Pelton Crew – Assigned 753rd Squadron – February 17, 1945

Kneeling, 2nd from left: Kenton Wheatley – G
If you can identify anyone in this photo, please contact me.
(Photo: Bob Wheatley)

Flying at the End of Hostilities

RankNameSerial #Crew PositionDateStatusComments
2LtHoward G Pelton0834873Pilot20-Apr-45FEHLast mission to Zweissel, Germany
2LtFred Goldfaden02063610Co-pilot20-Apr-45FEHLast mission to Zweissel, Germany
2LtWilliam W Evans02074367Navigator20-Apr-45FEHLast mission to Zweissel, Germany
S/SgtThomas G Stevens35069759Radio Operator20-Apr-45FEHLast mission to Zweissel, Germany
S/SgtHarold F Davison33127254Flight Engineer20-Apr-45FEHLast mission to Zweissel, Germany
SgtAlbert L Cuadros42062367Aerial Gunner20-Apr-45FEHLast mission to Zweissel, Germany
SgtBurton E Webb12076692Airplane Armorer-Gunner20-Apr-45FEHLast mission to Zweissel, Germany
SgtKenton P Wheatley35831828Aerial Gunner20-Apr-45FEHLast mission to Zweissel, Germany
SgtJames H Williams36466792Aerial Gunner20-Apr-45FEHLast mission to Zweissel, Germany

Howard Pelton and crew were assigned to the 753rd Squadron on February 17, 1945. After an in-theater indoctrination period, the crew flew their first mission on March 9, 1945. They were assigned a fairly new Liberator named “The Travlin’ Bag”, to drop bombs on the marshalling yards at Osnabruck, Germany. On Their third mission on March 21st, they were flying an original group aircraft named “I’ll Be Back/Hypochondriac”. About two hours after takeoff, they had generator issues and were forced to abort the mission, bringing their bombs back to base. They finished out the month of March by flying two more missions to Germany.

In April, the crew flew a total of nine missions, all but three of these to Germany. On April 2nd, the Eighth Air Force was to bomb six airfields in Denmark – the 458BG’s assigned target was near Tirstrup. However, adverse weather conditions forced all groups to abandon the effort, as orders were that no bombs would be dropped unless visual conditions were met. On the 14th, the group hit the French coastal town of Pointe De Grave where over 100,000 German troops were still holding out. The next day, the group hit the Royan area (just north across the Bay of Biscay from their target the previous day) with Napalm cannisters. This was the 458th’s first and only experience with the new “jellied gasoline bombs”. This was the crew’s 10th mission, making them eligible for an Oak Leaf Cluster to their Air Medal. Existing group records only show the award of the Air Medal on April 16th, and not the OLC.

The crew’s last mission on April 20, 1945 was the second to last of the war. The 458th’s target on this date was a railroad bridge near Zweisel, Germany. All 29 aircraft bombed successfully with no opposition whatsoever. Pelton flew another original group aircraft on this mission, named Lady Luck/The Beast.

Since the crew had not completed a combat tour of 35 missions, they were most likely assigned to ferry a Liberator back to the States in June 1945. [See the Ferry Crew page to see if you can find anyone on this crew.] Two of the crew, Sgt Kenton P. Wheatley and Sgt James H. Williams were reclassified in April and May 1945, respectively. Wheatly went from Aerial Gunner (MOS 611) to Flight Engineer (MOS 748); and Williams from Aerial Gunner to Armorer/Aerial Gunner (MOS 612).


DateTarget458th MsnPilot MsnSerialRCLSqdnA/C MsnA/C NameComments
09-Mar-45OSNABRUCK200142-50912DJ419THE TRAVLIN' BAG
17-Mar-45HANNOVER205242-95018JZ590OLD DOC'S YACHT
24-Mar-45KIRKOFF213341-28980VJ429UNKNOWN 009
04-Apr-45PERLEBERG217544-40285HJ477TABLE STUFF
05-Apr-45PLAUEN218644-40277PJ459MISS USED
06-Apr-45HALLE219744-40285HJ479TABLE STUFF
15-Apr-45ROYAN AREA2261044-40277PJ465MISS USED
20-Apr-45ZWIESEL2291242-100408IJ454LADY LUCK / THE BEAST

Sgt Kenton P. Wheatley

Courtesy: Bob Wheatley

March 21, 1945

The crew were forced to abort their third mission due to mechanical difficulties.