458th Bombardment Group (H)

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

Hodge Crew - Assigned 754th Squadron - December 19, 1944

Standing, center: Louis Hodge - P

If you can identify the others in this photo, please contact me.

Flying at the End of Hostilities

Rank Name Serial # Crew Pos Date Status Comments
1Lt Louis R Hodge 0929408 Pilot 25-Apr-45 FEH Last 8AF Mission - Abort
2Lt John B Beasley 02015394 Co-Pilot 25-Apr-45 FEH Last 8AF Mission - Abort
2Lt Walter Sopronik 02015192 Navigator 25-Apr-45 FEH Last 8AF Mission - Abort
2Lt Harold C Hoefel 02015175 Bombardier 25-Apr-45 FEH Last 8AF Mission w/Sherwood 
S/Sgt Robert J Wood 39920039 Radio Operator 25-Apr-45 FEH Last 8AF Mission - Abort
S/Sgt Herbert R Viel 32744609 Flight Engineer 25-Apr-45 FEH Last 8AF Mission - Abort
S/Sgt James R Holben 33698056 Armorer-Gunner  25-Apr-45 FEH Last 8AF Mission - Abort
S/Sgt Lowell B Nelson 39922743 Armorer-Gunner 25-Apr-45 FEH Last 8AF Mission - Abort
S/Sgt Robert G Parker 34675366 Armorer-Gunner 25-Apr-45 FEH Last 8AF Mission - Abort
S/Sgt George H Stewart  33673427 Armorer-Gunner 25-Apr-45 FEH Last 8AF Mission - Abort

The Hodge Crew arrived at Horsham St Faith on December 19, 1944, assigned from the 70th Replacement Depot.  They were placed in the 754BS.  They would be cooling their heels for more than a month before they flew their first mission.

On January 31, 1945, the 458BG was assigned as its Primary Target, a factory near Brunswick, Germany that manufactured parts for oil plants.  The group put up 29 aircraft, including the Hodge Crew.  The mission was recalled due to weather.  The next mission that Hodge flew was also recalled due to weather.  It wasn’t until the February 14th attack on Magdeburg, that the crew got credit for the first of the 35 required missions to be sent home.  They flew five additional missions in February, one of which, the Berlin raid on the 26th, from which they were forced to abort.  According to records, the crew, flying Old Doc’s Yacht, had a fire on the flight deck, and aborted “over the field”.

In March the crew flew a total of eight missions, all but one in a B-24J-95-CO 42-100366 named Mizpah.  The crew’s 19th and last mission of the war was to Zwiesel, Germany to bomb a railroad bridge on April 20, 1945.  Five days later, the Eighth Air Force flew its final combat mission of World War II.  Hodge and most of the crew were scheduled to participate, but navigator, Lt Walter Sopronik became ill during the flight to the Continent and the crew were forced to abort.  Lt Harold C. Hoefel, the crew’s bombardier, flew this last mission with Lt John R. Sherwood and crew.

The crew were transferred to the 755BS on May 17, 1945.  It is possible, since they had not finished a combat tour, that they were held on the base in order to fly a Liberator back to the States in June.


Date Target 458th Msn Pilot Msn Serial RCL Sqdn A/C Msn A/C Name Comments
31-Jan-45 BRUNSWICK 176 1 44-10491 I Z5 3 THE IRON DUKE RECALL
14-Feb-45 MAGDEBURG 181 2 42-95108 B Z5 59 ENVY OF 'EM ALL II  
16-Feb-45 OSNABRUCK 183 3 42-110059 T Z5 63 UNKNOWN 056  
22-Feb-45 PEINE-HILDESHEIM 186 4 42-100366 H Z5 62 MIZPAH  
23-Feb-45 GERA-REICHENBACH 187 5 42-100366 H Z5 63 MIZPAH  
26-Feb-45 BERLIN 190 ABT 42-95018 J Z5 -- OLD DOC'S YACHT ABORT - FIRE
27-Feb-45 HALLE 191 6 42-95018 J Z5 83 OLD DOC'S YACHT  
04-Mar-45 STUTTGART 196 7 44-40126 L Z5 63 SPITTEN KITTEN / SKY TRAMP  
07-Mar-45 SOEST 198 8 42-100366 H Z5 66 MIZPAH  
08-Mar-45 DILLENBURG 199 9 42-100366 H Z5 67 MIZPAH  
10-Mar-45 ARNSBURG 201 10 42-100366 H Z5 68 MIZPAH  
14-Mar-45 HOLZWICKEDE 203 11 42-100366 H Z5 69 MIZPAH LAND OFF LOC
18-Mar-45 BERLIN 206 12 42-100366 H Z5 70 MIZPAH  
22-Mar-45 KITZINGEN 210 13 42-100366 H Z5 72 MIZPAH  
30-Mar-45 WILHELMSHAVEN 215 14 42-100366 H Z5 73 MIZPAH  
02-Apr-45 TIRSTROP ABN -- 42-100366 H Z5 -- MIZPAH ABANDONED
04-Apr-45 PERLEBERG 217 15 42-100366 H Z5 74 MIZPAH  
05-Apr-45 PLAUEN 218 16 42-100366 H Z5 75 MIZPAH  
06-Apr-45 HALLE 219 WTHR 42-110059 T Z5 -- UNKNOWN 056 WEATHER SHIP
07-Apr-45 KRUMMEL 220 17 42-100366 H Z5 76 MIZPAH  
09-Apr-45 LECHFELD 222 18 42-50640 O Z5 43 BUGS BUNNY  
19-Apr-45 ZWIESEL SCR -- 42-100366 H Z5 -- MIZPAH SCRUBBED
20-Apr-45 ZWIESEL 229 19 42-100366 H Z5 80 MIZPAH  

B-24J-95-CO 42-100366 Z5 B  Mizpah

Mizpah was an original 754BS aircraft, having started its combat career on the group's first mission, March 2, 1944.  Hodge and crew flew 13 of their 19 combat missions in this aircraft. By war's end it had amassed 81 combat missions.  It was ferried back to the States by the Sherwood Crew.

(Courtesy: Mark Styling)

Skeet Shooting - January 9, 1945

All crew members receive intensive training in gunnery throughout their tour of operations.  Skeet plays an important part in this program, as it gives valuable training in "Leading" and "Tracking".  Today they see a clay disc through their sights: tomorrow it will be an FW190.

On the left is F/O Walter Sopronik receiving instructions from Capt Lester F. Heath, the 458BG Gunnery Officer.  On the right are two of the crew's gunners Sgt James R. Holben who is preparing to shoot, and Sgt George H. Stewart awaiting his turn.

Hodge Crew 1944

Standing: Walter Sopronik, Harold Hoefel, John Beasley, Louis Hodge
Kneeling: George Stewart, Herbert Viel, Lowell Nelson, Robert Parker, James Holben

Individual Issue Record

Flight gear issued to F/O Louis R. Hodge