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WILLIAM E. EISENHART CREW - 359th BS
(Assigned to 359th BS: 07 Sept 1943)
(Upgraded from CoPilot (Thomas J. Quinn Crew) to Pilot: 20 Feb 1944)
Capt William E. Eisenhart (P), 2Lt Joseph C. Sassone (CP),
2Lt William D. Carey (N), 2Lt John M. Robinson (B)
T/Sgt John C. Mayhaugh (E),
T/Sgt Lloyd C., Mouser (R),
(Ranks and grades at time of last combat mission)
William E. Eisenhart's dispatched combat missions:
Mission #245, 21 September 1944 to Mainz, Germany. Capt Eisenhart (359th BS Operations Officer) was flying as CoPilot. with B/Gen Robert F. Travis (Commanding General 41st Combat Wing) as Pilot and Air Commander. They were leading the 8th Air Force. This was B/Gen Travis's 25th and final 8th AF mission, seventeen of which were flown with 303rd BG(H) lead crews.
B/Gen Travis became apprehensive about his position over the target. He took over control of the autopilot being used as he turned off the target. It resulted in throwing the entire formation all over the sky. Capt Eisenhart immediately shut off the auto-pilot and got the formation back together by decreasing the angle of bank and degree of turn. This didn't set well with B/Gen Travis.
Captain Eisenhart became somewhat of a folk hero after the mission. Several months previously the 359th BS instituted a policy that pilots should not leave the Cockpit area during a mission to urinate in the bomb bay. Pilots were advised to crack their cockpit side window, get up on their haunches and let the slipstream carry the urine outside. This effective technique was done on a strict condition that the pilot would personally clean the window area immediately after landing.
During the 21 September mission Capt. Eisenhart used this methods to relieve himself, only to discover that B/Gen Travis was smoking his cigar and had cracked his window, which created a cross draft. Some of Capt. Eisenhart's urine swirled in the cockpit and hit B/Gen Travis full in his face.
Upon landing a very upset B/Gen Travis chewed out Capt Eisenhart for a full half hour after the mission. He threatened Capt Eisenhart with a court martial and ordered him to immediately take down the bulletin board notice letter on the suggested urination method. He also advised Capt Eisenhart that he was going to award a DFC medal to Navigator Lt George H. Counts and Bombardier Lt Ralph L. Smith but was damned if he would award a DFC to Capt Eisenhart.
B/G Travis was replaced by B/Gen Maurice A. Preston as 41st Combat Wing Commanding General a month later and his threats against Capt Eisenhart were never carried out. Captain Eisenhart became known as the only Captain to urinate in the face of a General and git away with it. Such is how folk heroes are born.
Other Notable Achievement with the 303rd BG(H):
Post WWII with Colonel Eisenhart:
Bill married 2nd LT Mary M. Shore, a nurse at the 303rd Station Hospital at Lilford Hall, about four miles from Molesworth, on 12 January, 1945. They were first married by the local Magistrate in Tharpston. Then again by Capt. Merritt O. Slawson, 303rd Protestant Chaplain, at Westminster Chapel (not Westminster Abbey) in London.
After 35 years in the military, Bill and his wife, Mary, retired to St. Petersburg, FL, where they enjoyed playing golf, fishing, traveling and, in general, having fun. During their 62 year marriage they raised four very successful children, have 11 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren. Mary passed on July 31, 2006.
[Researched by Historian Harry D. Gobrecht]