Brevakis Crew – Assigned 754th Squadron – August 14, 1944

Standing (L-R): Unknown, Ted Brevakis – P, John Aldridge – B, Philip Hale – CP, Unknown

Kneeling, from left: Robert Manthey – AG, Ed Coppens – G, (three unknown)

If anyone can identify the rest of this crew, please contact me.

(Photo: AFHRA)

Completed Tour

RankNameSerial #Crew PositionDateStatusComments
MajTheodore J Brevakis0791055PilotMay-45CT2nd Sqdn CO - Returning to States
1LtPhilip R Hale0700452Co-pilotFeb-45CTTrsf to 70RD for return to ZI
1LtWinthrop G Pierrel0798869Navigator31-Oct-44CTAppointed Squadron Navigator
CaptJohn W Aldridge0735154BombardierApr-45CTAwards - Distinguished Flying Cross
T/SgtHerbert H Zamler36534581Radio OperatorMar-45CTTrsf to 70RD for return to ZI
T/SgtWilliam A Smith34338816Flight Engineer19-Dec-44CTRest Home Leave
S/SgtEdward A Cappons36508021Armorer-Gunner19-Dec-44CTRest Home Leave
S/SgtCarl L Conklin36879983Armorer-GunnerApr-45CTTrsf to 70RD for return to ZI
S/SgtRobert C Manthey37308790Armorer-Gunner19-Dec-44CTRest Home Leave
S/SgtJohn J Powers36243328Armorer-Gunner17-May-45CTTransferred to 752nd Sqdn

Captain Theodore J. Brevakis was assigned to the 458th with his crew on August 14, 1944.  While this crew had just arrived in the ETO, it is believed that they were not a newly trained crew, as they came to the group in higher pay grades, and at least one gunner was a decorated combat veteran from the Pacific Theater. (Jan 2023) Information from the daughter of James Aldridge indictaes they were assigned to the 399BG 604BS in April 1943. This was a training squadron in the States, disbanded in March 1944.

On August 17th, only three days after their arrival, Captain Brevakis was appointed as the 754th Squadron Operations Officer, leaving his crew in the hands of 2Lt Philip R. Hale.  Brevakis flew several missions as a command pilot until he was appointed the 754th Squadron Commanding Officer in November with the rank of Major.  In March 1945 he was transferred to HQ and rotated home in May.

Two days after Capt Brevakis was moved up to the Squadron Ops Office, on August 19th, the entire crew was sent on temporary duty (TD) to the 466th BG at Attlebridge, which at this time was training lead crews.  The crew must have arrived back at some point towards the end of September, as Hale is shown flying his first mission on October 6, 1944.  On October 23rd the crew was transferred to the 755th Squadron as a lead crew.  Philip Hale can be tracked on formation plans, and he is shown flying a total of ten missions prior to mid-January 1945.  In February, he was sent to the 70th Replacement Depot for return to the States, “…his tour complete”.

Shortly after the crew was transferred to the 755th Squadron, Lt’s Winthrop G. Pierrel (N), and John W. Aldridge (B) were appointed 754th Squadron Navigator and Squadron Bombardier, respectively.  As such, both would fly on various lead ships and the missions they flew with the group are unknown.  Aldridge was promoted to Captain in December and received the DFC in April 1945.  2Lt Richard L. Lougee, whose story of the October 9, 1944 mission to Koblenz appears on the STORIES page of this website, appears to have been assigned to Hale’s crew as a navigator.

Philip Hale, Richard Lougee, and all of the enlisted crew went on Rest Home Leave on December 19, 1944, but it seems unlikely that they would have flown the required number of missions by this point in order to get this leave, especially as a lead crew.  Normally crews who had made it halfway through their tour of missions (35 in the fall of 1944) would be sent for a 7-10 day leave to a quiet estate in the English countryside.  It is possible that most of them came to the 458th with some combat experience already and were due a leave.

S/Sgt Edward A. Coppens was definitely a man of combat experience, having seen action against the Japanese in the Pacific.  Beginning in October 1942, he had served a stint in the 5th Air Force’s 90th Bomb Group, the “Jolly Rogers”, and had been decorated with the DFC by General Kenney for shooting down an enemy plane and sinking a transport during the Battle of the Bismarck Sea in March 1943.  One of the aircraft he flew in was a B-24D name Star Duster.  In September 1943 he was reassigned to the 399th Bomb Group, then training at Wendover Field in Utah where he became a gunner on the Brevakis crew.  He was with the 458th until at least March 1945, when records show him transferred back to the 754th Squadron.

There is no mention for most of the crew after the December entry for Rest Home leave, and it is most likely that they all completed their tours and were rotated back home in 1945.

Maj Theodore J. Brevakis Missions as Command Pilot

DateTargetPilot458th MsnPilot MsnCmd PilotLdSerialRCLSqdnA/C MsnA/C NameComments
27-Aug-44FINOWHAYZLETT1212BREVAKISL244-10487B7V7Girl on surfboard (no name)MISSION CREDIT IN NOV

Awards Ceremony

Maj Brevakis (left), 754th Sq CO, presents the DFC to Capt Robert F. Geiger, navigator


Lt Philip R. Hale Missions as 1st Pilot

DateTarget458th MsnPilot MsnCmd PilotLdSerialRCLSqdnA/C MsnA/C NameComments
06-Oct-44WENZENDORF1291D142-95610DJ31UNKNOWN 037
09-Oct-44KOBLENZ1312BOOTHD142-95609TT9--466BG/784SQNOT 458th SHIP
17-Oct-44COLOGNE1353D142-95557E7V7LADY PEACE
08-Nov-44RHEINE1445BREVAKISL42-95610D+J34UNKNOWN 037
21-Nov-44HARBURG1486BETZOLDD142-50954A+J36UNKNOWN 021
04-Dec-44BEBRA1527WILLIAMSONL142-95628K+J31UNKNOWN 038
11-Dec-44HANAU1558BREEDINGL442-51939GJ38UNKNOWN 028
01-Jan-45KOBLENZ1639LaROCHEL142-95628KJ35UNKNOWN 038
10-Jan-45SCHONBERG16810WILLIAMSL242-51936IJ35UNKNOWN 027

Lt Hale Mission Notes

Ellington Field 1954

Private Wesley Ross Hale, USMC and Captain Phillip Hale, USAF

Sat., Aug. 5, 1944 (8)
Brunswick, Gr.
Not a bad mission, and perfect weather over the target. Ripped hell out of the whole town, but about half our squadron dropped short, including us.

Sun., Aug. 6, 1944 (Still 8)
Screwed up good and proper. Started to Hamburg, Gr. And turned around because we thought we were low on gas.

Mon., Aug. 7, 1944 (9)
Amiens, Fr.
About the sweetest target that could be hoped for. No flak at target, but we caught hell at the coast on the way out. The Capt. Got the zipper cut off his left boot.

Mon., Oct. 9, 1944 (13)
Koblenz, Gr.
A very easy mission. Took over the lead, our first wing lead. Dropped by Mickey.

Mon., Oct. 17, 1944 (14)
Koln, Gr.
A milk run. Scattered flak, inaccurate. Lots of rockets.

Thurs., Nov. 2, 1944 (15) Half way
Bielefield, Gr.
Another easy mission. A few rockets at the target. Dropped about 20 miles short of target. Lost an engine over N. sea on return

Wed., Nov. 8, 1944 (16)
Rhine, Gr.
Lots of weather, over & back. Hardly any flack. Brevakis C-P

Tues., Nov. 21, 1944 (17)
Hamburg, Gr.
Just six miles from the center of Hamburg. Like old home week. Plenty of flak. Got a few holes. Plenty cold.

Mon., Dec. 4, 1944 (18)
Bebra, Gr.
Our first gp. Lead from the start. GH ship took over at IP and damned near hit us. No flak.

Mon., Dec. 11, 1944 (19)
Hanau, Gr.
A very long mission and plenty of weather. Led “B” gp. Very little flak. Mickey set out.

Mon., Jan. 1, 1945 (20)
Koblenz, Gr. (3rd trip)
Lots of frost at takeoff. Got off late. Led the group, but lost #1 engine before target. Had to salvo bombs, and come back alone. Sweated out gas.

Wed., Jan. 10, 1945 (12)
Schonberg, Belgium
Lots of weather, and very heavy contrails at all altitudes. Easy target, no flak. Landed in snow storm & missed runway. Led low left squadron.

(Photo and mission notes courtesy Daniel Hale)

War in the Pacific – 5AF 90BG “Jolly Rogers”

B-24D-10-CO 41-23869 Star Duster bombing B.U.T. airfield near Wewak, New Guinea


The Detroit Times – 1943

Air Medal Won by Detroiter

Sgt Edward A. Coppens… a hobby lead to the DFC…

A youngster from Detroit’s east side who “never cared much for school” but who spent hours studying the building of model airplanes, today had been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

He is Staff Sgt. Edward A. Coppens, 22-year-old son of Emil Coppens of 5585 Phillip.  Sgt. Coppens was given the award by Lt. Gen. George C. Kenney, commander of Allied air forces in the Southwest Pacific, for shooting down a Jap combat plane and sinking an enemy transport in the Battle of the Bismarck Sea.

Inducted July 8, 1942, Coppens was sent to an aerial gunnery school.  Two months later, he was transferred to the Pacific theater of war in New Guinea.

“Edward never cared much for school,” his father said.  “He quit his studies at Wayne School in the eighth grade and got a job driving a truck.  But one thing they interested him in at school was model airplane building.  He spent hours studying it and was still building them when he was inducted.”

Coppens is back in the United States and has been sent to Salt Lake City where he may enter officer’s training school.

Wins Distinguished Flying Cross

–Staff Sergt. Edward A. Coppens, Detroit, who is with the Army Air Forces somewhere in the Southwest Pacific area, has been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, according to an announcement received from an airbase in Australia today.  Lieut. Gen. George C. Kenney, commander of Allied Air Forces in the Southwest Pacific, made the award.  Sergt. Coppens is the son of Emil Coppens, 5585 Phillip Avenue.  He received his silver gunner’s wings and the rank of sergeant last September upon his graduation from the Harlingen Army Gunnery School in Texas.  The training course in aerial gunnery is one of the most difficult in the service.  The dispatch stated that 18 other American airmen received Distinguished Flying Crosses and 12 were awarded the Air Medal.