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427th Sheets Crew
Robert W. Sheets, Pilot
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ROBERT W. SHEETS CREW - 427th BS
(crew assigned 427BS: 27 Oct 1943 - photo: 07 Dec 1943)

(Back L-R) T/Sgt Earl J. King (BT), 1Lt George A. Wallen (B),
1Lt Lawrence A. Peacock (N), 2Lt Lon E. Jackman, Jr. (CP)(KIA), Maj Robert W. Sheets (P)

(Front L-R) S/Sgt Tom C. Sullens (TG),
S/Sgt Ernest D. Dubray (R), S/Sgt Lee F. Souder, Jr. (E),
S/Sgt Leonard C. Smith (WG), T/Sgt James F. Donnelly (WG)

[Ranks and Grades at time of last combat mission]


ROBERT W. SHEETS CREW - 427th BS


38 dispatched, 36 credited combat missions flown by Major Robert W, Sheets:
As Crew 1st Pilot - 13 credited missions: 82 (18 Nov 43) 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 92(AS), 97, 98, 100, 101, 102, 103(A), 104
As Lead Crew Pilot - 23 credited missions:105 (5 Feb 1943),110, 111, 116(A), 117, 140, 151, 168, 172, 178, 180, 190, 216, 223, 231, 236, 243, 248, 262, 266, 302, 306, 315, 351 (4 Apr 1945)
(A) Non-Credited aborted mission (AS) Credited abortive sortie - no bombs dropped See the Missions List for mission dates and targets.

Crew Notes:
  • Major Robert W. Sheets (P) - Joined Merchant Marine after graduating from High School. Enlisted in Army Air Corps in January 1942. Commissioned 2Lt 22 April 1943, 1Lt 5 Dec 1943, Capt 22 Mar 1944 & Major 01 Nov 1944. In Fall of 1943 was assigned to a remote field in Brookville, FL as part of the "Iseman Group" - a very secretive assignment practicing dropping external Glide Bombs that could be used in bombing Germany from an I.P. 25-30 miles from the target and glide to the target area. The operation had the code name "Grapefruit." After the "Grapefruit" training four crews got the jump on the remaining Iseman Group crews en route to their overseas point of departure at Presque Isle, Maine Including the Robert W. Sheets crew. The four Pilots ignored their flight plan and buzzed many things on the ground. Approaching Washington, DC they decided to alter course and fly over Yankee Stadium in New York City where a World Series game was in progress. The four Pilots buzzed Yankee Stadium incurring the heated wrath of Mayor LaGuardia. Upon landing at Presque Isle, Maine the four Pilots were ordered to report to Headquarters and were notified that they must appear before a Court Martial. They were saved by a notice from Washington to brief and release them as they were on a "Special Assignment." Three of the four Pilots (Jack Watson, Elmer W, Young, and Robert W. Sheets) were assigned to the 303rd BG(H) and became known as the Pilots who buzzed the World Series.

    After serving as 427th BS Operations Officer Capt Sheets became Acting Commanding Officer of the 427th BS during September and October 1944 and assumed Command on 01 Nov 44 when LtCol Snyder became Deputy CO of the 303rd BG(H). Major Sheets served as the 427th BS CO through the end of hostilities in April 1945. Made a Lead Crew Pilot following mission #104 on 4 February 1944. 1st Combat tour completed on 23 September 1944 followed by missions on a 2nd combat tour. Final mission on 4 April 1945.

  • 2Lt Lon E. Jackman, Jr. (CP)(KIA) - Flew on five missions with the Sheets Crew (82, 85, 86, 88, 89). Flew with a new 427th BS crew, 2Lt Alexander Alex (P) on their first mission (#90) on 20 Dec 1943 to Bremen, Germany in 360th BS B-17G #42-39764 Santa Anna. Anti-aircraft fire knocked out one engine and a subsequent German fighter attack resulted in the crew bailing out and the B-17 crashing near Breman. 2Lt Jackman was killed and the other nine crewman became POWs. 2Lt Jackman is buried in the Netherlands American Cemetery, Margraten, Netherlands.
  • 1Lt Lawrence A. Peacock (N) - Flew on 10 credited missions with the Lt Sheets (P) (82, 88, 89, 90(AS), 97, 98, 101, 102, 103(A), 104, 110) and 19 additional missions with other Pilots (83, 114, 115, 117, 118, 119, 127, 128, 129, 130, 132, 133, 137, 138, 141, 144, 146, 151, 155). Combat tour completed on 19 May 1944
  • 1Lt George A Wallen (B) - Flew on 10 credited missions with the Lt Sheets (P) (82, 85, 86, 88, 89, 90(AS), 97, 102, 103(A), 104, 110) and 19 additional missions with other Pilots (101, 115, 127, 128, 144, 155, 162, 170, 173, 176, 177, 182, 186, 189, 192, 195, 198, 202, 205, 206, 211). Combat tour completed on 24 July 1944.
  • S/Sgt Lee F. Souder, Jr (E) - Flew on 6 credited missions with Lt Sheets (P). (82, 85, 86, 88, 89, 92(AS) and 27 missions with other Pilots: Lt Vere A. Wood (104, 116, 117); Lt William R. Flesh (126, 127, 129, 130, 132, 133, 134(A), 135); Lt Phil W. O'Hare [Upgraded from CP to P on Lt Kenneth A. Hoeg Crew] (137, 129, 140, 141, 153, 145, 148, 149, 151, 154, 155, 159); Three other Pilots (105, 107, 138, 161). Combat tour completed on 27 May 1944.
  • S/Sgt Ernest D. Dubray (R) - Flew on 11 credited missions with Lt Sheets (P) (82, 85, 88, 89, 92(AS), 97, 98, 100, 101, 102, 103(A), 104) and 20 missions with other Pilots: Lt Phil W. O'Hare (139, 140, 141, 143, 145, 148, 149, 151, 154, 155, 159); Lt Emmittes S. Harrison (176); Lt Stephen B. Bastean (Previous Lt Harrison Crew CoPilot) - 177, 178, 182, 184, 186); Other Pilots (138, 187, 190). Combat tour completed on 24 June 1944.
  • T/Sgt Earl J. King (BTG) - Flew on 22 credited missions with Lt Sheets (P) - (82, 85, 86, 88, 89, 92(AS), 97, 98, 100, 101, 102, 103(A), 104, 105, 110, 111, 116(A), 117, 140, 151, 168, 172, 178, 180). Flew on 7 missions with other Pilots: Lt Donald W. Keating - As Radio Operator - 202, 203, 207, 208; Other Pilots (127 [BTG], 194 [BTG], 195 [Radio] ). Combat tour completed on 20 July 1944.
  • S/Sgt Leonard C. Smith (WG) - Flew on 20 credited missions with Lt Sheets (P) - (82, 85, 88, 89, 92(AS), 97, 98, 100, 101, 102, 103(A), 104, 105, 110, 111, 116(A), 117, 140, 151, 168, 172, 190). Flew on 8 missions with other 5 Pilots (166, 176, 177, 183, 185, 220, 227, 231) Combat tour completed on 24 August 1944.
  • T/Sgt James F. Donnelly (WG) - Flew on 22 credited missions with Lt Sheets (P) - (82, 85, 86, 88, 89, 92(AS), 97, 98, 100, 101, 102, 103(A), 104, 105, 110, 111, 116(A), 117, 140, 151, 168, 172, 178, 180). Flew on 8 missions with other Pilots: As WG (176, 192); As Togglier (179, 185, 189, 200, 202, 203. Combat tour completed on 13 July 1944
  • S/Sgt Tom C. Sullens (TG) - Flew on 15 credited missions with Lt Sheets (P) - (82, 85, 86, 88, 89, 92(AS), 97, 98, 100, 101, 102, 103(A), 104, 110, 116(A), 117, 172). Flew on 16 missions with other Pilots: As Tail Gunner - With Lt Phil L. O'Hare (146, 148, 149, 151, 154, 155); Other Pilots (114, 145, 192, 194; As Togglier (203, 207, 209, 211, 216, 218). Combat tour completed on 4 August 1944.
Additional Crewmen on Lt Sheets combat missions:
Mission 105 - Sgt Harold F. Mulberry (Photo), 111 - Sgt Joseph R. Gervais, 172 - Mr. Walter L. Cronkite (War Correspondent), 172 - 2Lt James G. Clark (Passenger)

[photo from the Peter M. Curry Collection]
[Researched by Harry D. Gobrecht, Historian Emeritus, 303rd Bomb Group Association]