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Noel H Howard


Died 9/26/43 aboard a B-17F #42-30337 'Eight Ball' or 'Flak Hack' in the European Theater. Believed to have died from lack of oxygen due to damage to air supply in the plane during a bombing run. (not able to find squadron or info cross referencing this) Losses has no details other than Killed/died on this date. ABMC lists him with 30th Station Complement Squadron. Losses lists (390th B) 30th STN COM SQ

My name is Kenneth Howard, and am a first cousin to Noel Howard. The following is information that is explained in the text submitted.

Sometime around 2003, I was able to talk by phone with Dean Ferris, Bombardier of the  B-17 crew on the flight that Noel Howard died. Noel was my first cousin, and it was only known that he died from lack of oxygen. It is a long story about finding someone who put me in touch with Dean, so I will skip to the conversation.

Dean said that the mission that Noel died on, he was a fill in Radio operator, the regular R. O. was ill or otherwise unavailable for the flight.  Noel ran out to catch up with the crew, and introduced himself to Dean as the fill in for the mission.  Dean said he asked Noel if he was qualified also for gunnery as well as R.O., which he was. The mission took them over France, and heavy fighter aircraft was encountered,  as well as thunderstorms and turbulence. Dean said it was his duty to radio check with all crew members regularly to insure they were OK. Due to the fighter attack, he was delayed in making a scheduled oygen check, and when he did check, Noel didn't respond.  Dean then grabbed a portable oxygen tank and made his way to the R.O. station where he found Noel on the floor and unresponsive.  Also, his oxygen mask was off, and filled with frozen vomit which had clogged the mask. It was never determined whether he was airsick, or frightened causing the vomiting.  Upon return to base, an ambulance met the plane and took Noel away. Dean never saw him afterward.  A sad side note to the incident is that Dean said he never knew Noel's name until contact was made due to my attempt to learn more detail of Noel's death.  I was very grateful for his explanation, and as a result I was able to share the information with Noel's family and others.  Dean seemed pleased that after almost 60 years he finally learned who the young Radio Operator was that substituted that day, and gave his life in the process.


Units served with

  • 390th Bomb Group

    390th Bomb Group

    The 390th Bomb Group flew B-17 Flying Fortresses from Framlingham, Suffolk, between July 1943 and the end of the war in Europe. The Group was engaged in strategic missions until the invasion of Europe when its role became more of a tactical one. This...

  • 30th Station Complement Squadron
  • 570th Bomb Squadron


  • 42-30337 Eight Ball, 8 Ball, Flak Hack

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 18/5/43; Gore 20/5/43; Geiger 28/5/43; Gt Falls 7/6/43; Smoky Hill 2/7/43; Dow Fd 13/7/43; Assigned 570BS/390BG [DI-B] Framlingham 13/7/43 EIGHTBALL; Noel Howard (RO/Gunner) was Killed in Action 26/9/43; ...

Associated Place

  • Framlingham

    Military site : airfield
    Built for the Eighth Air Force from 1942 to 43, Framlingham was home first to the 95th Bomb Group, before that unit moved to RAF Alconbury. From 1943 to 1945, it was operated by the 390th Bomb Group. The airfield was handed back to the RAF in 1945, and...


Event Location Date
Born Biardstown, Texas 8 February 1917
Lived in Lamar County, TX, USA 1941
Died 26 September 1943

Plot F Row 3 Grave 45


Date Contributor Update
14 January 2020 19:18:17 jmoore43 Changes to events

Added the cemetery to the Burial event per Find-a-grave Memorial ID 56290844.

Date Contributor Update
22 December 2016 10:56:38 Lucy May Changes to service number, biography, awards, events, place associations and aircraft associations

Corrected serial number. Sources:
List of WWII Army and Army Air Force casualties for Lamar County, Texas via

Date Contributor Update
17 June 2015 02:13:24 Kenneth Howard Changes to events

Family records.

Date Contributor Update
17 June 2015 02:11:40 Kenneth Howard Changes to nickname and biography

Conversed with a crew member, Dean Ferris

Date Contributor Update
16 June 2015 23:14:07 Kenneth Howard Changes to biography

Information obtained from crew member on the mission when Noel Howard died.

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:20:35 AAM AAM ingest

Cousin, Unit Website, Losses of the 8th & 9th AFs Vol. 1 by Bishop & Hey p. 508, WWII Memorial / Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia