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358th O'Connor Crew
Oran T. O'Connor, Pilot
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B-17F Hell Cat (aka No Monkey Business) #41-24580 (VK-C)
(original crew assigned 358BS: 15 Sep 1942 - photo: Prestwick, Scotland, 13 Oct 1942)

1Lt Oran T. O'Connor (P)(POW), 2Lt Eldon T. Ruppe (CP)(Evd), 2Lt Bruce W. Gordon (N)(Evd),
2Lt Earl J. Dumont, Jr. (B)(POW), Capt Richard E. Van Holdt (Group Weather Officer)

T/Sgt Bernard H. Koenig (E)(POW), Sgt Bernard A. Gergash (R), Sgt Sidney V. Hall (G),
Sgt Jesse R. Kinney (G), Sgt Frank L. Batterson (TG)(POW)

crewmen are not in order

Four dispatched (3 credited) combat missions flown by 1Lt Oran T. O'Connor:
  • 03 - 22 Nov 1942 to Lorient, Fr
  • 06 - 12 Dec 1942 to Rouen, Fr
  • 07 - 20 Dec 1942 to Romilly, Fr (Non-credited aborted mission - Lower turret pressure relief valve trouble (2:30 flight time)
  • 11 - 23 Jan 1943 to Lorient/Brest, Fr
All four missions flown in B-17F Hell Cat aka No Monkey Business (358BS) VK-C

Crew Notes:

  • 1Lt Oran T. O'Connor (P)(POW) - Mission 3 flown as CoPilot with Maj. Charles E. Marion as Pilot. Other missions flown as First Pilot.
  • 2Lt Eldon T. Ruppe (CP)(Evd) - Two missions flown with 1Lt Oran T. O'Connor (6, 11). Two missions with other Pilots: Col James H. Wallace (2); 1Lt Robert S. O'Connor (5). Evaded capture and returned to England on 14 March 1943 (E&E #22).
  • 2Lt Bruce W. Gordon (N)(Evd) - Flew on all four of the dispatched missions of 1Lt Oran T. O'Connor plus two missions with other Pilots: Col. James H. Wallace (2), 1Lt Robert S. O'Connor (5). Evaded capture and returned to England on 14 March 1943 (E&E #21).
  • 2Lt Earl J. Dumont, Jr. (B)(POW) - Flew on three missions with 1Lt Oran T. O'Connor (6, 7, 11) and three mission with other Pilots: 1Lt Robert S. O'Connor (5), 1Lt Louis M. Schulstad 360BS (8) and 1Lt William H. Breed 360BS (9).
  • T/Sgt Bernard H. Koenig (E)(POW) - Flew on one mission with 1Lt Oran T. O'Connor as Right Waist Gunner (3) and was dispatched on 25 missions with other Pilots (1(A), 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, 12, 13, 16, 28, 29, 33, 34, 35, 36, 38, 39, 40, 42, 43, 44, 47, 48). Became an Evadee (E∧E No. 63) on mission 48, 4 July 1943, to Le Mans, France in B-17F 42-5792 The Mugger (358BS) VK-I, Pilot 1Lt Robert S. O'Connor (2 KIA, 4 POW, 4 Evadee). Lost to enemy air action and crashed near Malicorne, France.
  • Sgt Bernard A. Gergash (R)(POW) - Flew on one mission with 1Lt Oran T. O'Connor (3) and 12 dispatched missions with other Pilots (1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 10, 17, 18, 19, 21, 23, 24). Became a POW on mission 24, 18 March 1943. to Vegesack, Germany, in B-17F 42-24558 Hunga Dunga (358BS) VK-F) after being hit by German flak over the target and crashed on the Jadesusen Flats area of Whilhelmshaven, Germany (5 KIA and 5 POW). 1Lt Charles N. Austin, Pilot.
  • Sgt Frank L. Batterson (TG)(POW) - Flew on one missions with 1Lt Oran T. O'Connor (11) on which he became a POW and on six dispatched missions with 1Lt Joseph E. Haas, Pilot (1 (A), 2, 4, 6, 7, 10).
  • Sgt Sidney V. Hall (BTG)(POW) - Flew on no missions with 1Lt Oran T. O'Connor and on 15 dispatched missions with other Pilots (1, 2, 4, 15, 21, 22, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43). Became a POW on Mission 43, 22 June 1943, to Huls, Germany in B-17F 42-5432 The Hunting Club (358BS) VK-B, 1Lt Ray W. Jess, Pilot (MACR 3077 - 6 KIA and 4 POW). Was lost to anti- aircraft fire and crashed at Berg Bossendorf, Germany.
  • Sgt Jesse R. Kinney (BTG) - Flew on no missions with 1Lt Oran T. O'Connor and eight dispatched missions with other Pilots: 1Lt Joseph E. Haas (1 (A) & 2); 1Lt Robert J. Nolan (5, 6, 9, 12, 13, 14). Froze his feet on mission 13, 2 Feb 1943, due to a short in his electric flying shoes.
Substitute Crewmen on the four 1Lt Oran T. O'Connor Missions:
  • Pilot Maj Charles E. Marion (3)
  • CoPilot 1Lt Glenn F. Shumake (7)
  • Bomb Lt Albert W. Dieffenbach (3) - Dispatched on 26 missions
  • Nav No substitutes
  • Eng T/Sgt Merle S. Mullendore (3, 6, 7, 11) - POW on mission #11
  • Radio Sgt Norman Hughes (6, 7, 11) - POW on mission #11
  • BTG Sgt Arthur Brunett (3, .6, 7)- KIA on his 8th mission (#9) -- Sgt Clinton G. Fincher (11) - POW on mission #11
  • RWG Sgt Lester M. Roebuck (6, 7, 11) - POW on mission #11
  • LWG Sgt John E. Hill (6) - Dispatched on 26 missions -- Sgt Jack Lucas (3, 7, 11) - POW on mission #11
  • TG Sgt Emile V. Bitter, Jr. (3, 6, 7) - Dispatched on 28 missions
(POW-EVD) - Mission #11, 23 Jan 1943 to Lorient, France Shot down by enemy fighters. Was last seen with #4 engine feathered and #1 engine smoking. Went down in region between Brest and the coast ditching in the Bay of Biscay.

Overseas Flight from Kellogg Field, Battle Creek, MI to Molesworth The following original Biggs Field, TX 1Lt Oran T. O'Conner Crewmen had substitutes on the overseas flight:
Navigator 2Lt William J. Anderson for 1Lt Bruce W. Gordon
Bombardier 2Lt Earl A. Steele for 2Lt Earle J. Dumont, Jr
Engineer T/Sgt Bernard H. Koenig for T/Sgt Merle S. Mullendore
Radio Pvt Bernard A. Gergash for Sgt Norman M. Hughes
Gunner Sgt Sidney V. Hall for Sgt Arthur Brunnet
Gunner Sgt Jesse R. Kinney for Sgt Jack Lucas

POW Experiences of Merle Mullendore
as told to his daughter Linda Hill


Merle Mullendore flew five missions with his own crew and three missions with other crews. He was trying to fly as many missions as possible because Betty was expecting their first child in the end of February, and the crews were sent home after twenty-five missions.

Before the eighth mission, the fifth with his crew, his pilot, Oran T. O'Connor got into an argument with then Colonel Wallace. He was upset that Colonel Wallace had him always flying as second pilot when he should be flying first pilot. So on that fateful day of January 23, 1943, Colonel Wallace put them in the last position of the formation. That's the one position that received most of the flack.

The officers that flew with him that day were first pilot 1Lt Oran T. O'Connor, and the co-pilot was 2Lt Eldon T. Ruppe. The bombardier was 2Lt Earle J. Dumont, who operated the nose gun. The navigator was 2Lt Bruce W. Gordon. The other crew men were Sgt Norman Hughes, the radio operator, and S/Sgt Frank L. Batterson the Tail-gunner. Sgt Clifton E. Fincher was the Ball-Turret gunner and the Waist-gunners was Sgt Jack Lucus and Sgt Lester M. Robuck. . . . continued . . .

[photo from the 303rdBGA Archives]
[Researched by 303rdBGA Historian Harry D. Gobrecht]