458th BG B-24H 42-52457 Final Approach 7V-Q 2 Lt. Abramowitiz
Operation: Lechfeld, Germany.
Date: 9th April 1945 (Monday)
Unit: No 458th BG
Serial 42-52457 “Final Approach”
Location: Lechfeld, Germany.
Pilot. 2 Lt. Leonard Abramowitz P.o.W.
Co Pilot. 2 Lt. Joseph E. Szalanski P.o.W.
Navigator. 1 Lt. John S. Holodak P.o.W.
Radio operator. T/Sgt. Bernard E. Zeiler P.o.W.
Engineer. T/Sgt. John Barrillaro P.o.W.
Nose Turret Gunner. Sgt Allen C. Rupp Killed
Waste Gunner. S/Sgt. Walter H. Freeman P.o.W.
Waste Gunner. S/Sgt. Elmer F. Grow P.o.W.
Tail gunner. S/Sgt. Jack H. Zimpleman P.o.W.
REASON FOR LOSS.
On April 9, 1944 the 458th BG flew their 222nd mission to the airfield at Lechfeld, Germany. On the bomb run, “Final Approach”, flown by 2Lt Leonard Abramowitz, suffered a direct flak hit almost simultaneously with bomb release. 2 Engine went on fire and A/C went into power dive in attempt to smother the flames. One chute came out while in power glide, aircraft circled to left then pilot seemed to lose control, three more chutes came out aircraft then went into a dive, one more chute came out before aircraft broke up at 10,000 feet.
All crew members except for nose gunner Sgt Allen Rupp managed to bail out in time. According to the navigator, Lt John Holodak, he had just let Rupp out of the nose turret and the two were about to bail out when the plane blew up. At least one of the crew believes that Rupp never made it out of his turret. Holodak, Zeiler, and Freeman were wounded by flak, but received treatment on the ground and recovered.
The crew were rounded up and spent the final weeks of the war as prisoners of the Germans.
Report by S/Sgt. Elmer F. Grow, Waist Gunner:
“This is a full account of what happened to the best of my knowledge. A few seconds after bombs away at the target, flak hit our No. 2 engine.
We caught fire and were given orders to bail out. The tail gunner and I went out the camera hatch. The right waist gunner was last to leave but we never saw him again. On hitting the ground, Wehrmacht troops captured me and took me to a nearby flak battery. There I saw the pilot who had slight burns, and tail gunner who appeared OK. That night we were moved to a town and locked up for the night. There I had also seen the co-pilot, navigator – wounded, radio operator – wounded. The nose gunner and right waist gunner were not there and their whereabouts unknown observing from what the other members said. The only one that may know something might be the Navigator, Holidak. Although he was seriously wounded he may have been just about able to get out himself. At no other time from then, at prison camp or any time after we were liberated have I seen or heard of either of the two missing gunners.”
Above left: Sgt Allen C. Rupp, Nose Turret Gunner (Photo: Craig Smith) Right: 1Lt John S. Holodak, Navigator (Photo: Mike Bailey)
42-52457 7V-Q “Final Approach” Going down over the target.
Nose Art on “Final Approach”
Sgt Allen C. Rupp. Lorraine American Cemetery, St. Avold, France. Plot F Row 16 Grave 27. Entered the Service from: Pennsylvania. Awards: Purple Heart.
Our sincere thanks to Darin Scorza for the use of photos and records that have enabled us to reproduce this loss page, and others in remembrance of the boys from the 458th Bomb Group. Thanks also to Tom Kracker for his research into this. Check out the massive Kracker Luftwaffe Data Base. Further information on American War deaths.