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303rd BG Original Crew
427th Hayes Crew
Ralph S. Hayes, Pilot
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RALPH S. HAYES CREW - 427th BS
B-17F The Devil Himself #41-24612 (427BS) GN-R
(Assigned 427th BS: 01 May 1942 - Photo: 12 Oct 1942)

Original Hayes Crew - Kellogg Field, Battle Creek MI - October 1942
Air Echelon oversees flight crew

(Back L-R) 1Lt Ralph S. Hayes (P)(2), 2Lt Jack G. Rolfson (CP)(1),
2Lt Frederick J. Illgen (N), 2Lt Ewell R. McCright (B)(3)

(Front L-R) T/Sgt James K. Good (E)(1), Sgt Marby (Passenger - Overseas flight)
S/Sgt Antonio Bednarchuk (TG)(4), S/Sgt Jesse J. Jessee (R)(1),
S/Sgt Donald A. Mayo (BTG)(1), Sgt Elwood F. Hairr (WG)(1)

Note: Actual overseas flight crew passenger was M/Sgt Henry D. Harwood

Flight Crew (USA to Molesworth, England) Notes:

  1. Were members of the 1Lt James E. Hudson crew on 23 Aug 1942 at Biggs Field, El Paso, TX. 1Lt Hudson, with a make-shift crew of eight, was on a local flight. Their B-17E was struck by lightening exploded in mid air and crashed near Las Cruces, NM. Six crewmen were killed and two were blown clear by the explosion and managed to parachute safely. Among the survivors was 2Lt Quentin W. Hargrove who later became the 303rd BG(H) Engineer Officer at Molesworth, England.
  2. 1Lt Ralph S. Hayes (P) - Was made Pilot of the 2Lt James E. Hudson crew after the death of 2Lt Hudson. This crew was shortly thereafter broken up and Lt Hayes obtained a new crew for the overseas flight to England with crewmen as listed above.
  3. Member of the 1Lt Ralph Hayes crew formed on 23 Aug 1942 at Biggs Field, El Paso, TX.
  4. Member of the 2Lt James Van George Crew on 23 Aug 1942 at Biggs Field, TX

Thirteen Combat Missions flown by 1Lt Ralph S. Hayes, Jr.:
15 (14 Feb 43), 17, 18, 21, 22, 24, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 33 (5 May 43)

1Lt Ralph S. Hayes. Jr. Original Combat Crew:

  • 1Lt Ralph S. Hayes, Jr. (P) - Last and thirteenth combat mission (#31) on 4 May 1943.
  • 2Lt Jack G. Rolfson (CP) - Flew on all thirteen 1Lt Hayes missions. Later flew eight missions as CoPilot with the Lt Fort W. Lipe Crew, two missions as CoPilot with the 1Lt William G. LeFevre Crew. Was upgraded from CoPilot to Pilot and flew two missions as a 1st Pilot. Combat tour completed on 30 July 1943).
  • 2Lt Frederick J. Illgen (N) Flew on all thirteen 1Lt Hayes missions. First mission (15) 14 Feb 43. Completed 25 mission combat tour (59) 16 Aug 43). Promoted to Captain as a lead crew Navigator. Volunteered for nine additional lead crew missions - 24 Dec 44 thru 16 April 1945.
  • 2Lt Byron K. Butt (B - Flew on three missions with 1Lt Hayes (15, 17, 18). Flew on twenty missions with the Lt Armand F. Burch Crew - 12 Mar 43 thru 26 July 43. Became a Lead Crew Bombardier and was promoted to Captain. First mission (17) 26 Feb 43. Last mission (85) on 12 Jan 1943.
  • T/Sgt James K. Good (E) - Flew on five missions with 1Lt Hayes (15, 17, 18, 21, 22) First mission (11) 23 Jan 43. Completed combat tour mission 64 on 27 Aug 1943. Flew with twelve different Pilots.
  • S/Sgt Jesse J. Jessee (R) - Flew on five missions with 1Lt Hayes (15, 17, 18, 21, 22). First mission (15) 14 Feb 43. Completed combat tour mission 66 on 9 March 1944. Flew with eight different Pilots.
  • S/Sgt Lewis F. Bourdon (BTG) - Flew on three missions with 1Lt Hayes (15, 17, 18). First mission (17) 26 Feb 1943. Flew on 24 missions with the Lt Armand F. Burch Crew and two missions with other Pilots. Last mission (55) 29 July 1943.
  • S/Sgt Dante G. Barron (LWG) - Flew on three missions with 1Lt Hayes (15, 17, 18). First mission (5) on 06 Dec 1942. Last mission (60) on 17 Aug 1943. Flew with ten different Pilots.
  • S/Sgt Robert W. Arnold (RWG) - Flew on three missions with 1Lt Hayes (15, 17, 18). First mission (17) 26 Feb 1943. Flew 19 missions with the Lt Armand F. Burch Crew and 9 missions with the Lt Burt J. Cardwell Crew. Two missions with other Pilots. Completed combat tour on mission (69) 9 Sept 1943.
  • S/Sgt Antonio Bednarchuk (TG) - Flew on all thirteen 1Lt Hayes combat missions. First mission (3) on 22 Nov 1942. Completed combat tour mission (57) on 12 Aug 1943. Flew with nine different Pilots.

[photo courtesy of Joan Barnes, niece of Elwood F. Hairr]
[Researched by Historian Harry D. Gobrecht]