Crew 10 - Assigned 752nd Squadron - December 1943
Standing: Joseph McCollough - P, Robert Heimstra - CP, Dick Harris - B, George Shamis - N
Kneeling: Bob Hanson - RO, Al Barnett - TG, Larry Pilato - E, "Moose" Rasmussen - BTG
Sitting: Dave Epstein - NTG, Bob Minarick - TTG
(Photo: AFHRA / IDs: Robyn Spano)
|Capt||Joseph C McCollough||0681147||Pilot||10-Jul-44||CT||Air Crew Leave|
|1Lt||Robert E Heimstra||0611382||Co-pilot||Aug-44||CT||Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross|
|1Lt||George E Shamis||0811985||Navigator||10-Jul-44||CT||Air Crew Leave|
|1Lt||Richard D Harris||0688351||Bombardier||Jun-44||CT||Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross|
|T/Sgt||Robert V Hanson||36557770||Radio Operator||Aug-44||CT||Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross|
|S/Sgt||Lawrence E Pilato||12157513||Flight Engineer||30-Apr-44||UNK||Awards - 1st OLC Air Medal (GO336 2BD)|
|S/Sgt||David H Epstein||12145567||Nose Turret Gunner||Aug-44||CT||Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross|
|S/Sgt||Robert J Minarick||12147402||Top Turret Gunner||Aug-44||CT||Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross|
|S/Sgt||Melvin N Rasmussen||36733174||Ball Turret Gunner||Aug-44||CT||Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross|
|S/Sgt||Albert L Barnett||39199454||Tail Turret Gunner||Aug-44||CT||Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross|
In the latter half of McCollough’s combat tour, his crew appears to have started flying lead missions. It was on a Group lead mission on June 11, 1944 that earned the officers on the crew the Distinguished Flying Cross for their part in the destruction of the bridge at Blois/St. Denis. (See citations below)
Most of the crew completed their combat tour in late July or August. One man, S/Sgt Lawrence Pilato, the crew’s flight engineer, is assumed to have completed his tour with the crew, although no mention of this can be found in group records.
|Date||Target||458th Msn||Pilot Msn||Cmd Pilot||Ld||Serial||RCL||Sqdn||A/C Msn||A/C Name||Comments|
|09-Apr-44||TUTOW A/F||18||ABT||41-29352||K||7V||--||WOLVE'S LAIR||ENG CUT OUT|
|27-Apr-44||BONNIERES||29||13||41-29340||N||7V||10||YANKEE BUZZ BOMB||GULICK X'd OUT|
|29-Apr-44||BERLIN||31||NTO||42-52455||O||7V||--||PLUTOCRAT||#1 MAGNETO OUT|
|05-May-44||SOTTEVAST||35||16||42-50314||L||7V||2||ETO PLAYHOUSE||FLEW w/ CREW 7|
|13-May-44||TUTOW A/F||41||19||42-100311||A||7V||22||YOKUM BOY|
|20-May-44||RHEIMS A/D||43||20||LaROCHE||L1||42-109812||D||7V||17||UNKNOWN 016|
|25-May-44||MULHOUSE M/Y||47||22||42-109812||D||7V||19||UNKNOWN 016|
|04-Jun-44||BOURGES A/F||54||24||42-95118||E||7V||1||ALFRED V|
|06-Jun-44||VILLERS BOCAGE||57||25||SCHWARTZ||D1||42-109812||D||7V||23||UNKNOWN 016||MSN #2|
|11-Jun-44||BLOIS||62||26||OLLUM||L1||42-109812||D||7V||25||UNKNOWN 016||WING LEAD|
|17-Jun-44||GUYANCOURT||67||ABT||42-110184||--||J3||--||GWEN||COULD NOT CATCH FORM|
|20-Jun-44||OSTERMOOR||73||27||WILLIAMS||D1||44-40126||--||--||6||SPITTEN KITTEN / SKY TRAMP|
|24-Jun-44||CONCHES A/F||77||28||HENSLER||L1||42-95118||E||7V||5||ALFRED V||MSN #1|
|25-Jun-44||ST. OMER||80||29||HOGG||L1||42-95118||E||7V||6||ALFRED V|
|24-Jul-44||ST. LO AREA||97||32||FREEMAN||L2||42-95118||E||7V||12||ALFRED V|
|07-Aug-44||GHENT||107||ASSY||HENSON||L||41-28697||Z||Z5||A9||SPOTTED APE||ASSEMBLY CREW|
|16-Aug-44||MAGDEBURG||115||ASSY||LaROCHE||41-28697||Z||Z5||A11||SPOTTED APE||ASSEMBLY CREW|
B-24H-10-CF 41-29302 7V P Nokkish
June 11, 1944
General Orders Number 96
The 96th Combat Bomb Wing (H) is cited for outstanding performance of duty and gallantry in action against the enemy on a mission to enemy-occupied territory 11 June 1944.
On this occasion, the 96th Combat Bomb Wing (H) was ordered to destroy, regardless of cost, a railway bridge which was a vital communications link in enemy counter-invasion operations. The officers and men participating well knew that the importance of this bridge was such that there was every likelihood of encountering large numbers of hostile fighters and intense, accurate, heavy flak in the target area. Nevertheless, every officer and man in this Wing was so imbued with the determination to destroy the target that when clouds were encountered over the target area, the formation descended through the overcast, and proceeded as individuals and small units to bomb the target from the extremely dangerous altitude of 6500 feet. Bombing was accomplished with such conspicuous success that the bridge was destroyed and this key artery of the enemy communications system completely severed.
The courage, audacity, and determination displayed by the officers and men of the 96th Combat Bomb Wing (H) on this occasion and their complete disregard for the hazards of this dangerous undertaking are in the highest traditions of the service, and reflect the greatest credit upon themselves, their organization, and the United States Army Air Forces.
By command of Brigadier General HODGES.
Maj. Frederick O'Neill, Maj. John LaRoche, BGen Walter Peck, Unknown, Capt.John Ollum, 1Lt. Joseph McCollough
General Orders Number 118
JOHN L. OLLUM, 0-429105, Captain, Army Air Forces, United States Army. For extraordinary achievement while serving as Command Pilot of a B-24 Group on a bombing mission to occupied France, 11 June 1944. The target was a railway bridge which was a vital communication link in the enemy counter-invasion operations. When clouds were encountered, Captain Ollum led his formation to bomb the target from an extremely low and dangerous altitude. The courage and determination of Captain Ollum on this occasion resulted in the destruction of a difficult and important target, and reflect the greatest credit upon himself and the United States Army Air Forces. Entered military service from Minnesota.
JOSEPH C. MCCOLLOUGH, 0-681147, First Lieutenant, Army Air Forces, United States Army. For extraordinary achievement while serving as Lead Pilot of a B-24 aircraft on a bombing mission to occupied France. The target was a railway bridge which was a vital communication link in the enemy counter-invasion operations. When clouds were encountered, Lieutenant McCollough led his formation to bomb the target from an extremely low and dangerous altitude. The courage and determination of Lieutenant McCollough on this occasion reflect the greatest credit upon himself and the United States Army Air Forces. Entered military service from Mississippi.
IRVING R. BURTON, 0-674137, Captain, Army Air Forces, United States Army. For extraordinary achievement, while serving as Lead Navigator of a Heavy Bombardment Group on a bombing mission over enemy occupied territory. Captain Burton displayed superior ability in navigating through extensive cloud cover and breaking through at a dangerously low altitude so accurately that a successful bomb run was accomplished by the Bombardier, contributing to the destruction of a vital target. The skill and devotion to duty displayed by Captain Burton on this occasion reflect the greatest credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of the United States. Entered military service from New York.
JAMES C. SMITH, 0-670275, Captain, Army Air Forces, United States Army. For extraordinary achievement, while serving as Lead Bombardier of a B-24 Group on a bombing mission over enemy occupied territory. Bombing from an extremely low and dangerous altitude, Captain Smith dropped his bombs so successfully that the target was destroyed and a vital enemy communication link was severed. The skill and devotion to duty displayed by Captain Smith on this occasion reflect the greatest credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of the United States. Entered military service from Michigan.
Blois Bridge 2016
Bridge pilings as they appear today. Note what appears to be damage from bombs in the bottom two photos.
Courtesy: Philippe Canonne