458th Bombardment Group (H)

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

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

Standing: William Baird - E, Jack Beaman - RO, Four unidentified gunners
Kneeling: John Lansing - P, Donald Crete - CP, James Lacy - B, Joe Nelson - N
Four Gunners: Not assigned with the crew
(Photo: Joe Nelson)

Transferred to 388th Bomb Group

 Rank  Name  Serial #  Pos Date Status  Comments
1Lt John Y Lansing 0490566 Pilot 01-Jul-44 TRSF Transferred to 560BS 388BG
2Lt Donald H Crete 0761894 Co-pilot 01-Jul-44 TRSF Transferred to 560BS 388BG
2Lt James W Lacy 0701611 Bombardier 01-Jul-44 TRSF Transferred to 560BS 388BG
1Lt Joseph W Nelson 0701269 Navigator 28-Jan-45 CT Completed operational tour
T/Sgt Jack R Beaman 18194867 Radio Operator 01-Jul-44 TRSF  Transferred to 560BS 388BG
T/Sgt William H Baird 13079154 Flight Engineer 01-Jul-44 TRSF Transferred to 560BS 388BG
Sgt Leonard E Saltiel 33594462 Armorer-Gunner  14-May-44 UNK AZON Roster - Possible Trsf to 15AF 
S/Sgt John W Smith 18132921 Aerial Gunner 12-May-45 CT Suspended fr flying
S/Sgt Harold L Matthews 34671120 Aerial Gunner 20-Feb-45 CT Trsf to 70CP - Completed Tour
Sgt Ralph J Beauchamp  13053152 Aerial Gunner 14-May-44 UNK AZON Roster

John Lansing 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. The four gunners, not on board 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.

Lansing's crew flew B-24 44-40264 Kiss Me Baby to the ETO.

Their tenure in the 458th was short.  Two AZON crews, along with members of a third were transferred to the 388th Bombardment Group (H) at Knettishall in July 1944.  While it is possible that they participated in the Aphrodite Project, the combat records and status of these crews with this group is unknown.  Two gunners of Lansing's crew, Sgt Harold L. Matthews and Sgt John W. Smith remained with the 753rd Squadron, flew additional missions as part of Lt Patrick McCormick's crew (one of the ten AZON crews) successfully completing their combat tours in January and March 1945 respectively and were rotated back to the States.

Lt Joseph Nelson, Lansing's navigator, also remained with the 458th and had this to say about his service, "We did combat crew training at March Field, Riverside, CA.  We were selected as an AZON crew and did practice missions at Pinecastle AB near Orlando, FL dropping live 1000 pound AZON bombs on marked ground targets.  Operations personnel were virtually non-existent and we flight crews loaded our own bombs by hand winch.  Our training followed with orders transferring us to CBI, but en route over the South Atlantic southern crossing, our orders were changed to report to the UK.  Our gunners were put on a troop ship and we never saw them again.  They apparently went to the CBI Theater.  After several missions at bridge busting it was decided that the B-24 was too unstable a platform at high altitude to continue.  Several crews were selected to transfer the AZON activity to B-17 bombers.  At this point I chose to fly regular combat as a substitute navigator in the 753rd Squadron, flying at times with some of the crews who had originally been with the AZON group, in addition to lead crew duty as a pilotage navigator in nose turret with maps while manning the twin .50's.  During my experience as a sub, I flew with some very green crews on their first or early missions in their tour.  Since I was combat experienced, I guess psychologically I was being used as a stabilizing presence.  Unfortunately, at least two of the crews I had flown with were lost due to combat or accident.  I was very fortunate."

Taking Lt Nelson's place as navigator in the transfer was 2Lt Alfred E. Peterson, the navigator from Captain Maurice E. Speer's  AZON crew.

The status of S/Sgt Leonard E. Saltiel, gunner, and Sgt Ralph J. Beauchamp, gunner is unknown. It is possible that S/Sgt Saltiel went on to fly missions with the 15th Air Force in the Mediterranean.

Sgt Peter Correa was also assigned to this crew at some point during their time with the 458th as is evidenced by the photo of the crew next to an AZON ship named S.O.L.  Sgt Correa was also with 453rd Bomb Group during part of his combat career.  Whether he came from that group or was transferred to that group from the 458th is unknown.

Lansing's crew was credited with four combat sorties while with the 458th, all AZON missions.


Date Target 458th Msn Pilot Msn Serial RCL Sqdn A/C Msn A/C Name Comments
31-May-44 5 BRIDGES AZ01 1 44-40277 P J4 1 MISS USED  
04-Jun-44 2 TACTICAL TARGETS AZ03 2 44-40277 P J4 2 MISS USED  
14-Jun-44 5 TARGETS AZ06 3 44-40264 K J4 1 KISS ME BABY  
15-Jun-44 3 RAILWAY BRIDGES AZ07 4 44-40264 K J4 2 KISS ME BABY  
22-Jun-44 Saumer/Tours, Bridges  AZ09 5 42-100341 A J4 20 SATAN'S MATE  Maj HOLBROOK (AZON OBS) 

B-24JAZ-145-CO  44-40066  J4 V   S.O.L.

Standing: Unknown, Unknown, Alfred Peterson - N, James Lacy, Unknown
Kneeling: Jack Beaman, William Baird, John Lansing, Unknown, Peter Correa - BTG
If you can identify any of this crew, please contact me.
(Photo: James Leddy)

Sgt Peter Correa - Ball Turret Gunner

(Photo: Phil Correa)

B-24JAZ-155-CO  44-40264  J4 K  Kiss Me Baby

The Lansing crew flew this aircraft on three of their missions with the 458th

(Photo: Anne Zimmer)

January 28, 1945

1Lt Joseph Nelson after his 35th and final mission as a substitute navigator with the McCormick crew

(Photo: Joe Nelson)