ROBERT O. AKERS CREW - 359th BS
B-17G 42-97781 The '"8" Ball MK III (359BS) BN-O
(crew assigned 359BS: 04 July 1944)
1Lt Neil A. Montone (N),
1Lt Robert O. Akers (P),
2Lt Leslie W. Giddings (CP),
T/Sgt Cletus H. Vogel (TG)
T/Sgt Herbert Shanker (E),
S/Sgt Donal W. Saam (BT),
T/Sgt Gerald E. Meyer (R),
Sgt Louis V. Pierce (WG),
S/Sgt Fulton R. Meyer (WG)
Ranks and Grades at time of last combat mission.
35 combat missions flown by 1lt Robert O. Akers:
204 (16 July 1944), 205, 206, 207, 208, 209, 210, 212, 213, 214, 215, 216, 221, 223, 224, 225, 226, 228,
229, 232(S), 234(AS), 235, 236, 240(A), 241, 243, 244, 245, 246, 251, 252, 253, 254, 255, 260, 262,
263 (26 Oct 1944)
(A) Non-Credited abortive missions -- (S) Non-Credited spare B-17 - returned to Molesworth --
(AS) Credited Abortive Sorties - no bombs dropped --
For Mission dates, targets and Mission Reports, see Combat Missions
Toggliers and Bombardiers used by the 1Lt Akers Crew:
- 1Lt Robert O. Akers (P) - All missions flown as First Pilot. Mission 234 flown with a
combat mission orientation CoPilot - 2Lt James N. Batton. Mission 243 flown as Lead
Crew CoPilot with 1Lt William D. Morgan and his enlisted crewmen. Combat tour completed on 26 Oct 1944.
- 2Lt Leslie W. Giddings (CP) - Flew on all 1Lt Akers crew missions with the following
exceptions: Stood down on mission 204, 243 & 246. Crew used substitute CoPilots;
Three make-up missions with 2Lt John R. Lutz (P) - 266, 267 & 269. Combat tour
completed on 6 Nov 1944.
- 1Lt Neil A. Montone (N) - Flew on all 1Lt Akers crew missions with the following
exceptions: Stood down on mission 243 & 255. Two make up missions with other
Pilots - 258 & 259. Combat tour completed on 26 Oct 1944.
- T/Sgt Herbert Shanker (E) and S/Sgt Donal W. Saam (BTG) - Flew on all 1Lt Akers
crew missions except for mission 243. Make-up mission with another Pilot - 264.
Combat tours completed on 30 Oct 1944.
- T/Sgt Gerald E. Meyer (R) - Flew on all 1Lt Akers missions with the following
exceptions: Stood down on missions 243 & 263. Two make up missions with other
Pilots - 263 & 264. Combat tour completed on 30 Oct 1944.
- S/Sgt Fulton R. Meyer (WG) - Flew on all 1Lt Akers missions except for mission 243.
Make-up mission 266 with another Pilot. Combat tour completed on 2 Nov 1944.
- T/Sgt Cletus H. Vogel (TG). Did not fly with the 1Lt Akers Crew on ten missions -
243, 246, 251, 252, 253, 254, 255, 260, 262 & 263. Flew with other Pilots on nine missions -
243, 266, 267, 268, 270, 272, 273, 274 & 275. 34th and last mission flown on 21 Nov 1944.
- Sgt Louis V. Pierce (WG) - Removed from crew before 1st mission when crew size was changed from 10 to 9 men. Flew no 303rd BG(H) combat missions.
The 1Lt Akers Crew was assigned to the 359th BS without a Bombardier or Togglier.
T/Sgt Joseph R. Cappucci
flew with the 1Lt Akers crew as Togglier on 21 credited missions: 204, 205, 206, 207, 208, 209, 210, 212, 215, 216, 221, 223, 224, 225, 226, 229, 234(AS), 235, 236, 240(A), 244 & 246. T/Sgt Cappucci was the original Waist Gunner and Togglier with the 2Lt Robert Moreman crew
for 11 missions - As WG: 177, 178, 179, 180, 181, 182, 183; As Tog: 193, 194, 195, 196. Also flew on four missions as Togglier with other Pilots: 243, 251, 254 & 255. Combat tour completed on 11 Oct 1944. The 1Lt Akers Crew used other Toggliers on 3 credited missions (213, 214, 228) and Bombardiers on 11 credited missions (232(S), 241, 243, 245, 251, 252, 253, 254, 255, 260, 252 & 263)
Significant 1Lt Akers Crew missions:
[photo from the 303rdBGA Archives]
- Mission 206 - 18 July 1944 to Peenemunde, Germany V-Rocket targets: Crew failed
to join the 303rd formation and bombed with the 379th BG(H)
- Mission 210 - 23 July 1944 to Creil, France: Landed at a RAF Fighter Aerodrome at
Tangmere, West Sussex. UK
- Mission 212 - 25 July 1944 to St. Lo, France. B-17 Bomb bays were loaded with 244
28 lb M1A1 fragmentation bombs. The 1Lt Akers crew was fling in the low element and
three frag bombs almost hit their right wing from B-17s up ahead. B-17 prop tossed the
frag bomb clusters around quite easily.
- Mission 243 - 17 Sept 1944 to Eindhoven, Germany: 1Lt Akers flew with the 1Lt William
D. Morgan crew as a 359th BS "R" Squadron Lead Crew.
- Mission 244 - 19 Sept 1944 to Hamm, Germany with the 359th BS High Squadron
formation. Two unsuccessful bomb runs were made when the target at Hamm was
obscured with clouds. The 359th BS left the 303rd BG other formations seeking a target
of opportunity and bombed the town of Osnabruck. The formation encountered intense
but inaccurate flak at Osnabruck but very intense and accurate flak over the Ruhr Valley.
with eight major and 14 minor instance of battle damage. T/Sgt Gerald E. Meyer, Crew
Radio Operator was wounded. While over the North Sea the crew discovered a live bomb
in the bomb bay and S/Sgt Fulton R. Mayer (WG) was dispatched to the confined
bomb bay, without a parachute, to release the bomb from its defective shackle. Arriving
in England the 359th BS formation landed at the 56th FG Boxtead, UK airfield when
bad weather made a landing at Molesworth impossible. The 1Lt Akers crew had to
make a second landing approach when they discovered that the left flap had been
damaged by flak and would not fully lower. 1Lt Akers (P) and Lt Giddings (CP) were
forced to make a "Hot" landing, with almost non-existent visibility on a strange airfield.
Mission experience related by T/Sgt Herbert Shanker (E).
- Mission 255 - 11 Oct 1944 to Wesseling, Germany: 1Lt Akers crew flew as a Deputy
Gee-H Lead Crew, 359th BS Low Squadron
[Researched by Harry D. Gobrecht, 303rdBGA Historian Emeritus]