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360th Skerpon Crew
Melvin Skerpon, Pilot
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(Crew formed in Sep 1943 at Pyote, TX -
assigned 360BS: 05 Jan 1944 - photo: Pyote, TX, Sep 1943)

(Back L-R) Sgt John L. Brewster (E)(*)(3), Sgt Edgar W. Cole (RWG)(*),
Sgt Gaylord W. Geisman (R)(WIA)(4), Sgt Marion F. Fitko (LWG)(*),
Sgt Myrl E. Youngs (BT)(KIS), Sgt Marvin R. Edwards (TG)(*)

(Front L-R) Lt Melvin Skerpon (P)(KIS), Lt John E. Stevens (CP)(*)(2),
Lt Samuel P. Fleming (N)(*), Lt Robert A. Finley (B)(*)

Crew Note - A crew that eventually had four different Pilots
See book "Flying with the Hell's Angels" by Samuel P. Fleming. Book contains the story of the Skerpon Crew and the Skerpon Crew photo appears on the cover of the book.

(KIS) Killed in Service - Skerpon (P) & Youngs (BT): Upon completion of crew training at Pyote, AAF TX the crew was sent to Presque Isle, Maine on 29 November 1943 for overseas deployment via the Air Transport Command. The crew was divided into two groups for transport in separate aircraft. Group 1: Skerpon (P), Fleming (N), Youngs (BT), Geisman (R) & Brewster (E); Group 2: Stevens (CP), Finley (B), Cole (RWG), Fitko (LWG) & Edwards (TG). After several takeoff delays Lt Skerpon met one of his flight school friends who had two empty places in the B-17 that he was flying to England. Lt's Skerpon and Fleming decided to fly in this B-17 with the others in Group 1 to fly in another aircraft. At the last minute Lt Skerpon asked Sgt Youngs (BT) to fly with him instead of Lt Fleming (N). The B-17 with Lt Skerpon and Sgt Youngs ran out of fuel and crashed near the coast of northern Ireland. Seven of the eleven men on the aircraft were killed. Some others were severely injured. After arriving in England, the other eight Skerpon crewmen, were assigned to the 360th BS in early January 1944. See the MACR for the accident, courtesy of Dennis Burke.

Crew replacements: Lt John F. Coppom (P)(*)(1), replacing Lt Skerpon; Sgt John D. Deffinger (BT)(*)(5), replacing Sgt Youngs.

(*) Completed combat tours and returned to the USA

  1. Coppom (P)(*) - Was CoPilot on Lt. William C. Heller Crew assigned to the 360 BS on 24 September 1943 [See 360th Heller Crew photo]. Upgraded to Pilot on 27 December 1943. Took over the Skerpon Crew as Pilot on 05 January 1944 after having completed 17 combat missions. Flew his last combat mission on 02 March 1944. The new replacement Pilot was Lt David F. Hicks (CoPilot on the Lt Leo B. McGrath Crew), assigned to the 360th BS on 27 October 1943 and completed his 25 mission combat tour on 26 March 1944

  2. Stevens (CP) - Upgraded from CoPilot to Pilot. Took over the Skerpon/Coppom/ Hicks Crew as Pilot on the 22 March 1944 mission to Berlin, Germany.

  3. Brewster (E) - Killed on a flight training mission in the USA after WWII.

  4. Geisman (R-WIA) - Sustained a head wound on 16 March 1944 over Munich, Germany and a mission to Augsburg. Evacuated to USA for medical treatment. Died a few years later from injury complications.

  5. Deffinger (BT) - Assigned to the 427 th BS on 06 June 1943 and had flown 17 combat missions before being assigned to the Coppom Crew on 05 Jan 1944 [See 360th Cogswell Crew ]

[photo courtesy of Samuel P. Fleming]
[Researched by 303rdBGA Historian Harry D. Gobrecht]