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359th Tasker Crew
Richard F. Tasker, Pilot
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(crew assigned 359BS: 11 Nov 1944 - photo: USA Training)

(Back L-R) Sgt Charles Van Ornum (WG)(KIA)(1), Sgt Arthur M. Driver (TG)(POW)(1),
Sgt William D. Toon (E)(KIA)(1), Sgt Glenn A. Minnix (R) (1)(2), Sgt Enrique M. Reider (BT) (3)

(Front L-R) 2Lt Angelito Francis (CP)(KIA)(1), 2Lt Richard F. Tasker (P)(KIA)(1),
2Lt John J. McDonnell (B) (KIA)(1), F/O Clyde Meadows (N)(KIA)(1)

(photo: Molesworth, 04 December 1944)

(Back L-R) 2Lt Richard F. Tasker (P)(KIA)(1), F/O Clyde Meadows (N)(KIA)(1),
2Lt John J. McDonnell (B) (KIA)(1), 2Lt Angelito Francis (CP)(KIA)(1)

(Front L-R) Sgt Charles Van Ornum (WG)(KIA)(1), Sgt Enrique M. Reider (BT)(3),
Sgt Glenn A. Minnix (R) (1)(2), Sgt Arthur M. Driver (TG)(POW)(1), Sgt William D. Toon (E)(KIA)(1)

  1. Lt Tasker crew flew 19 missions together (Missions 276 (23 Nov 44), 277, 278, 279, 280, 281, 284, 285, 287, 290, 291, 294, 295, 296, 297, 299, 300, 301, 305 (21 Jan 45)
    2Lt Francis (CP) - Not on #276. Also on #288 1Lt J.D. Mickel (P)
    F/O Meadows (N) - Also on #298A 2Lt C.J. Gates (P)
    2Lt McDonnell (B) - Not on #301 - Crew had substitute Togglier
    Sgt Minnix (R) - Not on #305. Also on #304 1Lt K.E. Bixby (P)
    Sgt Van Ornum (WG) - Also on #288 1Lt K.E. Bixby (P)
    Sgt Driver (TG) - Also on #286 2Lt C.J. Gates (P) & #304 2Lt G.L. McClurg (P)

  2. T/Sgt Glenn A. Minnix (R) - Flew on Mission #304 with the Bixby Crew. Their damaged aircraft was forced to land on the Continent. Minnix had not yet returned to Molesworth when the Tasker Crew flew Mission #305, 21 January 1945. Flew 16 additional missions after 21 January 1945 with 6 different Pilots. Completed operational tour (35 missions) on mission #349 - 31 March 1945

  3. S/Sgt Enrique M. Reider (BTG) - First 10 missions with Lt Tasker Crew. Also flew as BTG mission #288 with 2Lt J.W. Bailey Crew. Lt Tasker crew had a substitute BTGs on crew's last nine missions. Sgt Reider became a Spot Jammer (SJ), Radio Counter Measure (RCM) and/or Voice Interpreter (VI) crewman with 16 different Pilots on last 21 missions. Completed Operational Tour on 15 April 1945.
Lt Tasker Crew substitute or additional crewman on mission #305 21 January 1945:
S/Sgt Bruce H. Hinnershots (R)(KIA) - Substitute for original Radio Operator Sgt Glenn A. Minnix
Sgt Paul B. Kapczynski (BT)(KIA) - Substitute for original BTG Sgt E.M. Reider
S/Sgt Carl R. Hurlbutt (Hdqs) (Y-Operator) (KIA) - Additional crewman

(KIA-POW) Mission #305, 21 January 1945: What started out as a "milk run" mission turned deadly when two aircraft collided at the turning point before reaching the IP. The left wing of Squadron lead aircraft #44-8137 (No Name), 359BS, piloted by 1Lt. Richard B. Duffel, caught the right wing of #42-97058, Scorchy II, 359BS, piloted by 2Lt. Richard E. Tasker, the lead aircraft of the 2nd flight. The wing of #44-8137 came off and the aircraft rolled over on its back and went down. Scorchy II also lost its wing and went down. No parachutes were spotted by other 303rd BG(H) crews, although some crews of the nearby 39BS reported seeing some parachutes and bodies falling out. Sgt. David Garza, in #44-6316, 358BS, observed the disabled aircraft as it fell to the ground. The aircraft crashed near Rottweil, Germany. 1Lt. Jack W. Weaver, Deputy Leader, took over the lead in #44-8676 (No Name), 427BS with a 360BS, crew after the collision of the lead aircraft.

1Lt Duffel, 1Lt Richard H. Cambron, 1Lt Gene K. Shipp, 1Lt Thomas E. Wilson, T/Sgt Raymond Levine, T/Sgt Donald R. Christ, S/Sgt John C. Elliott, S/Sgt Phillip W. Hensel and 2Lt. Raymond E. White were killed in the crash. Lt. Cambron is buried in Lorraine American Cemetery near Moselle, France. 1Lt James C. Flemmons was captured and became a Prisoner of War.

2Lt Tasker, 2Lt Angelito Francis, F/O Clyde Meadows, 2Lt John J. McDonnell, 2Lt William D. Toon, S/Sgt Bruce H. Hinnershots, Sgt Paul B. Kapczynski, Sgt Charles S. Van Ornum and Sgt. Carl R. Hurlbutt were killed in the crash of their aircraft. Sgt Van Ornum is buried in Lorraine American Cemetery near Moselle, France. Sgt Arthur H. Driver was captured and became a Prisoner of War.

Sgt Donald F. Geng, a 359BS ball turret gunner shot down on 9 February 1945, met Sgt. Arthur H. Driver in the POW airman transit camp at Wetzler, Germany. Sgt Driver gave Sgt. Geng an account of his escape in the loss of Scorchy II: Sgt. Driver saw the tail of Scorchy II severed from the main body by a wingman flying slightly behind it as the turn was being on to the IP. Sgt. Driver managed to exit the tumbling tail through the tail escape door. He fell with his quick, attachable 'chute pack tied to the parachute with a three-foot piece of rope. He hauled in his 'chute and attached one side to the harness. He then pulled the rip cord without attaching the other side since the ground was very close. He made a hard landing, but was not injured. He was captured shortly after landing. Several days after his capture, the Germans showed him several identification dog tags that were recovered from a B-17 wreckage. They were the tags of his crew members. He believed that he was the only crew member to survive.

[photos courtesy of Jay Minnix and the Irue Ferguson Family - identification by Enrique Reider]
[Researched by 303rdBGA Historian Harry D. Gobrecht]