457th Bomb Group 457th Bomb Group Honor Roll
Mission No. 52
748th Bomb Squadron
457th Bomb Group 748th Bomb Squadron
                                         (457th Home) (Back)            Updated 12/03/2000, 19:17:09

Mission Narrative

Mission No. 52
Date - May 27, 1944
Target - Ludwigshaven
This mission was to the marshalling yards at Ludwigshaven and Mannheim. The 457th led the 94th Combat Wing with Col James Luper as Air Commander. Enroute to the target the group was savagely attacked by 50 or 60 ME-109's and several planes in the formation were lost. The fighter attack lasted 25 minutes and disrupted the formation causing the low box to bomb before the lead. The lead box did a 360 degree turn and made a second pass through the heavy flak. Thirteen planes received flak damage.
Plane 42-38055, piloted by Lt Roger W. Birkman, had two engines shot out during the ME 109 fighter attack. He turned and considered heading toward Switzerland but before he could set the direction they were hit by flak and #3 engine was set afire. They fought the fire for some time, trying to make it to the channel but were forced to bail out over Belgium. Birkman, Stanko, Koch, Toney, and Cochran were rescued by the underground and made it to England the other five were captured and made POW's. See "Black Puff Polly" for a description of this incident by Sgt John E. Toney.

......... Crew

The crew was as follows:
     Plane s/n 42-38055     
PilotLt Roger W. Birkman  
CopilotLt Alexander Kuckerenko   POW
NavigatorLt Michael N. Stanko  
BombardierLt James M. Cochran  
Aircraft EngineerSgt Raymond Koch  
Radio OperatorSgt Andrew Kafka   POW
Left Waist GunnerSgt John L. Toney  
Right Waist GunnerSgt James C. Jones   POW
Ball Turret GunnerSgt John Buechel   POW
Tail GunnerSgt Errol Bailey   POW
                                         (457th Home) (Back)            Updated 12/03/2000, 19:17:09
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