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John J Askins Jr

Military

First Lieutenant John J. Askins, Jr. was a pilot with the 91st Bomb Group, 401st Squadron (Bassingbourn). He and his crew primarily flew B-17G S/N 42-97851, the "Qualified Quail". This aircraft was badly damaged on a mission to Cologne on October 15th 1944. Askins was shot down near Westeroden, Germany on November 2nd 1944, while flying "USA The Hard Way", S/N 44-6093, on a mission to bomb the infamous "Leunawerkes" synthetic fuel plant near Merseburg. This mission resulted in the loss of 13 91st BG aircraft, one of the highest single-day losses of the war.

He recalled: ‘When we were hit, I didn’t realize it was flak but thought it was an explosion from a leaking gas line near the top turret. The cockpit immediately filled with smoke. I was able to reach the auto-pilot and steered the plane to the left, out of formation, to avoid striking another plane’. He bailed out, after rescuing his flight engineer, whose parachute had caught fire, and became a Prisoner of War, interred first at Stalag Luft III, near Sagan, and later at Stalag VIIA, near Moosburg.

The Silver Star was awarded to him in July 1988 after a recommendation from his crew mate, radio operator Roger Armstrong, for conduct during the bailout from their damaged B-17 on November 2nd 1944.

Further details on the experiences of Askins and his crew are detailed in Armstrong's book "USA The Hard Way". (Quail House Publishing, 1991).

Service

People

  • Randall Archer

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Co-Pilot | 91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars
    Killed in Action (KIA) Crashed at Westeroden in B-17 44-6093

  • Roger Armstrong

    Military | Sergeant | Radio Operator | 91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars
    Prisoner of War (POW) Crashed on 11/2/44 at Westeroden in B-17 #446093. ...

  • Anthony DellaPorta

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Navigator | 91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars
    2nd Lt. Anthony (Tony) Dela Porta was a navigator serving in the 401st Squadron, 91st Bomb Group (Bassingbourn). His primary aircraft was B-17G S/N 42-97851 ("Qualified Quail"). He and his crew were shot down while flying B-17G S/N 44-6093 ("USA The...

  • Roy Loyless

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Tail Gunner | 91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars
    Shot down, 15th mission, Merseburg 2 November 1944. Prisoner of War (POW), Stalag Luft IV, Stalag Luft I. Captured -- in new Ford truck, Henry Ford plant Cologne during War. Might have got away if it hadn't been for Ford truck the home guard had. ...

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Units served with

  • 91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars

    91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars

    Group
    The 91st Bombardment Group (Heavy) was activated at Harding Field, Louisiana on 15-April-1942 and went to MacDill Field, Florida for the first phase of training from 16-May-1942 to 25-June-1942. The Group was then assigned to 2nd Air Force at Walla...

  • 401st Bomb Squadron

Aircraft

  • 42-97851 Qualified Quail

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Tulsa 15/3/44; Kearney 4/5/44; Grenier 26/5/44; Assigned 401BS/91BG [LL-K] Bassingbourn 3/6/44; 72m battle damaged Cologne 14/1/45 with Wilbur Seller; force landed Denain Afd, Fr; Salvaged 28/1/45. QUALIFIED QUAIL.

  • 44-6093 USA The Hard Way

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Tulsa 29/4/44; Hunter 5/5/44; Grenier 19/5/44; Assigned 401BS/91BG [LL-J] Bassingbourn 27/5/44; 47m Missing in Action Merseburg 2/11/44 with Pilot: John Askins, Navigator: Tony Della Porta, Bombardier: Paul Collier, Flight engineer/top turret...

Missions

  • 698

    2 November 1944

Associated Place

  • Bassingbourn

    Military site : airfield
    Now home to a museum all about the aifield and its USAAF residents (http://www.towermuseumbassingbourn.co.uk/) , Bassingbourn opened in 1938 as part of the RAF's pre-war expansion programme. The RAF continued to use it until late in 1942 when its long...

  • American Air Museum

    Other location

  • Stalag VII-A

    Other location

Events

Event Location Date
Born Oakland, California 4 April 1922
Prisoner of war Zagan (Sagan) Poland, site of Stalag Luft III 2 November 1944 – 29 April 1945

Interred initially in Stalag Luft III, near Sagan, later moved to Stalag VIIA, near Moosburg. Liberated from Stalag VIIA on April 29th 1945 by elements of the U.S. 14th Armored Division.

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
18 December 2020 23:20:40 pdaskins Changes to biography and events
Sources

Biography edited to include further background on Askins and where he was interred as a POW. Primary Source: "USA The Hard Way" by Roger Armstrong, (Quail House Publishing, 1991)

Date Contributor Update
06 September 2018 11:57:44 psan5722 Changes to person associations
Sources

This website

Date Contributor Update
14 August 2018 10:17:36 general ira snapsorter Changes to biography, events and place associations
Sources

Merged with duplicate entry to include details from:
- MACR 10141;
- Paul Andrews, Project Bits and Pieces, 8th Air Force Roll of Honor database.

American Air Museum text from displays.

Date Contributor Update
04 November 2015 20:23:10 pdaskins Changes to service number, person associations, place associations and mission associations
Sources

Added service number, connections to other crew members, and last mission.
Paul Askins
(son of John J. Askins)

Date Contributor Update
04 November 2015 20:09:17 pdaskins Changes to awards
Sources

I am in possession of the Silver Star and POW medals that were my father's, First Lieutenant John J. Askins, Jr. The Silver Star was awarded to him in July 1988 after a recommendation from his crew mate, Roger Armstrong, for conduct during the bailout from their damaged B-17 on November 2nd 1944.

Date Contributor Update
27 February 2015 17:27:29 Pat Flyer Changes to aircraft associations
Sources

B-17G QUALIFIED QUAIL by Patrick Milward

Date Contributor Update
30 September 2014 09:32:23 PhillWray Changes to biography
Sources

Source : updated from American Air Museum caption

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:16:12 AAM AAM ingest
Sources

Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia / MACR 10141

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