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359th Stewart Crew
Frederick A. Stewart, Pilot
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FREDERICK A. STEWART - 359th BS
(crew assigned 359BS: 14 March 1945 - photo: 23 March 1945)

(Back L-R) 1Lt Frederick A. Stewart (P)(*)(1), 1Lt George E. Knox (N)(*)(3),
2Lt Charles T. Backer (CP), S/Sgt Lloyd R. Bodin (E)(*), Cpl Frank Chornyei (Tog)(*)(5)

(Front L-R) Sgt Ernest L. Cofrances (TG)(*)(5), Sgt Peter P. Bilski (R )(*)(5),
Sgt John R. Beam (WG)(4), Sgt William M. Callicott (BT)(*)

Eleven credited combat missions flown by 1Lt Frederick A. Stewart: 343 (23 Mar 1945), 344, 345, 347, 348, 350, 354, 356, 357, 358, 360 (15 April 1945)
For Mission dates, targets and Mission Reports, see Combat Missions.

Eight B-17Gs flown by 1Lt Frederick A. Stewart on his eleven combat missions:

  • 42-38050 Thunderbird (P) (359BS) BN-U - Mission 343
  • 43-38289 Sweet LaRhonda (P) (359BS) BN-J - Missions 344, 357
  • 42-107206 Old Black Magic (359BS) BN-R - Mission 345
  • 43-38878 (No name) (359BS) BN-D - Missions 347, 348, 350
  • 44-6309 Duchess' Granddaughter (P) (359BS) BN-T - Mission 354
  • 43-38883 Lady Beth (359BS) BN-A - Mission 356
  • 43-38609 (No name) (359BS) BN-F - Mission 358
  • 44-8564 (No name) PFF B-17G (359BS) BN-Z - Mission 360
    (P) See Nose Art Photos
Crew Notes:
  • 1Lt Frederick A. Stewart (P) - Eleven missions flown: Eight as First Pilot (345, 347, 348, 350, 354, 356, 357, 358); As CoPilot - With 2Lt Merwin G. Hall Combat Orientation pilot (343, 344), With Capt. John R. Lutz, Lead crew mission Pilot (360).
  • 2Lt Charles T. Backer (CP) - Twelve missions flown: Eight with 1Lt Stewart (345, 347, 348, 350, 354, 356, 357, 358); Four with four other Pilots (343, 344, 349, 362).
  • 1Lt George E. Knox (N)(POW) - Fourteen missions flown: Ten with 1Lt Stewart (343, 344, 345, 347, 348, 350, 354, 356, 357, 358); Four with three other Pilots (360, 361, 362, 364). Became a POW on mission 364 (Last 303rd BG(H) mission) to Pilsen, Czech in B-17G 44-33447 (No name) (427BS) (3 KIA, 4 POW, 1 Evadee) MACR 14223. Was hit by anti-aircraft fire after dropping bombs and leaving target. When flak hit the #3 engine nacelle, flames shot up enveloping there entire nacelle. The B-17 was out of control and fell sharply to the right and almost straight down. The Pilot, 1Lt Warren F. Mauger, ordered his crew to bail out. The aircraft then exploded and disintegrated and crashed near Brux, about 60 miles NW from Pilsen. west of Pilsen. See the Mauger Crew page.
  • Sgt John R. Beam (WG/TOG) - Was deleted from the 1Lt Stewart crew when the crew size was changed from nine to eight men that eliminated both Waist Gunner Positions. Flew on Nine dispatched (8 credited) missions with other Pilots: As Waist Gunner (343, 344, 345, 348, 349 (Aborted), As Togglier (354, 355, 356, 360).
Other crewmen - Flew on 10 missions with 1Lt Stewart (343, 344, 345, 347, 348, 350, 354, 356, 357, 358) - Flew on additional missions with other Pilots after 1Lt Stewart had completed his combat missions, viz:
  • Sgt Frank Chornyei (Tog) and Sgt William M. Callicott (BTG) - One additional mission (364)
  • S/Sgt Lloyd R. Bodin (E) - One additional mission (360)
  • Sgt Peter P. Bilski (R) - Two additional missions (362, 364)
  • Sgt Ernest L. Cofrances (TG) - Two additional missions (360, 362)


Dedication of Keith Ferris painting Retirement Party for Old Thunderbird

Ceremonies conducted at Bolling Air Force Base, Washington, DC - 16 October 1966
(L-R) Keith Ferris, 1Lt Frederick A. Stewart, Gen John P. McConnell, USAF Chief of Staff

Retirement Party for Old Thunderbird was painted in 1965 for the United States Air Force Art Collection. It depicts Keith Ferris' next door neighbor's brother Fred Stewart, the 359th Bomb Squadron Pilot on his first combat mission and Thunderbird's 112th and last mission. Thunderbird flew her first mission on 24 January 1944, Lt Vern L. Moncur, Pilot, and her final mission on 22 March 1945. Thunderbird was later selected by Keith Ferris for his 1976 monumental 25 foot high by 75 foot wide mural in the World War II Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution's National Air & Space Museum in Washington, DC. See the B-17 Thunderbird web page.

[photos courtesy of Ernest L. Cofrances]
[Researched by Harry D. Gobrecht, 303rdBGA Historian Emeritus]