Ash Crew – Assigned 752nd Squadron – July 6, 1944

Standing: Charlie Giesen – CP/P, Donald McNeely – N, William Beckley – B, Raymond Ash – P
Kneeling: Stephen Moleck – G, Hubert Moschella – G, Marion Funderburk – E, Earl Richey – RO, Bernard Scavarda – G, Alphonse Wolak – G
(Photo: Arnold Poundstone)

Shot down by flak Dec. 24, 1944 (MACR 11121)

RankNameSerial #Crew PositionDateStatusComments
2LtRaymond S Ash0701673Pilot21-Aug-44RFSTD AAF 101 Cent Med Bd
2LtCharles A Giesen0764647Co-pilot24-Dec-44KIACaddo Parish, LA
2LtDonald J McNeely0712868Navigator24-Dec-44KIACuyahoga County, OH
1LtWilliam R Beckley0716904Bombardier06-Mar-45UNKAir Crew Leave
S/SgtEarl S Richey39125139Radio Operator24-Dec-44KIAMendocino, CA
S/SgtMarion E Funderburk34649689Flight Engineer24-Dec-44KIAChesterfield County, SC
S/SgtBernard E Scavarda36115687Aerial Gunner24-Jan-45UNKRest Home Leave
SgtStephen T Moleck13172193Aerial Gunner24-Dec-44KIAFayette County, PA
PfcHubert A Moschella15323395Airplane & Engine Mech04-Jan-45RFSReclassified Nov 44
SgtAlphonse A Wolak17051961Aerial Gunner24-Dec-44POWStalag XIII-D Nuremburg

The Ash crew was assigned to the 752nd Squadron in mid-summer 1944.  Under 2Lt Raymond Ash, the crew flew seven missions before he was removed from flying status and Charlie Giesen took over the crew as pilot.  The crew flew an additional thirteen missions between late August and December 24, 1944 with Giesen.  On this maximum effort by the Eighth Air Force in support of U.S. forces in the Ardennes, the crew fell victim to flak over Belgium.

In the right hand co-pilot’s seat on this mission was 2Lt John E. Thompson.  He was assigned to the 752nd Squadron on October 7, 1944 as an individual replacement.  It is not known whether he was a part of the crew after Giesen took over or if he only flew this one mission with them.  He was a POW until his release in 1945.  The camp at which he was confined is unknown.

The crew did not carry a bombardier on their last mission.  2Lt William R Beckley, assigned with Ash’s crew in July, was transferred to the 755th Squadron on October 23, 1944 apparently to be trained as a lead bombardier on 1Lt Frank A. Hathaway, Jr’s crew.  It is assumed that he completed or nearly completed a tour of missions.  Group records show him going to an Air Force rest home in mid-February 1945 and on Air Crew leave on March 6, 1945.

S/Sgt James H Burke was on this fateful mission as a gunner.  He and tail turret gunner, S/Sgt Edward W. Racek had transferred to the 752nd Squadron from the 1119th MP Detachment on July 14, 1944 and were reclassified as Armorer/Gunners.  It is not known with whom these two men flew, or if they were used as replacement crewmen where needed.  Racek states that he was flying in place of the regular tail gunner, who was in the hospital on December 24th and the only other person that he knew on the aircraft was Burke.  He stated in a questionnaire after the war that he had seen Burke, “Lying either dead or unconscious in the piece of tail section I bailed out of.”  Racek ended up in Stalag Luft III.  S/Sgt Burke was killed in action.

S/Sgt Bernard E. Scavarda was most likely the regular tail gunner who was laid up in the hospital on December 24th.  Not much is known about him, except that he went to an Air Force rest home on January 29, 1945.  It is possible that he completed or nearly completed a combat tour.

Sgt Hubert A. Moschella was reduced to private on July 29, 1944.  On November 9, 1944 he was reclassified as an airplane mechanic (MOS 747).  He was later promoted to Private First Class.


MACR 11121
“Shortly after ‘Bombs Away’ A/C 812 was seen to receive a direct flak hit just aft of the bomb bay.  The A/C split in half and the tail was blown away.  One crew reports that when A/C blew up they followed it visually to the ground where it blew up and that no one was seen to leave A/C.  Two crews reported seeing one chute, but majority claim that no chutes were observed.”

Missions – Raymond Ash, Pilot

DATETARGET458th Msn #Pilot Msn#SerialRCLSqdnA/C Msn#A/C NameComments
19-Jul-44KEMPTEN94141-28942U7V21HEAVENLY BODY
21-Jul-44MUNICH96342-95050J7V32GAS HOUSE MOUSE
24-Jul-44ST. LO AREA97441-29352K7V40WOLVE'S LAIR
25-Jul-44ST. LO AREA "B"98542-100431BJ430BOMB-AH-DEAR
02-Aug-443 NO BALLS101741-29352K7V44WOLVE'S LAIR
03-Aug-442 NO BALLS102841-29352K7V45WOLVE'S LAIR
07-Aug-44GHENT107941-29340N7V43YANKEE BUZZ BOMB
08-Aug-44CLASTRES1081041-29352K7V47WOLVE'S LAIR
13-Aug-44LIEUREY1121142-109812V7V37UNKNOWN 016
14-Aug-44DOLE/TAVAUX1131242-95179X7V36HERE I GO AGAIN

Missions – Charlie Giesen, Pilot

DATETARGET458th Msn #Pilot Msn#SerialRCLSqdnA/C Msn#A/C NameNotes
25-Aug-44LUBECK118142-95179X7V40HERE I GO AGAIN
26-Aug-44DULMEN120242-50314L7V50ETO PLAYHOUSE
09-Sep-44MAINZ124341-29340N7V52YANKEE BUZZ BOMB
23-Sep-44HORSHAM to ST DIZIERTR07--803PT142-40803 P B-24D?ON LOAN FOR TRUCKIN' 389BG
17-Oct-44COLOGNE135441-29567G7V1MY BUNNIE / BAMBI
30-Oct-44HARBURG139542-109812V7V44UNKNOWN 016
08-Nov-44RHEINE144642-51206S7V17THE PIED PIPER
10-Nov-44HANAU A/F146742-52457Q7V67FINAL APPROACH
10-Dec-44BINGEN154842-109812V7V47UNKNOWN 016
12-Dec-44HANAU156942-109812V7V49UNKNOWN 016

Crew at an unidentified location

Standing: Unknown, Unknown, Charlie Giesen, Donald McNeely
Sitting: Far Right (2nd row): Alphonse Wolak

If anyone can identify the other crew members please contact me

(Photo: Jackson Granholm via Linda Lord)

Capt Jackson Granholm, lead navigator December 24, 1944

“As the bombs went away, our ship lightened suddenly.  The other ships of the lead squadron dropped with us.  A moment later a flak shell went off directly under the lead ship of [the] First Squadron, low element.  This was the bomber directly behind and below us, heading the low-hanging triangle of the squadron formation box – it was Charlie Giesen’s ship.

I saw Giesen nose down, and out of formation.  There was no external sign of damage to his aeroplane…no fire, no feathering engines.  And then, suddenly, the whole tail section of Giesen’s aeroplane fell off, taking the tail gunner in his turret straight down into the trees below.

The fatally-stricken big Liberator eased lazily into a right turn.  We could see the squadron letters, 7V, painted boldly on the left side of the fuselage.  As Giesen’s ship swung more and more to the right, the turn tightened until it was a downward spiral, a tight spin and with the tail section gone, Giesen had no control whatever.  I could picture him in the cockpit, terrified, pulling with all his might to move elevators that were no longer there, stamping wildly on rudder pedals that did nothing.

I looked anxiously for hatches to open, for crewmen to leap out, for the bomb bay to spill forth escaping people.  There was nothing – no sign of anyone bailing out.

Ten, fifteen, twenty turns Giesen’s ship went, down and down into the snow and trees of the Ardennes Forest.  I watched until it hit the ground, five miles down, and exploded in a vast ball of fire.  Charlie Giesen had been shot down in a gruesome fulfillment of his own prediction.

As Giesen’s aeroplane exploded, setting the forest on fire far below us, there was a quiet comment from the waist section.

‘Oh, Jesus!’ said Dominic Giordano, peering out over his 50-caliber at the disaster below us.  In my mind’s eye I could see him crossing himself.”

The Day We Bombed Switzerland, Jackson Granholm, Airlife Publishing Ltd, pp 117-118

B-24J-105-CO 42-109812 7V V

The Giesen Crew was flying the aircraft in the foreground on Christmas Eve
(Photo: George Reynolds)

S/Sgt Stephen T. Moleck

Veterans History Project – Alphonse Wolak Interview

Click here for this interview.