March 28, 2010
Volume II, Issue 5

by Guenter Bier and Eugene Prieto

Collision of B-17G #43-38958 Green Hill Belle (427BS) and #44-8647 (360BS)
Mission No. 353: 6 April 1945
Target: Main Marshalling Yard at Leipzig, Germany

An unexpected tragedy struck the 303rd Bomb Group in the early spring of 1945. Two aircraft and their crews were lost in a mid-air collision shortly before reaching the target of Leipzig, Germany. The aircraft were B-17G #43-38958 Green Hill Belle (427BS) and B-17G #44-8647 (360BS). Dense contrails appeared to contribute directly to the collision. No parachutes were observed leaving either B-17 and both aircraft crashed at Loessnitz, Germany, approximately 50 km south of Leipzig.

2Lt Melvin Alderman

2Lt Howard G. Weinberg

Sgt Roaul Prieto

Sgt William Toler

Green Hill Belle, piloted by 2Lt Melvin Alderman, exploded in the air after the collision and broke up into small parts, some were on fire. 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, an experienced pilot who had flown 34 previous missions, most of them as copilot with the Grafton N. Smith Crew. Killed in the crash were 2Lt Alderman, 2Lt Roman M. Ley, F/O George S. Thomas, 2Lt Howard G. Weinberg, Sgt Roaul R. Prieto, Sgt Don M. Beebe, Cpl William M. Toler and Cpl Jesse M. Moore.

(Back L-R) S/Sgt Clarence Mooneyham, Jr. (TOG)(KIA), Sgt Robert R. Reynolds (BT)(KIA),
Sgt Louis V. Garbarino (TG)(KIA), T/Sgt Lane Foster (R)(KIA), S/Sgt Francis E. Bratcher (E)(KIA)
(Front L-R) 2Lt Howard C. Lacker (P)(KIA), 2Lt Ralph L. Johnson (CP), 2Lt Billy L. Runnels (B), 2Lt James B. O'Neil (N)(KIA)

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. Killed in #44-8647 were 2Lt Lacker, 2Lt Alexander Kacus, 2Lt James B. O'Neil, S/Sgt Clarence Mooneyham, S/Sgt Francis E. Bratcher, S/Sgt Lane Foster, Sgt Robert R. Reynolds, Sgt Louis V. Garbarino, Jr. and Sgt Oscar F. Bonner.

Green Hill Belle Crash Site

Children at the Green Hill Belle crash site. The boy at the far left attended the ceremony at age 67.

POLICE REPORT: 6 April 1945
Personal and material damage due to enemy bomber crash at Loessnitz.

The town's area of Loessnitz was affected today in the mid-morning hours by a rather large number of enemy airplanes in the direction from North-West to South-East. At 1015 hours one B-17 crashed onto the factory of Hofmann and Son in Loessnitz-Dreihansen. The factory building was totally destroyed from the explosion. Also the Administration Building and living quarters were heavily damaged and were not useable. The restoration will take a long time. The factory building remains not useable. The company employed 110 workers in an emergency program. The farm next door of farmer Reimann was also totally destroyed and restoration is not possible. In about 75 a meter distance the farm of farmer Guenther on Zwoenitzer Strasse received average damage. The factory building of Anton Jahn received heavy roof damage and operations are not possible. Train tracks and streets were not harmed.

Perhaps the plane still had bombs on board because in the middle of the factory area was a huge crater. Debris is located in a circumference of 500 meters. The tail section and one wing are located in a 300 meter distance. One engine is located on Obere Bahnhof Strasse in Loessnitz. Four employees received serious injuries and 4 minor ones and one Czechoslovakian worker is still missing. Two foreigners were employed by Hofmann and Son. Of the bomber crew 8 dead were found within 300 meters. Because the bomber flew at a low altitude, no parachutes opened. One dead crew member is still inside the tail section and could not as yet be removed.

In about 500 meters distance in Affalter a similar crash occurred and it is assumed that a midair collision took place. Additional bomb craters and delayed fuses were not found. The dead crew members were transported to the local cemetery hall. Police, Fire department, Townwatch, Technical Assistance and the Air Raid Warden arrived at the scene immediately. The estimated financial damage has not been established as yet. The local building department will take care of it. Among the found materiel from the bomber were a briefcase and maps, along with other written matter on a nearby lawn.

Bretschneider, Rev. Lt. Police Department.
Landgraf, Mstr. Police

Prieto Family Returns to Loessnitz on 59th Anniversary of Roaul's Death

On a spring day, April 6th, 1945, massive bomber formations were on their way to Leipzig. Suddenly, explosions were heard over the town of Loessnitz, in the Ore Mountain Region. Two B-17s had lost visibility in the contrails and collided. 2Lt Frank E. Welshon, copilot on the 360th 2Lt Clarence D. Bristol Crew reported that Lt. Lacker's plane was sliding sideways and down, apparently out of control, and made contact with Lt. Alderman's crew in the Green Hill Belle. Both aircraft hung together for a few moments. Lt. Lacker's plane then detached itself and the Green Hill Belle blew up. Pieces were seen on fire, falling to earth. The two B-17s went down with a crew of 17 men, and their bomb loads.

Mass grave at the Zachary Taylor National Cemetery, Louisville, KY
The Lacker B-17 crashed in Affalter about 1 km from Loessnitz. The Alderman Crew, with Sgt Roaul R. Prieto, came down over Loessnitz. It destroyed several buildings and small factories. There were casualties on the ground as well.

When Roaul was reported missing his mother walked more than two miles daily to the local post office, looking for more news. Finally, the family was informed that their son would not return. Roaul was the Flight Engineer and aerial gunner on the Alderman Crew. He died three days after his 21st birthday. He had wanted to open a machine shop and get married. It was not to be.

Extensive research was done into this incident and the findings were very detailed. Some witnesses from that day are still alive. The remains of the crew were laid to rest in the local Loessnitz cemetery, and later transferred US Military Cemeteries in Louisville, Kentucky and Liege, Belgium.

Eugene Prieto performs a Native American ceremony
in honor of his uncle.
The family of Roaul Prieto was able to visit Loessnitz in April 2004 on the 59th anniversary of this painful event. Eugene Prieto, a nephew of Sgt Roaul R. Prieto, is a history teacher in Palm Springs, California. Eugene, with his wife Cynthia and sister Elvira received a Mayor's Reception and were welcomed by the local residents. It was a moving visit for them and also for several people in the town. The press was invited to document this memorable event. It honored all those killed in the area, including bomber crews and citizens.

After a reception in the Mayor's chambers, all participants went to the crash site in town, which has long since been rebuilt. Eugene Prieto burned incense as a Native American ritual, while his wife Cynthia spread flowers around the crash site and sang a Mexican lullaby. The scent was a mixture of California White Sage. Many in attendance had tears in their eyes. Heaven presented some hail and snow during the ceremony. Eugene read all the names of the deceased crew members. The wind tried to blow away the past, but in the people's hearts this April 6th remained unforgettable. The local residents had buried the crewmen's remains with dignity in the local cemetery, next to the chapel. For this the Prieto family was most grateful.

In 1949, Kurt Guenther helped transport the remains of some of the crewmen to the United States. He wrote:

It was summer 1949 and the Soviet Military Kommandantur in Aue ordered me to transport several boxes from Loessnitz to Chemnitz. Since the boxes were located in the Loessnitz cemetery, it made me aware that the contents of the boxes were bodies. After the boxes were loaded onto my Ford truck, two Soviet soldiers accompanied me to Aue. The boxes were to be exchanged. I was requested to leave the truck inside the yard of the Soviet Kommandantur and disappear. When I returned the next day to my truck, the boxes were exchanged.

Two Soviet soldiers and one officer then accompanied me to Chemnitz. There I had to leave my truck and get out. One Soviet driver took off while I waited inside the Kommandantur. Everything happened under strict secrecy. I assume that the corpses remains were taken to the local crematorium because after the Soviets returned I saw the dog tags laying on the passenger's seat. Together with the Soviets I drove back to Aue. No word was spoken about this affair. On the way back my truck had a malfunction and the Soviet became very indignant. At last we arrived at Aue late at night and I was glad that when the Soviets left. Later I never heard anything again about this action and almost forgot about it until the "Free Press" paper reminded me again.

The now 87-year old Guenther, a former POW, attended the ceremony. He lifted his hat as a salute to the Prieto family. He offered his condolences and added, "even though they died, it happened on a beautiful country side." The Prietos really appreciated the wonderful reception and hoped to return some day.

This event was made possible by the research of docent volunteers of the American Airpower Museum at Republic Airport in Farmingdale, NY and the staff of the Loessnitz Archive Keeper. For the Prieto family, it brought some closure to this tragedy. There were other reasons to make this long journey – a lesson on how to face death and to say good-bye to their uncle.

Sgt Prieto is buried in the Ardennes American Cemetery in Belgium. For several years the Prieto family had been trying to get approval to have Roaul's body returned to the family to be interred in Palm Springs, California with his parents. Sadly, they were not successful.


303rd BG (H) Combat Mission #130
28 March 1944
Target: Dijon/Longvic Airdromes, France

Another Nazi airfield was partially missing after being visited by 303rd BG(H) Fortresses. With perfect visibility at 16,900 feet, Group bombardiers could take time to position for the run-up on the target. 838 65-lb. M47A1 incendiary bombs dropped in a compact mass on the building in the corner of the airdrome. Tall plumes of smoke could be seen rising from the burning building and petrol dumps 150 miles away from the target.

In many respects, it was one of the best missions ever executed by the 303rd BG(H). In addition to the good bombing, there was no opposition of any kind–enemy fighters or flak. The bombers flew a perfect bombing formation. The fighter escort, mostly P-47s, was present throughout the mission, although there were no German airplanes in the air. Only a few very distant bursts of anti-aircraft fire were seen. There were no casualties and no battle damage to the B-17s. All aircraft returned safely to Molesworth.

Capt. Louis M. Schulstad, Group Air Commander said, "It was the most perfect mission I've ever been on. Absolutely no opposition and bombing couldn't have been better." 1Lt. Edwin H. Assenheimer, a Fortress pilot said, "The visibility was unlimited and we could see the target for half an hour before we got to it. We had a good chance to plaster it and the bombardiers did a good job." S/Sgt. Charles W. Robb, tail gunner said, "When we were 150 miles away from the target on the way home I could still see smoke coming up from the field."

This photo was taken from the camera pit in Thunderbird on March 28, 1944. The target was an airfield at Dijon, France. Bomb strikes can be seen in one area of buildings. A following group of fortresses wiped out the next group of buildings, while a third group demolished the third group of buildings. The airfield was completely destroyed.

A total of 117 Eighth Air Force B-17s dropped 902 x 500 General Purpose and 1718 x 65 Incendiary bombs - 280 tons - from 16,900 feet at 1442 to 1453 hours. The Dijon/Longvic Airdrome was an operational base for twin-engine fighters, probably ME-110s. In the main hangar-administration area on the west side of the airfield, two heavy concentrations of incendiaries and one concentration of G.P. bombs were seen. Fires were started in two of five large double-bay hangars and damage was expected to be severe. Two square hangars received direct incendiary hits and were burning fiercely.

A large workshop was hit. The whole administration area was covered by incendiaries. In the hangar-workshop area on the northwest side of the field, a three-bay hangar received three direct hits and was severely damaged. Four workshops received direct hits and two of them were completely demolished. Blast damage by near misses on four medium workshops could be seen. Twenty-nine medium, four S/E enemy aircraft and one twin fuselage enemy aircraft were seen on the field. Four medium enemy aircraft were damaged.

From Brigadier General Robert B. Williams
22 April, 1944

1. The outstanding performance of duty rendered by the 303rd Bombardment Group on the attack 28 March 1944 at Dijon/Longvic, occupied France, is continued evidence of the excellent teamwork contributed by combat personnel of your organization in sustained operations.

2. Interpretation of Strike Attack Photographs resulted in the following tabulated percentages of the total bombs identified.
Bombs within 500 feet of A.P. twenty-four (24) percent
Bombs within 1000 feet of A.P. sixty-eight (68) percent
Bombs within 2000 feet of A.P. one hundred (100) percent

3. The exemplary teamwork exhibited by the following personnel, 359th Bombardment Squadron, lead aircraft of the group formation, is reflected in the remarkable results attained. It is gratifying to note that Lieutenant Hoover and Lieutenant Schoner have again demonstrated a high degree of skill and coordination as members of a combat team.

1Lt. Billy M. Goolsby 0-676778 Pilot
Capt. Louis M. Schulstad 0-442237 Co-Pilot
2Lt. George R. Schoner 0-738667 Navigator
2Lt. William L. Hoover 0-746720 Bombardier
2Lt. Victor T. Gorecki, Jr. 0-672798 Tail Gunner
T/Sgt. Donald Bumgarner 36026873 Engineer
T/Sgt. Chester W. Greenhalgh 11136123 Radio Operator
S/Sgt. William Chraniuk 32438176 Ball Turret Gunner
S/Sgt. Harry J. Rothrock 15334202 Waist Gunner
S/Sgt. Frank Z. Cueto 12156789 Waist Gunner

Brigadier General, U.S. Army

A member of the 1199th Military Police Company - March 30, 1944

General Carl Spaatz and Lt. General Jimmy Doolittle discuss the results of the bombing raid
on the oil refinery at Halle, Germany with crews who participated in Mission 349, on March 31, 1945.

Eighth Air Force Reunion – Tucson, Arizona – July 21-25, 2010
Registration is now underway for the 2010 8th Air Force Reunion this July in Tucson, Arizona. Registration information is in the March 2010 issue of the 8th AF News or online here: We're looking for a good turnout from our 303rd Bomb Group veterans, families and friends. Susan and I are looking forward to seeing our 303rd BG friends again.

Yes Sir... She's Our Baby....
I am trying to locate a wartime article entitled "Yes Sir...She's Our Baby." The article was about the 359th Squadron's "The Knockout Dropper" and started out with photos and quotes from members of "The Dropper's" ground crew. I only have the first two pages of the article and would like to acquire the other pages. If anyone has this article, please contact Marin Ennis, 1405 Dogwood Drive, West Lawn, PA 19609, (610) 678-2997 or at Thank you!!

Frank Harold Schuler - November 30, 1924 - March 17, 2010, Loveland, Ohio. Beloved husband of Elizabeth (nee Walker) Schuler. Loving father of Frank (Lonnie), Beth (Jim) Bischoff, Dan (Dee), Greg (Anne) Teresa (John) Garnich, Karl (Mary) and Tim (Linda). Cherished grandfather of twenty-one grandchildren and twelve great grandchildren. Brother of Margaret Schneider, Marcella Curtis, Barbara Dixon and the late James William Schuler. Proudly served our country in the US Army.

[Note: June 22, 1944 Mission #188 to Wizernes, France: As the Lynch Crew was 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. Schuler and others were rescued by two destroyers. Five crewmen drowned.]

Walter J. Carney 90 of Suffield, died Thursday March 4, 2010, husband of Viola ( Czerpak ) Carney, the love of his life. He was born in Suffield the son of the late Joseph and Sarah (Nasuta) Carney and lived in Suffield most all of his life. He was a pilot during WWII serving in the Army Air Force. He flew 36 combat missions over Germany and France in the B-17 Flying Fortress heavy bomber with the 303 Bombing Group, also known as the “Hell’s Angels” of the Eighth Air Force, logging more than 288 hours. During a bomb run to Munich an anti-aircraft shell took out his #3 engine and with avenues of escape to Switzerland blocked, he turned toward Italy and miraculously landed his aircraft and crew safely in Rome, receiving citations from two Generals.

Walter is survived by his wife of 66 years, Viola, son Walter J and Cyndy Carney Jr of Palm Bay FL and daughter Bridget E. and Allan Tallis of Soddy Daisy TN. He also leaves his grandson Christopher A Tallis and fiance Amy Young of Jasper TN and grandson Michael A and Erin Tallis and great-granddaughter Shannon Elizabeth of Suffield CT. Walter was predeceased by his brother Richard and sister Lee Bass. Walter was a communicant of St. Joseph Church, Suffield. He was employed at the former American Bosch for over 20 years. He was a charter member of VFW Post 9544. Walter was a quiet person who was exceptionally talented and enjoyed the outdoors and golf at Oak Ridge. He will be missed by all who knew him. A special thank you to the staff at Country Estates for giving him such loving attention. God Bless you all.

Norwood Dayton Borror (left), 88, of Leesburg, Fla., and Keyser, WV, died Thursday December 17, 2009 at Florida Hospital Waterman, Tavares, Fla. He was a waist gunner on the 360th BS Lt William T. Baker Crew.

Wayne L. Trant passed away November 5, 2008 in an Aransas Pass nursing home at the age of 88. He was born April 22, 1920 in Kingsville, Texas to Lester and Emma Keller Trant. He served in the Army Air Corps during WWII for four years in the 303rd Bomb Group. He married Irene E. Mayer September 28, 1946 in Kingsville, Texas. They lived in Kingsville until moving to Aransas Pass in 1954. Wayne was a retired operator for Amoco Production Company and worked for them for 32 years. He was a member of the Faith Lutheran Church in Aransas Pass and held many offices in the church. Wayne was a member of the Aransas Pass VFW Post.

Franklin Charles Hall (left) passed away May 4, 2005. He was the copilot on the 359th BS 2Lt Ambrose G. Grant Crew. The crew was shot down on Mission 81, November 5th, 1943 to Gelsenkirchen, Germany. Hall spent the remainder of the war as a POW.

Lloyd L. Albern - passed away July 3, 2009. He was the ball turrett gunner on the 359th BS 2Lt Richard L. Clemensen Crew. The crew was shot down on Mission #241, September 12, 1944 to Brux, Czechoslovakia. Albern spent the rest of the war as a POW.

Robert C. Peterson, 86, of Evanston, IL, died March 7, 2010. Beloved husband of the late Barbara; loving father of Janet (Roy) Ployhar, Robert (Mimi), Jean (Harry) Tibbetts, Joan (Andrew) Leifel and Richard; dear grandfather of six. [359th BS Pilot, completed 35 combat missions]

Gary, I was sorry to hear of George Turinsky's passing in the March 7 issue of The Molesworth Pilot. You may recall that about 2 years ago you were kind enough to give me Carol Sage's contact information. That led to George getting in touch with my dad again after nearly 60 years. My dad was Turk's co-pilot during those 35 missions out of Molesworth in 1944 and 1945. They last spoke in the fall of 2009, when Turk told my dad that he had lung cancer. My dad (William Shaughnessy) is recovering from a fractured hip. I told him that Turk passed away and he was understandably saddened by the news. The EAA brought its B-17, Aluminum Overcast, to Rochester, MN last summer. Took my dad to see it and he was thrilled. (see photo). Thanks again so much for all that you do and for allowing these two 'heroes' to get back in touch with each other again. Turns out it was just in the nick of time. I cannot thank you enough. Bill Shaughnessy Jr.

Keeping the Legacy Alive,
Gary L. Moncur
Molesworth Pilot Editor
303rd Bomb Group Historian
copyright © 2009 - 2010 Gary L. Moncur
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Submissions of 303rd Bomb Group related stories and articles are most welcome.