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359th Eldridge Crew
Truman K. Eldridge, Pilot
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TRUMAN K. ELDRIDGE CREW - 359th BS
(crew assigned 359BS: 17 June 1944 - photo: 26 June 1944)

(Back L-R) S/Sgt Ralph T. Strong (BTG)(POW), S/Sgt Andrew T. Panos (TG)(POW),
T/Sgt Samuel A. Rowlett, Jr. (R)(POW), T/Sgt Frederick E. Barnes (E)(POW),
S/Sgt LaFon Wesley (WG)(POW), Cpl Darwin D. Hopkins (WG)

(Front L-R) 1Lt Truman K. Eldridge (P)(POW), 2Lt James A. Durkin (N),
1Lt Sanders H. Campbell (B), 2Lt Daniel J. Sheehan, Jr. (CP)(POW)

[Ranks and grades at time of last combat mission]

Crew Change: Cpl Darwin D. Hopkins (WG) - Deleted from crew when crew size changed from 10 to 9 men. Flew no combat missions with the 303rd BG(H)

Twenty-six dispatched (25 credited missions flown by 1Lt Truman K. Eldridge:
192 (25 June 1944), 193, 194, 195, 199, 200, 201, 202, 203(A), 204, 205, 206, 207, 208, 209, 213, 214, 215, 218, 220, 222(LC), 223, 224(DLC), 228(LC), 229(LC), 231(DLC)(MIA)(24 August 1944)
(A) Non-credited aborted mission - (3:18 flight time) Primer line on #3 booster pump broken
(DLC) Member of Deputy Lead Crew (LC) Member of Lead Crew (MIA) Missing in Action

Eight B-17Gs flown by 1Lt Truman K. Eldridge on his 26 dispatched combat missions

  • 44-6076 (P) Liberty Run (359BS) BN-Y - 16 missions - 192, 193, 194, 195, 199, 200, 201, 202, 204, 205, 206, 207, 208, 209, 213, 218
  • 44-6309 (P) Duchess' Granddaughter (359BS) BN-J - Missions 214, 215
  • 42-97058 (P) Scorchy II (359BS) BN-V - Mission 220 (LC)
  • 42-102484 (P) Heller's Angel (359BS) BN-K - Missions 222, 228 (LC)
  • 42-97291 Myasis Dragon (359BS) BN-N - Mission 223
  • 42-102960 (No name) (359BS) BN-H - Mission 203 (Aborted)
  • 42-97691 (No name) PFF B-17G (427BS) GN-Y - Mission 224 (DLC)
  • 42-97994 (No name) PFF B-17G (359BS) BN-Z - Mission 229 (LC). 231(DLC)(MIA)
Crew Notes:
  • 1Lt Truman K. Eldridge (P)(POW) - First mission (192) flown with combat orientation CoPilot 2Lt James H. Batton. Three missions flown as a Lead Crew Copilot (220, 228, 229). Two missions flown as Deputy Lead Crew Pilot (224, 231). All other mission flown as First Pilot. 25th and last credited mission flown on 24 August 1944 (Mission 231) when he became a POW.
  • 2Lt James A. Durkin (N) - Flew on 20 dispatched (19) credited missions with 1Lt Eldridge (192, 193, 194, 195, 199, 200, 201, 201, 203(A), 204, 205, 206, 207, 208, 209, 213, 214, 215, 218, 222) and 18 dispatched (16 credited) missions with other Pilots: 2Lt Andy R. Virig (238, 245(A), 246, 248, 250, 251, 254, 255, 256, 259); 1Lt Patrick H. Brabant (252, 253(A), 264, 265); Other Pilots (223, 234, 236, 237). Completed his 35 mission combat tour on 1 November 1944 (Mission 265).
  • 1Lt Sanders H. Campbell (B) - Flew on 17 dispatched (16 credited) missions with 1Lt Eldridge (192, 193, 194, 195, 199, 200, 201, 203(A), 204, 205, 206, 207, 213, 214, 215, 218) and 14 dispatched (13 credited) missions with other Pilots: 2Lt Garland M. Whitlock (234). As a Lead Crew Bombardier: With 359BS (235); with 360BS (238, 248, 249, 250, 254, 262, 263, 264, 266, 271, 277, 281 ). See Lead Crew photos: Mission 277 and Mission 281. Completed his combat tour (29 missions with credit for lead crew missions) on 2 December 1944 (Mission 281)
Other Regular Assigned Crewmen All missions flown with 1Lt Eldridge except as noted below. Additional missions flown with other Pilots as indicated below. All became POWs on their last mission on 24 August 1944 (Mission 231) with 1Lt Eldridge
Crewman Missions Not Flown
with 1Lt Eldridge
Missions Flown with
Other Pilots
Total Credited
Missions Flown
2Lt Daniel J. Sheehan, Jr. (CP)(*)192, 220, 228 None 21
T/Sgt Frederick E. Barnes (E) 220, 228, 229 229 23
T/Sgt Samuel A. Rowlett (R) 220, 228 None 23
S/Sgt Ralph T. Strong (BTG) 220, 228 None 23
S/Sgt LaFon Wesley (WG) 220, 228 None 23
S/Sgt Andrew T. Panos (TG) 220, 228 None 23
(*) Mission 229 flown as a Lead Crew Tail Gunner/Observer

Three substitute crewmen 24 August 1944 (mission 231) where they became POWs:
  • 1Lt William D. Carey (N) - Completed a 25 mission combat tour on 9 May 1944 (Mission 149). Volunteered for a second combat tour and flew on five additional missions (220, 223, 225(LC), 229(LC) and 231). Two missions with 1Lt Eldridge (223, 231). Had flown on 37 credited missions when he became a POW. See the Capt William E. Eisenhart Crew.
  • 2Lt Lisle G. Saum (MN) - Flew on two missions with the 303rd BG(H) (229, 231)
  • 1Lt Loren F. Rawlings (B) - Flew on 28 dispatched (27 credited) missions - 9 as a Navigator and 19 as a Bombardier. Lt Rawlings was a member of the 2Lt Frederick L. Rowan Crew that made an emergency ditching on 20 February 1944 on a sandbar near the beach at Flintragh Strand, Killybegs, Donegal, Ireland while en route from the USA to England. 2Lt Rowan never flew a combat mission with his crew. He was returned to the USA after the emergency landing in Ireland with a brain abscess. Crewmen reported to the 359th BS on 17 March 1944 and were assigned to new crews with whom they flew their combat missions. Also see 359BS Weldon O. Harrison Crew.
Last missions when crew became POWs on 24 August 1944 (Mission 231):
To Merseburg, Germany in PFF B-17G 42-97944 (No name) (359BS) BN-Z. Hit by flak before reaching target and dropping bombs. Slid out of formation to the right with one engine burning. Nosed over and went down and crashed near Merseburg, Germany. All crewmen made successful parachute jumps and became POWs. (Missing Air Crew Report 8211)

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