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Archive Report: US Forces
1941 - 1945

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.

We seek additional information and photographs. Please contact us via Helpdesk
15th Air Force
19.07.1944 763rd Bombardment Squadron (H) B-24J 42-99763 ‘Flying Junior’

Operation: München (Munich), Germany

Date: 19th July 1944 (Wednesday)

Unit No: 763rd Bombardment Squadron (H), 460th Bombardment Group (H), 55th Bomb Wing, 15th Air Force

Type: B-24J Flying Junior

Serial No: 42-99763

Code: F

Location: 1 km NE of Neuried, Germany

Base: Spinazzola airfield, Italy

Pilot: 1st Lt. Bill Dewitt Rhodabarger O-684050 AAF Age 25. KiA

Co Pilot: 1st Lt. Roy Quentin Morris O-813413 AAF Age 25. KiA

Navigator: 2nd Lt. Lloyd Wyatt Kelly O-694562 AAF Age 26. KiA

Bombardier: 2nd Lt. Arthur Nathaniel Pecharsky O-754762 AAF Age 22. KiA

Engineer: T/Sgt. Robert Louis Zahradnik 18188340 AAF Age 21. PoW *

Radio Operator: T/Sgt. Richard Cylde Travers 36434578 AAF Age 23. PoW *

Asst Engineer: S/Sgt. Robert Earl Reese 13530166 AAF Age 21. KiA

Asst Radio Op: S/Sgt. Henry Vincent Hendrickson 32718827 AAF Age 25. KiA

Air Gunner: S/Sgt. John Olmo 29036322 AAF Age? KiA

Air Gunner: S/Sgt. James Malcolm Greene 15334568 AAF Age 19. Murdered (2)

Photographer: S/Sgt. Gerald Robert Walter 36576391 AAF Age 21. PoW * (1)

The B-24 had 10 crew positions. Crew complements evolved during the war and generally comprised 9 personnel who were typically, but not always, Pilot, Co-Pilot, Bombardier, Navigator, Flight Engineer/Top Turret Gunner, Radar Operator, Radio Operator/Waist Gunner, Nose Gunner, Ball Turret Gunner, Waist Gunner, Tail Gunner.

* Stalag Luft 4 Gross-Tychow, Pomerania, Prussia now Tychowo, Poland (Moved from Stalag Luft 6 Heydekrug. Moved to Wöbbelin near Ludwigslust and then to Usedom near Swinemünde).

REASON FOR LOSS:

On the morning of the 19th July 1944 the Flying Junior took off from the Spinazzola airfield in Italy and joined the 110 bombers from the 55th Bomb Wing detailed to bomb the BMW Flugmotorenbau GmBH München-Allach (Aircraft factory) in Germany.

The bombing damaged numerous buildings, a storage yard of vehicles as well as buildings in the attached Concentration camp. Some bombs, wide of the target, hit a supply depot and a marshalling yard which cut the main railway line.

The München-Allach Concentration camp was a sub-camp of the Dachau Concentration camp and supplied slave labour to nearby factories.

The Flying Junior was one of seven bombers from the 460th Bombardment Group that failed to return.

The following statements describe the circumstances leading to the loss of 1st Lt. Rhodabarger and the Flying Junior.

2nd Lt. June V. Mefford O-1691612 - Pilot of a bomber to the right of the Flying Junior.

“He was leading the low box of the second attack unit. The formation was on the bomb run when his ship received a direct hit by flak. It hit near the co-pilots station. As we proceeded on the bomb run I saw the fuselage by the co-pilot start burning and at the same time the number three engine blew apart. The ship flew straight and level for a few seconds then went into a gradual descending turn to the right. I lost sight of the ship at this time. I did not see anyone bail out of the ship, but it is possible that some of the men could have gotten out later”.

1st Lt. Gordon M. Low O-808435 - Leading Pilot of the flight to the right of the Flying Junior.

“Lt. Rhodabarger was leading the low box of the second attack unit, I was flying in No. 4 position of the same box. At the time he was hit the group was almost to the target. From my position I observed a direct hit between No. 3 engine and the co-pilots position. The effect was an immediate blaze which had apparently not injured the pilot seriously enough to cause him to loose control of the ship. The ship made a gradual descending turn to then right with fire coming from the bomb-bays. I did not see anyone bail out of the ship but it appears possible that the men in the waist could escape”.

S/Sgt. Harold N. Peterson 37305808 - Lead ship Tail Gunner of centre flight in front of the Flying Junior.

“He was leading the low box of the second attack unit. We were flying lead ship, low box, first attack unit. Lt. Rhodabarger’s ship dropped back out of formation. I saw fire just forward of cockpit. Momentarily the plane seemed to drop into a spin, then level off under control. At approximately 10,000 ft I saw four men bail out and their chutes open. The plane then left my sight”.

The aircraft crashed 1 km NE of Neuried, some 10½ km south of the target at 12:30 hrs and was 90% destroyed.

T/Sgt. Zahradnik was wounded and captured at Großhadern, some 2 km north of the crash site, S/Sgt. Travers was captured while being treated for injuries at Solln, some 4 km from the crash site and S/Sgt. Walter was wounded and captured at 12:00 hrs by members of a flak unit south of München.

1st Lt. Rhodabarger, 2nd Lt. Pecharsky, S/Sgt. Hendrickson and S/Sgt. Olmo were recovered from the crash site and initially buried in the Community Cemetery at Neuried on the 21st July 1944.

The initial burial details for 1st Lt. Morris, 2nd Lt. Kelly, S/Sgt. Reese and S/Sgt. Greene are unknown.

(1) S/Sgt. Walter submitted the following statement after being requested to provide any information he had regarding the whereabouts of 2nd Lt. Pecharsky.

"I was the Aerial Photographer on this mission. We had just cleared the target and were returning to our home base, when we were hit by flak, resulting in blowing off the nose of the ship and causing considerable damage to the bomb bay section. A few seconds later fire broke out in the bomb bay section. I immediately tried to reach the pilot through the interphone system but it was dead. I saw the two waist gunners bail out and I proceeded to do likewise. About 15 min prior to the time we were hit I had spoken to 2nd Lt. Pecharsky thru the interphone system, that was the last time I spoke with him. I bailed out at 24,000 feet. I was struck in various parts of my body with flak and upon bailing out I was temporarily blinded, and I can give no details regarding the plane, as I could not see it. However, prior to my bailing out a direct hit by flak was made on the nose of the ship, and I noticed that the nose of the ship had completely disappeared. This was 2nd Lt. Pecharsky's position during the flight.

Upon reaching the ground I was greeted by a civilian who told me he was going to turn me over to the German authorities. He also told me that he saw the plane crash and burst into flames, approximately five miles away. The only information I can give as to my location at that time was that the civilian told me we were 3 miles outside of the city of Munich.

While at PoW camp Stalag Luft 4, I met T/Sgt. Robert Zahrodnik, who was the Engineer of my ship. He told me he also noticed that the nose of the ship was shot away by flak, and that prior to his bailing out he noticed both the pilot and co-pilot had been hit and that the nose of the ship was on fire. It was his opinion that both 2nd Lt. Pecharsky and the pilot were killed when the nose of the ship was hit by flak. However, prior to the time T/Sgt. Zahrodnik bailed out they were alive.

It is my conclusive opinion that 2nd Lt. Pecharsky was killed when a direct hit was made on the nose of the ship by flak. However, I did not witness the killing, nor do I have any concrete evidence to prove my statement. Furthermore, I do not think he had a chance in the world of bailing out, due to the condition of the plane, and when the plane crashed 2nd Lt. Pecharaky met his death."

S/Sgt. Walter’s younger brother Neil B. Walter tragically died aged just 15 on the 22nd June 1941 from a bacterial infection after the losing his left arm in a tractor accident.

His family suffered a second death when another brother, Spencer Newton Walter,was killed in action on the 15th June 1944 in Normandy, France.

Private 1st Class (PFC) Spencer Newton Walter 36404585 was serving in the 18th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division. He was awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. Interred at the Normandy American Cemetery, Plot J, Row 12, Grave 6. He died in the during the battles on the Cotentin Peninsula in the American push to capture the city of Cherbourg and its deep water port.

(2) The circumstances leading to the death of S/Sgt. James Malcolm Greene have been researched by the historian Dr. Susanne Meinl. The summary of her research may be found on the FindAGrave entry for S/Sgt. Greene.

Burial Details:

1st Lt. Bill DeWitt Rhodabarger. Air Medal (3 Oak Leaf Clusters). Lorraine American Cemetery, Plot C, Row 5, Grave 80. Born on the 24th December 1918 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Son of Thomas DeWitt and Lola Edna (née McLain) Rhodabarger from Oklahoma. Husband of Roberta Mabel (née Amaral) Rhodabarger of Waco, Texas, USA.

1st Lt. Roy Quentin Morris. Air Medal (2 Oak Leaf Clusters), Purple Heart. Lorraine American Cemetery, Plot K, Row 39, Grave 23. Born on the 16th March 1919 in Rush Springs, Oklahoma. Son of Marion Cornelius and Mathie Jewel (née Sperling) Morris. Husband to Virginia Alys (née Baker) Morris of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA.

2nd Lt. Lloyd Wyatt Kelly. Air Medal (3 Oak Leaf Clusters). Born on the 27th January 1918 in Jackson, Texas. Repatriated on the 18th November 1948 and interred in the Littlefield Cemetery, Lamb County, Texas. Son of Urban Ewell and Addejl Mary (née Brombelon) Kelly of Littlefield, Texas. Husband to Marjorie L. (née Sewell) Kelly of Coleman, Texas, USA.

2nd Lt. Arthur Nathaniel Pecharsky. Air Medal (3 Oak Leaf Clusters), Purple Heart. Lorraine American Cemetery, Plot K, Row 45, Grave 15. Born on the 26th July 1922 in Brooklyn, New York. Son of Jacob and Helen Pecharsky of Bellerosa, New York, USA.

S/Sgt. Robert Earl Reese. Air Medal (2 Oak Leaf Clusters). Lorraine American Cemetery, Plot A, Row 23, Grave 58. Born on the 26th September 1922 in Halifax, Virginia. Son of John R. and Mary Cecile Reese of Nathalie, Virginia, USA.

S/Sgt. Henry Vincent Hendrickson. Air Medal (3 Oak Leaf Clusters). Repatriated and interred on the 22nd October 1948 at the Long Island National Cemetery, Section J, Grave 15576 in Suffolk County, New York. Born on the 29th October 1918 in the Bronx, New York. His sister Lillian Hendrickson was named as his Next of Kin. Son of Oscar and Janna Hendrickson of the Bronx, New York, USA.

S/Sgt. John Olmo. Air Medal (3 Oak Leaf Clusters), Purple Heart. Lorraine American Cemetery, Plot E, Row 9, Grave 21. Son of Vincent and Dina Olmo of Oakland, California, USA.

S/Sgt. James Malcolm Greene. Air Medal (2 Oak Leaf Clusters), Purple Heart. Lorraine American Cemetery, Plot J, Row 38, Grave 17. Born on the 15th September 1924 in McCraken, Kentucky. Son of James Roscoe and Verbal Johnson Green of Paducah, Kentucky. Husband to Emma Catherine (née Collier) Greene of Paducah, Kentucky, USA.

Researched by Ralph Snape and Traugott Vitz for Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with additional thanks to Traugott for his work on the ‘VitzArchive.

RS & TV 15.11.2022 - Initial upload

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Acknowledgments: Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Stan D. Bishop, John A. Hey MBE, Gerrie Franken and Maco Cillessen - Losses of the US 8th and 9th Air Forces, Vols 1-6, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiton - Nachtjagd Combat Archives, Vols 1-13. Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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