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JACK R. HILLARY CREW - 359th BS
(crew assigned 359BS: 16 July 1944)
(Back L-R) 2Lt Jack R. Hillary (P-KIA);
2Lt William Robertson III (CP-KIA); 2Lt John E. Rice (N-KIA);
2Lt Rocco De Filippis (B-KIA)
Sgt Neldon Reid Bishop (BT-POW)(1);
Ranks and grades at time of last combat mission #231
Seventeen dispatched and credited combat missions flown by 2Lt Jack P. Hillary:
214 (29 July 1944), 215, 216, 217, 218, 220, 223, 224, 228, 229, 230, 231 (24 Aug 1944)
For Mission dates, targets and Mission Reports, see Combat Missions.
Ten B-17Gs flown by 2Lt Jack P. Hillary on his seventeen combat missions:
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.)
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.
[Researched by 303rdBGA Historian Harry D. Gobrecht]