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427th Alderman Crew
Melvin Alderman, Pilot
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2Lt Melvin Alderman
Pilot (KIA)

2Lt Howard G. Weinberg
Bombardier (KIA)

F/O George S. Thomas
Navigator (KIA)

Sgt Roaul Prieto
Engineer (KIA)

Sgt William Toler
Radio Operator (KIA)

(Alderman assigned 427th BS: 01 December 1944)
(Upgraded from CoPilot, Grafton S. Smith Crew, to Pilot: 16 March 1945)

2Lt Melvin Alderman (P)(KIA), 2Lt Roman M. Ley (CP)(KIA),
F/O George S. Thomas (N)(KIA), 2Lt Howard G. Weinberg (B)(KIA)

Sgt Roaul R. Prieto (E)(KIA), Sgt Don M. Beebe (BT)(KIA),
Sgt William M. Toler (R)(KIA), Sgt Jesse M. Moore (TG)(KIA)

Crew Note:
2Lt Melvin Alderman (P) - Flew as CoPilot with the Lt Grafton N. Smith Crew for 32 missions (24 Dec 1944 through 24 March 1945) and with the 359th BS 2Lt Hower E. Bitler crew for one mission (348 - 30 March 1945). Upgraded from CoPilot to Pilot on orders dated 16 March 1945 and flew two mission as Pilot on 31 March 1945 and 6 April 1945.

Crew Incident:   Mission #353, 06 April 1945, to Leipzig, Germany
The crewmen were assigned to the 2Lt Roman M. Ley Crew on 27 March 1945. They were flying their initial mission with pilot 2Lt Melvin Alderman. Lt Alderman was an experienced pilot who had flown 34 previous missions, most of them as CoPilot with the 1Lt Grafton N. Smith Crew. Ley's assigned CoPilot, 2Lt Eugene H. Farland, was not on the mission.

Two aircraft were missing as a result of a mid-air collision shortly before reaching the target at Leipzig: #43-38958, Green Hill Belle, 427BS, and #44-8647 (No Name), 360BS-M. The dense contrails appeared to contribute directly to the collision. There were no parachutes observed leaving either B-17. Both aircraft crashed at Loessnitz, Germany, approximately 50 km south of Leipzig. #43-38958, piloted by 2Lt Melvin Alderman, exploded in the air after the collision and broke up into small parts--some were on fire. All eight crewmen were killed. F/O Thomas, 2Lt Weinberg, and Sgt Prieto are buried in Ardennes American Cemetery near Liege, Belgium.

The tail assembly broke and the No. 3 engine caved in with the propeller off on #44-8647, piloted by 2Lt Howard C. Lacker. Other crews spotted the aircraft going down in a flat spin. It appeared that the engines had been out because the propellers turned slowly. Also killed in the crash were 2Lt Alexander Kacus, 2Lt James B. O'Neil, S/Sgt Clarence Mooneyham, S/Sgt Francis E. Bratcher, T/Sgt Lane Foster, Sgt Robert R. Reynolds, Sgt Louis V. Garbarino, Jr., Sgt Oscar F. Bonner. 2Lt O'Neil, S/Sgt Mooneyham, S/Sgt Bratcher and Sgt Garbarino are buried in Ardennes American Cemetery near Liege, Belgium. Click here for crash site photos.

Six members of the two crews are buried in a common grave at the Zachary Taylor National Cemetery, Louisville, KY. They are: 2Lt Melvin Alderman, Sgt Oscar F. Bonner, Jr., T/Sgt Lane Foster, 2Lt Howard C. Lacker, 2Lt Roman M. Ley and Sgt Robert R. Reynolds.

[photos courtesy of Al Dussliere]
[Researched by 303rdBGA Historian Harry D. Gobrecht]