458th Bombardment Group (H)

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

Bowers Crew - Assigned 753rd Squadron - August 10, 1944

Standing, left: Hage Barnard - B (Allen Crew); Kneeling, 2nd from right: John Haines - G

If you can identify anyone on this crew, please contact me.
(Photo: Coleen Pitman)

Completed Tour

 Rank  Name  Serial #  Pos Date Status  Comments
Capt Waldo Bowers 0705299 Pilot Apr-45 CT Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross
2Lt William C Meyers, Jr  0771500 Co-pilot 23-Oct-44 UNK Oct44 Trsfr to 755th Sqdn
1Lt Robert F Allen 0718988 Navigator Apr-45 CT Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross 
1Lt Thomas S Hackman 0773352 Bombardier 18-Mar-45 CT Last Mission - Berlin
T/Sgt Paul J Maurer 36822141 Radio Operator Apr-45 CT Trsf to 70 RD for return to ZI
T/Sgt John L Petrovsky 33668950 Flight Engineer 27-Mar-45 UNK TD to 492d Bomb Grp 9 weeks
S/Sgt Joseph C Pfaff 6571293 Armorer-Gunner 12-Dec-44 UNK Reclassified to Radar Obs (866)
Sgt George A Bedard 31423534 Aerial Gunner 22-Mar-45 UNK Promoted to Sgt
S/Sgt John A Haines 32755921 Armorer-Gunner  21-Jan-45 UNK Promoted to S/Sgt
S/Sgt Melvin E VanSky 3673511 Aerial Gunner 21-Jan-45 UNK Promoted to S/Sgt

Lt Waldo Bowers and crew were assigned to the 753rd Squadron in mid-summer 1944.  Their first mission on August 24th did not go well as the were forced to abort due to a gas leak in the bomb bay.  This would be the only time that the crew would abort from an operational mission.  They flew one AZON mission towards the end of that program, and then participated in the Truckin' missions, hauling gasoline to Gen Patton's Army in France.

On October 23, 1944 the 458th assigned lead crews to the 755th Squadron.  All lead crews were moved into the 755th, and those non-lead (wing) crews in the 755th were transferred into the other three squadrons.  Bowers and crew were chosen to be a lead crew, however would not fly their first lead mission until the end of the year.  As a lead crew they required additional crew members in the form of two extra navigators and a command pilot.  While the Command Pilot would vary on most missions, the navigators usually became a part of the crew, however records show both Lt Richard I. Morrison from the crew of 1Lt Lester J. Skidmore, and Lt George Kovaka from the Capt Robert W.Hansen crew, flying with Bowers at different times.

The crew flew only lead missions in 1945, either as Deputy Lead or leading the group or one of the squadrons.  On three separate occasions the Bowers crew received a 458th Group "Lead Crew Commendation" certificate for their efforts on a mission. 

While group records do not indicate as much, it is most likely that the crew completed their combat tour in March or April 1945.


Date  Target 458th Msn Pilot Msn  Cmd Pilot Ld  Serial RCL Sqdn A/C Msn  A/C Name  Comments
25-Aug-44 TERTRE 119 1     44-40287 J J4 13 BACHELOR'S BEDLAM  
27-Aug-44 FINOW 121 2     41-29288 L J3 47 BIG-TIME OPERATOR MISSION CREDIT IN NOV
01-Sep-44 RAVENSTEIN, HOLLAND AZ14 3     42-110141 U J4 18 BREEZY LADY / MARIE / SUPERMAN  
21-Sep-44 HORSHAM to LILLE TR05 --     41-28705 X J4 T2 YE OLDE HELLGATE CARGO
25-Sep-44 HORSHAM to LILLE TR08-2 --     42-7629 A 755 T5 NOT 458TH SHIP 2ND FLIGHT
26-Sep-44 HORSHAM to LILLE TR09 --     41-28721 G 753 T7 DOWNWIND-LEG TRUCKIN' MISSION
28-Sep-44 HORSHAM to LILLE TR11 --     42-28739 D   T6 NOT 458TH SHIP - HETHEL TRUCKIN' MISSION
29-Sep-44 HORSHAM to LILLE TR12 --     42-28739 D   T7 NOT 458TH SHIP - HETHEL TRUCKIN' MISSION
07-Oct-44 MAGDEBURG 130 4     42-110141 U J4 19 BREEZY LADY / MARIE / SUPERMAN  
17-Oct-44 COLOGNE 135 5     42-50768 A Z5 13 ARISE MY LOVE AND COME WITH ME  
26-Oct-44 MINDEN 138 6     42-50499 K J3 16 COOKIE/OPEN POST  
06-Nov-44 MINDEN 143 7     42-50578 H J3 17 SKY ROOM  
16-Nov-44 ESCHWEILER 147 8     42-50504 S J3 13 UNKNOWN 019  
30-Nov-44 HOMBURG 151 9     -- -- -- --   No FP - Sqdn Rec's
11-Dec-44 HANAU 155 10     42-50499 U J3 22 COOKIE/OPEN POST  
24-Dec-44 SCHONECKEN 157 11     42-95557 H J3 14 LADY PEACE  
30-Dec-44 NEUWIED 161 12 RUE D2 42-51939 G J3 10 UNKNOWN 028  
02-Jan-45 REMAGEN 164 13 WILLIAMS L2 42-51939 G J3 12 UNKNOWN 028  
14-Jan-45 HALLENDORF 170 14 SPEER L3 42-51669 J J3 4 UNKNOWN 026  
17-Jan-45 HARBURG 172 15     42-51936 I J3 6 UNKNOWN 027  
21-Jan-45 HEILBRONN 173 16 GOODFRIEND L2 42-95610 D J3 11 UNKNOWN 037  
03-Feb-45 MAGDEBURG 177 17   L3 44-49743 F J3 10 EASTERN BEAST  
09-Feb-45 MAGDEBURG 179 18 QUINN D1 44-49743 F J3 12 EASTERN BEAST  
15-Feb-45 MAGDEBURG 182 19 SPEER D1 44-49743 F J3 14 EASTERN BEAST  
19-Feb-45 MESCHADE 184 20 WILLIAMSON L1 44-49544 E J3 2 OH MONA!  
25-Feb-45 SCHWABISCH-HALL 189 21 RUE L1 44-49544 E J3 3 OH MONA!  
28-Feb-45 BIELEFELD 192 22 BOOTH L1 44-49261 A J3 5 UNKNOWN 042  
03-Mar-45 NIENBURG 195 23   L2 44-49261 A J3 6 UNKNOWN 042  
04-Mar-45 STUTTGART 196 24   L2 42-95557 H J3 28 LADY PEACE REPLACED SHIP #544
08-Mar-45 DILLENBURG 199 25   L2 44-49544 E J3 7 OH MONA!  
10-Mar-45 ARNSBURG 201 26   L2 44-49261 A J3 11 UNKNOWN 042  
12-Mar-45 FRIEDBURG 202 27 QUINN L2 44-49902 M J3 1 UNKNOWN 043  
18-Mar-45 BERLIN 206 28 QUINN L1 42-51669 J J3 20 UNKNOWN 026  
23-Mar-45 OSNABRUCK 211 29 HERZBERG L1 42-51936 I J3 24 UNKNOWN 027 BREEDING ON FP - CMD-P

Lead Crew - 755th Squadron

Kneeling, 3rd from right: John Haines

If you can identify anyone in this crew, please contact me.

Lead Crew Commendations

Mission Narrative - January 14, 1945

Our prayers for a visual run were answered on the 14th and our boys went out this day and showed what they really could do on a visual run.  Lt Col Hogg, Major Speer and Capt Matze led our formation of 28 A/C in what was to be the best bombing by the group for the month of January.  Today, the Hermann Goering Works at Hallendorf, which is important from the standpoint of its outputs of Benzol and various munitions, felt the weight of 293x500 GP’s and RDX’s, plus 3x2000 GP’s.  About half way down the bomb run, the MPI was picked up visually as the ground wind was blowing the attempted smoke screen away.  Our results today were classified as EXCELLENT with crews reporting many fires and one large explosion, and SAV’s showing a tight concentration on the MPI.  It is rumored that when “Herman the Vermin” heard of these results he immediately donned his toga, chinned his violin and attempted an air from “Faust”.

Click for larger image

Mission Narrative - February 25, 1945

At last on 25 Feb we were favored with some fine weather and were able to bomb visually and see the results of our efforts.  The A/F at Schwabisch-Hall engaged in major training and refitting as well as assembly of Jet A/C was to be our victim of the day.  Major Rue, and Capt’s Williams and Goodfriend led our 27 A/C over and all 27 bombed the target visually, dropping 258x500 IB’s with very good results.  On the bomb run a GH run was started.  The middle third of the bomb run was covered with clouds.  However, the target area was picked up visually when 14 miles out and the GH operator turned the A/C over to the Bombardier.  The MPI was sighted from about 8 miles away.  All three squadrons had good runs.  A Good job done and something to be proud of.

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Mission Narrative - March 18, 1945

“Big B” was to feel the weight of the entire VIII AF on the 18th, and the 458th was going along for the big show.  Our part in this gigantic operation was to attack the armament and heavy ordnance factory making guns, bombs, ammo and employing about 20,000 people and had not been hit since early 1944.  The victim was located in the Tegel Area.  Capt Quinn and Lt’s Helfrecht and Mitchell were chosen to lead our formation and placed 29 A/C over the target, dropping 1298 M47 IB’s on MPI and vicinity as well as 2000 FT south of MPI.  Those of us who saw the newsreel on the attack were proud of being a member of the greatest Air Force in the world, and helping in our own small way to end this conflict started by those who are getting back 1000 fold what the attempted to give to the Allied countries.

Click for larger image

(Courtesy: Coleen Pittman)

Pilotage Navigators

Lt's Richard Morrison and George Kovaka flew with the Bowers Crew on several occasions as navigators

A2 Fight Jacket

Bowers crew at Horsham St Faith
Standing, center: Thomas Hackman, Bombardier, wearing the A2 jacket shown below
Kneeling, 3rd from left: John Haines
(Photo: Coleen Pitman)
All of Hackman's 30 missions are represented on the right front of the jacket, while the 755th Squadron patch adorns the left.

(Courtesy: James Knights)