LT Simmons and his crew, Cr 18 (AOP 16961 SA18), were assigned to the 486th BG on special order # 37 dated 24 Feb 1945, and assigned to the 834th Squadron. LT Simmons was later assigned as a Lead pilot.
By mid-April the air war in Europe was affectively over. The 486th continued practice flights in preparation for a transfer to the PTO. On the 26th of April, 1945 a flight of B17s embarked on a training mission and was climbing through a thin cloud layer. At 11.7k feet a #859, piloted by LT Dobbins, collided with #687, running into the tail section killing the observation officer, LT Olson, instantly. Three crewmen managed to bail out from #687; however, John Hill jumped too low and his chute failed to open completely. None of LT Simmons crew flew with him on this day.
The accident summary reads:
Flying in a three squadron formation, the number nine aircraft (number 859) of the Lead Squadron collided with the number two aircraft (number 687) of the Low Squadron. Just prior to the accident, the Low Squadron had eased underneath (right) and slightly in trail of the Lead, while playing a turn, in an effort to maintain a smooth lead and avoid overrunning. At the time of the accident, the low squadron was in a shallow turn to the left and was evidently passing underneath, horizontally speaking, the low flight (aircraft number 859 was the number three position aircraft in this flight) of the Lead Squadron. Reason for the left turn was to regain position off (left) Lead Squadron now that the group was flying a straight course. The Low Squadron leader, off which aircraft number 687 was guiding, was holding a very good and closeup position (vertical interval, 75-100 feet below low flight of Lead Squadron; horizontal interval, 50-75 feet) all during the mission. The number two aircraft (number 687) of the Low Squadron was reported to have been flying a good, steady position at all times, stacked slightly high as per current SOP. On the other hand, the pilot of the aircraft flying number nine position (number 859) was forced to fly erratic position (back and far down) because the number six aircraft (in flight above and ahead) was continually lagging. Because of this and the hazy conditions that were becoming existent, he ordered the pilot (Lead aircraft of the Low Squadron) to increase clearance between squadrons as a safety factor. Shortly after the shallow left turn was started, aircraft 859 (number nine of the Lead Squadron) collided with aircraft number 687 (number two of Low). The number 1. and 2. props chewed into the tail section of the aircraft number 687 from above and cut off the tail empannage [sic]. After colliding, both aircraft peeled up and out of formation, aircraft number 859 returned to base on three engines, aircraft 687 went out of control immediately, spun down through the overcast, leveled off momentarily, and then crashed into the ground.
|Name||Rank||Position||First Mission||Last Mission||Status|
|Clyde E. Simmons||1st LT||Pilot||03/ /45||04/26/45||Deceased|
|Frank M. O'Connor||2nd LT||03/ /45||04/ /45|
|Edward J. Morrill||2nd LT||03/ /45||04/ /45|
|William F. Ransone||SGT||03/ /45||04/ /45|
|Donald R. Buddenberg||CPL||03/ /45||04/ /45|
|John J. Johnson||CPL||03/ /45||04/ /45|
|Eugene R. Sherseth||CPL||03/ /45||04/ /45|
|Floyd O. Baker||CPL||03/ /45||04/ /45|
|Robert W. Hanni||CPL||03/ /45||04/ /45|
|Donald L. Williamson||1st LT||Co-pilot||/ /44||04/26/45||Deceased|
|James G. Olson||1st LT||Observer||/ /44||04/26/45||Deceased|
|Vincent T. Colletti||2nd LT||Navigator||/ /44||04/26/45||Minor injuries.|
|Robert F. Bradley||2nd LT||Bombardier||/ /44||04/26/45||Minor injuries|
|John J. Hill||SGT||FE/Top||/ /44||04/26/45||Deceased|
|Robert L. West||SGT||Radio/Gunner||/ /44||04/26/45||Deceased|
|Edward G. Geron||SGT||Armorer/Gunner||/ /44||04/26/45||Deceased|
|174||03/28/45||Rack and Ruin||NT||43-37899||B17G|
|Completed x Missions|
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