Verona Residence: Bloomfield Ave
(KIA-POW) – On 24 August 1944, on Mission #231 to Merseburg, Germany in B-17G #42-97291 Myasis Dragon (359BS) BN-W. Myasis Dragon was brought down on the bomb run with the bomb bay doors open. The first of a salvo of three shells took out the #3 engine. As the second exploded under the radio
room, T/Sgt Girman loosened his flak vest and clipped on one of his parachute rings. The third flak burst came right into the bomb bay, exploding between the two bomb racks. The B-17 immediately became an inferno, and T/Sgt Girman remembers seeing the aircraft melting before his eyes. Within
seconds Myasis Dragon disintegrated in a large explosion which showered several aircraft in the formation with debris. One piece of the falling wreckage included the ball turret with Sgt Reid Bishop inside. T/Sgt Girman was unconscious. His foot was caught in the runner of the ball turret gunners hatch
trapping Sgt Bishop inside. Soon, however, T/Sgt Girman fell free and Sgt Bishop was able to open his hatch, grab his parachute, connect it and free himself from the wreckage. T/Sgt Girman regained consciousness as he hit denser air, and remembers seeing Sgt Bishop’s chute open at almost the same
time as his, maybe 1500 feet above ground. The spot where T/Sgt Girman and Sgt Bishop came to earth was at Torgau, more than 30 miles east of Leipzig. This town became famous as the location where the Soviet and U.S. Forces met on a bridge over the Elbe River finally linking the Eastern and Western
fronts in May 1945 and signaling the end of the Third Reich. T/Sgt Girman came to earth within site of that bridge and within sight of Stalag IVD where he spent his first night as a POW. T/Sgt Girman and Sgt Bishop were their only crew survivors. (KIA-POW Information Source: 1997 “Going Back” story by
Brian McGuire as related by T/Sgt Girman.)
T/Sgt Eugene E. Girman (R ) and Sgt Neldon R. Bishop (BT) were wounded and taken to hospitals at Leipzig, Hohmalk, Menmigne and Obermassfield. They then were at POW camps at Sulag Luft IV, Gross Tychow, Nurenberg and Mooseburg. They were rescued by General Patton and the 14th Armored Division on 25 April 1945, transported to Camp Lucky Strike and transported to the USA on a
Sgt Harry R. Sansum – Was seen on the ground without a chute after the crash by Sgt Neldon R. Bishop. The seven bodies from Myasis Dragon came down over a 17 kilometer wide area; the B-17 came down 5 kilometers northeast of Bergleibenau, 5 km from Merseburg. When the Germans were looking for the
surviving Hillary crewmen, they came across an airman shot down earlier. They shot him during an escape attempt.
Crew Event: This is the crew that was flying Thunderbird on her 70th mission, 15 August 1944 to Wiesbaden, Germany, which is the subject of the Keith Ferris Mural Fortresses Under Fire. On that mission, the waist gunner was T/Sgt Jack F. Pordhan rather than Sgt Sansum.
(*) T/Sgt Girman was aboard the reconstructed Thunderbird, that is at the Lone Star Flight Museum in Galveston, TX, on its flight from Duxford, England to Houston, Texas in July 1987.
ANDERSON ROY M SGT 37323504 359TH ENGR 07-16-44
BISHOP NELDON R SGT 39918069 359TH B/TUR 07-16-44 08-24-44 POW
DE FILIPPIS ROCCO 2/LT 0765628 359TH BOMB 07-16-44 08-24-44 KIA
GIRMAN EUGENE E T/SGT 35582692 359TH RADIO 07-16-44 08-24-44 POW
HILLARY JACK R 2/LT 0757200 359TH PILOT 07-16-44 08-24-44 KIA
PAUL GEORGE E T/SGT 38557309 359TH ENGR 07-16-44 08-24-44 KIA
RICE JOHN E 2/LT 0710315 359TH NAV 07-16-44 08-24-44 KIA
ROBERTSON WILLIAM III 2/LT 0819712 359TH CO-PLT 07-16-44 08-24-44 KIA
SANSUM HARRY R SGT 36233045 359TH W/GUN 07-16-44 08-24-44 KIA
WATSON JAMES R SGT 32282335 359TH T/GUN 07-16-44 08-24-44 KIA