457th Bomb Group 457th Bomb Group Honor Roll
Mission No. 66
750th Bomb Squadron
457th Bomb Group 750th Bomb Squadron
                                         (457th Home) (Back)            Updated 12/03/2000, 19:17:07

Mission Narrative

Mission No. 66
Date - June 14, 1944
Target - Le Bourget/Melum
For this mission to the area around Paris, France, the 457th put up a maximum effort of 57 aircraft. The target for the 457th was airfields and supporting facilities. The Germans put up some three hundred fighters in this region on this date. The weather was CAVU and the flack was heavy and very accurate. For reasons unknown the bombs were not dropped on the first pass and the group proceeded to do a 360 turn to make another pass. During this turn the group was attacked by about 15 German fighters that passed through the three boxes that were in trail. Bomb results were poor. Five planes were badly hit and were lost.....the worst mission yet for the 457th. For gallantry in action on this mission, Major Syptak and Sgt Birchen each recieved the Silver Star. The crews lost were 42-97579 (Allen), 42-97062 (Johnson), 42-31568 (Rogers), 42-102464 (Blackwell), and 42-31618 (La Paze).
Plane s/n 42-31618 was flown by Lt James La Paze. As the group made it's second pass over the target the plane was hit directly below by an exploding shell. The ball turret gunner was hit in the foot by flak and the chin turret gunner was hit in the leg. The two engines on the port side were on fire. The props were feathered and the CO2 system used to put out the fires. They headed back to England and as they approached the Channel the engines caught fire again and the wing was in full flame. All the crew, including the wounded, bailed out over water and before the plane hit the water it blew up. Air-Sea rescue picked up the pilot, tail gunner, radio operator, and ball turret gunner. The remaining members of the crew drowned before they could be rescued. (See James La Paze's account of this incident in "Black Puff Polly" by Roland Byers)

......... Crew

The crew was as follows:
     Plane s/n 42-31618     
PilotLt James La Paze   POW
CopilotF/O Louis W. McGranahan   KIA  
NavigatorF/O Keith W. Morgan   KIA  
ToggleerSgt Chester Hudec   KIA  
Aircraft EngineerSgt Henry L. Baker   KIA  
Radio OperatorSgt Charles Rogers   POW
Left Waist Gunner Sgt Oscar C. Hightower   KIA  
Ball Turret GunnerSgt Elmer Velicer   POW
Tail GunnerSgt Delbert Brookheart  POW
                                         (457th Home) (Back)            Updated 12/03/2000, 19:17:07
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the Content:  Willard (Hap) Reese (Website Author)