458th Bombardment Group (H)

  Honoring those who served with the 458th BG during World War II

Abramowitz Crew - Mission #222 - April 9, 1945


Crew Photo not Available

Rank First Name MI Last Name Serial # Pos Date Status Notes
2Lt Leonard   Abramowitz  0708629 Pilot 09-Apr-45 POW Camp unknown
2Lt Joseph E Szalanski 0720964 Co-pilot 09-Apr-45 POW Camp unknown
2Lt John S Holodak 0703258 Navigator 09-Apr-45 POW Camp unknown
T/Sgt Bernard E Zeiler 33305530 Radio Operator 09-Apr-45 POW Camp unknown
T/Sgt John R Barillaro 31328041 Engineer 09-Apr-45 POW Camp unknown
Sgt Allen C Rupp 33935486 Nose Turret Gunner  09-Apr-45 KIA Lorraine American Cemetery 
S/Sgt Walter H Freeman 34892474 Waist Gunner 09-Apr-45 POW Camp unknown
S/Sgt Jack H Zimpleman 37668312 Waist Gunner 09-Apr-45 POW Camp unknown
S/Sgt Elmer F Grow 32759561 Tail Gunner 09-Apr-45 POW Camp unknown

On April 9, 1944 the 458th BG flew their 222nd mission to the airfield at Lechfeld, Germany.  On the bomb run, Final Approach, flown by 2Lt Leonard Abramowitz, "...suffered a direct flak hit on bomb run almost simultaneously with bomb release.  #2 Engine went on fire and A/C went into power dive in attempt to smother fire.  One ‘chute came out while in power glide, A/C circled to left then pilot seemed to lose control.  Three more ‘chutes came out.  A/C went into a dive, one more chute came out before A/C broke up at 10,000 feet."

 

All crew members except for nose gunner Sgt Allen Rupp managed to bail out in time.  According to the navigator, Lt John Holodak, he had just let Rupp out of the nose turret and the two were about to bail out when the plane blew up.  At least one of the crew believes that Rupp never made it out of his turret.  Holodak, Zeiler, and Freeman were wounded by flak, but received treatment on the ground and recovered.

 

The crew was rounded up and spent the final weeks of the war as prisoners of the Germans.  Which camp they were confined in is not certain, but two or more may have been at Stalag VIIa at Moosburg.

 

This crew is a bit different from other crews in the 458th.  The men that flew Final Approach on her 112th and final mission on April 9, 1945 to the airfield at Lechfeld, Germany came from several different crews.  They were together for this mission only.

 

2Lt Leonard Abramowitz was the pilot on this date.  He was assigned to the 753rd Squadron on December 10, 1944 as an individual replacement.  Records show that he came from AAF 147, Ketteringham Hall, the home of 2nd Air Division Headquarters and the 95th Combat Bombardment Wing.  He went on Rest Home Leave the same day, so it stands to reason that he saw combat flights while at his former base.  From December to March it is possible that Abramowitz flew his missions as a co-pilot.  He was transferred to the 752nd Squadron on January 11, and again went on Rest Home Leave on March 12, 1945. On April 6, 1945 he flew his first mission as an aircraft commander, and followed this up with missions on the 7th, 8th and on his final mission April 9th.

 

2Lt Joseph E. Szalanski was assigned to the 755th Squadron as the co-pilot on 2Lt Robert C. Hadden’s crew on September 15, 1944. Hadden’s crew began their combat tour on October 5th and were transferred to the 753rd Squadron on October 23rd.  Hadden completed his missions on April 7, 1945.  Szalanski was on his 34th mission on April 9th.

 

1Lt John S. Holodak had been with the group prior to October 1944. Records do not show the date he was assigned or with which crew he was on.  He went on Rest Home Leave on October 12th 1944 and was then transferred from the 755th Squadron to the 753rd with 2Lt Searcy Glass’ crew.  Exactly one month before being shot down, on March 9, 1944, Holodak flew as navigator with 1Lt Kendrick Ferriell.  The ship was Final Approach on her 100th mission.

 

Three of the crew came from 1Lt Paul M. Craven’s crew.  T/Sgt John Barrillaro, flight engineer, S/Sgt Walter H. Freeman, gunner, and S/Sgt Jack H. Zimpleman, gunner, were all assigned on September 21, 1944.  Craven completed his missions on April 7th.

 

Two crewmen, T/Sgt Bernard E. Zeiler, radio operator, and S/Sgt Elmer F. Grow, gunner, were ex-ground men with the group.  Zeiler was a radio mechanic and was reclassified as radio operator on August 20, 1944.  April 9th was his 35th and final mission.  Elmer Grow was an admin clerk in the 752nd Squadron and was reclassified as a gunner on July 21, 1944.  It is assumed that both of these men flew their missions with different crews as needed.

 

Sgt Allen C. Rupp had barely been with the group for one month.  He was assigned on March 1, 1945 with 2Lt William B. Smith’s crew.  Rupp was flying as substitute nose turret gunner on the April 9th mission.  He was the only man killed on the crew.


2Lt Leonard Abramowitz missions as first pilot

Abramowitz-Missions
Date  Target 458th Msn # Pilot Msn#  Serial RCL Sqdn A/C Msn#  A/C Name Comments
06-Apr-45 HALLE 219 1 42-51270 A 7V 35 MY BUNNIE II  
07-Apr-45 KRUMMEL 220 2 41-29340 N 7V 76 YANKEE BUZZ BOMB  
08-Apr-45 UNTERSCHLAUERSBACH 221 3 42-51514 B 7V 34 BIG CHIEF LIL' BEAVER  
09-Apr-45 LECHFELD 222 FTR 42-52457 Q 7V 113 FINAL APPROACH SHOT DOWN FLAK

1Lt John S. Holodak and Sgt Allen C. Rupp

(Photos: Mike Bailey and Craig Smith)

S/Sgt Elmer F. Grow, Waist Gunner

"This is a full account of what happened to the best of my knowledge.  A few seconds after bombs away at the target, flak hit our No. 2 engine.  We caught fire and were given orders to bail out.  The tail gunner and I went out the camera hatch.  The right waist [gunner] was last to leave but we never saw him again.  On hitting the ground, Wehrmacht troops captured me and took me to a nearby flak battery.  There I seen, pilot who had slight burns, and tail gunner who appeared OK.  That night we were moved to a town and locked up for the night.  There I seen co-pilot, navigator – wounded, radio operator – wounded.  The nose gunner and right waist gunner were not there and their whereabouts unknown observing from what the other members said.  The only one that may know something might be the Navigator, Holodak.  Although he was seriously wounded he may have been just about able to get out himself.  At no other time from then, at prison camp or any time after we were liberated have I seen or heard  of either of the two missing gunners."

B-24H-15-FO 42-52457  7V Q  Final Approach

Pictured here in June 1944
(Photo: Mike Bailey)

Taken from the strike camera of Top O' The Mark

(Photo: Rob Martyr)