Lansing Crew – Assigned 753rd Squadron – May 26, 1944

Standing: William Baird – E, Jack Beaman – RO, Four unidentified gunners
Kneeling: John Lansing – P, Donald Crete – CP, James Lacy – B, Joe Nelson – N
Four Gunners: Not assigned with the crew
(Photo: Joe Nelson)

Transferred to 388th Bomb Group

RankNameSerial #Crew PositionDateStatusComments
1LtJohn Y Lansing490566Pilot01-Jul-44TRSFTransferred to 560BS 388BG
2LtDonald H Crete761894Co-pilot01-Jul-44TRSFTransferred to 560BS 388BG
2LtJames W Lacy701611Bombardier01-Jul-44TRSFTransferred to 560BS 388BG
1LtJoseph W Nelson701269Navigator28-Jan-45CTCompleted operational tour
T/SgtJack R Beaman18194867Radio Operator01-Jul-44TRSF Transferred to 560BS 388BG
T/SgtWilliam H Baird13079154Flight Engineer01-Jul-44TRSFTransferred to 560BS 388BG
SgtLeonard E Saltiel33594462Armorer-Gunner 14-May-44UNKAZON Roster - Possible Trsf to 15AF 
S/SgtJohn W Smith18132921Aerial Gunner12-May-45CTSuspended fr flying
S/SgtHarold L Matthews34671120Aerial Gunner20-Feb-45CTTrsf to 70CP - Completed Tour
SgtRalph J Beauchamp 13053152Aerial Gunner14-May-44UNKAZON Roster

John Lansing and crew were one of ten specially trained AZON crews who were assigned to the 458th in the spring of 1944.  Originally intended for duty in the China-Burma-India (CBI) Theater, their orders were changed enroute and they flew to England instead.

The four officers, flight engineer and radio operator that had trained together arrived in England in May 1944. The four gunners, not on board the AZON aircraft en route to the combat zone, continued on to the CBI, being replaced by four different gunners once the crew arrived in England.

Lansing’s crew flew B-24 44-40264 Kiss Me Baby to the ETO.

Their tenure in the 458th was short.  Two AZON crews, along with members of a third were transferred to the 388th Bombardment Group (H) at Knettishall in July 1944.  While it is possible that they participated in the Aphrodite Project, the combat records and status of these crews with this group is unknown.  Two gunners of Lansing’s crew, Sgt Harold L. Matthews and Sgt John W. Smith remained with the 753rd Squadron, flew additional missions as part of Lt Patrick McCormick’s crew (one of the ten AZON crews) successfully completing their combat tours in January and March 1945 respectively and were rotated back to the States.

Lt Joseph Nelson, Lansing’s navigator, also remained with the 458th and had this to say about his service, “We did combat crew training at March Field, Riverside, CA.  We were selected as an AZON crew and did practice missions at Pinecastle AB near Orlando, FL dropping live 1000 pound AZON bombs on marked ground targets.  Operations personnel were virtually non-existent and we flight crews loaded our own bombs by hand winch.  Our training followed with orders transferring us to CBI, but en route over the South Atlantic southern crossing, our orders were changed to report to the UK.  Our gunners were put on a troop ship and we never saw them again.  They apparently went to the CBI Theater.  After several missions at bridge busting it was decided that the B-24 was too unstable a platform at high altitude to continue.  Several crews were selected to transfer the AZON activity to B-17 bombers.  At this point I chose to fly regular combat as a substitute navigator in the 753rd Squadron, flying at times with some of the crews who had originally been with the AZON group, in addition to lead crew duty as a pilotage navigator in nose turret with maps while manning the twin .50’s.  During my experience as a sub, I flew with some very green crews on their first or early missions in their tour.  Since I was combat experienced, I guess psychologically I was being used as a stabilizing presence.  Unfortunately, at least two of the crews I had flown with were lost due to combat or accident.  I was very fortunate.”

Taking Lt Nelson’s place as navigator in the transfer was 2Lt Alfred E. Peterson, the navigator from Captain Maurice E. Speer’s  AZON crew.

The status of S/Sgt Leonard E. Saltiel, gunner, and Sgt Ralph J. Beauchamp, gunner is unknown. It is possible that S/Sgt Saltiel went on to fly missions with the 15th Air Force in the Mediterranean.

Sgt Peter Correa was also assigned to this crew at some point during their time with the 458th as is evidenced by the photo of the crew next to an AZON ship named S.O.L.  Sgt Correa was also with 453rd Bomb Group during part of his combat career.  Whether he came from that group or was transferred to that group from the 458th is unknown.

Lansing’s crew was credited with four combat sorties while with the 458th, all AZON missions.


DateTarget458th MsnPilot MsnSerialRCLSqdnA/C MsnA/C NameComments
31-May-445 BRIDGESAZ01144-40277PJ41MISS USED
14-Jun-445 TARGETSAZ06344-40264KJ41KISS ME BABY
22-Jun-44Saumer/Tours, Bridges AZ09542-100341AJ420SATAN'S MATE Maj HOLBROOK (AZON OBS) 

B-24JAZ-145-CO 44-40066 J4 V  S.O.L.

Standing: Unknown, Unknown, Alfred Peterson – N, James Lacy, Unknown
Kneeling: Jack Beaman, William Baird, John Lansing, Unknown, Peter Correa – BTG
If you can identify any of this crew, please contact me.
(Photo: James Leddy)

Sgt Peter Correa – Ball Turret Gunner

(Photo: Phil Correa)

B-24JAZ-155-CO 44-40264  J4 K  Kiss Me Baby

The Lansing crew flew this aircraft on three of their missions with the 458th

(Photo: Anne Zimmer)

January 28, 1945

1Lt Joseph Nelson after his 35th and final mission as a substitute navigator with the McCormick crew

(Photo: Joe Nelson)