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358th R.S. O'Connor Crew
Robert S. O'Connor, Pilot
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ROBERT S. O'CONNOR CREW - 358th BS
B-17F #42-5264 Yankee Doodle Dandy (358BS) VK-J
(crew assigned 358BS: 23 July 1942 - photo: 13 May 1943)
(O'Connor was copilot to Joseph E. Haas, upgraded to pilot 10 May 1943)


(Back-L-R) 1Lt Robert S. Connor (P)(KIA), S/Sgt Samuel P. Maxwell (WG)(1)(2),
2Lt Donald L. Grant (N)(1)(2), T/Sgt Frederick B. Ziemer (E)(1)(2),
2Lt Donald W. Hurlburt (CP)(1)(2), 2Lt Earl A. Steele (B)(1)

(Front L-R) S/Sgt James K. Sadler (TG)(1)(2), S/Sgt Robert H. Smith (BT)(1),
S/Sgt Theodore C. Heaps (WG)(1)(2), T/Sgt Everett A. Dasher (R)(2)

[Ranks and grades at time of last combat mission]

  1. Completed combat tour of 25 missions and returned to the USA
  2. Was a member of the Capt George J. Oxrider crew on 23 Jan 1943. Crew bailed out over England. Capt Oxrider landed his B-17F #41-24606 Werewolf (358BS) VK-H on the grounds of a mental hospital at Dawlish. The VIII Service Command repaired the B-17 and constructed a 2,500 foot runway that enabled the B-17 to take off. After major repair Werewolf was transferred to the 91st BG(H).
Twenty-one dispatched (19 credited) missions flown by 1Lt Robert S. O'Connor:
1 (A)(17 Nov 1942), 2, 4, 5 (AS) , 7 (A), 15, 24, 28 (AS), 29, 31, 34, 35, 38, 39, 40 (AS), 41, 42 (AS), 43, 44 (AS), 47 (AS), 48 (AS) (4 July 1943). For Mission dates, targets and Mission Reports, see Combat Missions.

(A) Non Credited aborted missions - (1Lt O'Connor Pilot except where noted):

  • 1 (17 Nov 42) - #3 engine failure, prop ran away, Ball Turret inoperative. (Hours flown 0:41). Pilot Lt Haas.
  • 7 (20 Dec 42) - Pressure relief problem in Ball Turret (Hours flown 2:30)
(AS) Credited Abortive Sorties - (Pilot 1Lt O'Connor except where noted):
  • 5 (06 Dec 1942) - Nose gun out. Head space too tight (Hours flown 2:20)
  • 28 (04 April 1943) - No 1 supercharger out (Hours flown 2:50) Pilot - Lt Jess
  • 40 (19 May 1943) - Ball Turret Gunner passed out (Hours flown 3:20)
  • 42 (23 June 1943) - No 4 supercharger threw bucket (Hours flown 5:18)
  • 44 (26 June 1943) - Completed trip. Brought bombs back (Hours flown 5:08)
  • 47 (29 June 1943) - Completed trip. All squadrons brought bombs back. (Hours flown 4:08)
  • 48 (04 July 1943) - Shot down before reaching target. Bombs not dropped (Hours flown 2:10)
Crew Notes:
  • 1Lt Robert S. O'Connor (CP/P)(KIA) - Original member of the 1Lt Joseph E. Haas crew - 15 Sept 1942. Eight dispatched CoPilot missions: 1Lt Haas (P) - (1 (A), 2, 4); Lt Morales (P) - (15); Lt Dunn (P) (24); Lt Jess (P) (28, 29); Lt Thompson (P) - (31). Thirteen missions as First Pilot - (5, 7 (A), 34, 35, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 47, 48). Was KIA on mission 48 - 04 July 1943.
  • 2Lt Donald W. Hurlburt (CP)(KIS) - His last eight missions flown with 1Lt O'Connor (34, 35, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43). Nineteen dispatch (18 credited) missions flown with his original Pilot - 1Lt George H. Oxrider (1, 5, 8, 11, 12, 15, 17, 18, 20, 21, 22(A), 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 31, 33). Completed his 25 mission combat tour on 22 June 1943 (Mission 43), Was killed on 1 Oct 1943 when the AT-18 aircraft he was piloting crashed on takeoff during a local mission at Eglin Field, Florida. Hurlburt Field, Florida was named after him. His portrait hangs in the Eglin Field Officers Club. For 2Lt Hurlburt biography and Hurlburt Field story see here.
  • 2Lt Donald L. Grant (N) - His last five missions flown with 1Lt O'Connor (34, 35, 38, 39, 40). Twenty-one dispatched (20 credited) flown with his original Pilot - 1Lt George H. Oxrider (1, 5, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 15, 17, 18, 20, 21, 22 (A), 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 31, 33). Two missions flown with other Pilots (7, 13). Completed his 25 mission combat tour on 29 May 1943 (Mission 40).
  • 2Lt Earl A. Steele (B) - His last seven missions flown with 1Lt O'Connor (34, 35, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42). Twenty dispatched (19 credited) missions flown with other Pilots: Original Pilot 1Lt Joseph E. Haas (6 missions - 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 10 - 1Lt O'Connor was CoPilot on mission 1, 2 and 4). With Capt George J. Oxrider (14 missions - 8, 11, 17, 18, 20, 21, 22(A), 23, 25, 26, 27, 28, 31, 33). Completed his 25 mission combat tour on 13 June 1943 (mission 42).
  • T/Sgt Frederick B. Ziemer (E) and T/Sgt Everett H. Dasher (R)(WIA) - Twenty dispatched (19 credited) missions flown with their original Pilot Capt George J. Oxrider (1, 5, 8, 10, 11, 12, 15, 17, 18, 20, 21, 22(A), 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 31, 33). One mission flown with 1Lt Morales (4). Missions flown with 1Lt O'Connor: T/Sgt Ziemer (6 missions - 34, 35, 38, 39, 40, 41); T/Sgt Dasher (3 missions - (34, 35, 38). T/Sgt Ziemer completed his 25 mission combat tour on 11 June 1943 (Mission 41). T/Sgt Dasher was seriously wounded on his 23rd credited mission (#38) on 19 May 1943. A German shell hit him in his chest and was deflected down missing his heart. Over 30 crewmen lined up outside the hospital answering the call for blood required for T/Sgt Dasher. Was hospitalized for over a year. The bullet is still in his body near his spine. Following WWII he was ordained as a minister. He served as a 303rd Bomb Group Association Protestant Chaplain for many years.
  • S/Sgt Samuel P. Maxwell (BTG). Original Member of the Capt George J. Oxrider crew on 15 Sept 1942. Missions flown: With Capt Oxrider (19 dispatched, 18 credited missions - 1, 5, 8, 10, 11, 15, 17, 18, 20, 21, 22 (A), 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 31, 33); With 1Lt O'Connor (five missions - 34, 35, 38, 39, 40); With 1Lt Haas (P) and 1Lt O'Connor (CP) (One mission - 4); With Lt Nolan (One mission - 6). Completed his 25 mission combat tour on 29 May 1943 (Mission 40).
  • S/Sgt Robert H. Smith (WG). Member of the Oxrider crew on 6 Dec 1942. Missions flown: With 1Lt Joseph E. Haas (2 missions - 7, 10);With Capt George J. Oxrider (15 dispatched - 14 credited missions - 11, 15, 17, 18, 20, 21, 22(A), 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 31, 33); With 1Lt O'Connor (5 missions - 34, 35, 38, 39, 40). Completed his 25 mission combat tour on 29 May 1943 (Mission 40).
  • S/Sgt Theodore C. Heaps (WG) - Original member of the 1Lt Haas crew on 15 Sept 1942 and Capt Oxrider crew on 8 March 1943. Missions flown: With Capt George J. Oxrider (18 dispatched 17 credited missions (5, 8, 10, 11, 15, 17, 18, 20, 21, 22(A), 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 31, 33); With 1Lt Nolan (1 mission - 14); With 1Lt O'Connor (8 missions - 34, 35, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43). Completed his 25 mission combat tour on 22 June 1943 (Mission 43).
  • S/Sgt James K. Sadler (TG)(WIA) - Original member of the Capt George J. Oxrider Crew on 15 Sept 1944. Missions flown: With Capt Oxrider (15 dispatched 14 credited missions - 1, 5, 8, 10, 11, 12, 22(A), 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 31, 33); With Maj Wurzbach (P) and Lt Dunnica (CP) (1 mission - 4); With 1Lt O'Connor (10 missions - 34, 35, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 47). S/Sgt Sadler was wounded (not seriously) on mission 12, 27 Jan 1943, Lt Oxrider (P). A life raft, released by the vibration from the firing of the Top Turret Gun struck the Waist Gunner. The Left Waist Gun went wild shooting holes in the side of the B-17 and wounded S/Sgt Sadler. He received two bullet holes in his right buttock and was hospitalized. Sgt Oxrider then returned home when ten miles over the English Channel. Completed his 25 mission combat tour on 29 June 19453 (Mission 47).
Mission 48, 4 July 1943, in B-17F 42-5792 The Mugger (358BS) VK-I - (No MACR report issued)
Was shot down just before reaching the initial point. Two engines were shot out and a third ran away and, finally, the right wing and the No 1 engine was completely in flames when 1Lt O'Connor ordered the crew to bail out. 1Lt O'Connor was steering his B-17 away from a town below to avoid civilian causalities. The B-17 exploded while the crew was bailing out and crashed two to three miles outside the town of Malicorne-Sur-Sarthe, France and the townspeople believed that 1Lt O'Connor stayed with his stricken B-17 so that would not crash in the town. A small granite monument was erected on the crash site in the 1949 that commemorates the sacrifice of Lt O'Connor (P) and Lt Peterson (B) who died in the crash.

The following crewmen were on this last mission of 1Lt O'Connor on 4 July 1943: 1Lt Robert S. O'Connor (P) - KIA(#); 2Lt Donovan B. Manifold (CP) -WIA/ POW; F/O Andrew N. Halloris (N) - POW; 2Lt Richard W. Peterson (B) - KIA(#), T/Sgt Bernard H. Koenig (E) - Evadee (E&E 63 - Returned to UK On 10 Aug 1943); T/Sgt Earl Hogue (R) - POW; S/Sgt Albert V.H. Carroll (BTG) - Evadee (E&E 123 - Returned to OK on 19 Oct 1943); Sgt Edward F. Chonskie (LWG) - POW-Evadee (E&E 121 - Returned to UK on 18 Oct 1943) - Escaped while a POW and evaded recapture; Sgt Harry Thompson-Brundi (RWG) - POW; S/Sgt John C. Zioance (TG) - Evadee (E&E 122 - Returned to UK on 18 Oct 1943). (#) Buried next to each other in the Normandy American Cemetery near Colleville-sur Mer, France.

Photo and Web Page Links:
358th BS George J. Oxrider crew web page
358th BS Joseph E. Haas Crew web page


2Lt Robert S. O'Connor (P) wearing a Bobbie Hat he acquired in a trade with a British policeman.
(photos: 13 May 1943)

[photo from the 303rdBGA Archives]
[Researched by 303rdBGA Historian Harry D. Gobrecht]