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Stanley William Vitkavage

Military

My father, Stanley William Vitkavage, was assigned to the 701st Bombing Squadron of the 445th Bomb Group flying out of Tibenham, England. He was flying a B-24J Liberator (tail number 42-51506) when the aircraft was lost on 27 Feb 1945. There is a MACR #12778. http://www.aviationarchaeology.com/src/dbmpilot.asp?Pilot=vitkavage&Subm...
We have various first-hand reports of the events of the day of his last mission. One such report states that Lt. Koupal was the navigator on the last flight my father piloted before being shot down and captured by the Germans. They departed from England on a bombing mission to Halle, Germany, that day. The bomber was last sighted at 2:45 p.m., South of Koblenz, Germany. At this time, the plane was observed to be having difficulty and was lagging behind the formation, however it appeared to be under control. My father's oral history given to me after the War includes his recollection of the plane having been struck by enemy fire. Upon ejection from the plane, my father was reported missing in action over Germany in both a telegram and a letter sent to his sister, NOK, Antoinette Hicks, by J. A. Ulio, Major General, The Adjutant General, from the War Department in Washington, D.C. on 23 March 1945. In fact, my father recalled to me that one member of his crew was killed instantly upon ejection and another who - during the time of their capture - they had not known his whereabouts, was later discovered to have been shot and killed by a German soldier. Upon landing on the ground in the Black Forest, my Dad told me he and the other crew members who survived were taken captive by the Germans. The official documents and records we have concur with his description of conditions as a POW. He also recounted that on the night before their return to US military control, he and the other POW's were taunted by the German soldiers who had been telling them they would be killed in the morning. In fact, when they awoke the morning of 29 April 1945, they discovered the camp (Stalag 7A, Moosburg) had been abandoned by the Germans, who he presumed fled so as not to face charges or trial for War crimes.
Prisoner of War (POW) crashed on 27 Feb 45 in B-24 #42-51506 at Betzenhausen.

Service

People

  • Warren Anderson

    Military | Sergeant | Nose Gunner | 445th Bomb Group
    Warren Anderson was Nose Turret Gunner on board of B-24 42-51506 on the 27 February 1945 mission to the Halle Marshalling Yards, Germany. Crashed Betzenhausen, 1,5km NW of Freiburg-im-Breisgau, Germany. Prisoner of War (POW).

  • Allan Burns

    Military | Sergeant | Radio Operator | 445th Bomb Group
    Allan Burns was Radio Operator/Gunner on board of B-24 42-51506 on the 27 February 1945 mission to the Halle Marshalling Yards, Germany. Crashed Betzenhausen, 1,5km NW of Freiburg-im-Breisgau, Germany. Prisoner of War (POW).

  • Felix Kolasinski

    Military | Sergeant | Left Waist Gunner | 445th Bomb Group
    Felix Kolasinski was Left Waist Gunner on board of B-24 42-51506 on the 27 February 1945 mission to the Halle Marshalling Yards, Germany. He baled out in the vicinity of Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany. According to US trial Review and Recommendations...

  • Lambert Koupal

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Navigator / Bombardier | 445th Bomb Group
    Lambert Koupal was Navigator/Bombardier on board of B-24 42-51506 on the 27 February 1945 mission to the Halle Marshalling Yards, Germany. Crashed Betzenhausen, 1,5km NW of Freiburg-im-Breisgau, Germany. Killed In Action (KIA).

  • Eugene Smietana

    Military | Sergeant | Right Waist Gunner | 445th Bomb Group
    Eugene Smietana was Right Waist Gunner on board of B-24 42-51506 on the 27 February 1945 mission to the Halle Marshalling Yards, Germany. Crashed Betzenhausen, 1,5km NW of Freiburg-im-Breisgau, Germany. Prisoner of War (POW).

  • Ralph Squires

    Military | Sergeant | Tail Gunner | 445th Bomb Group
    Ralph Squires was Tail Gunner on board of B-24 42-51506 on the 27 February 1945 mission to the Halle Marshalling Yards, Germany. Crashed Betzenhausen, 1,5km NW of Freiburg-im-Breisgau, Germany. Prisoner of War (POW). He was one of six brothers who all...

  • James Sullivan

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Co-Pilot | 445th Bomb Group
    James Sullivan was Co-Pilot on board of B-24 42-51506 on the 27 February 1945 mission to the Halle Marshalling Yards, Germany. Crashed Betzenhausen, 1,5km NW of Freiburg-im-Breisgau, Germany. Prisoner of War (POW). ...

  • Louie Tillery

    Military | Sergeant | Top Turret Gunner | 445th Bomb Group
    Louie Tillery was Top Turret Gunner on board of B-24 42-51506 on the 27 February 1945 mission to the Halle Marshalling Yards, Germany. Crashed Betzenhausen, 1,5km NW of Freiburg-im-Breisgau, Germany. Prisoner of War (POW).

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Units served with

  • 445th Bomb Group

    445th Bomb Group

    Group
    The 445th Bomb Group flew B-24 Liberators from Tibenham, Norfolk. The crews' first mission was bombing U-boat installations at Kiel on 13 December 1943. The Group continued to hit strategic targets in Germany, including the aircraft components factory...

  • 701st Bomb Squadron

Aircraft

  • 42-51506

    B-24 Liberator
    Over target area (Halle, Germany), pilot Stanley Vitkavage feathered one engine (mechanical malfunction?). A/C gradually fell back and was last seen over the Koblenz area. Near Freiburg/Breisgau the plane was hit and the crew bailed out. Crashed...

Missions

  • 8th Air Force 851

    27 February 1945
    1,107 bombers and 745 fighters are dispatched to hit road and rail communications at Halle and Leipzig using H2X radar

Associated Place

  • Tibenham

    Military site : airfield
    Tibenham was built in 1941-1942 by W and C French Ltd with a standard 2,000 yard main runway, and two other runways both 1,400 feet in length. Accommodation was provided for a full USAAF heavy bomber group in dispersed sites. Personnel of the 320th...

Events

Event Location Date
Born Carbondale, PA 3 August 1922
Lived in 1942

Kings County, New York

Enlisted 12 October 1942

as a Private in the Air Corps, in New York City, New York

captured 27 February 1945

in the immediate vicinity of Freiburg, Germany, after he baled out of B-24 42-51506

Prisoner of War (POW) 27 February 1945 – 29 April 1945

PW#10996. Interned in Germany; ended up in Stalag 7A in Moosburg, Germany. That camp was liberated by Gen. Patton’s troops on 29 April 1945.

Died 3 December 1993

Queens, New York

Buried 5 December 1993

Stanley Vitkavage rests at the Calverton National Cemetery, Calverton, Suffolk County, New York

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
28 March 2019 15:08:26 ED-BB Changes to middlename, service number, biography, events, person associations and place associations
Sources

MACR 12778
NARA WWII Enlistment records
VETERANS’ BIRLS files
> Corrected a few typos and the Navigator's name in Biography : Koupal instead of Kopel.

Date Contributor Update
28 May 2018 17:22:21 Vitkvage2LtB24PilotStanleyFamily Changes to awards
Sources

Original Military Record and Report of Separation, Certificate of Service

We believe he also received other awards/medals, but are currently searching for this information.

Date Contributor Update
28 May 2018 17:12:41 Vitkvage2LtB24PilotStanleyFamily Changes to biography and events
Sources

Various original documents, telegraphs, letters from War Department and official military records and reports given to us by my father and his family members after the War.

Date Contributor Update
28 May 2018 17:06:00 Vitkvage2LtB24PilotStanleyFamily Changes to biography and events
Sources

Various original documents, telegraphs, letters from War Department and official military records and reports given to us by my father and his family members after the War.

Date Contributor Update
28 May 2018 17:03:19 Vitkvage2LtB24PilotStanleyFamily Changes to nickname, service number, biography and events
Sources

Various original telegraphs, letters from War Department and original military records and reports given to us by my father and his family members after the War.

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:25:22 AAM AAM ingest
Sources

Birsic / MACR 12778 / Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia / MACR 12778 / Paul Andrews, Project Bits and Pieces, 8th Air Force Roll of Honor database

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