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359th Bech Crew
G. Neil Bech, Jr., Pilot
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G. NEIL BECH CREW, JR.- 359th BS
B-17G '8' Ball Mk II #41-24635 (359BS) BN-O
(crew assigned 359BS: 16 Nov 1943 - photo: 19 Dec 1943)

(Back L-R) 2Lt Edward R. Cotter (N), F/O Frederick A. Corbin (B),
2Lt G. Neil Bech Jr (P), 2Lt Franklin M. Hall (CP)

(Front L-R) Sgt Edward C. Boatwright (WG), Sgt Elbert S. Cox, Jr. (TG),
S/Sgt Julian E. Dennis (R), Sgt Lawrence G. Johnson (BTG),
Sgt Robert W. Cundiff (WG), S/Sgt Floyd L. Sanelli (E)



(photo: US Training - late 1943)

(Back L-R) 2Lt Edward R. Cotter (N), F/O Frederick A. Corbin (B),
2Lt Franklin M. Hall (CP), 2Lt G. Neil Bech Jr (P)

(Front L-R) Sgt Lawrence G. Johnson (BTG), S/Sgt Julian E. Dennis (R),
Sgt Edward C. Boatwright (WG), S/Sgt Floyd L. Sanelli (E), Sgt Elbert S. Cox, Jr. (TG)



B-17G Bonnie - B #42-31483 (359BS) BN-P

On Ground (L-R) 2Lt G. Neil Bech, Jr. (P), Sgt Robert W. Cundiff (WG), Sgt Elbert S. Cox, Jr. (TG),
S/Sgt Floyd L. Sanelli (E), Sgt Lawrence G. Johnson (BTG)(back to camera),
Sgt Edward C. Boatwright (WG), S/Sgt Julian E. Dennis (R)
On Scaffold - 2Lt Franklin M. Hall (CP)

[photos above courtesy of the Irue Ferguson Family and John F. Corbin]



G. NEIL BECH CREW, JR.- 359th BS

(Back L-R) S/Sgt Floyd L. Sanelli (E), Sgt Elbert S. Cox, Jr. (TG),
Sgt Edward C. Boatwright (WG), Sgt Robert W. Cundiff (WG),
S/Sgt Julian E. Dennis (R), Sgt Lawrence G. Johnson (BTG)

(Front L-R) 2Lt Edward R. Cotter (N), 2Lt G. Neil Bech Jr (P),
2Lt Franklin M. Hall (CP), F/O Frederick A. Corbin (B)


Bech Crew 359th BS Missions (19 dispatched, 17 credited):
87 (11 Dec 43), 88, 91(AS), 94(AS), 97(*), 98(*), 100(*), 101(*), 102(*), 106(A)(*), 107(A)(*), 108(*), 109, 110(AS)(*), 113, 114, 115(*), 116(*), 117(*) (4 March 1944)
(A) Non-credited aborted mission (AS) Credited abortive sortie
See the Combat Missions for mission dates and targets

Bech Crew's favorite B-17G -"Bonnie-B"
(*) Ten credited missions flown in B-17G #42-31483 "Bonnie-B" 359th BS (BN-P) that crew named after Lt Bech's six month old daughter named "Bonnie"

"Bonnie-B" flew on 93 credited missions with only seven aborted missions. Her last combat mission (#236) was on 5 September 1944 to Ludwigshafen, Germany. when an emergency landing was made at emergency landing strip A62 near Paris, France with two engines out, (Pilot 2Lt John F. Parker) and was salvaged - A sad ending for a real work horse B-17 whose Crew Chief was M/Sgt William Zachar. Sgt John Surrell, Tail Gunner on the Lt William J. Arnold Crew, flew on 33 combat missions with 27 in "Bonnie-B". He was married after returning to the USA in October 1944. A daughter was born in August 1945 and was named Bonnie after the "Bonnie-B" B-17.

Crew Notes:
The entire Lt Bech Crew (with the exception of F/O Corbin, Bombardier) volunteered to transfer to the 301st BG(H), 15th AF at Foggia, Italy following mission #117 - 4 March 1944. The 15th AF was starting to encounter German fighter aircraft and wanted the benefit of some seasoned 8th AF combat crews. Lt Bech flew 17 additional missions with the 301st BG(H) for a total of 34 credited missions which met the 15th AF 50 mission combat tour requirement with double mission credit for the long-distant targets. No record of 15th AF missions flown by the other members of the Lt Bech Crew

  • 1Lt G. Neil Bech, Jr. (P) - Mission #87 flown as CoPilot with a mission indoctrination Pilot Lt Charles F. Hanselmann.

  • 2Lt Franklin M. Hall (CP) - Did not fly on mission #87 with the Lt Bech crew. Flew on mission #118, 6 March 1944, with the Arthur J. Hybert crew

  • 2Lt Edward R. Cotter (N). Did not fly on mission #115, 116 & 117 with the Lt Bech crew. Flew on 14 credited 359th BS missions.

  • F/O Frederick A. Corbin (B) - Did not fly on missions 100, 114, 115, 116 & 117 with the Lt Bech crew. Flew on 12 credited 359th BS Lt Bech missions. Did not transfer to the 15th AF with other Lt Bech crewmen. Flew on 19 additional credited 359th BS missions as a substitute Bombardier with nine different Pilots (123, 124(*), 125, 126, 128, 129, 130, 131(*), 132, 133, 134, 138, 139, 140, 141, 142, 144(*), 153, 154. Was promoted to 2Lt just prior to mission #144 on 29 April 1944. Combat tour completed on 15 May 1944. (*) Three additional missions flown in B-17G "Bonnie-B"

  • T/Sgt Floyd L. Sanelli (E) and T/Sgt John E. Dennis (R) - Flew on all of the 17 credited 359th BS Lt Bech missions.

  • Sgt Robert W. Cundiff (WG) - Did not fly on missions 102 & 117 with the Lt Bech crew - substitute crewmen used. Flew on 15 credited 359th BS missions.

  • S/Sgt Lawrence G. Johnson (BTG) - Flew on all of the Lt Bech crew 17 credited missions as the BTG.

  • S/Sgt Edward C. Boatwright (WG) - Did not fly on mission #91 with the Lt Bech crew - Substitute Waist Gunner used. Flew on 16 credited 359th BS missions.

  • S/Sgt Elbert S. Cox, Jr. (TG) - Did not fly on the last five Lt Bech Crew missions (113, 114, 115, 116 & 117). Flew on 14 credited 359th BS missions.

[photo courtesy of Maynard Pitcher - identification by Mark Forlow]
[Researched by Historian Harry D. Gobrecht]