458th Bombardment Group (H)

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

Brevakis Crew - Assigned 754th Squadron - August 14, 1944

Standing, 2nd from left: Ted Brevakis - P, 2nd from right: Philip Hale - CP
Kneeling, from left: Robert Manthey - AG, Ed Coppens - G, (Three unknown)

If anyone can identify the rest of this crew, please contact me.

(Photo: AFHRA)

Completed Tour

 Rank  Name  Serial #  Pos Date Status  Comments
Maj Theodore J Brevakis  0791055 Pilot May-45 CT 2nd Sqdn CO - Returning to States
1Lt Philip R Hale 0700452 Co-pilot Feb-45 CT Trsf to 70RD for return to ZI
1Lt Winthrop G Pierrel 0798869 Navigator 31-Oct-44 CT Appointed Squadron Navigator
Capt John W Aldridge 0735154 Bombardier Apr-45 CT Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross 
T/Sgt Herbert H Zamler 36534581 Radio Operator Mar-45 CT Trsf to 70RD for return to ZI
T/Sgt William A Smith 34338816 Flight Engineer 19-Dec-44 CT Rest Home Leave
S/Sgt Edward A Coppens 36508021 Armorer-Gunner  19-Dec-44 CT Rest Home Leave
S/Sgt Carl L Conklin 36879983 Armorer-Gunner Apr-45 CT Trsf to 70RD for return to ZI
S/Sgt Robert C Manthey 37308790 Armorer-Gunner 19-Dec-44 CT Rest Home Leave
S/Sgt John J Powers 36243328 Armorer-Gunner 17-May-45 CT Transferred to 752nd Sqdn

Captain Theodore J. Brevakis was assigned to the 458th with his crew on August 14, 1944.  While this crew had just arrived in the ETO, it is believed that they were not a newly trained crew, as they came to the group in higher pay grades, and at least one gunner was a decorated combat veteran from the Pacific Theater.

On August 17th, only three days after their arrival, Captain Brevakis was appointed as the 754th Squadron Operations Officer, leaving his crew in the hands of 2Lt Philip R. Hale.  Brevakis flew several missions as a command pilot until he was appointed the 754th Squadron Commanding Officer in November with the rank of Major.  In March 1945 he was transferred to HQ and rotated home in May.

Two days after Capt Brevakis was moved up to the Squadron Ops Office, on August 19th, the entire crew was sent on temporary duty (TD) to the 466th BG at Attlebridge, which at this time was training lead crews.  The crew must have arrived back at some point towards the end of September, as Hale is shown flying his first mission on October 6, 1944.  On October 23rd the crew was transferred to the 755th Squadron as a lead crew.  Philip Hale can be tracked on formation plans, and he is shown flying a total of ten missions prior to mid-January 1945.  In February, he was sent to the 70th Replacement Depot for return to the States, “…his tour complete”.

Shortly after the crew was transferred to the 755th Squadron, Lt’s Winthrop G. Pierrel (N), and John W. Aldridge (B) were appointed 754th Squadron Navigator and Squadron Bombardier, respectively.  As such, both would fly on various lead ships and the missions they flew with the group are unknown.  Aldridge was promoted to Captain in December and received the DFC in April 1945.  2Lt Richard L. Lougee, whose story of the October 9, 1944 mission to Koblenz appears on the STORIES page of this website, appears to have been assigned to Hale’s crew as a navigator.

Philip Hale, Richard Lougee, and all of the enlisted crew went on Rest Home Leave on December 19, 1944, but it seems unlikely that they would have flown the required number of missions by this point in order to get this leave, especially as a lead crew.  Normally crews who had made it halfway through their tour of missions (35 in the fall of 1944) would be sent for a 7-10 day leave to a quiet estate in the English countryside.  It is possible that most of them came to the 458th with some combat experience already and were due a leave.

S/Sgt Edward A. Coppens was definitely a man of combat experience, having seen action against the Japanese in the Pacific.  Beginning in October 1942, he had served a stint in the 5th Air Force’s 90th Bomb Group, the “Jolly Rogers”, and had been decorated with the DFC by General Kenney for shooting down an enemy plane and sinking a transport during the Battle of the Bismarck Sea in March 1943.  One of the aircraft he flew in was a B-24D name Star Duster.  In September 1943 he was reassigned to the 399th Bomb Group, then training at Wendover Field in Utah where he became a gunner on the Brevakis crew.  He was with the 458th until at least March 1945, when records show him transferred back to the 754th Squadron.

There is no mention for most of the crew after the December entry for Rest Home leave, and it is most likely that they all completed their tours and were rotated back home in 1945.

Maj Theodore J. Brevakis Missions as Command Pilot

Date Target Pilot 458th Msn Pilot Msn Cmd Pilot Ld Serial RCL Sqdn A/C Msn A/C Name Comments
24-Aug-44 HANNOVER   117 1 BREVAKIS L 42-95569 G T9 -- 466BG/784SQ  
27-Aug-44 FINOW HAYZLETT 121 2 BREVAKIS L2 44-10487 B 7V 7 Girl on surfboard  MISSION CREDIT IN NOV 
08-Sep-44 KARLSRUHE BLUM 123 3 BREVAKIS L2 42-50907 D J3 8 LILY MARLENE  
10-Sep-44 ULM M/Y EVANS 125 4 BREVAKIS L2 44-40283 I J4 4 LASSIE COME HOME  
07-Oct-44 MAGDEBURG BENO 130 6 BREVAKIS D1 42-95610 D+ J3 2 UNKNOWN 037  
30-Oct-44 HARBURG LOCKRIDGE 139 9 BREVAKIS L3 42-50578 H J3 15 SKY ROOM  
04-Nov-44 MISBURG BLUM 141 10 BREVAKIS L2 42-50608 W J3 6 FILTHY McNAUGHTY  
08-Nov-44 RHEINE HALE 144 11 BREVAKIS L 42-95610 D+ J3 4 UNKNOWN 037  
11-Dec-44 HANAU ALLEN, G 155 12 BREVAKIS L 42-95628 K J3 2 UNKNOWN 038  
25-Dec-44 PRONSFELD NELSON 158 13 BREVAKIS L3 488 Z GH -- NOT 458TH SHIP  
28-Jan-45 DORTMUND BENO 174 15 BREVAKIS L1 44-49261 A J3 2 UNKNOWN 042

Awards Ceremony

Maj Brevakis (left), 754th Sq CO, presents the DFC to Capt Robert F. Geiger, navigator

(Photo: Footnote.com)

Lt Philip R. Hale Missions as 1st Pilot

Date  Target 458th Msn Pilot Msn Cmd Pilot Ld  Serial RCL Sqdn A/C Msn  A/C Name  Comments
29-Sep-44 HSF to LILLE   TR12 --     42-50349 X 44BG T7 FLAK MAGNET II 1ST FLIGHT
29-Sep-44 HSF to LILLE TR12 --     42-50349 X 44BG T8 FLAK MAGNET II 2ND FLIGHT
30-Sep-44 HSF to LILLE  TR13 --     42-50349 X 44BG T9 FLAK MAGNET II  TRUCKIN' MSN
06-Oct-44 WENZENDORF  129 1   D1 42-95610 D J3 1 UNKNOWN 037  
09-Oct-44 KOBLENZ 131 2 BOOTH D1 42-95609 T T9 -- 466BG/784SQ NOT 458th SHIP
17-Oct-44 COLOGNE 135 3   D1 42-95557 E 7V 7 LADY PEACE  
02-Nov-44 BIELEFELD 140 4 CLAGGETT D1 42-95557 H+ J3 9 LADY PEACE  
08-Nov-44 RHEINE 144 5 BREVAKIS L 42-95610 D+ J3 4 UNKNOWN 037  
21-Nov-44 HARBURG 148 6 BETZOLD D1 42-50954 A+ J3 6 UNKNOWN 021  
04-Dec-44 BEBRA 152 7 WILLIAMSON  L1 42-95628 K+ J3 1 UNKNOWN 038  
11-Dec-44 HANAU 155 8 BREEDING L4 42-51939 G J3 8 UNKNOWN 028  
01-Jan-45 KOBLENZ 163 9 LaROCHE L1 42-95628 K J3 5 UNKNOWN 038  
10-Jan-45 SCHONBERG 168 10 WILLIAMS L2 42-51936 I J3 5 UNKNOWN 027  
16-Jan-45 MAGDEBURG 171 MSHL     -- -- -- --   MARSHALING CHIEF 

Lt Hale Mission Notes

Ellington Field 1954

Private Wesley Ross Hale, USMC and Captain Phillip Hale, USAF

Sat., Aug. 5, 1944   (8)

Brunswick, Gr.

Not a bad mission, and perfect weather over the target.  Ripped hell out of the whole town, but about half our squadron dropped short, including us.


Sun., Aug. 6, 1944   (Still 8)

Screwed up good and proper.  Started to Hamburg, Gr. And turned around because we thought we were low on gas.


Mon., Aug. 7, 1944   (9)

Amiens, Fr.

About the sweetest target that could be hoped for.  No flak at target, but we caught hell at the coast on the way out.  The Capt. Got the zipper cut off his left boot.


Mon., Oct. 9, 1944   (13)

Koblenz, Gr.

A very easy mission.  Took over the lead, our first wing lead.  Dropped by Mickey.


Mon., Oct. 17, 1944   (14)

Koln, Gr.

A milk run. Scattered flak, inaccurate. Lots of rockets.


Thurs., Nov. 2, 1944   (15) Half way

Bielefield, Gr.

Another easy mission.  A few rockets at the target. Dropped about 20 miles short of target.  Lost an engine over N. sea on return


Wed., Nov. 8, 1944   (16)

Rhine, Gr.

Lots of weather, over & back.  Hardly any flack.  Brevakis C-P


Tues., Nov. 21, 1944   (17)

Hamburg, Gr.

Just six miles from the center of Hamburg. Like old home week. Plenty of flak. Got a few holes. Plenty cold.


Mon., Dec. 4, 1944   (18)

Bebra, Gr.

Our first gp. Lead from the start.  GH ship took over at IP and damned near hit us.  No flak.


Mon., Dec. 11, 1944   (19)

Hanau, Gr.

A very long mission and plenty of weather.  Led “B” gp.  Very little flak.  Mickey set out.


Mon., Jan. 1, 1945   (20)

Koblenz, Gr.  (3rd trip)

Lots of frost at takeoff.  Got off late.  Led the group, but lost #1 engine before target.  Had to salvo bombs, and come back alone.  Sweated out gas.


Wed., Jan. 10, 1945   (12)

Schonberg, Belgium

Lots of weather, and very heavy contrails at all altitudes.  Easy target, no flak. Landed in snow storm & missed runway.  Led low left squadron.

(Photo and mission notes courtesy Daniel Hale)

War in the Pacific - 5AF 90BG "Jolly Rogers"

B-24D-10-CO 41-23869 Star Duster bombing B.U.T. airfield near Wewak, New Guinea

(Photos: B24Bestweb.com)

The Detroit Times - 1943

Air Medal Won by Detroiter

Sgt Edward A. Coppens… a hobby lead to the DFC…

A youngster from Detroit’s east side who “never cared much for school” but who spent hours studying the building of model airplanes, today had been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

He is Staff Sgt. Edward A. Coppens, 22-year-old son of Emil Coppens of 5585 Phillip.  Sgt. Coppens was given the award by Lt. Gen. George C. Kenney, commander of Allied air forces in the Southwest Pacific, for shooting down a Jap combat plane and sinking an enemy transport in the Battle of the Bismarck Sea.

Inducted July 8, 1942, Coppens was sent to an aerial gunnery school.  Two months later, he was transferred to the Pacific theater of war in New Guinea.

“Edward never cared much for school,” his father said.  “He quit his studies at Wayne School in the eighth grade and got a job driving a truck.  But one thing they interested him in at school was model airplane building.  He spent hours studying it and was still building them when he was inducted.”

Coppens is back in the United States and has been sent to Salt Lake City where he may enter officer’s training school.

Wins Distinguished Flying Cross

--Staff Sergt. Edward A. Coppens, Detroit, who is with the Army Air Forces somewhere in the Southwest Pacific area, has been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, according to an announcement received from an airbase in Australia today.  Lieut. Gen. George C. Kenney, commander of Allied Air Forces in the Southwest Pacific, made the award.  Sergt. Coppens is the son of Emil Coppens, 5585 Phillip Avenue.  He received his silver gunner’s wings and the rank of sergeant last September upon his graduation from the Harlingen Army Gunnery School in Texas.  The training course in aerial gunnery is one of the most difficult in the service.  The dispatch stated that 18 other American airmen received Distinguished Flying Crosses and 12 were awarded the Air Medal.