Back Row L/R: Soldano, Smith, Evans, McNichols, Miller, Quigley. Front Row L/R: Dimel, Heckerson, Grant, Rothkop. (James Dimel)
Quigley flew only one or two missions with us. He was a tail gunner. Grant was so good he was pulled out and became a Lead Navigator. We became a Lead Crew quite early, and always had substitute crew members; hence on our 12th mission, we had Connolly and Lynch.
10 NOVEMBER, 1944:
As deputy lead of the High Squadron,on a mission to bomb an airfield south of Wiesbaden, we passed over the IP, Frankfurt. With bomb doors open, we sustained multiple flack hits, knocking out the oxygen system, a good portion of the instrument panel, the hydraulic system, and bomb bay door retracting mechanism, and engines #2, 3 and 4. Numbers 3 and 4 caught fire.
The pilot managed to stay in formation for the few seconds remaining until bomb drop, jettisoned the bombs, and dove down to the right to about 13,000' so that the crew could survive without oxygen. Propeller on #4 was feathered; but #3 continued to windmill. Fires in the engines were put out, but rekindled from time to time. Rudder trim cable was cut, so maintaining trim on one engine was difficult. As there were German fighters in the area, pilot tried to stay in the clouds.
Lt. Rothkop sustained a very serious head wound, plus wounds in neck and leg. Lt. Connolly was grievously wounded in the right thigh. The best our B-17 could do on one engine, which eventually refused to sustain full power, and with the bomb doors hanging open, was a descent of about 800 feet per minute. Flying in the clouds and descending, without knowing the ground elevation, or our location, we headed west.
The pilot ordered all crew aft of the bomb bay to bail out; but with two men in the front so wounded that it was doubtful that they would survive a parachute jump, the pilot decided to attempt a crash landing. We broke out of the clouds about 500 feet above the Belgian town of Jaimoigne, and just missed the steeple of the church. Despite German snipers in the area, a U.S. Army unit of combat engineers found us and took our wounded to an Army hospital, from which they were air-evacuated to the States. The crew who parachuted survived, although our Ball Gunner broke his leg upon landing. The rest of us returned to complete our missions.
- CAPT James Dimel
|Name||Rank||Position||First Mission||Last Mission||Status|
|James J. Dimel||CAPT||Pilot||09/17/44||03/14/45||Completed 30 combat missions. The last 18 as command pilot.|
|Marshall T. Heckerson||1st LT||Co-pilot||03/14/45||Completed 30 combat missions, the last as command pilot.|
|Grant||1st LT||Navigator||Became lead navigator.|
|Joseph F. Connolly, Jr.||1st LT||DR Navigator||WIA, 11/10/44|
|Bennie E. Lynch||2nd LT||PP Navigator|
|Theodore Rothkop||2nd LT||Bombardier||03/14/45||WIA, 11/10/44|
|Samuel P. Soldano||SSGT||Engineer/Top||03/14/45||Completed 30 combat missions.|
|Carlton P. Smith||SGT||Radio/Waist||03/14/45||Completed 30 combat missions.|
|Eugene Evans||CPL||Waist Gunner||03/14/45||Completed 30 combat missions.|
|Dale B. McNichols||CPL||Waist Gunner||03/14/45||Completed 30 combat missions.|
|Hugh J. Quigley||CPL||Tail Gunner||Completed 30 combat missions with other crews.|
|Chelsey C. Miller||CPL||Ball Gunner||03/14/45||Completed 30 combat missions.|
|081||09/25/44||The Fertile Turtle||PG||43-37943||B17G|
|097||10/25/44||Old Man's Folly||NJ||43-37891||B17G|
|098||10/26/44||Old Man's Folly||NJ||43-37891||B17G|
|137||01/28/45||Baby Shoe III/Downbeat||PV||44-8218||B17G|
|139||02/01/45||Lady V II||PK||44-8130||B17G|
|Created 08/10/99||Modified 02/02/14|
Copyright © 2014 486th Bomb Group Association.