458th Bombardment Group (H)

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

Tracy Crew - Assigned 753rd Squadron - May 26, 1944

Standing: John Tracy - P, Edgar Huff - CP, Ben Costello - N, James "Buzz" Busby - B
Kneeling: Bill Case - Arm/G, Albert Cramlett - G, Truman Hagen - G, Melvin Keim - G, James Loyd - E.
(Not pictured: Arthur Albert - RO)

(Photo: William Case)

Completed Tour

TracyCrew
 Rank  Name  Serial #  Pos Date Status  Comments
1Lt John T Tracy T122879 Pilot Jan-45 CT Trsf to 70RD - Completed Tour
1Lt Edgar J Huff T2008 Co-pilot 30-Dec-44 CT DS to 56FG AAF Sta F-150
1Lt James N Busby T123701 Bombardier Jan-45 CT Trsf to 70RD - Completed Tour
1Lt Benny L Costello T123570 Navigator Jan-45 CT Trsf to 70RD - Completed Tour
T/Sgt Arthur A Albert 36736301 Radio Operator 26-Nov-44 CT Mission Load List 
T/Sgt James T Loyd 18194868 Flight Engineer Jan-45 CT Trsf to 70RD - Completed Tour
S/Sgt William L Case 37671775 Armorer-Gunner  Jan-45 CT Trsf to 70RD - Completed Tour
S/Sgt Melvin K Keim 33619272 Aerial Gunner Jan-45 CT Trsf to 70RD - Completed Tour
S/Sgt Albert C Cramlett, Jr  17161892 Flight Engineer Jan-45 CT Trsf to 70RD - Completed Tour
S/Sgt Truman O Hagen 37291210 Aerial Gunner Jan-45 CT Trsf to 70RD - Completed Tour

John Tracy 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 Pfc James E. Wright, an Electronics Technician assigned to keep the AZON equipment in good working order.   The four gunners, not onboard 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 specially modified B-24J that Tracy's crew flew over from the States was 44-40283, Lassie Come Home.


Tracy and most of his crew completed their tour of missions on Christmas Day 1944 and were returned to the States in January 1945.  While T/Sgt Arthur Albert is not listed in the group records with the rest of the crew as receiving the Distinguished Flying Cross in December, he is pictured with several enlisted men at the awards ceremony wearing the award.


On October 23, 1944, navigator 1Lt Benny Costello was transferred to the 755th Squadron as lead navigator as part of 1Lt Robert Morford crews.   Costello went on to complete his tour and was rotated back to the States in January 1945, the same time as his old crew in the 753rd.


1Lt Edgar J. Huff, co-pilot, qualified for first pilot in December 1944 and flew his final five missions from the left-hand seat.  He was transferred to the 61st Fighter Squadron 56th Fighter Group on December 30, 1944 only three days after his last mission as a bomber pilot.  He flew P-47's in the 56th, it is believed, until the war's end.


John Tracy Missions as 1st Pilot

TracyMissions
Date  Target 458th Msn Pilot Msn  Serial RCL Sqdn A/C Msn  A/C Name  Comments
08-Jun-44 UNSPECIFIED TARGETS AZ04 -- 44-40283 I J4 -- LASSIE COME HOME ABANDONED - WEATHER 
14-Jun-44 5 TARGETS AZ06 1 44-40283 I J4 1 LASSIE COME HOME  
15-Jun-44 3 RAILWAY BRIDGES AZ07 2 44-40283 I J4 2 LASSIE COME HOME  
22-Jun-44 Saumer/Tours - Bridges AZ09 3 44-40283 I J4 3 LASSIE COME HOME  
24-Jun-44 ST OMER 78 ABT 42-51097 T J3 -- UNKNOWN 022 MSN #2
29-Jun-44 ASCHERSLEBEN 82 4 41-29352 K 7V 33 WOLVE'S LAIR  
05-Jul-44 LE COULET, BEL A/F 84 ABT 41-28719 Q J3 -- PADDLEFOOT #2 ENG LOST OIL PRES
11-Jul-44 MUNICH 88 5 42-110163 M J4 6 TIME'S A WASTIN  
16-Jul-44 SAARBRUCKEN 91 ABT 41-28709 I 7V -- LUCKY STRIKE #2 SUPER CHGR
17-Jul-44 3 NO BALLS 92 6 -- -- -- --   SERIAL NOT LISTED
18-Jul-44 TROARN 93 7 42-100431 B J4 27 BOMB-AH-DEAR  
19-Jul-44 KEMPTEN 94 8 42-50314 L 7V 36 ETO PLAYHOUSE  
31-Jul-44 LUDWIGSHAFEN 99 9 44-40285 H J4 17 TABLE STUFF  
01-Aug-44 T.O.s FRANCE 100 10 44-40285 H J4 18 TABLE STUFF  
03-Aug-44 2 NO BALLS 102 11 44-40285 H J4 20 TABLE STUFF  
04-Aug-44 ROSTOCK 103 12 44-40285 H J4 21 TABLE STUFF  
05-Aug-44 BRUNSWICK/WAGGUM 105 13 44-40285 H J4 22 TABLE STUFF  
07-Aug-44 GHENT 107 14 44-40285 H J4 24 TABLE STUFF  
09-Aug-44 SAARBRUCKEN 109 15 44-40285 H J4 26 TABLE STUFF  
14-Aug-44 DOLE/TAVAUX 113 16 44-40285 H J4 28 TABLE STUFF  
18-Aug-44 WOIPPY 116 17 44-40285 H J4 30 TABLE STUFF  
24-Aug-44 HANNOVER 117 18 44-40285 H J4 31 TABLE STUFF  
25-Aug-44 MOERDIJK, NETH AZ12 19 42-110141 N J4 17 BREEZY LADY / MARIE / SUPERMAN  LONG, G F/O (Nav)
26-Aug-44 MOERDIJK, NETH AZ13 NTO UNK -- -- -- -- ON BRIEFING SHEET
01-Sep-44 RAVENSTEIN, HOL AZ14 20 42-100431 B J4 39 BOMB-AH-DEAR  
18-Sep-44 HORSHAM to CLASTRES  TR02 -- 44-40475 D J3 T1 JOLLY ROGER LEAD
19-Sep-44 HORSHAM to CLASTRES TR03 -- 41-28719 Q J3 T2 PADDLEFOOT  
23-Sep-44 HORSHAM to ST DIZIER TR07 -- 42-52698 W 489BG T5 THE BABY DOLL TRUCKIN' MISSION
26-Sep-44 HORSHAM to CLASTRES TR09 -- 41-28705 W 753 T5 YE OLDE HELLGATE CLASTRES
27-Sep-44 HORSHAM to LILLE TR10 -- 803 P  389BG T4 42-40803 P B-24D? ON LOAN FOR TRUCKIN'
29-Sep-44 HORSHAM to LILLE TR12 -- 41-29303 H 752 T10 LIBERTY LIB TOO DARK TO LAND
05-Oct-44 PADERBORN 128 21 44-40285 H J4 36 TABLE STUFF  
07-Oct-44 MAGDEBURG 130 22 44-40283 I J4 6 LASSIE COME HOME  
14-Oct-44 COLOGNE 133 ABT 44-40283 I J4 9 LASSIE COME HOME RADIO MALFUNCTION 
15-Oct-44 MONHEIM 134 23 44-40283 I J4 10 LASSIE COME HOME  
19-Oct-44 MAINZ 136 24 44-40287 J J4 18 BACHELOR'S BEDLAM  
30-Oct-44 HARBURG 139 ASSY 41-28697 Z Z5 A25 SPOTTED APE ASSEMBLY CREW
02-Nov-44 BIELEFELD 140 25 44-40283 I J4 13 LASSIE COME HOME  
05-Nov-44 KARLSRUHE 142 26 44-40283 I J4 15 LASSIE COME HOME  
08-Nov-44 RHEINE 144 27 44-40283 I J4 17 LASSIE COME HOME  
10-Nov-44 HANAU A/F 146 28 44-40283 I J4 19 LASSIE COME HOME  
25-Nov-44 BINGEN 149 29 44-40283 I J4 21 LASSIE COME HOME  
30-Nov-44 HOMBURG 151 30 -- -- -- --   Sqdn Rec's
12-Dec-44 HANAU 156 31 44-40283 I J4 24 LASSIE COME HOME  
18-Dec-44 KOBLENZ REC -- 44-40283 I J4 -- LASSIE COME HOME RECALL DUTCH ISLE
24-Dec-44 SCHONECKEN 157 32 44-40283 I J4 25 LASSIE COME HOME
25-Dec-44 PRONSFELD 158 33 44-40283 I J4 26 LASSIE COME HOME


B-24J-155-CO 44-40283  J4 I Lassie Come Home

Lassie Come Home crashed close to base on January 14, 1945 with the Diehl Crew


1Lt Edgar Huff missions as first pilot

HuffMissions
Date  Target  Pilot 458th Msn Pilot Msn  Serial RCL Sqdn A/C Msn  A/C Name  Comments
12-Dec-44 HANAU HUFF 156 1 44-40285 H J4 46 TABLE STUFF  
18-Dec-44 KOBLENZ HUFF REC -- 44-40285 H J4 -- TABLE STUFF RECALL DUTCH ISLE
24-Dec-44 SCHONECKEN HUFF 157 2 44-40134 R J4 35 UNKNOWN 039  
25-Dec-44 PRONSFELD HUFF 158 3 44-40118 S J4 21 WE'LL GET BY  
27-Dec-44 NEUNKIRCHEN HUFF 159 4 44-40118 S J4 22 WE'LL GET BY


Distinguished Flying Cross

John Tracy

Edgar Huff
Bill Case, Mel Keim, Al Cramlett and Art Albert

Lt Edgar Huff - 56th Fighter Group

Pilots of 63rd Fighter Squadron Jan/Feb 1945. (From L-R) Top Row: Willard C Scherz, Alfred M Bolender, Jay P Green, John W
Crosthwait, James C Naylor, Pershing B Trumble, Edgar J Huff, Thomas B Hennessy, Russell W Campbell, Eugene W Andermatt
Bottom Row: Vernon A Smith, Carl J Bokina, John A Arnold, Emmett S Barrentine, Thomas W Smith Jr., William R Hoffman, Ro
William M Woods, (Flight Surgeon), Thomas W Queen Jr., Paul C Dawson, John C Fahringer, Nathan S Neu, (Supply).

(Photo & Caption: www.littlefriends.co.uk)

Pictured here with his P-47 Lookin' Fer Trouble, Lt Huff was with the 63FS from January 1945 to July 1945. 

He flew 9 missions and had 1 ground victory with 2 damaged on the ground.


Edgar Huff's great-nephew, Michael Howk sent the following:
He wrote a letter home to his father and to Freda [his wife], explaining his choice to stay and be in the Fighter Squadron. I assume it is his thoughts and not a form letter of sorts. The copy I have has no date but it has to be just after Christmas, 1944. Direct quote as follows:

"Should I not return to the United States, I hope that Dad, Freda, and all realize and know that I died for them - and willingly - with the hope that their lives may continue in the American Way. I never want them to regret or mourn, but to make life pleasant, to enjoy love for me, to remember only a big grin and a sense of humor that cannot be conquered - which will bring a smile or a laugh when things are all wrong and sad. May each sad, and blue, and discouraging moment be put to flight by a smile.

"Let all your lives be like a beautiful P-47 high above all else - untouchable -, swift sure and beautiful. Live life for me - not sad, but smile and laugh. I'll not be gone forever, but let me fly back to your hearts and make you glad. My love of flying takes me to a world of peace and contentment. Sunshine reflected from the clouds below, the air is so clear like sparkling wine. I'll ride on a cloud and my heart is filled with joy known only to a pilot who flies "HIGH COVER". I know and feel that a pilot never dies, when he leaves worldly things behind in what you term as "DEATH", he merely becomes invisible to you and as he crashes, invisible he pulls out, and flies on and up to breathless heights where God is the new "C.O.". A good pilot flies forever if his heart is in the sky - MINE IS."


(Photo: www.56thfightergroup.co.uk)