Simpson Crew – Assigned 752nd Squadron – September 15, 1944

Standing: Clyde Simpson – P, Duan Campbell – CP, Michael Horniak – B, Harold Coburn – N

Kneeling: John Ambrose – G, Robert Bellisle – E, Orval Batty – RO, Richard Stout – G, George Douroumes – TTG, Mee Fong Gee – G

(Photo: Richard Stumbo)

Completed Tour – Two crew Killed In Action

 Rank  Name  Serial #  Pos Date Status  Comments
1Lt Clyde D Simpson 0705828 Pilot Apr-45 CT Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross 
2Lt Duan L Campbell 0762252 Co-pilot Mar-45 CT Completed Tour
2Lt Harold Coburn 02056553 Navigator 24-Sep-44 KIA Shot down w/Koehn Crew
2Lt Michael L Horniak 0773386 Bombardier Mar-45 CT Assigned
T/Sgt Orval J Batty 39208143 Radio Operator Mar-45 CT Completed Tour
T/Sgt Robert J Bellisle 36820070 Flight Engineer Mar-45 CT Completed Tour
S/Sgt John W Ambrose 11036025 Armorer-Gunner  Mar-45 CT Completed Tour
S/Sgt George J Douromes  37681450 Aerial Gunner 22-Feb-45 KIA Shot down w/Szarko Crew
S/Sgt Mee F Gee 39855374 Aerial Gunner Mar-45 CT Completed Tour
S/Sgt Richard L Stout 38468475 Aerial Gunner Mar-45 CT Completed Tour

Lt. Simpson and crew were assigned to the 752nd Squadron in the middle of the group’s Truckin’ missions, hauling gasoline to Patton’s army in France.  The group had been pulled off of combat operations on September 12th, along with the rest of the 96th CBW in order to fly gasoline to the fast-moving American forces.  Some of the crew may have participated in a few of these gas hauling operations, but no records have yet been found to show which crews took part.  George Douromes, according to his diary, flew on at least three at the end of September.  2Lt Harold Coburn, the crew’s navigator was assigned to fly to St. Dizier with the crew of 2Lt George Koehn.  They landed and unloaded their gas on September 23rd, but remained at this airfield until September 24th.  They took off, but never made it back to Horsham St. Faith.  It was only after the war that it came to be known that the crew had strayed over German flak guns and had been shot down, only one gunner surviving and becoming a POW.

With the loss of their navigator, records indicate that Lt Michael Horniak, the crew’s bombardier, made the switch to navigator.  He is shown on crew load lists as flying in that position.  While Simpson’s first mission is listed as October 7, 1944, it is very possible that he flew prior to this.  George Douromes diary entry for October 5th states, “heated flying suit went out and I go to the hospital for five days, grounded for five more.”  His next mission was on October 16th, but apparently not with Simpson’s crew.  Douromes received orders the next day to attend RCM School at Cheddington (AAF 113).  He was shortly reclassified as an RCM Operator (MOS 866) and began flying with various crews, although never again with the crew on which he trained. 

Meanwhile, Simpson and crew continued flying missions in the 752nd, amassing a total of 13 before 1944 came to a close.  Sgt Robert I. Sinn, a gunner who had been assigned on July 29, 1944 on the crew of 2Lt Thomas G. Horgan, replaced George Douromes as gunner.  Horgan’s crew had been shot down on September 11, 1944.  For a wing crew, Simpson’s missions were spaced out, with several days in between.  They flew six missions in January, and only four in February, one of these on the 22nd to the marshaling yards at Peine-Hildesheim, Germany.  On this date, their position in the “B” Group second squadron was to the rear of the “A” Group second squadron.  It was in this latter formation that S/Sgt George Douromes was flying with Lt Joseph E. Szarko’s crew, ahead of Simpson.  At 1247 hours, about 15 minutes from the Initial Point, Szarko’s ship took a direct flak hit to the right wing, snapping it off, the ship going into a spin.  None of the ten man crew survived.

During the month of March 1945, the crew became really busy, flying the remainder of their missions prior to the 24th.  These last ten missions were all flown in a B-24J named My Bunnie II.  The crew had flown this aircraft on three prior occasions in 1945, but during this home stretch it seems as if this was definitely “their ship”.  This aircraft’s crew chief, received mention in the 752nd Squadron Engineering notes in April 1945 for his exemplary performance, “M/Sgt Carlisle, A.R. at present, crew chief of A/C 42-51270 has reached fifty-six missions without an abort for any mechanical reason.  His assistant has been Cpl. R.R. Terrell.”  The crew is pictured with both of their ground crew below.


Date  Target 458th Msn Pilot Msn  Serial RCL Sqdn A/C Msn  A/C Name  Comments
29-Sep-44 HORSHAM to LILLE TR12 -- 41-27562   389BG T1 NOT 458TH SHIP ON LOAN FOR TRUCKIN'
07-Oct-44 MAGDEBURG 130 1 42-52457 Q 7V 59 FINAL APPROACH  
09-Oct-44 KOBLENZ 131 2 42-51206 S 7V 4 THE PIED PIPER  
17-Oct-44 COLOGNE 135 3 42-95179 X 7V 50 HERE I GO AGAIN  
22-Oct-44 HAMM 137 4 41-29567 G 7V 2 MY BUNNIE / BAMBI  
30-Oct-44 HARBURG 139 5 42-95316 H 7V 50 PRINCESS PAT  
02-Nov-44 BIELEFELD 140 6 42-100407 R 7V 53 LITTLE LAMBSY DIVEY   
04-Nov-44 MISBURG 141 7 41-28963 T 7V 5 UNKNOWN 007  
10-Nov-44 HANAU A/F 146 8 42-51110 M 7V 50 TOP O' THE MARK  
16-Nov-44 ESCHWEILER 147 9 42-51206 S 7V 20 THE PIED PIPER  
25-Nov-44 BINGEN 149 WTHR 44-40134 R J4 -- UNKNOWN 039 WEATHER SHIP
26-Nov-44 BIELEFELD 150 10 41-29567 G 7V 6 MY BUNNIE / BAMBI  
10-Dec-44 BINGEN 154 11 42-95050 J 7V 61 GAS HOUSE MOUSE  
11-Dec-44 HANAU 155 12 41-29567 G 7V 7 MY BUNNIE / BAMBI  
30-Dec-44 NEUWIED 161 13 41-29567 G 7V 10 MY BUNNIE / BAMBI  
01-Jan-45 KOBLENZ 163 14 42-95179 X 7V 68 HERE I GO AGAIN  
03-Jan-45 NEUNKIRCHEN 165 15 42-95316 H 7V 65 PRINCESS PAT  
08-Jan-45 STADTKYLL 167 16 42-95179 X 7V 70 HERE I GO AGAIN  
16-Jan-45 MAGDEBURG 171 17 42-51561 G 7V 3 LUCKY 13  
21-Jan-45 HEILBRONN 173 18 42-51270 A 7V 2 MY BUNNIE II  
21-Feb-45 NUREMBERG 185 20 42-51110 M 7V 73 TOP O' THE MARK  
22-Feb-45 PEINE-HILDESHEIM 186 21 41-29352 K 7V 74 WOLVE'S LAIR Maj ROUTON Passenger
24-Feb-45 BIELEFELD 188 22 42-51270 A 7V 13 MY BUNNIE II  
27-Feb-45 HALLE 191 ABT 41-29352 K 7V -- WOLVE'S LAIR GAS FUMES AT ALT
01-Mar-45 INGOLSTADT 193 23 42-51270 A 7V 15 MY BUNNIE II  
03-Mar-45 NIENBURG 195 24 42-51270 A 7V 17 MY BUNNIE II  
05-Mar-45 HARBURG 197 25 42-51270 A 7V 18 MY BUNNIE II  
08-Mar-45 DILLENBURG 199 26 42-51270 A 7V 19 MY BUNNIE II  
09-Mar-45 OSNABRUCK 200 27 42-51270 A 7V 20 MY BUNNIE II  
14-Mar-45 HOLZWICKEDE 203 28 42-51270 A 7V 23 MY BUNNIE II  
19-Mar-45 LEIPHEIM 207 29 42-51270 A 7V 26 MY BUNNIE II  
21-Mar-45 HESEPE 209 30 42-51270 A 7V 28 MY BUNNIE II  
23-Mar-45 OSNABRUCK 211 31 42-51270 A 7V 29 MY BUNNIE II  
24-Mar-45 KIRKOFF 213 32 42-51270 A 7V 30 MY BUNNIE II

Tonopah, Nevada – Spring 1944

Standing: Richard Stout, Robert Ambrose, Clyde Simpson, Robert Bellisle

Kneeling: George Douroumes, Orval Batty, Mee Fong Gee

(Photo: Richard Stumbo)

S/Sgt George J. Douromes

Sgt. George Douromes, son of Mr. and Mrs. James Douromes, 1118 Story Street, who has been overseas the past six months, serving as a gunner with the U.S. Air Force, based in England, has written the following cheerful letter to his parents. 

“When you read in the papers about a thousand plane raid, it’s just words, but when you are part of one of those planes, looking at the rest of them, it’s wonderful!  You can’t realize the thrill it gives you.  There you are, five miles above the ground, and all you can see is big, white, beautiful clouds below, and pale, blue sky above.  You are free as a bird, and you are sitting on top of the world.  It’s as safe as being in your mother’s arms – but sometimes you wonder!  Some people like the small planes, but not me, give me a trim, graceful Lib and that’s all I want.  When we don’t fly, we sit on the ground and dream about it.  The weather has been sort of bad lately, so we just have to dream.

Boone News Republican, Boone Iowa  January 1945

November 22, 1944 – England
Dear Frances,

You wrote and asked me what a mission was like, so I will write an example.

You are lying there a million miles away.  You are eating ice cream and drinking beer, beating off blondes with a club.  There’s a redhead sitting on your knee when that nasty man shines his light in your face and says, “Time to go to work!  Eat at once, brief in forty-five minutes”, so you get up.  It’s cold as heck and you find your way to the mess hall.  The cook will cook you a couple of eggs and you sit down and eat, ‘cause God only knows when you will again.

Then you’re still half asleep, find the briefing room, light up a smoke and wait.  Then the briefing officer starts to talk and you listen.  Every word may mean life or death to someone.  He tells you the target.  How much flak.  How many fighters to expect.  Your own fighter support, and so forth.

Then you pray, pray like you never prayed before.  Then you dress, it is cold up there.  Take your glove off for a minute you lose some fingers; for two minutes and you lose a hand.  You check everything again, and again.  Then you catch a truck and get out to the ship.  You find your guns and put them in and check every little part.  You grab a smoke and wait for the tower to flash your takeoff sign.

You taxi out to the end of the runway and start.  Slow at first, then faster and faster, all the while sweating out that gas and bomb[load]. You’re off, slowing out those fast moving objects as you start to climb. Your [plane] and the other planes start to form and climb.  Slowly you get into formation and then you start for Germany.  You leave the coast of England and you see the Channel before, below, and all around you.  Then you hit the clouds and rise above them.  Then a voice breaks the silence over the inter-phone saying, “German coast!”

You are looking for fighters and you see plenty of trim little Mustangs, and big ugly-looking Thunderbolts, but you’re looking for “Herman the German”.  Then that voice again, “Ten minutes from target, put on the flak suits, boys.”  You put it on and wish you had a hundred more.  Then, there it is -“flak” the first burst edging its way towards your formation, and then all hell breaks loose.  It’s all over the sky, so thick you could get out and walk on it.

The “bombs away”, our job is done.  Let’s get home.  Slowly the formation comes out of the flak and starts for home.  Then you see “Herman the German”.  Away off to your right, but there are a couple of planes after him.  Then that voice again, “leaving enemy coast”.  You don’t relax, you wait and watch.  The formation is losing altitude so when they hit the coast of England, they can land quickly because gas is low.  You are down to 12,000 feet, so you pull off your oxygen mask and grab a smoke, your first in six hours.

Then there it is, you strain your eyes to see it.  It’s getting closer and closer.  It’s in plain sight of everyone – The English Coast.  (I have seen mountains, valleys, lakes, trees, and the sea, but there has never been and never will be anything as beautiful as that!)  You lean back and start to joke and relax and before you know it you’re over your field and coming in.  You get out and look around and pinch yourself, but the truck is waiting to take you in to get something to eat.

You yell to the driver to wait a moment while you and the ground crew dig out some flak to have something to remember the mission by.  Then you hop in the truck and everyone is talking and joking and laughing.  He dumps you out and you get dressed and then you get some coffee and cookies from the Red Cross lady.  She smiles and says, “Was it rough?”  You bite your lip and say, “Naw, it was a milk run.”

Then, like a man, you go drink your whiskey and stagger into interrogation, make your way to chow and go clean your guns and hit the sack.  You lay there, light up a smoke and smile; you want to laugh, anything but sleep.  But you do.  You sleep well and long because you feel good.  You did something. Well, anyways, you ‘helped’ do something.  There’s that redhead, that’s been waiting and those blondes, and that’s a mission.

Love “your little bro”

— George’s letter to his sister Frances (Douromes) Stumbo

A tribute to the bravery and efficiency of Staff Sgt. George J. Douromes, who was reported missing in action over Germany, February 22nd, was given in a letter received by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. James Douromes, 1118 Story Street.  The letter, written by Lt C.D. Simpson, who was a member of the crew with which George left the States for service overseas, is quoted in part, as follows:

“I have heard that you received a telegram from the War Department stating that George was missing in action.  I need not mention my feelings, because I thought more of George than any friend I ever had.  He and I always got along very well together.  He used to go with my wife and me on our passes back in the States.  He always talked about you folks and his sister.  He was certainly proud of his family and I feel I know you personally from what he said of you.  Our friendship wasn’t as officer and enlisted man, but rather as brothers.  I was the big, older brother and he was the younger brother.

“George had done so well on my crew that when a special assignment came up, he was picked to attend a special school and was then assigned to fly with various crews.  I was not happy when he was taken off my crew, and I personally went to the colonel to try and keep him.  It seems the army always has a better spot for a good man, so my efforts to keep him on the crew were of no avail.  He had been flying with the other crews doing his special work for five months, so he wasn’t on my crew very long after we got over there.

“I was flying behind his squadron on the day that his ship was hit and watched them go down.  It is never a pleasant sight, but we have to feel that those men made a sacrifice to save hundreds of others.  I know George stayed at his post and worked all the time.  He had more nerve and spirit than I will ever have.  I know that God is ever watchful of the good men and so He takes the good ones to create a suitable heaven for the rest of us.  I do realize it is very hard to lose someone we really love, but then how do we know but what they are the lucky ones and we on earth are the unlucky ones?  What greater glory could a real man like George ask than to be given the chance to make our United States safe from any harm or invasion?

“I was always happy with George on my plane, because he really knew his job and he always did his best.  I have never seen a man (I always say man, even though George was so young) who could shoot like he could.  He could really make that turret talk.  He knew the plane too, and was assistant engineer on my ship while he was on my crew.

“On my way home, I plane on stopping for a visit with you folks. We can have a nice visit and things can be explained much better than they can by letter.  You folks should be the proudest in the world to have had a fine a son as George. He was a fellow that you don’t find very often.  I really liked him a whole lot.  Until I see you folks, I will close for now.  I am very anxious to meet George’s family.”

Boone News Republican, Boone, Iowa,  April 6, 1945

B-24J-1 DT 42-51270 7V A  My Bunnie II

Standing: A.R. Carlisle (Crew Chief), Duan Campbell, Clyde Simpson, Michael Horniak, R. Terrell (Asst. Crew Chief)

Kneeling: Richard Stout, Robert Bellisle, Orval Batty, Robert Sinn, Mee Fong Gee, John Ambrose

(Photo: Duan Campbell)