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MELVIN ALDERMAN CREW - 427th BS
(Alderman assigned 427th BS: 01 December 1944)
(Upgraded from CoPilot, Grafton S. Smith Crew, to Pilot: 16 March 1945)
2Lt Melvin Alderman (P)(KIA),
2Lt Roman M. Ley (CP)(KIA),
Sgt Roaul R. Prieto (E)(KIA),
Sgt Don M. Beebe (BT)(KIA),
Mission #353, 06 April 1945, to Leipzig, Germany
Two aircraft were missing as a result of a mid-air collision shortly before reaching the target at Leipzig: #43-38958, Green Hill Belle, 427BS, and #44-8647 (No Name), 360BS-M. The dense contrails appeared to contribute directly to the collision. There were no parachutes observed leaving either B-17. Both aircraft crashed at Loessnitz, Germany, approximately 50 km south of Leipzig. #43-38958, piloted by 2Lt Melvin Alderman, exploded in the air after the collision and broke up into small parts--some were on fire. All eight crewmen were killed. F/O Thomas, 2Lt Weinberg, and Sgt Prieto are buried in Ardennes American Cemetery near Liege, Belgium.
The tail assembly broke and the No. 3 engine caved in with the propeller off on #44-8647, piloted by 2Lt Howard C. Lacker. Other crews spotted the aircraft going down in a flat spin. It appeared that the engines had been out because the propellers turned slowly. Also killed in the crash were 2Lt Alexander Kacus, 2Lt James B. O'Neil, S/Sgt Clarence Mooneyham, S/Sgt Francis E. Bratcher, T/Sgt Lane Foster, Sgt Robert R. Reynolds, Sgt Louis V. Garbarino, Jr., Sgt Oscar F. Bonner. 2Lt O'Neil, S/Sgt Mooneyham, S/Sgt Bratcher and Sgt Garbarino are buried in Ardennes American Cemetery near Liege, Belgium. Click here for crash site photos.
Six members of the two crews are buried in a common grave at the Zachary Taylor National Cemetery, Louisville, KY. They are: 2Lt Melvin Alderman, Sgt Oscar F. Bonner, Jr., T/Sgt Lane Foster, 2Lt Howard C. Lacker, 2Lt Roman M. Ley and Sgt Robert R. Reynolds.
[Researched by 303rdBGA Historian Harry D. Gobrecht]