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359th Proffitt Crew
John S. Proffitt, Jr., Pilot
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JOHN S. PROFFITT, JR. CREW - 359th BS
(crew assigned 359BS: 23 Oct 1944 - photo: Oct 1944)

(Back L-R) 2Lt Maurice E. Ogborn (CP), 2Lt Earl J. Malerich, Jr. (N)
2Lt John C. Finke (B), 1Lt John S. Proffitt, Jr. (P)

(Front L-R) T/Sgt Cornie Norris, Jr. (R), S/Sgt Robert E. Bechtold (WG),
S/Sgt G.L. Rose (WG), S/Sgt Howard F. O'Neal (TG), T/Sgt James W. Young (E)

[photo courtesy of Mike Malerich]



JOHN S. PROFFITT, JR. CREW - 359th BS
(crew assigned 359BS: 23 Oct 1944 - photo: 04 Dec 1944)

(Back L-R) T/Sgt Cornie Norris, Jr. (R), S/Sgt Robert E. Bechtold (WG),
S/Sgt Howard F. O'Neal (TG), S/Sgt G.L. Rose (WG), T/Sgt James W. Young (E)

(Front L-R) 1Lt John S. Proffitt, Jr. (P), 2Lt Maurice E. Ogborn (CP),
2Lt John C. Finke (B/N)


Thirty-six dispatched (35 credited) combat missions flown by 1Lt John S. Proffitt, Jr.:
268 (5 Nov 1944), 269, 270, 271, 272, 273, 276, 277, 278, 279, 280, 282, 283, 285, 286, 288(A), 290, 291, 293, 294, 295, 298B, 299, 300, 302, 304, 305, 308, 312, 313, 317, 319, 321, 322, 323, 324 (26 Feb 1945)
(A) Non-credited aborted mission. For Mission dates, targets and Mission Reports, see Combat Missions.

Twelve B-17Gs flown by 1Lt John S. Proffitt on his 36 dispatched combat missions:

  • 43-38608 Lucille (359BS) BN-E - 20 missions: 271, 273, 277, 278, 279, 280, 282, 283, 285, 289(A), 294, 295, 298B, 299, 300, 305, 312, 321, 322, 324
    B-17G Lucille was named by 1Lt John S. Proffitt, Jr. after his wife Lucille. Delivered to USAAF on 25 Aug 1944. Arrived United Kingdom 07 Sept 1944. Assigned 359BS/303BG on 23 Oct 1944. Returned to USA at Kingman, AZ on 30 Nov 1945 and scrapped. Dispatched on 76 combat missions with 303rd BG(H).
  • 44-6309 Duchess' Granddaughter (359BS) BN-T - Missions 268, 269, 270
  • 42-102569 Miss Lace (427BS) GN-X - Mission 276
  • 43-38289 Sweet LaRhonda (359BS) BN-J - Mission 286
  • 42-107206 Old Black Magic (359BS) BN-R - Mission 308
  • 42-97944 Daddy's Delight (359BS) BN-I - Mission 308
  • 43-37537 Queen of Hearts- PFF B-17G - (359BS) BN-Q - Mission 317 (Lead Crew)
  • 43-38878 (No name) (359BS) BN-D - Missions 272, 302, 304
  • 43-38682 (No name) (359BS) BN-K - Mission 290
  • 43-38764 (No name) (359BS) BN-C - Missions 291, 293
  • 44-8564 (No name) - PFF B-17G (359BS) BN-Z - Mission 319 (Lead Crew)
  • 43-39127 (No name) (359BS) BN-K - Mission 323
Crew Notes:
  • 1Lt John S. Proffitt, Jr (P) - All missions (except Lead Crew missions 317 and 319) flown as First Pilot. Lead Crew missions (317 and 319) flown as Tail Gunner/Observer. First mission (268) flown with Crew Orientation CoPilot 1Lt Yale Lasker. Completed 35 mission combat tour on 26 Feb 1945 ( Mission 324).
  • 2Lt Maurice E. Ogborn (CP) - Missions as CoPilot with 1Lt Proffitt, Jr. (All except 268, 300, 317, 319, 323). Missions with other Pilots: As CoPilot (292); As Lead Crew Tail Gunner/Observer (296, 300, 306, 323). Completed 35 mission combat tour on 26 Feb 1945 (Mission 324).
  • 1Lt Earl J. Malerich, Jr. (N) - Ten Missions as Navigator with 1Lt Proffitt, Jr. (268, 269, 270, 271, 272, 273, 276, 277, 278, 279) - Nineteen missions as a Lead Crew GH Navigator: Nine with 359BS (284, 288, 289, 292, 316, 332, 333, 345, 363); Ten with other Bomb Groups (300, 310 and eight unknown mission dates). Completed 29 credited combat missions on 20 April 1945 (Mission 363). For crash landing at Ghent, Belgium, on 10 January 1945, in B-17G 44-8495 (427BS) GN-Y see our 44-8495 Crash Photos and http://www.381st.org/stories_malerich.html
  • 2Lt John C. Finke (B/N) - 33 credited missions with 1Lt Proffitt, Jr.: Eleven as Bombardier (268, 269, 270, 271, 272, 273, 277, 278, 279, 285); Twenty-Two as Bombardier (280, 282, 283, 286, 288 (Aborted), 290, 291, 293, 294, 295, 298B, 299, 300, 302, 304, 305, 308, 312, 313, 321, 322, 323, 324). Two missions with other Pilots: As Navigator (287); As Bombardier (292). Completed 35 mission combat tour on 26 Feb 1945 (Mission 324).
  • T/Sgt James W. Young (E) - T/Sgt Cornie Norris, Jr. (R) - S/Sgt Howard F. O'Neal (TG) - 34 credited missions with 1Lt Proffitt (All except 317 and 319). Two missions with other Pilots: T/Sgt Young (296, 319); T/Sgt Norris (326, 328), S/Sgt O'Neal (314, 319). Completed 35 mission combat tours on 26 Feb 1945 (Mission 324).
  • S/Sgt Robert E. Bechtold (BTG) - 32 credited missions with 1Lt Proffitt (All except 317 and 319) Two missions with other Pilots (287, 314). Completed 35 mission combat tour on 26 Feb 1945 (Mission 324).
  • S/Sgt G.L. Rose (WG) - 31 credited missions as Waist Gunner with 1Lt Proffitt (All except 317, 319, 321, 324). Four missions with other Pilots: As Tail Gunner (314, 325); As Waist Gunner (328, 331). Completed 35 mission combat tour on 7 March 1945 (Mission 331).
  • Other Crewmen (Not in crew photos) - Radio Control Measure Crewmen (RCMs) - On three missions (321, 322 and 324)
Mission Notes:
Most unusual mission experience of the 1Lt Proffitt, Jr crew as related by 1Lt John S., Proffitt, Jr.

Mission 305, 21 January 1945 to Aschaffenburg, Germany - The 1Lt john S. Proffitt, Jr Crew was flying on the left wing of 2Lt R.F. Tasker in 42-97058 Scorchy II (359BS) BN-V with 1Lt R.B. Duffield 360th BS Lead Crew, leading the 360th BS (High) formation in #44-8137 (359BS) BN-Z. At the turning point just before reaching the bomb run Initial Point, the lead B-17 #44-8137 caught the right wing of #42-97058, flying as the 2nd flight lead aircraft flying below the lead element. The wing of 41-8137 came off and rolled over on its back and went down (9 KIA and 1 POW). Fortress #42-97058 also lost a wing and went down (8 KIA and 1 POW). Both crashed near Rottweil, Germany. The landing gear of one of the B-17's that collided nearly hit the right wing of the 1Lt Proffitt, Jr. crew B-17 # 43-38608 Lucille (359BS) BN-E. Witnessing two B-17s colliding in midair, only a few hundred or se feet ahead of you, was a sobering and unusual experience for the 1Lt :Proffitt crew. The 1Lt Proffitt crew Tail Gunner, S/Sgt Howard F. O'Neal encountered the surviving Tail Gunner of the 2Lt Tasker crew on the ship when returning to the USA a few months later.

Other Experiences:
During the 1Lt Proffitt crew's 36 dispatched combat missions they had several other unusual experiences: The crew lost an engine over the target and had to abort because of a sheared propeller shaft.. The landing was made without a tail wheel when the worn gear was damaged by flak. The B-17 ran off the runway when landing because the hydraulic line between the brakes pedal and the wheels had been damaged by flak. The crew landed at English bases on several occasions because of low gasoline. The crew had a bomb snag up in the bomb bay over the target which had to be kicked out. Other missions were thankfully rather mild.

[photo courtesy of John S. Proffitt, Jr.]
[Researched by Harry D. Gobrecht, 303rdBGA Historian Emeritus]