458th Bombardment Group (H)

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

W.B. Smith Crew - Assigned 752nd Squadron - March 1, 1945

Back Row: William Smith - P, William Ward - CP, Charles Lipuma - B, Robert Fose - N
Front Row: Lloyd Maudlin - RO, Forrest Fuller - TG, Steven Janicki - TTG, Calvin Kolar - BTG, Valdee Exlee - E, Allen Rupp - NTG

(Photo: Craig Smith)

Flying at the End of Hostilities

 Rank  Name  Serial #  Pos Date Status  Comments
2Lt William B Smith 0832265 Pilot Jun-45 FEH Ferry Liberator to U.S.
2Lt William T Ward 0930427 Co-pilot Jun-45 FEH Ferry Liberator to U.S.
2Lt Robert R Fose 02074574 Navigator Jun-45 FEH Ferry Liberator to U.S.
F/O Charles J Lipuma  T7002 Bombardier Jun-45 FEH Ferry Liberator to U.S.
Sgt Lloyd Z Maudlin 37672484 Radio Operator Jun-45 FEH Ferry Liberator to U.S.
Sgt Valdee C Exley 34824838 Flight Engineer Jun-45 FEH Ferry Liberator to U.S.
Sgt Allan C Rupp 33935486 Nose Turret Gunner  09-Apr-45 KIA Shot down w/Abramowitz 
Sgt Forrest H Fuller 35833352 Aerial Gunner Jun-45 FEH Ferry Liberator to U.S.
Sgt Steven J Janicki 36468028 Aerial Gunner Jun-45 FEH Ferry Liberator to U.S.
Cpl Calvin F Kolar 36667505 Armorer-Gunner 16-Mar-45 UNK Promoted to Sgt

2Lt William B. Smith’s crew was assigned to the 752nd Squadron on March 1, 1945.  They flew their first combat mission on March 21st to the airfield at Hesepe, near Osnabruck. 

The 458th mission narrative states the following about this raid: "On the 21st we vindicated ourselves for the 20th’s bombings by doing an excellent job on the A/F  at Hesepe, NNW of Osnabruck.  This effort was in accordance with VII AF policy of now attacking airfields in operation of jet A/C.  The general purpose was to block runways and frag areas, to cut down flak to facilitate strafing by our fighters who would follow us in.  Thirty-four A/C led by Major Phillip and Lts. Williams, Hathorn, and Hoffman dropped 1449 x 100 GP’s bombs with from very good to excellent results.  Our photo interpretation show that the lead squadron dropped 95% within the 2000’ marker with the 2nd garnering 52% and the third 64%.  A tribute to the keen airmanship showed by the combat boys."

The crew flew one more mission in March and then three in April.  On April 9th, Smith’s crew was stood down, but gunner Sgt Allen C Rupp was either assigned or volunteered to fly as a substitute with 2Lt Leonard Abramowitz.  Over the target, their aircraft, B-24H 42-52457 Final Approach, took a flak hit to the number two engine.  On fire, the plane dropped out of formation, and several chutes were observed to emerge before it exploded at 10,000 feet.  Sgt Rupp, manning the nose turret, was the only man who did not get out.  He was the last crew member in the 458th to be killed in combat.

Smith’s crew flew their last mission five days later on April 14th when the 458th hit German troop concentrations in the Point de Grave area.  On April 25th the Eighth Air Force ceased combat operations and the air war in Europe effectively came to an end.


Date  Target 458th Msn Pilot Msn  Serial RCL Sqdn A/C Msn  A/C Name  Comments
21-Mar-45  HESEPE 209 1 44-50766 J 7V 1 YOU'VE HAD IT  
24-Mar-45 KIRKOFF 213 2 42-50504 L 7V 31 UNKNOWN 019  
05-Apr-45 PLAUEN 218 3 42-50504  L 7V 32 UNKNOWN 019   
08-Apr-45 UNTERSCHLAUERSBACH  221 4 42-51270 A 7V 37 MY BUNNIE II  
14-Apr-45 POINTE DE GRAVE 225 5 42-50504 L 7V 36 UNKNOWN 019

Aviation Cadet William B. Smith

In the cockpit of a Vultee "Vibrator", Primary Flight School, Augusta, GA

(Photo: Craig Smith)

March 21, 1945 - Hesepe A/F

The Smith Crew's first glimpse of bombs on target

(Photo: Jim Hartswick)

June 1945

B-24J-401-CF 42-50504 7V  L

Back Row: William Smith, William Ward, Robert Fose, Charles Lipuma 

Middle Row: Lloyd Maudlin, Calvin Kolar, Unknown, Valdee Exley, (4 Unknown)

Front Row: Forrest Fuller, Steven Janicki (6 Unknown)

Click for larger image

(Photo: FOLD3)