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Leif Robert Ostnes

Military

Leif R. Ostnes was born in Discovery Otter in the Iditarod country of the Territory of Alaska December 28, 1918. Discovery Otter is named for the discovery of gold December 25, 1908 on Otter Creek. The area has other nearby prominent mining areas, Flat Creek and Willow Creek. Iditarod City was the commercial port and largest community. The Iditarod strike was the 4th largest gold strike in Alaska.
Leif had finished one year at the University of Washington and was mining when WWII called. He was already a pilot so entered the Army Air Corps. He was in Marfa Texas for training in 1943. He was then sent to Oklahoma as a B-17 pilot instructor. He was assigned to the 384th Bomb Group 546th Bomb Squadron on AAF Station 106 in January 1945. He flew 19 missions in various B-17s with two landings on the continent due to mechanical problems. He was Co-Pilot to William G. Gregg on his first mission on 9 February 1945 on Satan's Playmate (42-97510). Among the other Fortresses he himself piloted, he remembers Swamp Angel (42-98027), Terrible Ute, Buckeye Belle (44-8541) and Baby Judy as some of his aircraft. The B-17 he piloted on most missions (8) was 43-39197 (School Marm). His 18th and last mission with the 384th was the 20 April 1945 one to Brandenburg. He flew free French back from Morocco after the war ended.
He returned to his wife and two children, relocated to Fairbanks, Alaska and had three more children. All were raised from his salary as a miner or heavy duty mechanic. He flew a Fairchild 24 for many years and a Cunningham Hall. Because of his love of the "little friends" to the B-17s, he built a 1/2 scale P-47 which he added a Continental 200 engine. He painted the plane in 384th Bomb Group, 546th Bomb Squadron colors by making the cowling red. Soon after speed testing the plane he had a stroke and died in September of 1989. The P47 plane now resides in the Aviation Museum in Fairbanks, Alaska.
Leif is buried in Washelli Cemetery in Seattle Washington. Included on his stone is a plane in remembrance of his love of flying.
Service Awards
03/02/45 Awarded Air Medal
04/24/45 Awarded 2 Oak Leaf Clusters
05/08/45 Unconditional Surrender from Axis Powers
American Theater Services Medal World War II
Victory Medal European, African, Middle Eastern Services Medal with 3 Bronze Stars
A set of 2 Captain Bars made of material instead of metal were in his possession so they may have been given in the field and not ever recognized in the records.

Lt. Leif R. Ostnes Missions
01/21/45 Arrive 106 APO 557 8th Air Force, 1st division, 41st Wing, 384th Bomb Group (H) 546th Squadron

02/09/45 Mission 1 Merseberg, Germany Co-Pilot B-17G 42-97510
Target: Synthetic Oil Plant Target Type: Oil Industry Lützkendorf, Germany
Lt. Leif R. Ostnes Co-Pilot to Lt. William Grieg in B-17 aircraft numbered 42-97510. It was model 17G-15-VE with the markings of BK*A. The plane had a nickname of “Satan’s Playmate”. “Satan's Playmate” completed the war and transferred out on May 27, 1945. Note the old style painted finish. The first mission of any pilot was as a co-pilot.
02/14/45 Mission 2 Dresden, Germany Command Pilot B-17G 44-6476
Target: Railroad Marshalling Yards Target Type: Transportation
Dresden, Germany. Engine feathered lands on P-47 airstrip Étain -
Rouvres
02/24/45 Mission 3 Hamberg, Germany Command Pilot B-17G 43-39203
Target: Submarine Construction Shipyard Target Type: Shipyards
Hamburg, Germany
02/25/45 Mission 4 Fredrichshafen, Germany Command Pilot B-17G 43-38766
Target: Tank & Submarine Engine FactoryTarget Type: Industry
Friedrichshafen, Germany
02/27/45 Mission 5 Leipzig, Germany Command Pilot B-17G 43-39197
Target: Railroad Marshalling Yards Target Type: Transportation
Wahren (Leipzig area), Germany
02/28/45 Mission 6 Hagen, Germany Command Pilot B-17G 43-39197
Target: Railroad Marshalling Yards Target Type: Transportation
Hagen, Germany
03/02/45 Mission 7 Rositz, Germany Command Pilot B-17G 43-39060
Target: Low Temperature Carbonization Plant and Refinery of
Deutsche Petroleum A.G.Target Type: Oil Industry
03/02/45 Awarded the Air Medal
03/11/45 Mission aborted Weather Aircraft Bremen Germany Pilot B-17G
44-6909 Target: Vacuum Oil PlantTarget Type: Oil Industry Bremen,
Germany
03/19/45 Mission 8 Plauen, Germany Command Pilot B-17G 43-39197
Target: Braunkohle-Benzin Synthetic Oil Plant Target Type: Oil
Industry Bohlen, Germany
03/20/45 Mission 9 Hamberg, Germany Command Pilot B-17G 43-39197
Target: Deutsche Werft Submarine Shipyard Target Type: Submarine
Facility Hamburg, Germany
03/22/45 Mission 10 Westerholt, Germany Command Pilot B-17G 43-39197
Target: German Hutted Camps (Barracks) at 51°36'N,7°06'E Target
Type: Military Westerholt, Germany
03/26/45 Mission 11 Meinden, Germany Command Pilot B-17G 43-39197
Target: Synthetic Oil Plant Target Type: Oil Industry Zeitz, Germany
03/28/45 Mission 12 Berlin, Germany Command Pilot B-17G 43-39197
Target: Berlin/Spandau Motor Transport Works Target Type: Industry
Spandau (Berlin), Germany
03/30/45 Mission 13 Bremen, Germany Command Pilot B-17G 44-8541
Target: Deutsche Schiff- u. Maschinenbau A.G. (DESCHIMAG)
Submarine and Warship Yard Machine Shop Target Type: Submarine
Facility Bremen, Germany U-Boat Pens U-430 VIIC Mar 30 1945 Near
Bremen US bombs U-870 IXC/40 Mar 30 1945 Bremen US bombs
04/05/45 Mission 14 Ingolstadt, Germany Command Pilot B-17G 43-39197
Target: Ordnance DepotTarget Type: Military Ingolstadt, Germany
04/10/45 Mission 15 Oranienberg, Germany Command Pilot B-17G 44-8211
Target: Ordnance Depot Workshop AreaTarget Type: Military
Oranienburg, Germany
04/12/45 Mission 16 Regensburg, Germany Pilot B-17G 42-98027 (Mission list
shows 44-8789 JD-X) Target:Railroad Marshalling Years Target Type:
Transportation Regensburg Germany
04/14/45 Mission 17 Bordeaux, France Command Pilot B-17G
Target: Gun BatteryTarget Type: Military Royan (Bordeaux), France
Flew Lead Group with Col. Theodore Milton (41st A Group) Pop
Dolan was on board as the Staff Officer, Intelligence (Istres, France)
Pop Dolan missed the bombing initial point and Leif Ostnes had to
take the whole group around and return to bomb site again. Other
Bomb Groups had flown through and when A Group got back on
track the smoke trailing looked like Elise Ostnes’s lace curtains.
04/15/45 Mission 18 Royan, France Command Pilot B-17G 42-98027
Target: Flak guns at Pointe de Suzac Target Type: Military Royan,
France
04/16/45 Mission 19 Regensburg, Germany Pilot B-17G 42-98027 Target
Railroad Marshalling Yards
04/20/45 Mission 20 Seddin, Germany Command Pilot B-17G 44-8211
Target: Railroad Marshalling Yards Target Type: Transportation
Seddin, Germany

Service

People

Units served with

  • 384th Bomb Group

    384th Bomb Group

    Group
    The 384th Bomb Group flew B-17s from Grafton Underwood, Northamptonshire, between May 1943 and June 1945. They were engaged in daylight bombing missions over Germany as part of the Allies' efforts to destroy the effectiveness of the Luftwaffe by...

  • 546th Bomb Squadron

Aircraft

  • 42-97510 Satan's Playmate

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 7/12/43; Kearney 25/12/43; Assigned 546BS/384BG [BK-A] Grafton Underwood 18/2/44; transferred 398BG Nuthampstead 27/5/45; no ops, to RAF Valley 2/6/45; Returned to the USA Bradley 7/6/45; 4168 Base Unit, South Plains, Texas 13/6/45;...

  • 42-98027 Swamp Angel

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Denver 4/5/44; Dorval 4/6/44; Assigned RAF [HB797]; transferred 8AF, Assigned 351BG Polebrook 2/8/44; 544BS/384BG [SU-Z] Grafton Underwood 11/12/44; 547BS [SO-Z]; 305BG Polebrook 9/5/45; Salvaged 9AF Germany 23/5/46. SWAMP ANGEL. [Last 8AF...

  • 43-38766

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Lincoln 18/9/44; Grenier 30/9/44; Assigned 410BS/94BG [GL-F] Rougham 2/10/44; transferred 546BS/384BG [BK-R] Grafton Underwood 16/10/44; transferred with group to Istres for mapping duites, Salvaged 9AF Germany 10/12/45.

  • 43-39060

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Hunter 19/11/44; Dow Fd 6/12/44; Assigned 487BG Lavenham 12/12/44; transferred 546BS/384BG [BK-F] Grafton Underwood 7/1/45; transferred with group to Istres on mapping duties, Salvaged 9AF Germany 23/8/46. THE TERRIBLE UTE.

  • 43-39197

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Lincoln 31/12/44; Grenier 25/1/45; Assigned 546BS/384BG [BK-K] Grafton Underwood 20/2/45; battle damaged Pilsen 25/4/45 with ?; transferred with group to Istres, Fr for mapping duties; crash landed 66 miles ESE Rome, It with Morton Hunt 11/11...

  • 43-39203 GLOBE TROTTER

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered to Hunter 3/1/45; Dow Fd 13/1/45; Assigned to the 546BS/384BG [BK-L], Station 106, Grafton Underwood on 20/2/45; transferred with the group to Istres, France on passenger transport duties, Salvaged 9AF Germany 18/9/46; re-assigned to 10 HBS...

  • 44-6476

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Kearney 17/8/44; Dow Fd 3/9/44; Assigned 546BS/384BG [BK-G] Grafton Underwood 23/9/44; 544BS [SU-L]; transferred with group to Istres on mapping duties, Salvaged 9AF Germany 2/1/46.

  • 44-6909

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Lincoln 16/12/44; Dow Fd 22/12/44; Assigned 731BS/452BG Deopham Green 7/1/45 ANNONY MISS; transferred 546BS/384BG [BK-H] Grafton Underwood 4/2/45; transferred with group to Istres, France for passenger transport duties (Green Project),...

  • 44-8211

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Dallas 11/7/44; Langley 9/8/44; Dow Fd 18/9/44; Assigned PFF 546BS/384BG [BK-Z] Grafton Underwood 30/9/44; transferred 365BS/305BG Chelveston 9/5/45; with Gaylord Booth in taxi accident at Schweinfurt A/fd, Germany 20/6/45; Salvaged.

  • 44-8401

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Dallas 3/9/44; Hunter 19/9/44; Dow Fd 13/10/44; Assigned 351BS/100BG [EP-N] Thorpe Abbotts 20/10/44; transferred 544BS/384BG [SU-X] Grafton Underwood 5/11/44; 303BG Molesworth 8/5/45; RetUS, Reconstruction Finance Corporation (sold for scrap...

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Missions

  • 824

    9 February 1945

  • 8AF 830

    14 February 1945

  • 845

    24 February 1945

  • 847

    25 February 1945
    "The Aerial Sledgehammer fashioned by bombers of the 8th and 15th Air Forces and the RAF fell on German communications and fuel supplies for the forth day in a row yesterday as 1,150 Fortresses and Liberators of the 8th hit railyards, airfields, an oil...

  • 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

  • 854

    28 February 1945

  • 859

    2 March 1945

  • 881

    11 March 1945
    Narrative - Official Air Force Mission Description ...

  • 896

    19 March 1945

  • 898

    20 March 1945
    Narrative - Official Air Force Mission Description ...

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Associated Place

  • Grafton Underwood

    Military site : airfield
    Grafton Underwood was built in 1941 by George Wimpey and Co. Ltd. It was the first airfield in England to receive an Eighth Air Force flying unit, when in May 1942 personnel of the 15th Bomb Squadron took up residence. As a satellite airfield for...

Events

Event Location Date
Born 28 December 1918

Discovery Otter, Iditarod, Alaska, the son of Norwegian-born Lars R. and Elise A. (Rudi) Ostnes

Lived in 1941

Fortuna Ledge, Alaska

Enlisted 7 March 1942

as a Private in the Air Corps, in Seattle, Washington

Buried 1989

Leif Ostnes rests at the Washelli Cemetery in Seattle, Washington

Died 26 August 1989

Rohnert Park, California

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
27 March 2019 12:20:24 general ira snapsorter Changes to biography
Sources

Merged with duplicate entry to include details from:
- the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia ;
- http://384thbombgroup.com/_content/_pages/PersonnelSearch.php?LastName=o...
- Daughter, Jeanne Ostnes

Date Contributor Update
27 March 2019 09:51:01 ED-BB Changes to middlename, firstname, service number, role, biography, events, person associations, aircraft associations, mission associations and media associations
Sources

Added details to military service in his biography (missions, planes' nicknames and Serial numbers)
NARA WWII Enlistment records
WWII Draft Cards for Alaska
His page at www.384thbombgroup.com
SSDI Death Index

Date Contributor Update
27 March 2019 02:22:22 jeanne050 Changes to unit associations and place associations
Sources

Lt. Leif R. Ostnes files by his daughter Jeanne Ostnes

Date Contributor Update
27 March 2019 02:20:10 jeanne050 Changes to service number, highest rank and role
Sources

Lt. Leif R. Ostnes files by his daughter Jeanne Ostnes

Date Contributor Update
27 March 2019 01:56:21 jeanne050 Created entry with surname, middlename, firstname, nationality, biography and person associations
Sources

Jeanne Ostnes, daughter to Leif R. Ostnes

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