 50+ Air Medal recipients for April 1945? Thanks for your help.
Doug Kari 

The 379th Bomb Group WWII Histories conclude in April of 1945; most personnel were transferred to other units including the clerk that maintained the squadron histories. Also not all clerks reported monthly histories in the same manner. The only groups to report medals monthly were the 525th SQ. and the 526th SQ. and they usually reported medals on the following month after they were awarded (medals awarded in June would be shown in July). All personnel records are kept in St. Louis, Mo. If you have your father's serial number you may be able to have access to his file, which should show his medals awarded etc.

Responding4 10/13/01

Search No.  1025 - Frank Garst

From: mike garst <>
To: <>
Sent: Wednesday, October 10, 2001 5:41 PM
Subject: information on Frank Garst

To anyone who can help, I am the grandson of Frank Garst whom I have been told served with the 379th BG. I am looking for some information on which part of the BG he was assigned to, because i am slowly putting together a display case that will hold his medals, patches and so forth. If anyone can help me with more information than what i already have (which is only that he was in the 379th, was a nose gunner, and was a crewmen on the SCOTCH SODA on or around the dates of 20 March 1944 to ???) i would be truly greatful for the help and any information.

It is also my sad duty to say that T/SGT Frank Garst passed away 2 October 2001, and i have been left in charge of his military items and history. If anyone knows my grandfather or may have a story or 2 about him please feel free to contact me.

Thank You for the help
Michael Garst

We are very sorry to hear that your Grandfather passed away. We show that T/Sgt Frank Garst, left waist gunner, was in the 379th Bomb Group and flew 24 missions with the 525th Squadron from 4/19/44 to 9/30/44. Your Grandfathers 1st mission was the 379th Bomb Groups 98th mission to Kassel, Germany on 4/19/44. The following are the crew and their positions on aircraft #42-97302 Scotch N' Soda:

Burke, Edward A 2nd Lt. Pilot
Hlesta, Nicholas (NMI) 2nd Lt. Co-Pilot
Tew, Leonard T 2nd Lt. Navigator
Philhower, Preston G 2nd Lt. Bombardier
Lindahl, George G Sgt. Radio Operator/Gunner
Salter, Leon (NMI) Sgt Engineer/Top Turret Gunner
Roche, William J Sgt. Ball Turret Gunner
Burraston, Floyd Sgt. Right Waist Gunner
Garst, Frank (NMI) Cpl.Left Waist Gunner
Spitzgo, Carmen R Cpl. Tail Gunner

We have listed the missions that we show your grandfather flew, I imagine he probably flew a total of 30 but our records only indicate 24. After March 44 the required number of missions were increased from 25 to 30. Existing crews, who had not completed their tour of 25 missions had their missions pro-rated (26, 27, 28, 29) depending on how many missions they had previously completed. The following list indicates the 379th Bomb Groups mission number followed by the date and target.

#98 4/19/44 Aircraft Assembly Plant Kassel, Germany
#99 4/20/44 Fly-bomb Site Sottevast / Mesnil au Val, France
#100 4/21/44 Marshalling Yards / Docks and Harbor Hamm / Bonn, Germany
#103 4/27/44 Fly-bomb Site Mesnil au Val, France
#104 4/27/44 Airdrome Toul / Croixe de Metz, France
#106 4/29/44 Marshalling Yards Berlin,Germany
#108 5/1/44 Airdrome Montdidier, France
#149 6/21/44 Aircraft Component Plant Berlin, Germany
#157 6/29/44 Aircraft Factory Leipzig, Germany
#163 7/11/44 Marshalling Yards Munich. Germany
#165 7/13/44 Aircraft Factory Munich, Germany
#168 7/18/44 Experimental Station Zinnowitz, Germany
#169 7/19/44 Hydrogen Plant Hollriegelskreuth, Germany
#170 7/20/44 Aircraft Factory Leipzig, Germany
#171 7/21/44 Marshalling Yards BadKreuznach, Germany
#172 7/23/44 Airdrome Creil, France
#173 7/34/44 Bridge and Railroad Montreul, France
#174 7/25/44 Bridge and Railroad Montreul, France
#199 9/8/44 Synthetic Oil Plant Ludwigshafen, Germany
#200 9/9/44 Rail Transport Mannheim, Germany
#202 9/11/44 Aircraft Component Factory Eisenach, Germany
#206 9/19/44 Marshalling Yards Hamm, Germany
#208 9/25/44 MarshallingYards Frankfurt, Germany
#212 9/30/44 MarshallingYards Munster, Germany

Responding4 10/15/01

Search No.  1024 - Leslie F. Nelson

From:  J. Craig Nelson;
Sent: Monday, October 08, 2001 8:59 AM
Subject: Crewmates of Leslie F. Nelson

My father, Leslie F. Nelson, was a Navigator in the 524th Squadron. I have been able to locate all but 2 members of his original crew (only 2 of these are still living...Garner E. "Ed" Brown and Neil J. Macneil). The two I have not been able to locate are:
Eugene G. Dickinson - Engineer/Top Turret Gunner
Robert S. Hull - Tail Gunner
Any help you can give in locating these two gentlemen would be greatly appreciated.

Sorry, we do not show Eugene G. Dickinson or Robert S. Hull on the current 379th Bomb Group WWII Associations membership roster.
Responding4 10/13/01

Search No.   1023 - John E. Price, USAF (Ret.)

From:   John E. Price;
Sent: Friday, October 05, 2001 11:42 AM
Subject: Inquiry

Just found our website today, and not knowing how long it has been in existence, have no idea what I have missed. I'm hoping someone will be able to answer one question for me so I can make my family history, which I am still editing, a bit more complete and accurate.

We were in the 526th Squadron and I was the navigator on Lt. Charles E. "Red" Walker's crew. After our bombardier was transferred to a deputy lead crew, a Sgt. Brown filled in as nose gunner on at least one mission. Sometime in August, or by mid September, 1944, (we ourselves went down on September 17th) we were flying off the wing of a plane in which Sgt. Brown was filling in as the tailgunner. His plane received a direct hit in the bomb bay and I thought there could be no survivors, but after the war I learned that Sgt. Brown floated down in the tail section which had been broken off, and was the only survivor. This was written up in True, a magazine published in the 1950s.

My question: What was Sgt. Browns full name, and is he still surving? He is mentioned in the family history I have been editing for my immediate family and I would like to give him the honor of at least using his full name.

John E. Price, USAF (Ret.)

I am glad you found our web site. The 379th Bomb Group Associations web site started two years ago, but has really develpoed over the last six months. I found a Kyle E. Brown S/Sgt Tail Gunner in the 524th Squardon, who was shot down on September 28 on mission #211 and was a POW. The casualty report shows the crew 2 KIA and 7 POW. I do not show him on the current 379th BGA membership roster.

I show your crew and their positions on the following mission: 527th SQ. Hamm, Germany, September 19, 1944 the 379th Bomb Groups mission # 206 aircraft 42-31915 (FO-Y) "MARYJO".

Walker Charles E. -2nd Lt, Pilot, 0-439891, Gainesville, FL, POW
Riggio Ralph J. -2nd Lt, Co-Pilot, 0-821080, Montain, WI, POW
Price John E. Jr. -2nd Lt, Naviagtor, 0-710309, Abilene, TX, RTMC
Gagnon Robert J. -S/SGT, Nose Gunner, 31302965, Fall River, MA, POW
Eckenrode John M. -T/SGT, Radio Operator, 35052856, Warren, OH, RTMC
Stanley Roy E. -T/SGT, Engineer/TopTurret Gunner, 34706186, Corpus Christi, TX, RTMC
Combs William D. -S/SGT. Ball Turret Gunner 35558929 Leipsic, OH POW
Harden Will M. -S/SGT, Waist Gunner, 20467677, Birmingham, AL, POW
Lalich George (NMI) -S/SGT, Tail Gunner, 35292285, Weirton, NY, RTMC

We show Charles E. Walker and Robert J Gagnon list on the current 379th Bomb Group Association roster.

Responding4 10/13/01

Search No.  1021 - Walter R. Hayfield

From:  Priscilla Hayfield George;
Sent: Monday, October 01, 2001 11:55 PM
Subject: any information on walter R. Hayfield

My father, Walter R. Hayfield was a pilot of B-17 379th Bomber group. Do any of your colleagues have any stories about my Dad during WWII.
Priscilla Hayfield George

Lt. Walter R. Hayfield Pilot, was in the 379th Bomb Group 527th Squadron and flew 28 missions from 9/1/44 to 12/4/44.

Hayfield Jr., Walter R, 2nd Lt, Pilot
Haney, Robert E, 2nd Lt, Co-Pilot
Rubin, David, 2nd Lt, Bombardier
Carr, Robert J, S/Sgt, Nose Gunner/Togglier
Shieldes, William E, T/Sgt, Radio Operator/Gunner
Cannon, Fred M, T/Sgt, Engineer/Top Turret Gunner
Hackleman, Paul E, S/Sgt, Ball Turret Gunner
Guidice, Joseph J, S/Sgt, Waist Gunner
Wood, James R, S/Sgt,Tail Gunner

Robert E Haney and William E.Shieldes are shown on the current 379th Bomb Group Associations roster.

Responding4 10/12/01

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