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358th Freeman Crew
Clyde E. Freeman, Pilot
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CLYDE E. FREEMAN CREW - 358th BS
(crew assigned 358BS: 17 Aug 1944 - photo: 25 Aug 1944)

(Back L-R) 2Lt Clyde E. Freeman (P), 2Lt Glenn R. Canning (CP),
2Lt Donald L. Birkenseer (B), 2Lt Sheldon Goldstein (N)

(Front L-R) S/Sgt Alan D. Chesney (BT), Sgt Robert G. Martin (WG),
T/Sgt Donald E. Vanlier (R), S/Sgt Frank J. Caporusso (TG),
T/Sgt Peter J. Fleck (E)

Combat missions on which 1Lt Clyde E. Freeman was dispatched:
234 (30 Aug 1944) ,236, 237, 242, 246, 247, 249, 250, 253(A), 254, 255, 256, 258, 260, 262, 263, 264, 265, 266, 267, 268, 270, 271, 272, 274, 275, 276, 279, 280, 281, 283, 285, 290, 291, 300, 301 (13 Jan 1945)
(A) Mission aborted for mechanical reasons. Was a no-credit mission.
For mission dates and targets see the Mission List.

Crew Notes:

  • 1Lt Clyde E. Freeman (P) - First mission #234, 30 August 1943, as CoPilot on a combat orientation mission with the Lt John McConnell Crew. Completed 35 mission combat tour on 13 January 1945.
  • 2Lt Glenn R. Canning (CP) - Flew all of his 28 credited missions as the Lt Freeman Crew CoPilot. Was hit on his hand by flak on 6 December 1944, mission #283, to Merseburg, Germany. Lost two fingers and was hospitalized. Was transferred to the Beaumont Hospital, El Paso, TX.
  • 1Lt Sheldon Goldstein (N) - Few with three different pilots on three missions (273, 295, 296). Did not fly with the Lt Freeman Crew on two missions (300, 301). Completed 35 mission combat tour on 03 January 1945.
  • 1Lt Donald L. Birkenseer (R) - Did not fly with the Lt Freeman Crew on 13 missions where Toggliers were utilized (255, 264, 272, 274, 275, 276, 280, 281, 283, 285, 291, 300, 301). Flew with other Pilots on 14 missions (As Bombardier - 255, 264, 272, 273, 274, 275, 276. As Navigator - 280, 281, 283, 285, 291, 292, 295). Completed 35 mission combat tour on 01 January 1945.
  • T/Sgt Peter J. Fleck (E), T/Sgt Donald E. Vanlier (R), S/Sgt Frank J. Caporusso (TG) - Flew with another Pilot on one mission (296) and 34 other missions with the Lt Freeman Crew. Completed 35 mission combat tour on 13 January 1945.
  • S/Sgt Alan D. Chesney (BTG) - Flew with another Pilot on one mission (299) and 34 other missions with the Lt Freeman Crew. Completed 35 mission combat tour on 13 January 1945.
  • Sgt Robert G. Martin (WG) - Was 55 years old when assigned to the Lt Freeman crew - probably the oldest 303rd BG(H) combat crewman. Was a World War I Pilot. Uncertain if he flew overseas. Always spoke of how strongly he wanted to be associated with the USAAF during World War II. He enlisted after he was assured that he would be with the "Air Force" if he passed his physical exam. Sgt Martin flew on the Freeman Crew's first nine credited combat missions (236, 237, 242, 246, 247, 249, 250, 254, 259) to Ludwigshafen (twice), Wisenbach, Osnabruck, Cologne, Weesling, Schweinfurt & Cologne). After mission 259, on 18 October 1944, he was unable to continue on combat duty. His nervous system spun out of control and he said that he could not stand the pressure of another mission. He was then assigned to ground duty. Sgt Martin was the "Tying Rod" of the Freeman Crew. The crew hated to see him go but knew that his decision was in the crew's best interest and he was admired for his courage. (Remarks by CoPilot Lt Glenn Cannon).

Replacement crewman for Sgt Robert G. Martin:
Sgt Ray R. Cooper (WG) - Was assigned to the 358th BS on 26 September 1944 and to the Freeman crew on 14 October 1944 (mission 256) replacing Sgt Robert G. Martin. Flew with the Freeman Crew as Waist Gunner (23 missions) and as Togglier on two missions (300, 301). Flew on five missions with other Pilots (as Waist Gunner - 286, as Togglier - 296, 304, 305, 306). Became a POW on mission 306, 22 January 1945, to Sterkrade, Germany in B-17G #43-38530 (no name) (358BS) VK-G, 1Lt William H. Woodson, Pilot. The left wing was blown off by a flak hit and the B-17 went down crashing in flames near Sterkrade, Germany (7 KIA , 2 POW). Sgt Cooper exited through a hole in the nose and made a successful parachute jump. Was captured on landing and became a POW.

[photo courtesy of Donald E. Vanlier & George T. Mackin]
[Researched by Historian Harry D. Gobrecht]