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360th Cecchini Crew
Anthony J. Cecchini, Pilot
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ANTHONY J. CECCHINI CREW - 360th BS
(crew assigned 360BS: 02 Apr 1944 - photo: March 1944)

(Back L-R) 2Lt Anthony J. Cecchini (P), 2Lt Stanley L. Fisher (CP),
2Lt Edward J. Veigel (N), 2Lt Theodore D. McDevitt (B)

(Front L-R) S/Sgt Clifford D. Bachman (E), Sgt Clarence L. Cogdell (WG),
Sgt George Kepics (BT), Sgt Robert J. O'Hearn (WG),
S/Sgt Benjamin H. Smith (R), Sgt Ward A. Hudson (TG)


ANTHONY J. CECCHINI CREW - 360th BS
(crew assigned 360BS: 02 Apr 1944 - photo: USA Training)

(Back L-R) S/Sgt Clifford D. Bachman (E), Sgt Clarence L. Cogdell (WG),
S/Sgt Benjamin H. Smith (R), Sgt Robert J. O'Hearn (WG), Sgt Ward A. Hudson (TG)

(Front L-R) 2Lt Anthony J. Cecchini (P), 2Lt Stanley L. Fisher (CP),
2Lt Edward J. Veigel (N), 2Lt Theodore D. McDevitt (B)


ANTHONY J. CECCHINI CREW - 360th BS

Cecchini Crew eight combat missions:
136 (18 April 1944), 138, 139, 142, 143, 144, 145 & 151 (7 May 1944)

Mission Incident:
Mission #151, 11 May 1944, to Saarbruecken, Germany in B-17G Sweet Melody #42-107147 (360BS) PU-C. Returned from the mission with Sweet Melody full of holes. Flak knocked out the Navigator's oxygen, one outboard engine and blew off one of the bomb bay doors on the second bomb run. Lt Cecchini left the formation struggling to maintain altitude. At 11,000 feet German anti-aircraft guns opened up. Lt Cecchini dove his B-17 toward the ground at 300 MPH and then ordered the crew to move forward of the bomb bay to maintain aircraft balance and to jettison all excess equipment. Flying at tree top level at 125 Indicated Air Speed, the crew experienced German 88 mm gunfire from a ground pill box. It injured four crewmen. Sweet Melody passed through the German coastal defenses and flew very low across the water to the English coast. The crew located a RAF training field at Southend-on-Sea on the Thames River Estuary. Making a hot, two-engine landing, the two pilots avoided a concrete ammo building, crashed through a fence, lost the landing gear and bellied into a ditch that stopped the B-17. All crewmen survived the difficult and skillful landing. As a result of the damage Sweet Melody was salvaged.

Condition of crewmen:

  • 2Lt Anthony J. "Chick" Cecchini (P) and Lt Edward J. " Jasper" Veigel (N) - Were hospitalized at the Southend General Hospital and later removed from combat status.
  • S/Sgt Ward A. Hudson (TG) was hospitalized and returned to combat on 20 June 1944.
  • The following crewmen returned to combat on 19 May 1944:
    • T/Sgt Benjamin H. "Ben" Smith (R) - Treated at Southend Station sick quarters
    • 2Lt Theodore D. "Mac" McDevitt
    • T/Sgt Clifford D. "Bachy" Bachman (E),
    • S/Sgt George Kepics (BTG), - slightly injured and treated at Southend hospital
    • 2Lt Stanley L. "Fish" Fisher (CP), S/Sgt Robert J. "Chunk" O'Hearn (RWG), and S/Sgt Clarence L. "Alvin" Cogdell (RWG), were uninjured
Aftermath of the 11 May 1944 crash landing: Seven crewmen returned to combat on 19 May 1944, - Lt's Fisher (CP) & McDevitt (N), T/Sgt's Bachman (E) and Smith (R), S/Sgt's Kepics (BTG), O'Hearn (LWG) and Cogdell (RWG). They flew together on the following combat missions with new Pilots:
  • 1Lt Edgar C, Miller (P) -Three missions (155, 156, 158)
  • 1Lt Paul L. Ellsworth (P) - One mission (159)
  • 1Lt Ernest L. Evans (P) Fourteen missions (163, 165, 166, 171, 172, 174, 175, 176, 177, 179, 180, 181, 184, 186)
  • 1Lt Stanley L. Fisher (P) - Two missions (188, 189) - On 22 June 1944 the old crew CoPilot was upgraded to Pilot. Substitute CoPilots were used. 1Lt Fisher (CP) flew one extra mission (182) as CoPilot with another Pilot. Last mission on 22 June 1944.
  • 1Lt Theodore D. McDevitt (B) - flew twelve of his fourteen missions with Lt Evans and two additional missions (196, 197) with other Pilots as a Navigator. Substitute Bombardiers or Toggliers were used on these missions. Last mission on 6 July 1944.
  • S/Sgt Clarence L. Cogdell (RWG) flew his last three missions with Lt Evans and his two missions with Lt Fisher as Tail Gunner when the second Waist Gun position was deleted from the crew. He flew three additional Missions with Lt Tellinghuisen (P) (199, 200, 201). Last mission on 11 July 1944.
  • T/Sgt Clifford D. Bachman (E) flew on two missions with other Pilots (164, 200). Last mission on 9 July 1944.
  • T/Sgt Benjamin H. Smith (R) flew on three additional missions with other Pilots (208, 210, 211). Last mission on 24 July 1944.
  • S/Sgt George Kepics (BTG) flew on three additional missions with other Pilots (194, 201, 202). Last mission on 12 July 1944.
  • S/Sgt Robert J. O'Hearn (LWG) flew on three additional missions with other Pilots (199, 200, 202). Last mission on 12 July 1944.
  • S/Sgt Ward A. Hudson, original Lt Cecchini crew Tail Gunner returned to combat on 20 June 1944 after his wounds had healed and flew 24 additional combat missions. His last 10 missions were flown as a Togglier (8 missions) and Waist Gunner (2 missions). Ten missions were flown as Tail Gunner with Lt Tellinghuisen and the other fourteen missions with eight different Pilots. Last mission on 7 October 1944
Additional Crew information:

[photo from the 303rdBGA Archives]
[Researched by Historian Harry D. Gobrecht]