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Radio Operator on the 360th 2Lt Victor Howard Crew
Mission #248 – 28 September 1944 – Target: Magdeburg, Germany
28 Sept 44 - Pilot: 1Lt V.L. Howard, 360BS B-17: #43-37930 (No name) - Mission to Magdeburg, Germany. B-17 crashed near Ohrum S/Wolfenbuttel. Radio Operator Sgt Sheppard Kerman was murdered. (Sgt Claude McGraw, Engineer, advised that Sgt Kerman was conscious with minor wounds when he bailed out.
Sgt Kerman's parachute fouled on the roof of a two story house at Wolfenbuttel and kept swinging in front of a window. Some Germans in Army and Nazi Party uniforms entered the house and pulled Sgt Kerman into a room on the second floor. A captain ordered that Sgt Kerman be shot and killed with a pistol. All the time Sgt Kerman had his arms raised as a token of surrender. The German Captain was sentenced to death by hanging in a post-war war crimes trial at Dachau for the murder of Sgt Kerman and two others received life imprisonment. (Cases 12-1104 and 12-1104-1) per John A. Hey, Netherlands Historian.
More than 60 years after the murder, a series of curious circumstance led Sgt. Kerman's nephew Matthew Smith to pick up the trail of his Uncle's killing. In addition to attending the 303rd's Final Reunion in Arlington, Va, Smith and his wife Elvira have made two pilgrimages to Wolfenbuttel, Germany to learn more about the circumstances surrounding the slaying.
Their first trip to Wolfenbuttel in October 2007 generated an abundance of new information including the unintended discovery of two eye witnesses who lived just steps from where the murder took place. Below is the story of their trip from the Chicago Sun-Times. A story was also published in the German newspaper BRAUNSCHWEIGER ZEITUNG. You can read it here in German or translated into English. You can read it here in German or translated into English.
The second journey to Wolfenbuttel took place in September of 2008 and featured a meeting with Mayor Thomas Pink, discussions with a new eyewitness who had followed Kerman's parachute descent and gave details about life in the wartime city and continued dialogue with Wilfried Knauer, Director of Wolfenbuttel's Memorial to the Victims of the Nazi Regime.
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Loyola Magazine's Spring 2009 Edition also writes on Smith's visit. You can view that article here.
Trial Summaries and Transcripts
Below are letters from Chaplain Edmund J. Skoner, Adjutant Lewis C. Jurgensen, 303rd BG Commanding Officer LtCol Walter K. Shayler and a telegram received by the family of Sheppard Kerman.
Long after being notified of his death, the family of Sheppard Kerman was mistakenly led to believe that he was still alive and a POW.