Crew 28 - Assigned 753rd Squadron - October 14, 1943
Crew 28 - Completed Tour
|Capt||Samuel C Robeson||0745940||Pilot||01-Dec-44||CT||Appointed Assistant Ops Officer|
|1Lt||Waldo N Spangelo||0811258||Co-pilot||26-May-44||CT||Trsf from 753rd to 754th Sq w/6 EM|
|Capt||Gordon H Heiser||0811613||Navigator||Jan-45||CT||753rd Squadron Navigator|
|1Lt||John B Welch||0752912||Bombardier||13-Jun-44||CT||Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross|
|Pvt||Ira Melton||19165111||Airplane/Engine Mech||30-Jun-44||RECL||Reclassified - Clerk/Typist|
|T/Sgt||Joseph M Fleenor||34503893||Radio Operator||13-Jun-44||CT||Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross|
|S/Sgt||Paul G Wilson||16088405||Armorer-Gunner||Jul-44||CT||Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross|
|S/Sgt||Robert L King||33470563||Armorer-Gunner/E||13-Jun-44||CT||Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross|
|T/Sgt||Marvin M Morrow||18184884||Flight Engineer||13-Jun-44||CT||Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross|
|S/Sgt||Joe C Bowman||33525176||Armorer-Gunner||13-Jun-44||CT||Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross|
On March 2nd, the 458th flew their first credited mission. The target on this date was the marshaling yards at Frankfurt. Flying Ye Olde Hellgate, the Liberator that they picked up in California two month’s prior, Robeson was forced to turn back after crossing the enemy coast due to their #3 supercharger being inoperative making it impossible to keep up with the formation. The crew did receive sortie credit for this mission. German fighters were seen and, according to the combat form filled out at debriefing, some of the gunners got in a few bursts: “Two FW-190’s from 5 o’clock dived in and peeled off to right and continued until driven off by P-47. Three FW -190’s on left just hung there while two FW-190’s attack[ed] tail and swung toward left. All were driven of by the two P-47’s. Men fired at fighters, but none brought down.”
The crew completed nine missions in the month of March. It was also during March that Ira Melton left the crew. He is shown in subsequent Group records as a Private with his MOS as an Airplane & Engine Mechanic. While several of the crew were rated as flight engineers, it appears that Marvin Morrow may have stepped into that position, replacing Melton.
April was a busy month for this crew, flying on 14 of the group’s 16 missions, including two missions on April 27th. They were forced to abort three times (all due to mechanical difficulties), but were credited with 12 missions. The first abort occurred on the April 9th mission to Tutow, Germany. The crew was forced to turn back when “the #4 engine connecting rod was thrown through the crankcase due to an internal failure.” They received credit for this mission. The second abort came four days later on April 13th when the crew had to leave the formation because their “#2 supercharger flexible coupling connecting air duct and supercharger blew out due to high manifold pressure.”
The last abort the crew suffered in April was on the second mission of April 27th. This was the 458th’s first attempt at two missions on the same day, and Crew 28 took part in both. Robeson and crew flew a different 753rd ship on this date, a B-24H originally named Dream Boat, but which had recently acquired the ignoble title of Spare Parts. The first mission to the Bonnieres Constructional Works in France took place in the morning. All aircraft returned to base and most, but not all were reloaded with fuel and bombs and took off that afternoon for the marshaling yards at Blainville in France. Flying the same aircraft, Robeson was forced to abort due to another supercharger failure.
The crew finished out the month on a high note, however, as S/Sgt Marvin M. Morrow was credited with an enemy aircraft destroyed on the April 29th mission to Berlin.
May was the crew’s last month of flying and they completed their tour on May 31st after flying 11 missions, including a recall on the 10th and an abort on the 20th.
The crew was tied with a 752nd Squadron crew, that of Lt Jack K. Umphrey, in being the first crew(s) in the group to complete a combat tour. Both of these crews had started out in the 753rd Squadron, but were transferred at the end of May to make room for the ten AZON crews coming into the 753rd. Umphrey went to the 752nd and Robeson to the 754th. S/Sgt Robert L. King (Crew 28) was the first man in the group to get his 30 missions in.
Samuel Robeson was promoted to Captain in November 1944 and was appointed as the 753rd Squadron Assistant Operations Officer. He remained in this capacity for several months, finally leaving the group for the States on March 21, 1945.
Gordon Heiser also remained with the 753rd Squadron, becoming the Squadron Navigator. He was also promoted to Captain in February 1945 and left for the States on the same day as Sam Robeson.
|Date||Target||458th Msn||Pilot Msn||Serial||RCL||Sqdn||A/C Msn||A/C Name||Comments|
|24-Feb-44||DUTCH COAST||D1||--||41-28705||--||J4||D1||YE OLDE HELLGATE||Diversion Mission|
|02-Mar-44||FRANKFURT||1||1||41-28705||H||J4||1||YE OLDE HELLGATE|
|05-Mar-44||BORDEAUX/MERIGNAC||3||2||41-28705||H||J4||3||YE OLDE HELLGATE|
|06-Mar-44||BERLIN/ERKNER||4||3||41-28705||H||J4||4||YE OLDE HELLGATE|
|15-Mar-44||BRUNSWICK||7||4||41-28705||H||J4||6||YE OLDE HELLGATE|
|16-Mar-44||FRIEDRICHSHAFEN||8||5||41-28705||H||J4||7||YE OLDE HELLGATE|
|22-Mar-44||BERLIN||11||6||41-28705||H||J4||10||YE OLDE HELLGATE|
|24-Mar-44||ST. DIZIER||13||7||41-28705||H||J4||12||YE OLDE HELLGATE|
|26-Mar-44||BONNIERES||14||8||41-28705||H||J4||13||YE OLDE HELLGATE|
|27-Mar-44||BIARRITZ||15||9||41-28733||J4||8||RHAPSODY IN JUNK|
|05-Apr-44||ST. POL-SIRACOURT||16||10||41-28705||H||J4||14||YE OLDE HELLGATE|
|08-Apr-44||BRUNSWICK/WAGGUM||17||11||41-29276||T||J4||4||The ROTTEN SOCK|
|09-Apr-44||TUTOW A/F||18||12||41-28705||H||J4||--||YE OLDE HELLGATE||ABORT - SORTIE CREDIT|
|13-Apr-44||LECHFELD A/F||21||ABT||41-28705||H||J4||15||YE OLDE HELLGATE||#2 SUPER CHGR|
|18-Apr-44||BRANDENBURG||22||14||41-28705||H||J4||16||YE OLDE HELLGATE|
|19-Apr-44||PADERBORN A/F||23||15||41-28705||H||J4||17||YE OLDE HELLGATE|
|22-Apr-44||HAMM M/Y||25||16||41-28705||H||J4||18||YE OLDE HELLGATE|
|24-Apr-44||LEIPHEIM A/F||26||17||41-28705||H||J4||19||YE OLDE HELLGATE|
|25-Apr-44||MANNHEIM A/F||27||18||41-28705||H||J4||20||YE OLDE HELLGATE|
|26-Apr-44||PADERBORN A/F||28||19||41-28705||H||J4||21||YE OLDE HELLGATE|
|27-Apr-44||BONNIERES||29||20||41-28706||F||J4||13||DREAM BOAT/SPARE PARTS|
|27-Apr-44||BLAINVILLE-SUR-L'EAU||30||ABT||41-28706||F||J4||--||DREAM BOAT/SPARE PARTS||#1 SUPER CHGR|
|09-May-44||ST. TROND||38||22||41-28705||H||J4||26||YE OLDE HELLGATE|
|10-May-44||DIEPHOLZ||REC||--||41-29489||L||J4||--||UNKNOWN 014||RECALL BEFORE EC|
|11-May-44||EPINAL||39||23||41-28733||P||J4||25||RHAPSODY IN JUNK|
|19-May-44||BRUNSWICK||42||ABT||41-29276||T||J4||--||The ROTTEN SOCK||ELEC SYS OUT TURRETS|
|20-May-44||RHEIMS A/D||43||25||41-28705||H||J4||28||YE OLDE HELLGATE|
|21-May-44||SIRACOURT||44||26||41-28705||H||J4||29||YE OLDE HELLGATE|
|24-May-44||VILLEROCHE||46||28||42-95108||M||Z5||3||ENVY OF 'EM ALL II|
|30-May-44||ZWISCHENAHN A/F||51||29||42-95108||M||Z5||5||ENVY OF 'EM ALL II|
|31-May-44||BERTRIX||52||30||42-95108||M||Z5||6||ENVY OF 'EM ALL II|
|12-Aug-44||MOURMELON||111||OBSV||41-28721||G||J4||--||DOWNWIND LEG||Col ISBELL Observe A/C|
B-24H-10-DT 41-28705 J4 H Ye Olde Hellgate
Robeson's crew flew this aircraft on 21 of their 30 missions
Photo: George Reynolds
AZON Officer's Lunch - May 1944
Gordon Heiser (on left, looking over shoulder) and Sam Robeson (seated far right)
Photo: Max Dinges
Left: Sam Robeson and Gordon Heiser
(Photos: Anne Zimmer & Max Dinges)
Crew 28 & Crew 27 are First to Complete Combat Tour
NECK AND NECK
had been some speculation on just what crew or crews, would break the
tape first on their operational tour, but the final honors were bestowed
on LT. SAMUEL ROBESON of the 753rd Sq., and LT JACK UMPHREY of the
752nd Sq., and a number of their original crews who started as a team
back in the States.
However, the honor of being the first combat member of the group to finish first, went to S/Sgt Robert L. King. A member of Lt. Robeson’s crew. Sgt. King gained this honor by filling in as a spare gunner on another crew when his A/C was non-operational on one mission.
The groups’ first mission was flown on March 2, and in exactly 98 days, these two crews had completed 30 missions each over Germany and occupied territory, finishing their tours on 31 May 44. It is an undisputed fact, that those first missions during March and April were the toughest flown by the group, and, it is to the credit of the leadership shown by these officers, that not one of the men who flew with them were wounded in action though they had undergone some of the fiercest enemy fighter opposition and had taken all the flak Jerry could throw at them.
To add further laurels to those already bestowed on them, not once in 30 missions did Lt. Umphrey abort, and but three abortions mar Lt. Robeson’s record, and those for mechanical rather than personnel failures.
To tell of their experiences would take ages, but one cannot forget the morning of May 29. Lt. Umphrey took off this morning, but shortly after take-off his A/C developed a hydraulic leak and he was forced to return to base. He transferred with his crew to another A/C and taxied to the runway, only to be informed that the plane was not ready for operational flight. After taxiing back to the dispersal area, he transferred to a third liberator and took off one hour and forty minutes later than his formation, crossed the north sea alone, and caught up with a formation forty miles inside of Germany and proceeded to bomb the assigned target.
Then when “Pop” (as Lt. Robeson is known to his crew), brought the boys home on two engines after a deep penetration into Germany. “Pop” was forced to leave the formation after being hit by flak knocking out two engines. During the long solitary journey home, he was beset upon by a German fighter but managed to scare him off. The new co-pilot advised bailing out or landing in Switzerland, but “Pop” knew his plane and quietly said, “Stay put, I’ll get you back”, and his crew, knowing “Pop” always kept his word, worried no more.
Talking to these men, one does not gather an impression of boastfulness or bravery, they simply state “We had a job to do, we were trained for it, we knew how to do it, and we just did it”. How the hell can you lose with men like that?
The following named men head the roll of honor as the first combat members of the group to finish their tour with an outstanding record and an inspiration to those who follow.
753rd sq. 752nd sq.
1st Lt Samuel C. Robeson 1stLt Jack K. Umphrey
1st Lt George R. Heiser 2nd Lt James W. Bryan
1st Lt J. B. Welch 1st Lt Lawrence G. Shapiro
T/Sgt Joseph M. Fleenor S/Sgt Gus A. Sasinowski
S/Sgt Marvin M. Morrow S/Sgt Percel A. Koroleski
S/Sgt Joseph C. Bowman
S/Sgt Robert L. King
Excerpt from 753rd Squadron records