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358th J.W. Watson Crew
Jack W. Watson, Pilot
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JACK W. WATSON CREW - 358th BS
Crew of B-17G Thru Hel'en Hiwater #42-39785 358BS (VK-H)
(crew assigned 358BS: 16 Nov 1943 - photo: Walla Walla, WA, Sep 1943)

(Back L-R) 2Lt Jack W. Watson (P), 2Lt John C. Doty, Jr. (CP)(EVD),
2Lt Harold Rocketto (N)(KIA), 2Lt Vance Colvin (B)(KIA)

(Front L-R) Sgt Roman Kosinski (TG)(POW), Sgt Fred H. Booth (BTG)(KIA),
Sgt William H. Fussner (RWG)(KIA), Sgt Harry Romaniec (RO)(POW),
Sgt Eugene R. Stewart (LWG)(POW), Sgt Samuel J. Rowland (E)(KIA)

(Ranks and Grades at time photo was taken.)


[photo courtesy of Harold J. "Hap" Rocketto]



JACK W. WATSON CREW - 358th BS
B-17G Thru Hel'en Hiwater #42-39785 358BS (VK-H)
(photo: 06 Feb 1944)

(Back L-R) 2Lt Milton Feinman (B)(KIA), 2Lt Edward B. Connors (N)(POW),
2Lt James R. Burns (CP)(KIA), Capt Jack W. Watson (P)

(Front L-R) Sgt Charles C. Maple (R)(POW), S/Sgt Robert G. McArthur (TG),
T/Sgt Herbert A. Daniel (RWG), S/Sgt Thomas P. Hickey (LWG)(INT),
S/Sgt Paul M. Gibbs (BTG), T/Sgt Robert W. Hoffman (E)

(Ranks and Grades at time of last combat mission..)

[photo courtesy of George T. Mackin]


Thirty-one dispatched (29 credited) Combat missions flown by Capt. Jack W. Watson:
With Original crew: 85 (1 Dec 1943), 86(A), 88, 90, 95, 97, 98 (11 Jan 1944)
With Replacement Crew: 106 (6 Feb 1944), 108, 109, 110, 111(A), 112, 113, 114, 117, 118, 131, 124 (20 Mar 1944)
As Lead Crew Pilot: 137 (19 Apr 1944), 115, 116, 137, 145, 147, 152, 155, 160, 172, 176, 178, 187 (21 June 1944). (A) Non-credited aborted missions. For Mission dates, targets and Mission Reports, see Combat Missions.

Eleven B-17s flown by Capt Jack W. Watson on his 31 dispatched combat missions:
With Original Crew:

  • 42-39785 B-17G - Thru Hel'en Hiwater (358BS) VK-H - Missions 85, 86, 88, 90, 95
  • 42-39787 B-17G - Wanton Woman (358BS) VK-L - Mission 97
  • 42-29584 B-17F - Meat Hound (358BS) VK-K - Mission 98
With Replacement Crew:
  • 42-31562 B-17G - (No name) (358BS) VK-A - Missions 106, 108
  • 42-31669 B-17G - Shoo Shoo Baby (358BS) VK-J - Missions 109, 114, 121
  • 42-31574 B-17G - Ole George (358BS) VK-G - Missions 110, 117, 124
  • 41-24635 B-17F - The 8 Ball MkII (359BS) BN-O - Mission 111
  • 42-31830 B-17G - Marie (359BS) BN-N - Mission 112
  • 42-31583 B-17G - Clover Leaf aka Little Princess (358BS) VK-C - Mission 113
  • 42-97622 B-17G -Paper Dollie (358BS) VK-K - Mission 118
As Lead Crew Pilot:
  • 42-31574 B-17G - Ole George (358BS) VK-G - Missions 115, 116, 137, 145
  • 42-102453 B-17G - Princess Pat (358BS) VK-J) - Missions 147, 152, 155, 160, 172, 176, 178, 187
Crew Notes:

Original 1Lt Jack Watson crewmen:
  • 2Lt Jack W. Watson (P)(#1 crew photo) - First three missions (85(A), 86, 88) flown as CoPilot with combat orientation Pilot 2Lt Martin L. Clark. Other missions flown as First Pilot.
  • 2Lt John C. Doty (CP)(POW)(#1 crew photo) - Flew on one mission with 1Lt Watson (97) and three missions with 1Lt Paul M. Campbell (P) - (missions 83, 86, 98) . Became a POW on mission #98, 11 January 1944 to Oschersleben, Germany in B-17G 42-30865(No name) (358BS) VK-G. B-17 crashed near Nordhausen, Germany (6 KIA, 3 POW, 1 POW Repatriated) MACR 1927.
    2Lt Clayton C. David (CP)(EVD) - Flew on three missions with 1Lt Watson (90, 95, 98). Evaded capture on mission 98, and returned to England on 25 May 1944 (E&E #674)
  • 2Lt Harold J. Rocketto (N)(KIA)(#1 crew photo) - Flew no missions with the 1Lt Watson crew. Was KIA on his first and only mission (83) on 26 November 1943 to Bremen, Germany in 358th BS B-17F 42-3064 Star Dust, 2Lt William C. Fort (P). B-17 was damaged when attacked by three German fighter as she began her bomb run. 20mm cannon shells blasted out all of the plexiglass in the nose killing 1Lt Rocketto. The badly damaged B-17 returned to Molesworth with the body of 2Lt Rocketto.
    2Lt John G. Leverton (N)(POW) - Dispatched on four missions with 1Lt Watson (85(A), 86, 95, 98. Flew on five missions with other Pilots (83, 84, 93, 94, 97). Became a POW on mission #98. Other Navigators: 2Lt Jack H. Williams (Mission 88), 2Lt Milton B. Abernathy (Mission 90) and 2Lt Joe B. Vogel (Mission 97).
  • Other Original Crewmen (all on #1 crew photo) who flew on all of the original crew's seven dispatched missions (85(A), 86, 88, 90, 95, 97, 98) and bailed out on mission 98:
    2Lt Vance R. Colvin (B)(KIA - Buried in Netherlands American Cemetery, Margraten, Netherlands, S/Sgt Samuel J. Rowland (E)(KIA), S/Sgt Harry Romaniec (R)(POW), Sgt Fred H. Booth (BTG) (KIA), Sgt Eugene R. Stewart (LWG)(POW), Sgt William H. Fussner (RWG)(KIA), Sgt Roman P. Kosinski (TG) POW).
Original Crew History:
The crew was formed at Walla Walla, Washington and was then assigned to the "Iseman Privisional Group" at Brooksville, Florida for training in the use of "Grapefruit" bombs, which were semi-guided winged M-34-2,000 pound bombs fixed to a 12 foot span glider unit and attached to a B-17 underwing shackle. Two Glide bombs could be carried per plane. Essentially free fall, the bomb had a stabilizing devise that allowed control of direction. The bomb proved to be unreliable on the only occasion that it was used on a combat mission to Cologne on 28 May 1944.

After completing their secret Florida training the 2Lt Watson Crew, and three other crews, were dispatched to fly to England. Upon reaching the New York City area on their way to Bangor, Maine, the crews remembered that the opening game on 5 October 1943 of the 1943 New York Yankee vs St. Louis Cardinal World Series baseball game was being played at Yankee Stadium. The four crews then decided to buzz Yankee Stadium led by 2Lt Watson . The low level buzzing incurred the wrath of New York City Mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia who demanded that the Pilots be grounded and subjected to a court-martial. Due to their training and essential knowledge they were questioned at Bangor, Maine with no grounding but fines of several hundred dollars were levied. The crews then proceeded to fly to England where they were assigned to the 303rd BG(H). Pilots were 2Lt Jack W. Watson (358BS), 2Lt Robert Sheets W. Sheets (427BS), 2Lt John C. Lawlor (360BS) and 2Lt Joseph P. Wheeler (assigned to another 41st CBW Bomb Group).

Following mission #98 Mayor La Guardia sent a telegram to Lt Watson at Molesworth advising him that all was forgiven for the buzzing of the World Series.

Mission #98 - 11 January 1944 to Oschersleben, Germany in B-17G #42-29524 Meat Hound (358BS) VK-P Was last seen by other crews with two feathered props at 1329 hours on a heading of 270 degrees at 15,000 feet. The crew, with the exception of 2Lt Watson, bailed out over Isselmeer (formerly Zuider Zee), Holland. Four landed in the water and drowned, 2Lt Clayton David evaded capture and four became POWs. 2Lt J.W. Watson, after his crew had bailed out, decided to attempt to fly his badly damaged B-17 back to England alone. With two engines still ablaze, the left elevator shot off and a shattered connection between one wing section and the fuselage Lt Watson brought his B-17 down through a overcast and crashed his damaged B-17 at the 353rd Fighter Group P-47 airfield at Metfield, England. It took the emergency fire crew over two hours to put out the fires on the B-17.

1Lt Jack W. Watson's replacement Crew: (11 credited regular missions 106, 108-114, 117, 118, 121, 124) and 12 Lead Crew missions (115, 116, 137, 145, 147, 152, 155, 160, 172, 176, 178, 187). Pilots:

  • 1Lt Jack W. Watson (#2 crew photo). Completed his 35 mission combat tour on 21 June 1944 (Mission 187). While serving as a Lead Crew Pilot was promoted to Captain on 5 December 1944.
CoPilots:
  • 2Lt James R. Burns (KIA)(#2 crew photo) - Flew on 5 credited missions with Lt Watson (106, 109, 110, 111(A), 112, 113). Was KIA on mission 114, 1Lt Damon C. Elder (P). 1Lt Watson flew with three other CoPilots on missions 108, 114, 117, 118, 121, 124 and various CoPilots on the Lead Crew missions.
Navigators:
  • 2Lt Edward B. Connors (POW)(#2 crew photo) - Flew on 6 missions with Lt Watson (106, 108, 109, 110, 112, 113) and two missions with other Pilots (111, 115). 2Lt Connors became a POW on mission 115, 1Lt Damon C. Elder (P).
  • 1Lt Samuel Minkowitz (INT) - Flew on seven missions with Lt Watson (114, 115(LC), 116(LC), 117, 118, 121, 137 - (LC) = Lead Crew) and 21 missions with other Pilots. On his last mission (140) on 24 April 1944 crew flew to Switzerland where the B-17 and crew was interned - Pilot 2Lt Raymond Hoffman.
  • Lt Carroll Binder, Jr. (Mission 124)
Bombardiers:
  • 2Lt Milton Feinman (KIA)(#2 crew photo) - Flew on six credited missions with Lt Watson: (106, 108, 109, 110, 112, 113) and 12 missions with other Pilots: 1Lt James B. Taylor (111, 115, 116, 117, 119, 129); 2Lt Raymond Hoffman (124, 130, 132); Other Pilots (134, 139). Was KIA on mission #139, 22 April 1944, to Hamm, Germany, 2Lt Roy A. Larson (P).
  • 1Lt Austin J. Mack (KIA) - Flew on 6 credited missions with Lt Watson (111(A), 114, 115(LC), 116(LC), 117, 118, 155(LC) - (LC) = Lead Crew) and on 21 missions with other Pilots: 2Lt Walter R. Kyse (94, 96, 97, 98, 99, 100, 101, 102, 103); 2Lt James B. Taylor (104, 106, 108, 110, 129); 2Lt Arnold Litman (109(LC), 112, 125, 131(LC); 1Lt Joe M. Worthley (151, 159). Was KIA on mission #159, 24 May 1944 to Berlin, Germany, 1Lt Worthley (P). B-17 ditched in North Sea and nine crewmen were KIA and one became a POW (MACR 5173)
Flight Engineer:
  • S/Sgt Robert W. Hoffman (#2 crew photo). Flew on 23 credited missions with Capt Watson. (All missions starting with #106). Flew on 8 missions with other Pilots (72, 73, 75, 81, 88, 97, 103, 123). Completed combat tour (31 missions) on 21 June 1944 (Mission 187).
Radio Operators:
  • Sgt Charles C. Maple (#2 crew photo). Flew on no missions with the Lt Watson crew. Flew on one mission with 1Lt John F. Henderson (P) when he became a POW, Mission #112, 24 Feb 1944 to Schweinfurt, Germany. All crewmen became POWs. MACR 2762
  • S/Sgt Paul Kistulentz. Flew on 12 credited missions with 1Lt Watson (106, 108, 109, 110, 111(A), 112, 113, 114, 115(LC), 116(LC), 117, 118, 121) and 14 mission with other Pilots (51, 52, 53, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 66, 79, 81, 101, 105). Completed combat tour on 16 March 1944 (Mission 121).
  • Other Radio Operators used on mission 124 and on the Capt Watson Lead Crew Missions.
Ball Turret Gunners:
  • S/Sgt Paul M. Gibbs (#2 crew photo) - Flew on 13 credited missions with 1Lt Watson (106, 108, 109, 110, 111(A), 112, 113, 114 , 115(LC), 116(LC), 117, 118, 121, 124) and 17 credited missions with other Pilots: 2Lt Arnold S. Litman (88, 91, 94, 95(A), 97, 103, 104, 132, 133, 134(LC), 136, 205(LC), 208)LC), 211(LC), 221(LC); Other Pilots (83, 86, 87). Completed 35 mission combat tour on 6 August 1944 (Mission 221).
  • Sgt Theodore R. Czeczotka - Flew on 8 credited Lead Crew missions with Capt Watson (145, 147, 152, 155, 160, 172, 176, 178) and 24 missions with other Pilots; 1Lt James B. Taylor (113, 117, 119, 120, 126, 129, 130, 135, 139, 154, 158); Other Pilots - As BTG (88, 93, 95, 115, 116, 125, 174, 183), As Togglier (136, 137, 138, 184, 185). Completed 35 mission combat tour on 19 June 1944 (Mission 185).
  • Other Ball Turret Gunners used on two missions (137 and 187).
Left Waist Gunners:
  • S/Sgt Thomas B. Hickey (INT) (#2 crew photo). Flew on 9 credited missions with 1Lt Watson (106, 108, 109, 110, 116(LC), 117, 118, 121, 124) and 6 credited missions with other Pilots- As RWG (115, 123, 132(A) ), As Togglier (136, 138), As Tail Gunner (139, 140). Became a Switzerland Internee on mission 140, 24 April 1944, with 2Lt Raymond Hoffman Pilot.
  • S/Sgt Robert G. McArthur (#2 crew photo)- Flew on 8 credited missions with Capt Watson (145, 147, 152, 155, 160, 172, 176, 178)- Also 13 credited missions as Tail Gunner.
  • Other LWGs used on 6 missions (111, 112, 113, 114, 115(LC), 137(LC).
Right Waist Gunners:
  • T/Sgt Herbert A. Daniel (#2 crew photo) - Flew on 22 credited missions with Capt Watson (All missions beginning with #106, except for mission 110).
  • Another RWG used on 1 mission (110)
Tail Gunners:
  • S/Sgt Robert G. McArthur (#2 crew photo) - Flew on 13 credited missions with Capt Watson (106, 108, 109, 110, 111(A), 112, 113, 114, 115(LC), 116(LC), 117, 118, 121, 124, 187(LC) ). Also flew on 8 credited missions as Left Waist Gunner. Flew on 6 credited missions with other Pilots: As LWG (80, 84, 103), As RWG (89, 90, As Engineer [132(A)], As Tail Gunner (136). Completed combat tour on 21 June 1944 (Mission 187).
  • T/Sgt Francis H. Stender - Flew on 7 credited missions with Capt Watson (137, 145, 147, 152, 155, 160, 178) and 24 missions with other Pilots: As BTG (51, 52, 53), As RWG (57, 59, 61, 131), As LWG (85, 87, 88), As Lead Crew TG (106, 111, 113, 119, 123, 127, 134, 141, 154, 158, 163, 165, 180, 183). Completed combat tour on 21 June 1944 (Mission 187).
  • Other Tail Gunners used on 2 missions (172 and 176).
[Researched by Harry D. Gobrecht, 303rdBGA Historian Emeritus]