The B-24D, named 'The Sandman' and flown by Lt. Robert Sternfels in the 9th Air force, the 98th Bomb Group, and the 345th Bomb Squadron, flew on the famous mission to destroy the German held oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania. Lt. Sternfels flew in Flight 1, the first line of the 98th Bomb Group's airplanes, taking Lt. Nespor's place, as he had crashed on takeoff at Lete, three planes to the right of the Group Leader, Col John Kane's Lead aircraft, 'Hail Columbia'. After Sternfels bombed his target, "White IV", 'The Sandman' hit a barrage balloon cable, which struck the prop of Sternfels' #3 engine (inboard engine right wing) with minor scratches on it's prop blades and fuselage side. Sternfels followed his leader's crippled airplane, 'Hail Columbia' south, as they made their escape away from the flak guns and fighter airplanes of the German defenses south of Ploesti. He followed 'Hail Columbia' through Turkey, across the Aegean Sea to the British airbase at Nicosia, Cyprus, where he landed safely behind Col. Walter Stewart in his B-24, 'Utah Man', and Lt. Royden LeBrecht flying "The Squaw'. As they approached Cyprus, Gilbert Hadley had turned back to the Turkish coast, low on gas. Col. Kane crash landed and wrote off his plane, 'Hail Columbia' after hitting a ditch the British built across the runway's threshold. Lt Hadley tried to ditch "Hadley's Harem' just off the Turkish coast but drowned, trapped in the cockpit of his wrecked bomber as it sank in the ocean. Lt. Sternfels gave Col. John Kane and his copilot, Lt. John Young, a ride in 'The Sandman' back to their base at Benghazi, the next day after the Ploesti mission.
Crew of 'The Sandman' on the Ploesti raid:
1st Lt. Robert W. Sternfels - Pilot, 2nd Lt. Barney Jackson - CoPilot
2nd Lt. Anthony W. Flesch - Navigator, 2nd Lt. David A. Polaschek - Bombadier
T/Sgt. William W. Stout - Flight Engineer/Gunner, T/Sgt. Frank Just - Radio Operator/Gunner
Sgt. Raymond E. Stewart - Gunner, Sgt. Harry Rifkin - Waist Gunner
Sgt. Merle B. Bowen - Waist Gunner, S/Sgt. John T. Weston - Ball Turret Tail Gunner (WIA - 2nd degree burns on lower right leg)
The B-24D 'Joisey Bounce' was assigned to Pilot Col. Walter T. Stewart of the 330 Bomb Squadron, 93rd Bomb Group, 8th Air Force, for the famous mission to bomb the oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania, Aug 1,1943. Col. Stewart changed his assigned plane...
- Not to be confused with #42-40608, 'THE VULGAR VIRGIN' of the 8th Air Force - 93rd Bomb Group - 328th Bomb Squadron - It also flew on the Ploesti mission, piloted by Lt. Claude Turner - Interned Turkey Aug 1, 1943 - Lt. Turner escaped from the...
The B-24D, 'Hail Columbia', # 41-11825, originally served in the 9th Air Force, the 98th Bomb Group, and the 344th Bombing Squadron. It was, first, the 344th Squadron's CO, Col. John R. Kane's, personal aircraft until Kane became the 98th Bomb Group's...
The 98th trained for bombardment missions with B-24 Liberators during the first half of 1942.
Established as a B-24 Liberator heavy bomb squadron and trained by Third Air Force. Deployed to Egypt in June 1942 over South Atlantic Transport Route transiting from Morrison Field, Florida though the Caribbean to Brazil; performed trans-Atlantic...
Military | Staff Sergeant | Waist Gunner | 98th Bomb Group
SSgt. Neville C. Bensen took part in Operation Tidal Wave, the raid on Ploesti on 1 August 1943. He was a waist gunner in the Element Lead B-24D Liberator, # 41-11825, 'Hail Columbia', piloted by Col. John R. "Killer" Kane and Lt. John S. Young. He...
Military | First Lieutenant | B-24D Pilot | 98th Bomb Group
First Lieutenant Gilbert Benny Hadley was a B-24D Liberator bomber pilot with the 9th Air Force, the 98th Bomb Group, "The Pyramiders", and the 344th Bombing Squadron, from Texas, based at Cairo, Egypt, Tobruk, and Benghazi, Libya, in the Mediterranean...
Military | Second Lieutenant | B-24D Co-Pilot | 389th Bomb Group
2nd Lt. Ronald Lee Helder was a B-24 pilot in the 8th Air Force, the 389th Bomb Group, and the 564th Bombing Squadron in WWII. He flew as Co-pilot with his friend, Command Pilot Lt. Lloyd H. Hughes, in the B-24D Lt. Helder called, 'Ole Kickapoo',...
Military | Colonel | Commanding Officer, Command Pilot | 98th Bomb Group
John Riley Kane (January 5, 1907 – May 29, 1996) was a colonel in the United States Army Air Corps and later the United States Air Force. He received the U.S. military's highest decoration, the Congressional Medal of Honor in World War II, for his...
Military | Colonel | Bombardier Navigator | 98th Bomb Group
Lt. Harold Korger was a bombardier in the 344th Bombardment Squadron, 98th Bomb Group, 9th Air Force. He flew on the famous mission, Operation Tidal Wave, Aug 1, 1943, to knock out the oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania. ...
Military | Captain | B-24 Command Pilot | 98th Bomb Group
Lt. Royden Louis LeBrecht was a B-24 Command pilot of the B-24D, #4111761, The 'Squaw' in North Africa in 1942-43. Lt. Lebrecht flew on Operation Tidal Wave, the Aug 1 1943 Ploesti raid, with the 9th Air Force, the 98th Bombardment Group, and the 344th...
Military | First Lieutenant | B-24D Command Pilot | 98th Bomb Group
Pilot Lt. Sam Neeley flew his B-24D, named, 'Raunchy' on "Operation Tidal Wave", the famous bombing raid to destroy the German held oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania, one of the most desperate and daring bombing raids of WWII.
Military | First Lieutenant | B-24 Command Pilot | 98th Bomb Group
1st Lt. Robert James Nespor, Jr. was a B-24D command bomber pilot in the 9th Air Force, the 98th Bombardment Group, "The Pyramiders", and the 330th Bombing Squadron. For the huge mission to bomb the oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania, on Operation...
Military | Major | B-24D Command Pilot | 98th Bomb Group
Lt. Robert Sternfels was a B-24D command bomber pilot in WWII in the 9th Air Force, the 98th Bombing Group, the Pyramiders, and the 345th Bombing Squadron. Lt. Sternfels flew the famous B-24D bomber, 'The Sandman' on Operation Tidal Wave, which sought...
Military | Major | Navigator / Nose Gunner | 98th Bomb Group
Norman Whalen joined the Army Air Corps in 1941. After graduating from Navigator School in Monroe, Louisiana, he received his commission as a Second Lieutenant and was assigned to the 9th Air force, the 98th Bomb Group, and the 344th Bombing Squadron...
1 August 1943
Operation TIDAL WAVE. B24D Liberators attack the oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania. The bombers flew low to avoid radar detection and dropped time delayed bombs. Out of the 177 B-24s that took part in the raid 167 managed to attack their targets. 57 B...
||19 December 1943
Lost on a mission to Augsburg, Germany on December 19th 1943. Pilot John W Viers, Co-Pilot William Smyser & Navigator Stanley Napierala. MACR 1641.