458th Bombardment Group (H)

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

Matze Crew - Assigned 753rd Squadron - 26 May 1944

Standing: Gerry Matze - P, Arthur Smith - N, Charles Bullard - B, Mel Fields - CP, Clarence Ferris - E
Kneeling: Mike Agresta - RO, Sgt Ackerman - G, Sgt Peyran - TG, Sgt Paglia - WG, Sgt Leoguomiglio - 2E/WG
 
(Photo: Tom Bullard)

Completed Tour

MatzeCrew
 Rank  Name  Serial #  Pos Date Status  Comments
Capt Gerald W Matze 01030397 Pilot Mar-45 CT Trsf to 70RD for return to ZI
Capt Melvin E Fields 0434477 Co-pilot Jan-45 CT Trsf to 70RD for return to ZI
1Lt Arthur L Smith 0702499 Navigator Jan-45 CT Trsf to 70RD for return to ZI
1Lt Charles W Bullard 0702008 Bombardier Feb-45 CT Trsf to 70RD for return to ZI
T/Sgt Michael P Agresta 15130548 Radio Operator Mar-45 CT Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross 
T/Sgt Clarence W Ferris 39121515 Flight Engineer Mar-45 CT Trsf to 70RD for return to ZI
S/Sgt Albert J Pizzica 33367497 Armorer-Gunner  Mar-45 CT Trsf to 70RD for return to ZI
S/Sgt Adolph Janowski 38454789 Flight Engineer Mar-45 CT Trsf to 70RD for return to ZI
S/Sgt Karl E VanKuran, Jr  39255592 Aerial Gunner Mar-45 CT Trsf to 70RD for return to ZI
S/Sgt James P Keel 34649926 Aerial Gunner Mar-45 CT Trsf to 70RD for return to ZI

Gerald Matze and crew were one of ten specially trained AZON crews who were assigned to the 458th in the spring of 1944.  Originally intended for duty in the China-Burma-India (CBI) Theater, their orders were changed en route and they flew to England instead.

The four officers, flight engineer and radio operator that had trained together arrived in England in May 1944, along with Corporal Eddie E. Lamb, an Electronics Technician assigned to keep the AZON equipment in good working order.   The four gunners, not on board the AZON aircraft en route to the combat zone, continued on to the CBI, being replaced by four different gunners once the crew arrived in England.


The Matze crew flew a specially modified B-24J 44-40277 Miss Used over from the States.


According to available records, the Matze crew flew seven AZON missions, three in June, three in August and one in September, just prior to the project being abandoned.  In between that time they flew a number of non-AZON missions with the 753rd.  The crew must have excelled at their job, for on October 23rd, when the 755th Squadron became the group's lead crew squadron, Matze and crew were transferred to be a lead.  After training the month of October, they flew the remainder of their missions between November 1944 - February 1945. 


Two additional navigators also joined the crew at this time. 1Lt Wilbur D. King, Radar Navigator, joined the 458th as an individual replacement in mid-October 1944, and 1Lt William J Weiland, Dead Reckoning (DR) Navigator, joined the group on May 8, 1944, also as an individual replacement.  Records show that Weiland completed his tour in February 1945, and while King is known to have flown the group's last mission on April 25, 1945, it is not known whether or not he completed a full complement of combat missions.


Mel Fields, co-pilot, is listed on formation plans as a first pilot on one of the final AZON missions on September 1, 1944.  When pilot 2Lt Patrick McCormick (AZON 06) was wounded on August 6th, Fields took over as pilot for this crew.  After the Matze crew was transferred to the 755th, Fields remained in the 753rd Squadron and flew the remainder of his missions there.  The co-pilot position on Matze's crew in the 755th was filled by various command pilots.


Gerald Matze Missions as 1st Pilot

MatzeMissions
Date  Target 458th Msn Pilot Msn  Cmd Pilot Ld  Serial RCL Sqdn A/C Msn  A/C Name  Comments
14-Jun-44 5 TARGETS AZ06 1     44-40277 P J4 3 MISS USED  
15-Jun-44 3 RAILWAY BRIDGES AZ07 2     44-40277 P J4 4 MISS USED  
22-Jun-44 Saumer/Tours - Bridges AZ09 3     44-40277 P J4 5 MISS USED  
05-Jul-44 LE COULET, BEL A/F 84 4     42-95316 N J3 25 PRINCESS PAT  
13-Jul-44 SAARBRUCKEN 90 ABT     41-29340 N 7V -- YANKEE BUZZ BOMB #2 SUPER CHG
18-Jul-44 TROARN 93 5     42-52457 Q 7V 41 FINAL APPROACH  
19-Jul-44 KEMPTEN 94 6     41-28709 I 7V 25 LUCKY STRIKE  
20-Jul-44 EISENACH 95 7     44-40134 R J4 3 UNKNOWN 039  
24-Jul-44 ST. LO AREA 97 8     44-40281 Q J4 7 A DOG'S LIFE  
25-Jul-44 ST. LO AREA "B" 98 9     44-40134 L J4 6 UNKNOWN 039
01-Aug-44 T.O.s FRANCE 100 10     44-40264 K J4 6 KISS ME BABY  
03-Aug-44 2 NO BALLS 102 11     44-40264 K J4 7 KISS ME BABY  
05-Aug-44 BRUNSWICK/WAGGUM  105 12     44-40264 K J4 9 KISS ME BABY  
15-Aug-44 VECHTA 114 13     44-40264 K J4 10 KISS ME BABY  
17-Aug-44 LE FOULONS RR Bridge AZ11 14     44-40264 K J4 11 KISS ME BABY 10/10 CLOUD-NO DROP 
18-Aug-44 WOIPPY 116 15     44-40264 K J4 12 KISS ME BABY  
25-Aug-44 MOERDIJK, NETH AZ12 16     42-100408 D J4 29 BEASTFACE SMITH, AL 2Lt (Nav)
26-Aug-44 MOERDIJK, NETH AZ13 17 GRIFFITH   42-50499 U J3 9 COOKIE/OPEN POST NO DROP
01-Sep-44 RAVENSTEIN, HOL AZ14 18 HENSLER   44-40264 K J4 14 KISS ME BABY  
05-Sep-44 KARLSRUHE 122 19 GORRELL L2 44-40264 K J4 15 KISS ME BABY  
28-Sep-44 HORSHAM to LILLE TR11 --     41-28714 G 489BG T4 389BG A/C TRUCKIN' MISSION
06-Oct-44 WENZENDORF 129 20     44-40275 L J4 16 SHACK TIME  
04-Nov-44 MISBURG 141 21 DARELIUS D1 42-95554 E+ J3 4 UNKNOWN 050  
08-Nov-44 RHEINE 144 22 BETZOLD L 42-51939 G+ J3 5 UNKNOWN 028  
25-Nov-44 BINGEN 149 23 DARELIUS L1 42-50954 A+ J3 7 UNKNOWN 021  
27-Dec-44 NEUNKIRCHEN 159 24 BETZOLD L2 42-95610 D J3 9 UNKNOWN 037  
31-Dec-44 KOBLENZ 162 25 BETZOLD L2 42-51743 F J3 5 UNKNOWN 006  
14-Jan-45 HALLENDORF 170 26 BREEDING D1 42-51743 F J3 6 UNKNOWN 006  
17-Jan-45 HARBURG 172 MSHL     -- -- -- --   MARSHALLING CHF
21-Jan-45 HEILBRONN 173 27 QUINN D1 42-51743 F J3 7 UNKNOWN 006  
28-Jan-45 DORTMUND 174 MSHL     -- -- -- --   MARSHALLING CHF
19-Feb-45 MESCHADE 184 28 BLACK L 42-95557 H J3 23 LADY PEACE  
21-Feb-45 NUREMBERG 185 MSHL     -- -- -- --   MARSHALLING CHF
26-Feb-45 BERLIN 190 29     42-95628 K J3 14 UNKNOWN 038


Summer 1944

Standing: Gerry Matze, Art Smith, Chuck Bullard, Mel Fields
Middle: "Pop" Ferris, Karl Van Kuran, Mike Agresta, "Tex" Janowski
Front: Jim Keel, Al Pizzaca

(Photo: Tom Bullard)

B-24JAZ-155-CO  44-40277  J4 P  Miss Used

Matze and crew trained on this aircraft in the States, but only flew it on four of their combined 43 missions

(Photos: Mike Bailey & Tom Bullard)

Mel Fields Missions as 1st pilot

FieldsMissions
Date  Target 458th Msn Pilot Msn  Serial RCL Sqdn A/C Msn  A/C Name  Comments
01-Sep-44 RAVENSTEIN, HOLLAND AZ14 1 44-40288 S J4 22 BAD GIRL  
18-Sep-44 HORSHAM to CLASTRES TR02 -- 41-28705 X J4 T1 YE OLDE HELLGATE CARGO
19-Sep-44 HORSHAM to CLASTRES  TR03 -- 702     T1 NOT 458TH SHIP ON LOAN FOR TRUCKIN' 
23-Sep-44 HORSHAM to ST DIZIER TR07 -- 42-110063 B 389BG  T1 NOT 458TH SHIP BESTEN CROSSED OUT
25-Sep-44 HORSHAM to LILLE TR08-2 -- 41-29352 K 752 T4 WOLVES LAIR 2ND FLIGHT - CARGO
26-Sep-44 HORSHAM to LILLE TR09 -- 42-28739 D 389BG  T3 NOT 458TH SHIP TRUCKIN' MISSION
28-Sep-44 HORSHAM to LILLE TR11 -- 803   389BG T5 42-40803 P B-24D? ON LOAN FOR TRUCKIN'
30-Sep-44 HORSHAM to LILLE TR13 -- 41-28714 G 389BG T7 CYCLONE TRUCKIN' MISSION
03-Oct-44 GAGGENAU 127 2 44-40287 J J4 16 BACHELOR'S BEDLAM   
07-Oct-44 MAGDEBURG 130 3 44-40277 P J4 13 MISS USED  
15-Oct-44 MONHEIM 134 4 41-28980 V J4 5 UNKNOWN 009  
17-Oct-44 COLOGNE 135 5 44-40287 J J4 17 BACHELOR'S BEDLAM  
19-Oct-44 MAINZ 136 ASSY 41-28697 Z Z5 A22 SPOTTED APE ASSEMBLY SHIP
22-Oct-44 HAMM 137 6 44-40287 J J4 19 BACHELOR'S BEDLAM  
26-Oct-44 MINDEN 138 7 44-40287 J J4 20 BACHELOR'S BEDLAM  
04-Nov-44 MISBURG 141 8 44-40287 J J4 21 BACHELOR'S BEDLAM  
06-Nov-44 MINDEN 143 9 44-40287 J J4 22 BACHELOR'S BEDLAM  
09-Nov-44 METZ AREA 145 ABT 44-40287 J J4 -- BACHELOR'S BEDLAM #4 ENG FAILURE
10-Nov-44 HANAU A/F 146 10 44-40273 T J4 34 HOWLING BANSHEE  
21-Nov-44 HARBURG 148 11 41-28980 V J4 11 UNKNOWN 009  
26-Nov-44 BIELEFELD 150 12 44-40287 J J4 25 BACHELOR’S BEDLAM  
11-Dec-44 HANAU 155 13 44-40287 J J4 26 BACHELOR'S BEDLAM  
18-Dec-44 KOBLENZ REC -- 44-40134 R J4 -- UNKNOWN 039 RECALL DUTCH ISLE
24-Dec-44 SCHONECKEN 157 14 44-40287 J J4 28 BACHELOR'S BEDLAM  


755th Squadron Lead Crew - January 1945

Standing: Bill Weiland - DR Nav, Art Smith Pilotage Nav, Gerry Matze, Chuck Bullard, Wilbur King - Radar Nav
Kneeling: Al Pizzica, Jim Keel, "Tex" Janowski, Mike Agresta, Karl Van Kuran, "Pop" Ferris

(Photo: Tom Bullard)

A little R&R...

Bill Weiland, Chuck Bullard, and Wilbur King enjoy a break during their combat tour

(Photo: Tom Bullard)

Brothers Meet After 3 Years

1Lt Charles W. Bullard - Bombardier
Chuck and Herb Bullard

Reunion at Home After Long Overseas Service.
Two of the sons of Mr. and Mrs. C. E. Bullard, Route 1, Gobles, S/Sgt Hubert Bullard, and Lt. Charles Bullard, recently met at home for the first time in three years.  Sgt. Bullard spent a 60-day furlough at home after which he was ordered to San Antonio, Tex.  He has been stationed with the Ninth, 12th, and 15th Air Forces respectively, having seen action in North Africa, Tunisia, Sicily, and Italy during the last 29 months.  He wears four battle stars on his ETO ribbon.

Lt. Bullard was stationed with the Eighth Air Force in England for the last 11 months.  He flew 30 missions during which he participated in the D-Day invasion last June.  He wears the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters and four battle stars on his ETO ribbon. Following his 21-day leave here, he will report to Big Springs, Tex., where he expects to be assigned to a primary school for training pilots.

Both brothers are graduates of State High School.  Sgt. Bullard was employed by General Motors Corporation in Detroit and Lt. Bullard worked for the Atlas Press Company here before joining the service.


Another brother, Pfc. Duane Bullard, is stationed in the Hawaiian Islands.


(Photos & News Article courtesy Tom Bullard)