July 5, 1944

July 5th, 2014 by Joe Kristan

Today is the 70th anniversary of my Dad’s last mission in World War II.   He was operating the machine gun in the top turret of B-24 42-78127 in an attack on the submarine pens in Toulon, France.

 

20110705-2

 

This picture was taken by the unit photographer on the mission.  I think 42-78127 is one of the planes in the picture, based on the mission summary below:

20140705-1Not quite without incident.  The pilot of “127” was dead before they left the target, and the co-pilot was trying to get the crew home in a plane that was losing fuel and altitude.  Corsica was the nearest friendly spot.  They almost made it.

The pilot tried to ditch 42-78127 in this bay:IMG_1906

The B-24 broke in two, with the nose crashing on the beach, and the tail slowly sinking.  Tail Gunner David Korcuc pulled Dad and two other survivors out of the back end before it sank.  Six crew members died.

This picture of the bay was taken at about the spot where the front of the plane stopped.

 

The crew of 42-78127 is  below.

Those killed:

• Vaessen H William 1st Lt 0-536855 829th BS 485th BG Pilot

• Sipes R William 2nd Lt 0-705827 829th 485th BG Copilot

• Wittenbrink E George S/Sgt 36446168 829th BS 485th BG Radio

• Duer N Richard 2nd Lt 0-703456 829th BS 485th BG Bombardier

• Witham L Harris Sgt 35753847 829th BS 485th BG Nose Gunner

• McGregor W Jack Sgt 35613832 829th BS 485th BG Ball gunner

 

The survivors:

• Curtis W Carl S/Sgt 15195606 829th BS 485th BG Engineer

• Falerics M Wayne 2nd Lt 0-712782 829th BS 485th BG Navigator

• Korkuc David S/Sgt 32769227 829th BS 485th BG Tail Gunner

• Kristan J John Sgt 36650977 829th BS 485th BG Top Gunner

 

Dad rarely talked about the war, but he always seemed sad and thoughtful on July 5.   He said every year after the crash was a bonus year.  I still miss that guy.

 

Thanks to Dominique Taddei and Frank Allegrini of Corsica, who kindly shared their research on the crash and escorted my family to the remote wreck site.  More information is available at 42-78127.blogspot.com.

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