Nelson Crew - Assigned 754th Squadron - June 14, 1944
(Photo: Brent Nelson)
|1Lt||Wayne H Nelson||0684397||Pilot||Oct-44||CT||Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross|
|1Lt||Felix Massaro||0693809||Co-pilot||Nov-44||CT||Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross|
|2Lt||Earl Q Hagen||0747011||Navigator||12-Aug-44||UNK||Air Crew Leave|
|2Lt||Fred L Staub||0690870||Bombardier||07-Jul-44||KIA||Shot down w/Larson Crew|
|S/Sgt||William Steinecke||11085663||Radio Operator||Nov-44||CT||Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross|
|T/Sgt||Charles T Nally||12063850||Flight Engineer||Nov-44||CT||Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross|
|S/Sgt||Duncan L Fringer||6796904||Armorer-Gunner||Nov-44||CT||Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross|
|Sgt||Claude E Danner||38387680||Armorer-Gunner||14-Jun-44||UNK||Assigned|
|S/Sgt||Lewis K Larkin||17069985||Aerial Gunner||Nov-44||CT||Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross|
The Nelson Crew Sept. 1943 - Jan. 1945
The Wayne H. Nelson crew was formed in the fall of 1943 at Clovis, New Mexico. Assigned to the 302nd Bombardment Group, the crew completed its Phase I crew training in mid-October, whereupon it transferred to the 34th Bombardment Group at Blythe, California for Phase II crew training. The crew completed this phase of training in late December 1943. Much to the surprise of crew members, it was not sent overseas for combat assignment, but was deferred to Will Rogers Field in Oklahoma City for reconnaissance training. The crew was relieved to leave reconnaissance work in late January 1944; it returned to combat training at Langley Field where navigator Rex Blacker and bombardier Fred Staub received training in radar bombardment.
In mid-April 1944 the crew completed this training and flew the southern route to Italy. Initially assigned to the 450th Bombardment Group (Manduria, Italy) where pilot Nelson flew five or six combat missions with an experienced crew. The crew was then selected as an exchange crew with the 8th Air Force and left Italy in May 1944. Rex Blacker was reassigned to a unit in the 15th Air Force. Arriving in England around the 1st of June, the crew waited for its new assignment at the Replacement Depot for approximately 10 days, whereupon it was assigned to the 458th Bombardment Group, 754th Squadron in mid-June 1944. The crew flew its first mission with the 458th on June 23rd. On its June 28th mission, gunner C. Eugene Danner was seriously injured by flak; he was replaced with gunner Villers. On July 7th, bombardier Staub was alerted for a mission to fly as pilotage navigator with the deputy lead crew (2Lt Lincoln A. Larson) of the 754th Squadron. Larson's crew was shot down over Emden, Germany. Fred Staub's remains have never been recovered. Thus, the two crew members trained in radar bombardment techniques were lost to Nelson and the crew never used its training as a radar crew in combat. Bombardier William Cain flew with the crew for ten missions during July/August 1944. The crew flew without a bombardier for the remainder of their missions. Nelson's crew also participated in the mid-September Truckin' missions - hauling gas to Patton's 3rd Army in France.
Pilot Nelson completed his quota of missions on October 5th (Paderborn, Germany), whereupon co-pilot Massaro took command of the crew. The crew completed its combat tour of duty with the 458th on November 16th. Massaro's crew was then assigned to the 434th Troop Carrier unit where it served for much of the winter of 1944/45. Thereafter, the crew was disbanded and crew members returned to the United States.
The nine man crew pictured in front of Elmer only flew this aircraft on a combat mission, with this [crew] line-up, one time: September 11th. Bill Steinecke wrote to his fiancée that the picture was taken after a mission to Germany. Although he did not give the date of the photo or mission, the September 11th mission was to Magdeburg, Germany - consistent with what Steinecke reported. At this time, the crew consisted of:1 Lt. Wayne H. Nelson, pilot; 2 Lt. Felix Massaro, co-pilot; 2 Lt. Earl Q. Hagen, navigator; S/Sgt. Charles T. Nally, engineer/top turret; S/Sgt. William Steinecke Jr., radio operator; S/Sgt. Harlan E. Villers, waist; S/Sgt. Duncan L. Fringer, waist; S/Sgt Morris W. Lunn, tail gunner; Sgt. Louis J. Larkin, nose turret/bombardier.
The preceding history of the Nelson crew was contributed by Brent Nelson
Missions - 1Lt Wayne Nelson, Pilot
|Date||Target||458th Msn||Pilot Msn||Serial||RCL||Sqdn||A/C Msn||A/C Name||Comments|
|23-Jun-44||3 NO BALLS||76||1||41-28705||W||Z5||35||YE OLDE HELLGATE||TGT #7 BLAUGERMONT|
|25-Jun-44||ST. OMER||80||2||42-95116||V||Z5||15||JUNIOR||FLEW WITH 446TH|
|29-Jun-44||ASCHERSLEBEN||82||4||41-28705||W||Z5||37||YE OLDE HELLGATE|
|02-Jul-44||COUBRONNE||83||5||41-28705||W||Z5||38||YE OLDE HELLGATE|
|06-Jul-44||KIEL||85||ABT||42-95108||M||Z5||--||ENVY OF 'EM ALL II||#2 ENGINE|
|12-Jul-44||MUNICH||89||6||41-28705||W||Z5||39||YE OLDE HELLGATE|
|17-Jul-44||3 NO BALLS||92||8||42-100366||B||Z5||32||MIZPAH|
|18-Jul-44||TROARN||93||9||42-95108||M||Z5||24||ENVY OF 'EM ALL II|
|21-Jul-44||MUNICH||96||ABT||41-29276||G||Z5||--||URGIN VIRGIN/The ROTTEN SOCK||#4 ENG #5 CYL|
|24-Jul-44||ST. LO AREA||97||10||41-29305||N||Z5||31||I'LL BE BACK/HYPOCHONDRIAC|
|28-Jul-44||LEIPHEIM & CREEL||SCR||--||42-110070||E||Z5||--||ELMER||BRIEFED AND SCRUBBED|
|02-Aug-44||3 NO BALLS||101||13||41-28682||I||Z5||51||UNKNOWN 003|
|03-Aug-44||2 NO BALLS||102||14||42-100366||B||Z5||40||MIZPAH|
|04-Aug-44||ROSTOCK||103||15||41-29276||G||Z5||21||URGIN VIRGIN/The ROTTEN SOCK|
|24-Aug-44||HANNOVER||117||21||41-29305||N||Z5||36||I'LL BE BACK/HYPOCHONDRIAC|
|01-Sep-44||PFAFFENHOFFEN||ABN||--||44-40126||L||Z5||--||SPITTEN KITTEN / SKY TRAMP||ABANDONED|
|08-Sep-44||KARLSRUHE||123||23||41-29276||G||Z5||30||URGIN VIRGIN/The ROTTEN SOCK|
|18-Sep-44||HSF to CLASTRES||TR02||--||42-109805||J||44BG||T1||DUSTY'S DOUBLE TROUBLE||LOAD No. 1|
|23-Sep-44||HSF to ST DIZIER||TR07||--||41-28682||I||Z5||T4||NO NAME or NAME UNKNOWN||WW|
|27-Sep-44||HSF to LILLE||TR10||--||42-109805||J||44BG||T7||DUSTY'S DOUBLE TROUBLE||TRUCKIN' MISSION|
|28-Sep-44||HSF to LILLE||TR11||--||42-109805||J||44BG||T8||DUSTY'S DOUBLE TROUBLE||TRUCKIN' MISSION|
|29-Sep-44||HSF to LILLE||TR12||--||42-109805||J||44BG||T9||DUSTY'S DOUBLE TROUBLE||TRUCKIN' MISSION|
|30-Sep-44||HSF to LILLE||TR13||--||42-109805||J||44BG||T10||DUSTY'S DOUBLE TROUBLE||TRUCKIN' MISSION|
|19-Oct-44||MAINZ||136||ASSY||41-28697||Z||Z5||A22||SPOTTED APE||FIELDS PILOT|
Missions - 1Lt Felix Massaro, Pilot
|Date||Target||458th Msn||Pilot Msn||Serial||RCL||Sqdn||A/C Msn||A/C Name||Comments|
|19-Oct-44||MAINZ||136||2||44-40126||L||Z5||27||SPITTEN KITTEN / SKY TRAMP|
|30-Oct-44||HARBURG||139||3||42-95108||B||Z5||42||ENVY OF 'EM ALL II|
|04-Nov-44||MISBURG||141||5||42-51179||P||Z5||44||DUSTY'S DOUBLE TROUBLE|
|10-Nov-44||HANAU A/F||146||7||44-40298||E||Z5||12||THE SHACK|
2Lt Fred L. Staub
Will Rogers Field, Oklahoma City - January 1944
And in Europe...
Wayne Nelson, Felix Massaro and Fred Staub
on a hotel balcony, location unknown
Kneeling: Morris Lunn, Harlan Villers, Lewis Larkin
Public Relations Article - August 1944
S/Sgt Harlan E. Villers (photo at Left) of Warren, Ohio, Radio Operator and gunner on "Elmer", a B-24 Liberator heavy bomber, will remember the number "19" for a long time. While on his crew's "19th" mission over Germany and enemy occupied territory he narrowly missed being hit by a piece of flak with No. "19" stamped on it. His left leg escaped the missile by just one fraction of an inch. Exactly a year ago Sgt Villers was injured in the left leg by flak while in a B-17 over enemy territory. After recovering he was transferred to a Liberator group.
Sgt Villers is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Burl E. Villers, RFD #3, Warren, Ohio. His wife, Mrs. Grace Villers was in the personnel section of the Copper Weld Steel Co., Warren, Ohio. He was inducted into the Army 15 September 1942 and has been overseas since 16 July 1943.
Sgt Harlan E. Villers
Sgt Harlan Villers was originally assigned to the 385th Bombardment Group flying B-17's out of Great Ashfield. On August 15, 1943, Villers flew his ninth mission with the crew of 2Lt Jerome H. Mudge (above) to an airfield near Vitry en-Artois, France. It is not clear whether this was Villers' original crew, or if he was a fill in with them on this mission. He was wounded by flak, and while the extent and nature of his injuries are unknown, he was hospitalized and underwent a period of convalescence from August 1943 to May 1944. On June 9th he was assigned to Horsham St Faith and placed on flight status a week later. When Clyde Danner was wounded later that same month, Villers took his place as a permanent member of Nelson's crew. He completed his combat tour in November 1944 and was awarded the DFC (below).