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Russell William Polivka

Military

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 Lt. Robert Nespor and Lt. John C. Riley, KICKAPOO crashed shortly after takeoff for the mission, losing an engine just after getting airborne, which, then, caught fire while banking back toward the field to land. After bouncing and drifting off the centerline of the runway, the left wing hit a concrete pole, cartwheeling the plane into the ground in a fireball of flames. Lt. Russell Polivka, the navigator and fellow crewman S/Sgt Eugene R. Garner, gunner, were the only two men to escape alive from the crashed airplane and to survive their burns. 8 KIA - 2 WIA. 1 Aug 1943

~ The B-24D - KICKAPOO's Replacement Crewmen For The Ploesti Mission 1943 :

1st Lt. Robert J. Nespor - Pilot (KIA)

2nd Lt. John C. Riley - CoPilot (KIA) Detached Service from 93rd BG

2nd Lt. Russell W. Polivka - Navigator / gunner (WIA) D.S. from 93rd BG

2nd Lt. Thurman L. Ward - Bombardier (KIA) D.S. from 93rd BG

T/Sgt. Vaun D. Wenrich - Engineer / Top Turret Gunner (KIA) D.S. from 93rd BG

T/Sgt. Armand R. Massart - Radio Operator (KIA) D.S. from 93rd BG

S/Sgt. George W. Lawlor - Gunner (KIA) D.S. from 93rd BG

S/Sgt. Edwin G. Sliwa - Gunner (KIA) D.S. from 93rd BG

S/Sgt. Eugene R. Garner - Gunner (WIA) D.S. from 93rd BG

S/Sgt. John P. D'Armour - Gunner (KIA) D.S. from 93rd BG

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,...

  • John Riley

    Military | Second Lieutenant | B-24 Co-Pilot | 93rd Bomb Group
    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...

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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...

  • 330th Bomb Squadron

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...

Events

Event Location Date
Born Neenah, WI, USA 8 June 1919

Son of William and Ina [Carpenter] Polivka.

Enlisted Milwaukee, WI 7 September 1940

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Assigned Benghazi, Libya 1943 – 1944

344th BS, 98th BG, 9th AF.

Wounded in Action Benghazi, Libya 1 August 1943

Navigator B-24 liberator 41-11768 'Kickapoo' of 344th BS, 98th BG, 9th AF. Crashed shortly after take-off for the August 1, 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. WIA.

Hospitalised 1 August 1943 – 1 February 1945

Year and a half reconstructive surgery for burns from accident.

Died Neenah, WI, USA 28 April 2005
Buried St Margaret's Cemetery Neenah, WI May 2005

St Margaret's Cemetery
Neenah, Wisconsin, USA.

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
26 July 2021 04:59:10 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Wording, spacing, and punctuation changes for clarity - Kickapoo

Date Contributor Update
25 July 2021 23:25:26 Kickapoo Changes to biography and aircraft associations
Sources

Best Web - B-24 - KICKAPOO

Date Contributor Update
18 June 2021 13:49:27 Al_Skiff Changes to middlename and events
Sources

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/122066240/russell-w-polivka

Date Contributor Update
17 June 2021 20:02:14 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Wording and punctuation changes for clarity - John S Young Jr ----- Personal Archives - John S Young Jr

Date Contributor Update
17 June 2021 19:22:32 Kickapoo Changes to person associations
Sources

Best Web - B-24 - 'Kickapoo'

Date Contributor Update
17 June 2021 19:20:10 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Best Web - B-24 - 'Kickapoo'

Date Contributor Update
17 June 2021 19:03:59 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Best Web - B-24 - 'KICKAPOO'

Date Contributor Update
04 January 2021 09:53:42 Al_Skiff Changes to service number, biography, awards, events and unit associations
Sources

https://www.fold3.com/record/48151102/social-security-death-index-russel...
https://www.fold3.com/record/84333931/world-war-ii-army-enlistment-recor...
https://www.legacy.com/us/obituaries/jsonline/name/russell-polivka-obitu...
https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/122066240/russell-w-polivka

Date Contributor Update
08 March 2017 15:12:20 general ira snapsorter Changes to biography 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 ;
- Ted's Traveling Circus

Date Contributor Update
18 April 2015 16:22:50 Al_Skiff Created entry with surname, middlename, firstname, nationality, highest rank, role, biography, events, unit associations, aircraft associations and mission associations
Sources

http://www.findagrave.com / USAAF Photo.

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