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John Clark Riley Jr

Military

2nd Lt. John Clark Riley was a B-24D pilot in the 9th Air Force, the 93rd Bomb Group, and the 330th Bomb Squadron at Benghazi, Libya, in the Mediterranean theater (MTO) during WWII. Lt. Riley and his command Pilot Robert Nespor from the 98th Bomb Group, and the rest of his crew were reassigned from the 93rd Bomb Group and were all placed on temporary duty (TDY) with the B-24D, Kickapoo, and the 98th Bomb Group for the deadly mission to destroy the German oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania. Lt. Riley was assigned to be the copilot aboard Kickapoo, with Bob Nespor, the command pilot, from the 98th Bomb Group. During the takeoff run for the mission, their plane, Kickapoo, had a massive #4 engine failure and caught on fire. Nespor and Riley, turned their failing bomber out over the sea, jettisoned their bombs, and were trying to make the second of two approaches back to the Lete runway when they began losing power from their last three engines, on short final approach to the Lete runway. On short final, losing power, they sank into a hard landing, bounced, and drifted left into a concrete post, hitting it with the left wing, and cartwheeled into the ground in flames. Both pilots, and all but two of the crewmen, were badly burned in the crash and died of their injuries. Lt. Riley, Lt. Nespor and all of the crewmen were posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Purple Heart for their bravery and sacrifice on the Ploesti mission. 1 Aug 1943

Service

People

  • Eugene Garner

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Gunner | 93rd Bomb Group
    Crew member SSgt. Eugene Robert Garner flew on Operation Tidal wave and was one of two survivors of the crash of the B-24D, KICKAPOO, on takeoff for the Ploesti mission. He was assigned as part of a replacement crew for the B-24D, KICKAPOO, from the...

  • Armand Massart

    Military | Technical Sergeant | B-24 Radio Operator | 93rd Bomb Group
    Tech Sergeant Armand Massart was a radio operator (RO) assigned (TDY) to the 9th Air Force, the 98th Bomb Group, and the 344th Bomb Squadron for Operation Tidal Wave to Ploesti, Romania. He was one of the replacement crewmembers assigned to the B-24D,...

  • Robert Nespor

    Military | First Lieutenant | B-24 Command Pilot | 98th Bomb Group
    1st Lt. Robert James Nespor, Jr. was a B-24D bomber command pilot in the 9th Air Force, the 98th Bombardment Group, "The Pyramiders", and the 330th Bombing Squadron, based at Benghazi, Libya, in North Africa. He was assigned to fly on the huge mission,...

  • Russell Polivka

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Navigator | 93rd Bomb Group
    Lt. Russell W. Polivka was a navigator, and part of the replacement crew assigned to the B-24D Liberator, 41-11768, KICKAPOO, of 344th Bomb Squadron, the 98th Bomb Group, and the 9th Air Force, for Operation Tidal Wave over Ploesti, Romania. Flown by...

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Units served with

  • 8th Air Force

    8th Air Force


    Eighth Air Force Bomber Command became the Eighth Air Force on February 1944, it oversaw bombardment of strategic targets in Europe until 1945. ...

  • 93rd Bomb Group

    93rd Bomb Group

    Group
    93rd Bombardment Group (Heavy) was activated 1-March-1942 at Barksdale Field, Louisiana. On 15-May-1942 the Group moved to Ft. Myers, Florida to continue advanced flight training and also to fly anti-submarine patrols over the Gulf of Mexico; they...

  • 98th Bomb Group

    98th Bomb Group

    Group
    The 98th trained for bombardment missions with B-24 Liberators during the first half of 1942. ...

  • 330th Bomb Squadron
  • 344th Bomb Squadron

    344th Bomb Squadron

    Squadron
    The 344th Bombing Squadron was first activated at MacDill Field, Florida as one of the original three squadrons assigned to the 98th Bombardment Group. The 344th soon moved to Barksdale Field, Louisiana, where it began to train as a Consolidated B-24...

Aircraft

  • 41-11825 Hail Columbia - Little Chief Big Dog - Grumpy

    B-24 Liberator
    The B-24D, Hail Columbia, 41-11825, was assigned to the 9th Air Force, the 98th Bomb Group, and the 344th Bombing Squadron. It was first assigned to the 344th Squadron's CO, Col. John R. Kane's, personal aircraft until Kane became the 98th Bomb Group's...

  • 41-11768 Kickapoo

    B-24 Liberator
    The B-24D Liberator, 41-11768, named, Kickapoo, was piloted by Lt. John S. Young from Dallas, Texas as part of the 9th Air Force, the 98th Bomb Group, and the 344th Bombing Squadron, which arrived in North Africa in early 1943. This airplane was...

Missions

  • Operation Tidal Wave

    1 August 1943
    Operation TIDAL WAVE. B-24D 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...

Associated Place

  • Lete

    Military site : airfield

Events

Event Location Date
Born Oklahoma, USA 9 February 1919

Son of John Clark and Inez [Locke] Riley.

Lived in Oklahoma, USA 1941
Assigned Benghazi, Libya 1943 – 1 August 1943

Assigned to 344th BS, 98th BG, 8th AF.

Died Benghazi, Libya 1 August 1943

Crashed shortly after take-off for the 1-Aug-43 low-level Ploesti, Romania mission. She lost an engine just after getting airborne and then caught fire while banking back toward the field to land, then a wing touched the ground and she smashed into a concrete pole and burst into flames. KIA.

Buried Fort Scott National Cemetery Fort Scott, Bourbon County, KS 1948

Interred
Fort Scott National Cemetery
Fort Scott, Bourbon County, Kansas

Buried Hamburg Cemetery Hamburg, Ashley County, AR 1948

Memorialised
Hamburg Cemetery
Hamburg, Ashley County, Arkansas

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
05 September 2021 11:57:13 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Word changes. - Kickapoo

Date Contributor Update
05 September 2021 11:55:09 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Punctuation, capital letters changed - Kickapoo

Date Contributor Update
13 August 2021 08:51:22 Al_Skiff Changes to events
Sources

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/1120128/john-clark-riley
https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/111593078/john-clark-riley

Date Contributor Update
13 August 2021 07:33:27 Kickapoo Changes to person associations
Sources

John Simmons Young - American Air Museum In Britain - Kickapoo

Date Contributor Update
13 August 2021 07:24:18 Kickapoo Changes to role and biography
Sources

Personal Archives - Kickapoo

Date Contributor Update
13 August 2021 07:15:17 Kickapoo Changes to aircraft associations
Sources

Personal Archives - Kickapoo

Date Contributor Update
13 August 2021 07:03:07 Kickapoo Changes to biography and awards
Sources

Personal Archives - Kickapoo

Date Contributor Update
04 January 2021 18:00:01 Al_Skiff Changes to suffix, service number, awards, events and unit associations
Sources

https://www.fold3.com/image/310763641
https://www.fold3.com/record/711132246/u-s-veterans-gravesites-ca-1775-2...
https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/1120128/john-clark-riley
https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/111593078/john-clark-riley

Date Contributor Update
08 September 2019 01:22:52 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Ploesti - An Anatomy Of A disaster - Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg ---- Black Sunday - Michael Hill ---- John S. Young, Jr. - personal archives

Date Contributor Update
08 September 2019 01:18:38 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Ploesti - An Anatomy Of A disaster - Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg ---- Black Sunday - Michael Hill ---- John S. Young, Jr. - personal archives

Date Contributor Update
08 September 2019 01:14:32 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Ploesti - Anatomy Of A Disaster - Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg ---- Black Sunday - Michael Hill ---- John S. Young, Jr. - personal archives

Date Contributor Update
08 September 2019 00:29:11 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Ploesti - Anatomy Of A Disaster - Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg ---- Black Sunday - Michael Hill ---- John S. Young, Jr. - personal archives

Date Contributor Update
08 September 2019 00:28:29 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Ploesti - Anatomy Of A Disaster - Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg ---- Black Sunday - Michael Hill ---- John S. Young, Jr. - personal archives

Date Contributor Update
08 September 2019 00:27:13 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Ploesti - Anatomy Of A Disaster - Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg ---- Black Sunday - Michael Hill ---- John S. Young, Jr. - personal archives

Date Contributor Update
06 August 2019 13:36:50 Emily Changes to biography, events, unit associations, place associations and media associations
Sources

Brought together information from duplicate record added by user Kickapoo from Black Sunday , by Michael Hill

Consolidated Kickapoo's biographies into one narrative, and made corrections and added further information from Ploesti Roster, < a href="https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/1120128/john-clark-riley">Find a Grave, Sortie Reports for the Ploesti mission held in Roger Freeman's document collection , in which the circumstances of the crash are widely reported, and Fortress Ploesti by Jay Stout.

Date Contributor Update
08 March 2017 15:14:44 general ira snapsorter Changes to events and unit associations
Sources

Merged with duplicate entry to include details from:
- the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia

Date Contributor Update
18 April 2015 14:59:26 Al_Skiff Created entry with surname, middlename, firstname, suffix, nationality, service number, highest rank, role, biography, events, unit associations, aircraft associations and mission associations
Sources

http://usaafdata.com / http://www.findagrave.com

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