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360th Lynch Crew
Robert J. Lynch, Pilot
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(crew assigned 360BS: 15 February 1944)

(Back L-R) Capt Robert J. Lynch (P)(B/O)(1), Lt Jules R. Cohl (CP)(2),
1Lt Emilio M. Sbrolla (N)(KIA)(3), 1Lt Dick W. Merz (B)(KIA)(3)

(Front L-R) T/Sgt Frank H. Schuler (RAD)(B/O)(4), S/Sgt Joseph R. Chudej (BTG)(B/O(4),
S/Sgt Kenneth H. Pleasanton (RWG)(5), S/Sgt Elwood Schoonmaker (LWG)(KIA)(3),
S/Sgt Kenneth R. Krogh (TG)(B/O)(4), T/Sgt Thomas M. Roszell (Eng)(B/O)(4)

(KIA-B/O) 22 June 1944 Mission #188 to Wizernes, France in B-17 #42-97405 Mary Cary (360th BS) PU-H. Capt. Lynch took a small group of 14 B-17s to attack a "No-Ball" Rocket Launching target in the Pas de Calais area. Mary Cary received direct flak hits on the #1 and #2 engines over the target. The #2 engine was windmilling and could not be feathered. The Deputy Leader took over the formation. Upon reaching the enemy coast on the way home the B-17 began to vibrate badly. They headed for Beachy Head the nearest point on the English coast. As they were nearing the English coast the #2 engine exploded and the crew was ordered to bail out over the English Channel. The B-17 exploded shortly before it hit the water. Partly due to the clear weather with unlimited visibility, crewmen were in the water for only 45 minutes before being spotted and rescued. Capt Lynch was rescued by a nearby corvette and four others by two destroyers. The Navigator's body was recovered by one of the destroyers. The other four crewmen drowned.

Two crewmen in the B-17 were not regular members of the Lynch crew: 1Lt R.W. Erickson (P)(KIA) and 1Lt L.D. Ross (N)(KIA). Capt Lynch was flying as CoPilot with his Lead Crew. Regular CoPilot Lt Jules R. Cohl was not on the flight.

Crew Notes:

  1. Capt Robert J. Lynch (P) - Became a Squadron and Group Lead Pilot on his 14th mission 27 April 1943. He flew 17 missions as a Lead Pilot and completed his combat tour mission on 19 December 1944 landing at an RAF base. On 24 December 1944, still at the RAF Base, he unsuccessfully attempted to load his B-17 with British bombs and fly with the RAF on one of their missions.
  2. 1Lt Jules R. Cohl (CP) - Flew his first eight missions with the Lynch Crew. He then flew 14 missions with other Pilots - ten with Capt John A. Long. Seven of his last last nine missions were flown as a Tail Gunner/Observer with various Lead Crews with two missions as a Lead Crew CoPilot. His combat tour was completed on 03 September 1944
  3. S/Sgt Elwood Schoonmaker (LWG)(KIA) Flew all of his 21 missions with Capt Lynch. 1Lt Emilio M. Sbrolla (N)(KIA) and 1Lt Dick Merz (B)(KIA) flew all but one of their 22 missions with the Lynch Crew.
  4. T/Sgt Frank H. Schuler (Rad), T/Sgt Thomas M. Roxzell (Eng), S/Sgt Joseph R. Chudej (BTG) and S/Sgt Kenneth R. Krogh (TG) Flew 22 missions, up to the 22 June 1944 Bail Out, with Capt. Lynch. They completed their last four missions with other Pilots.
  5. S/Sgt Kenneth H. Pleasanton (RWG), who was not on the 22 June 1944 mission, flew his first twenty missions with Capt Lynch - Through 19 June 1944. He then flew eleven mission as a Togglier with other Pilots.

[photo courtesy of Col. Walter K. Shayler]
[Crew identification from 360BS Microfilm roll AO-587 page 1741]
[Researched by 303rdBGA Historian Harry D. Gobrecht]