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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.

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8th Air Force
07.07.1944 579th Bombardment Squadron (H) B-24H 42-95229 ‘Rap ‘Em Pappy’ 1st Lt. Leo Ruvolis Jr.

Operation: Bernburg (Mission #458), Germany

Date: 7th July 1944 (Friday)

Unit No: 579th Bombardment Squadron (H), 392nd Bombardment Group (H), 2nd Air Division, 8th Air Force

Type: B-24H Rap ‘Em Pappy

Serial No: 42-95229

Code: GC:R

Location: Near Rhoden, 6½ km (4 mls) NW of Osterwieck, Germany

Base: Wendling (Station #118), Norfolk, England

Pilot: 1st Lt. Leo Ruvolis Jr. O-697501 AAF Age 24. PoW *

Co Pilot: 2nd Lt. Carl Francis Wunderlin O-819445 AAF Age 24. Murdered (1)

Navigator: FO Randell S. Mayer Jr. T-125218 AAF Age 20. PoW *

Bombardier: 2nd Lt. Edward Young O-698950 AAF Age? PoW unknown camp

Radio/Op: T/Sgt. James A. Garvey 16077910 AAF Age 23. KiA

Engineer: T/Sgt. John Crawford Cowley 34588794 AAF Age 21. KiA

Ball Turret: -

Right Waist Gnr: S/Sgt. Gerald Ernest Beltz 37476941 AAF Age 22. PoW **

Left Waist Gnr: S/Sgt. Jacob ‘Jake’ Schenkenberger 35607640 AAF Age 32. KiA

Tail Gnr: S/Sgt. Theodore Vincent ‘Ted’ Sheridan 37494553 AAF Age 22. PoW *

Note: The ball turret had been damaged in a previous mission and was inoperable.

* Stalag Luft 3 Sagan-Silesia, Germany, now Żagań in Poland. (Moved to Nuremberg-Langwasser, Bavaria).

** Stalag 11b Fallingbostel, Lower Saxony, NW Germany.


Rap ‘Em Pappy was one of 42 B-24s which took off from Wendling, commencing at 04:46 hrs on the 7th July 1944 with eventually 38 aircraft arriving over the JU-88 Assembly plant at Bernburg, Germany.

An after mission report described that about 5 mins after dropping its bombs on the target Rap ‘Em Pappy was attacked by German fighters. Its nose landing gear was seen to drop followed by the main gear. The aircraft was then seen to leave the formation, under control with #3 engine ‘wind milling’ and #4 engine shut down. Some flames were seen coming from the aircraft.

While German fighters continued their attacks 1st Lt. Ruvolis ordered S/Sgt. Beltz, S/Sgt. Schenkenberger and T/Sgt. Garvey to bail out from the waist windows as the bomb bay doors would not open. It was believed that as they moved through the bomb bay a burst of cannon fire from the German fighters may have killed S/Sgt. Schenkenberger and T/Sgt. Garvey.

German documents recorded that Flight Officer (FO) Mayer Jr. and 1st Lt. Ruvolis Jr. were captured near Rhoden at 10:15 hrs. 2nd Lt. Young and S/Sgt. Sheridan were captured near Osterwieck at 10:30 hrs and 11:15 hrs respectively and S/Sgt. Beltz was captured near Bersel, about 13 km (8 mls) north of Wernigerode at 10:30 hrs.

T/Sgt. Cowley had been wounded during the fighter attack and could not move. S/Sgt Beltz, who was also injured, tried to help him bail out but was unable to do so, nevertheless T/Sgt. Cowley got out or fell out of the aircraft and parachuted to the ground. He was found near Osterwieck at about 10:30 hrs. It was not until the next day, on the 8th July, that he was admitted to the Hospital section of the Elementary School for girls at Wernigerode. He died from his injuries at 07:05 hrs on the 9th July and was buried at 15:00 hrs on the 11th July 1944 in the NE corner, Row 3, Grave 26 in the community cemetery in Hasserode. T/Sgt. Garvey and S/Sgt Schenkenberger were recovered from the aircraft wreckage and, together with 2nd Lt. Wunderlin, were also buried in the community cemetery in Hasserode.

German records indicate that the aircraft exploded in mid-air at about 09:20 hrs. Parts of the aircraft were scattered over an area of roughly 2 km (1¼ mls) near to Rhoden, about 6½ km (4 mls) NW of Osterwieck and NW of Halberstadt.

Rap ‘Em Pappy was one of five aircraft lost by the 579th Bomber Sqn all flying with the 492nd Bombardment Sqn, which itself lost twelve aircraft, 50% of its strength.

S/Sgt. Gerald E. Beltz, Purple Heart, was repatriated after his leg was amputated due to the injuries he sustained in the fighter attack. He returned to the United States aboard the ‘MS Gripsholm’ out of Marseille, France on the 8th February, arriving in New York on the 21st February 1945.

(1) German documents recorded that 2nd Lt. Wunderlin was recovered as dead. However, according to 2nd Lt. Young‘s Individual Casualty Questionnaire (ICQ), 2nd Lt. Wunderlin was alive when he saw him bail out of the aircraft through the nose wheel hatch. Furthermore during his interrogation at Dulag Luft he was shown an escape picture of 2nd Lt. Wunderlin and asked if he knew were he was. Despite some confusion which indicated that 2nd Lt. Wunderlin actually used 1st Lt. Ruvolis Jr. parachute, he believed that 2nd Lt. Wunderlin had landed safely and alive, ditched his flying overalls and inadvertently left his escape photographs in the pocket.

He was also asked by the Gestapo whether Wunderlin was Jewish. 2nd Lt. Young indicated that he spoke no German so did not respond to their questioning. In his opinion the attitude and behaviour of the Dulag Luft interrogators led him to believe that they had shot 2nd Lt. Wunderlin on the presumption that he was Jewish.

Evidence from a number of War Crime trials held in Dachau established that the Gestapo hunted down Allied airmen and summarily shot them when captured. Although no specific trial can be linked to the death of 2nd Lt. Wunderlin the circumstantial evidence leads one to consider that at the very least he died in suspicious circumstances.

Burial Details

Above 2nd Lt. Wunderlin: (Credit: Michel Beckers)

2nd Lt. Carl Francis Wunderlin. Air Medal (2 Oak Leaf Clusters), Purple Heart. Reinterred Netherlands American Cemetery, Margraten, Block X, Row 3, Grave 63. Relocated to Plot D, Row 2, Grave 14. Born on the 13th October 1919. Son to Joseph Augustine and Anna M (née Cruse) Wunderlin of Michigan, USA.

Above T/Sgt Garvey: (Credit: Des Philippet).

T/Sgt. James A. Garvey. Air Medal (2 Oak Leaf Clusters), Purple Heart. Reinterred Netherlands American Cemetery, Margraten, Block R, Row 12, Grave 290. Relocated to Plot K, Row 10, Grave 13. Born on the 6th November 1920. Son to Bridget (née Blackwell) Garvey of Chicago, Illinois, USA

T/Sgt. John Crawford Cowley. Purple Heart. Reinterred in the Lorraine Cemetery, Plot 4K, Row 1, Grave 14 before being repatriated and buried at the Maple Hill Cemetery, Huntsville Alabama. Born on the 29th November 1922. Son to Allen Desco and Blanche F. Cowley and husband to Mrs Cowley of Huntsville, Alabama, USA.

Above: S/Sgt. Schenkenberger. (Credit: Des Philippet).

S/Sgt. Jacob ‘Jake’ Schenkenberger. Air Medal (2 Oak Leaf Clusters), Purple Heart. Reinterred Netherlands American Cemetery, Margraten, Block R, Row 9, Grave 207. Relocated to Plot G, Row 13, Grave 8. Born on the 17th January 1912 in Akron, Ohio. Husband to Marian Corine Schenkenberger form Medina, Ohio, USA.

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

RS & TV 12.03.2020 - 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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