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PHOTOS AND BIOS OF CREW MEMBERS

KEITH PALMER Pilot.

Keith was probably 28-29 when he took command of the Crew. He flew 29 missions as our pilot and six missions as co-pilot on another crew during his training at the 445th Bomb Group. He was a first lieutenant, having served for some time as a pilot instructor in Waco, Texas. He was married to Esther Bruck. We have been unable to contact him.






CLIFF BOLTON Co-Pilot.

Cliff, a second lieutenant, was 29 when he joined the Crew. He flew the full 35 combat missions, almost all of them as our co-pilot. He was born in Kentucky in 1915 but he joined the service from Michigan. He was the last member of the Crew to complete his 35 missions. He was married, but he divorced right after the war and remarried. He and his wife Geneva had two daughters, Jennifer and Lois. After the war he worked in a body shop and then with Rockwell International in Chelsea, Michigan, for eighteen years. He died June 8, 1984 at age 69.




FRED BECCHETTI Bombardier-Navigator

Freddie, as he was called, was 20 years old when he joined the crew. He was from Albuquerque, New Mexico, and had won his bombardier's wings and his officer's bars at Big Spring, Texas, in November 1943. He flew the full 35 missions, four of them after the crew's bail-out over Norwich. After combat, he was a bombardier instructor. After discharge, he earned two college degrees, taught in high school, was in the U.S. diplomatic service for 26 years, retired in 1989 and now lives with his wife Vivienne in Virginia.

E-Mail Address     fbecchetti@cox.net


VINCENT P. HAMILTON Navigator

Vince joined the Crew in Casper, Wyoming, after our original navigator, Phil Genussa, got transferred to another crew. Vince was a fun-loving guy about 20 years old from East 120th Street, New York City. He did the navigation for our trip to England. In England, he flew with lead crews, even though he shared living quarters with Becchetti. He completed his 35 missions on June 28, 1944, but continued flying and was killed in combat.






LEROY DEROUEN Flight Engineer and Top-Turret Gunner

Leroy was a happy "cajun" from New Iberia, Louisiana. He was our oldest crew member at about 31. As a tech sergeant he was responsible for the mechanical operation of the aircraft in flight. He also operated the top gun turret. After our seventeenth mission, which was to Berlin, Leroy suffered a nervous breakdown and was transferred back to the U.S. , where he spent two weeks in an Army hospital in Miami and was discharged. After his discharge he was taken into the Civil Service and worked for the Post Office Department in New Iberia for twenty-seven years. He died in 1991 at the age of 78. His wife Iris still lives in New Iberia.



GARL MCHENRY Radio Operator

Garl, from Markle, Indiana, was the youngest member of the Crew, at 19. He completed 31 combat missions, but was relieved from duty in England because of the injury he sustained in the Crew's bail-out on their 32nd mission. After combat he was given a gunnery and radio refreshers and did some military clerical jobs until his discharge. He got married, went to technical school and worked in the electronic field with various companies. He and his wife Ruth now live in Ohio.

E-Mail Address     garld1945@aol.com

 

LAWRENCE SLADOVNIK Waist Gunner

Slad was a staff sergeant from Temple, Texas, with gunnery school training. He operated the the righthand .50 caliber waist gun. He completed 31 combat missions, but was relieved from combat and transferred to the U.S. because of the broken leg he sustained in his bail-out on the Crew's 32nd mission. After being discharged, he married Lorene Stefka and they had two sons, Larry and Lynn. He and his brother opened a night club in Temple. After that, he owned and managed grocery businesses, including military commissaries in Austin, Turkey and finally at Sheppard Field, in Wichita Falls, Texas, where he died in 1975.

 

GREGORY MCGOVERN Armorer and Waist Gunner

McGovern was a staff sergeant with training in maintaining guns and ammunition. He seemed to be in his mid 20's. On the aircraft, he operated one of the waist compartment .50 caliber machine guns. He flew 31 combat missions but was relieved from combat because of the broken leg he sustained in the Crew's bail-out over England on their 32nd mission. We know nothing about him except that he was from Chicago, Illinois, and may have been married. We have not been able to contact him.





JOHN M. SMITH Ball-turret Gunner

Smitty was a staff sergeant from Bay Harbor, Florida, with gunnery school training. He was about 20 years old and unmarried. He completed 31 combat missions and was relieved from combat because of his injury during the Crew's bail-out on their 32nd mission. We have not been able to contact John M. Smith.






ROBERT E. SHERICK, Tail-Gunner
Staff sergeant from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, with gunnery school training. He was 23 years old when he joined the crew. He was also married, having married Myrtle in 1943. Myrtle did not go to Casper, Wyoming, when the crew was training there, but she did go to Topeka, Kansas, for the departure for combat. In combat he escaped injury in the bail-out on our 32nd mission, so he had to fly four more missions to complete his 35. In speaking of the bail-out, he tells of having landed in a farmer's field, where he was placed under arrest by the British police until the American MPs arrived to take him back to the air base. After the war, he received his discharge in Laredo, Texas. He worked for a little while in a civil service job; then he went to work in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, for Hamilton Watch Company, where he worked on cold rolled metals. He retired from the company in 1978 and now lives in Washington Boro, Pennsylvania, with Myrtle. They have a son, Robert, and a daughter, Shirley.

BERNARD GOLDSTEIN, Flight Engineer and Top-turret Gunner

Goldy, from Middletown, Connecticut, was about 22 when he took over as our flight engineer and top-turret gunner after Leroy DeRouen had been relieved from that position because of his nervous breakdown. Bernie was a tech sergeant who fit in with the Crew immediately and stayed with us until he had completed his 35 combat missions. He was with us when we bailed out, but because of his responsibility to try to remedy the malfunctioning of the aircraft, he remained in the plane and helped the pilot and co-pilot through the clouds and into Tibenham for a safe landing after all the other crew members had bailed out. He was married to Virginia, whom we never met, and they had three sons: Michael, Barry and Neal. After the war, Bernie worked in an aircraft factory and in manufacturing. He died in 1989 in Connecticut.

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