458th Bombardment Group (H)

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

Szarko Crew - Assigned 752nd Sqaudron - November 9, 1944

2Lt Joseph E. Szarko Crew (L-R)

Seated: Casimer Lenart - CP, Joseph Szarko - P, Vincent Schlipf - N, Jacques Victor - B
Standing: Michael Paolella - TG, Edward Herndon - RO, Raymond Zlotorzynski - NTG, Robert Dodgen - TT, Sterlin Parkinson - E, Paul Macy - BTG
(Photo: Mike Paolella)

Szarko Crew - Shot down February 22, 1945 (MACR #12659)

 Name

 Pos

 Status

 Date

Notes
 2Lt Joseph E. Szarko

 KIA 

22 Feb 1944

Direct Flak Hit
 2Lt Casimer P. Lenart

CP 

 KIA 

22 Feb 1944

Direct Flak Hit
 2Lt Vincent P. Schlipf

 KIA 

22 Feb 1944

Direct Flak Hit
 2Lt Jacques Victor

 FEH 

April 1945

Air Crew Leave
 S/Sgt Edward C. Herndon

RO 

 KIA 

22 Feb 1944

Direct Flak Hit
 S/Sgt Sterlin W. Parkinson

KIA

22 Feb 1944

Direct Flak Hit
 Sgt Raymond Zlotorzynski

NTG 

 KIA 

22 Feb 1944

Direct Flak Hit
 Sgt Robert M. Dodgen

TTG 

 KIA 

22 Feb 1944

Direct Flak Hit
 Sgt Paul L. Macy

BTG

 KIA 

22 Feb 1944

Direct Flak Hit
 Sgt Michael A. Paolella

TG 

 KIA 

22 Feb 1944

Direct Flak Hit

Lt. Szarko and crew were assigned to the 752nd Squadron in early November 1944.  They began flying missions one month later after their in-theater indoctrination period.  Their second mission on Christmas Eve was in part of the Eighth Air Force's "Maximum Effort" in which every flyable aircraft was put into the air.  The 458th put up 56 aircraft on this date, only three of which turned back.  The crew flew three consecutive missions to Magdeburg in February 1945.  Their last mission came on February 22, 1945 when, the formation flying low at 10,000 feet, Szarko's plane received a direct hit from flak, tearing off a wing.  All ten men aboard were killed.

Lt. Jacques Victor, bombardier on Szarko's crew, did not fly on February 22, 1945.  He had been transferred to the 755th Squadron on February 7th to become a lead bombardier.  The last time Lt. Victor is mentioned in group records he was sent on leave in mid-April, suggesting he was about half-way to completing a combat tour.  On this last mission, Szarko's crew carried an RCM (Radar CounterMeasures) Operator, S/Sgt George J. Douroumes, who had been assigned in September 1944 as a gunner on 2Lt Clyde D. Simpson's crew.  S/Sgt Douroumes had attended RCM school in November 1944 and had been flying with various crews, operating the radar countermeasures equipment.  Lt. Simpson and his crew were flying behind Lt. Szarko on February 22nd and witnessed their plane go down.

From Missing Air Crew Report #12659: "A/C was seen to suffer a direct flak hit between #3 & 4 engines.  The landing gear fell down, the right wing flew off, the A/C went into a spin and crashed in woods at approximately 5056-0947.  One 'chute was observed to open very close to the ground."


Szarko Crew Missions

DATE

 TARGET

PILOT

458th Msn #

Pilot Msn#

Cmd Pilot

LD

Serial

RCL

Sqdn

A/C Msn #

 A/C Name

MIA

Notes

22-Nov-1944

PRACTICE MISSION

SZARKO

--

--

 

 

42-100425

O

7V 

--

 THE BIRD

TAC 

TAXIING ACCIDENT

4-Dec-1944

 BEBRA

SZARKO

152

1

 

 

42-95179

X

7V

60

 HERE I GO AGAIN

 

 

24-Dec-1944

 SCHONECKEN

SZARKO

157

2

 

 

42-52457

Q

7V

72

 FINAL APPROACH

 

 

30-Dec-1944

 NEUWIED

SZARKO

161

3

 

 

42-100407

R

7V

60

LITTLE LAMBSEY DIVEY

 

 

1-Jan-1945

 KOBLENZ

SZARKO

163

4

 

 

42-51110

M

7V

58

 TOP O' THE MARK

 

 

8-Jan-1945

 STADTKYLL

SZARKO

167

5

 

 

42-95165

L

7V

56

 COOKIE

 

 

14-Jan-1945

 HALLENDORF

SZARKO

170

6

 

 

42-51561

G

7V

2

 LUCKY 13

 

 

17-Jan-1945

 HARBURG

SZARKO

172

7

 

 

42-51270

A

7V

1

 UNKNOWN 025

 

 

3-Feb-1945

 MAGDEBURG

SZARKO

177

8

 

 

42-52457

Q

7V

84

 FINAL APPROACH

 

 

6-Feb-1945

 MAGDEBURG

SZARKO

178

9

 

 

41-29352

K

7V

69

 WOLVE'S LAIR

 

 

15-Feb-1945

 MAGDEBURG

SZARKO

182

10

 

 

42-51110

M

7V

67

 TOP O' THE MARK

 

 

16-Feb-1945

 OSNABRUCK

SZARKO

183

MSHL

 

 

--

--

--

--

 

 

752ND MARSHALL

22-Feb-1945

PEINE-HILDESHEIM

SZARKO

186

11

 

 

42-51215

T

7V

25

 UNKNOWN 024

FTR

SHOT DOWN OVER GERMANY

                                                                                        Mission list compiled from 458th group records


B-24H-30-DT 42-51215 T

Szarko and crew were flying this ship when a direct flak burst took off their right wing.

(Photo: Mike Paolella)


B-24H-30-DT 42-51206 S THE PIED PIPER

752nd Squadron Records: "The operational history of [the] 752nd squadron operations for February was marred by the loss of one crew -- 2nd Lt. Joseph E. Szarko's. Nine regular members of his crew and one RCM Operator were lost on this mission, 22 February 1945. Most of the crew had about 10 missions to their credit. The RCM had 16. At the time Lt. Szarko's crew went MIA, the wing of his ship came off and tore the rudder off 1st Lt. Merlin E. Tebbs' ship. Lt. Tebbs, who was flying ship No. 42-51206, had much difficulty therefore in bringing the kite home, but home it came."  (Photo: Alice Burman)


S/Sgt George J. Douroumes

S/Sgt Douroumes was flying as an RCM Operator with Lt. Szarko's crew on February 22, 1945

(Photo: Rich Stumbo)


February 22, 1945

Major Charles H. Booth, 458th Bomb Group Operations Officer was leading the group to the marshalling yards at Peine-Hildesheim on February 22, 1945.  The following is a letter that he sent to one of his 755th Squadron comrades in April 2005.

I have sent you a copy of the “Command Pilot Condemnation” for our 22 February 1945 raid.  I want to thank you for your record of that mission.  It was a crazy mission!  From my point of view as the command pilot – the target was directly in front of us, the weather was perfect, and we probably would not have needed the bombsight to hit the target!  A B-17 group was coming from the right about 2,000 feet below us.  They were hitting the target and I could see rail cars flying into the air.  I was afraid that we may end up dropping bombs on the B-17’s.  All at once, someone over the radio said, “Bombs away!”  I could not believe it, because the target was still “dead ahead”.  I announced, “Hold all!”, but it was too late!  I called the bombardier on the interphone and asked, “What the hell happened?”  He had made a mistake and later at interrogation he took the blame.  It was too bad - a wasted mission and a costly one.  I agree with you, let’s get back to altitude!  We were actually at around 5,000 feet as I recall!