Welch Crew – Assigned 754th Squadron – March 1, 1945

Standing: Louis Hertzog – TG, Paul Mascaro – N, James Welch – P, John Reardon – CP, John Smith – B, John Goddard – BTG
Sitting: Clyde Shotwell – NTG, Jeff Johnson – TTG, Orville Beduhn – E, Donald Engel – RO
(Photo: Todd Beduhn)

Flying at the End of Hostilities

Rank  Name  Serial # Crew Pos Date Status Comments
2Lt James A Welch 02062097 Pilot 25-Apr-45 FEH Citation: Air Medal
2Lt John W Reardon 02062040 Co-pilot 16-Apr-45 FEH Citation: Air Medal
F/O Paul V Mascaro T135834 Navigator 25-Apr-45 FEH Citation: Air Medal
2Lt John W Smith 0783372 Bombardier May-45 FEH 2AD Personnel Roster
S/Sgt Donald V Engel 17118955 Radio Operator 03-May-45 FEH Promoted to S/Sgt
S/Sgt Orville A Beduhn 36817889 Flight Engineer May-45 FEH 2AD Personnel Roster
S/Sgt John R Goddard 39924986 Armorer-Gunner 15-May-45 FEH Promoted to S/Sgt
Sgt Louis Hertzog 13089689 Aerial Gunner 10-May-45 FEH Suspended fr flying AAF Reg 35-16 
Sgt Clyde A Shotwell  36971428 ArmorerGunner 23-May-45 FEH Reclassified
Sgt Jeff J Johnson 16026523 Aerial Gunner/2E  23-May-45 FEH Reclassified

2Lt James A. Welch and crew joined the 458th on March 1, 1945 and were assigned to the 754th Squadron.  Their first mission came on March 18th to an armor/ordnance plant in Berlin.  They flew four more missions in March, which at this stage of the war were all to Germany.

On April 2, 1945 the 458th was to bomb airfields in Denmark, but this mission was abandoned, as explained in the group’s narrative:

“On 2 Apr the entire A/F sortied in three forces against six A/F’s in Denmark.  We had as our assignment the A/F at TIRSTROP.  However, due to adverse weather conditions in the target area’s all forces abandoned operations.  No sortie credit [was given] inasmuch as no bombs were dropped and no enemy action against the forces.  It was clearly stated from higher headquarters that owing to the targets being in Denmark, that under no conditions would we bomb unless we had clear weather over the target area.”

The group flew their first mission of April 1945 two days later, but Welch and crew were forced to abort and were not given sortie credit.  They finally completed their sixth credited sortie on April 5th, and flew six more before their 12th and last mission on April 18th.  One of these was the April 14th attack on Pointe de Grave in France to bomb German troop concentrations that had been bypassed by Allied forces.  It was on this date that the crews of Lt’s David Totten and Rex Gibson (both from the 754th squadron) crashed shortly after takeoff in the pre-dawn fog, killing 11 of the 14 men aboard these two aircraft.

The air war effectively came to an end on April 25, 1945 when the Eighth Air Force ceased combat operations in the European Theater.  Most of the crews who had not completed a combat tour were assigned to ferry Liberators from the 458th and a few B-24’s from other groups, back to the U.S.  Welch’s crew, along with several ground men were given an original 754th Squadron aircraft flown over by Lt Guy C. Rogers crew in January 1944.  This ship had originally been painted olive drab and carried the name I’ll Be Back.  The name evidently worked, as this aircraft had successfully returned from 55 combat missions over the Continent.  At some point the plane was stripped of its O.D. paint job and renamed Hypochondriac.  It appears from the photograph below that at least some of the mission symbols were maintained on the nose.


Date  Target 458th Msn Pilot Msn  Serial RCL Sqdn A/C Msn  A/C Name  Comments
18-Mar-45 BERLIN 206 1 42-95183 U Z5 90 BRINEY MARLIN  
19-Mar-45 LEIPHEIM 207 2 42-50578 F Z5 47 SKY ROOM  
22-Mar-45 KITZINGEN 210 3 44-40126 L Z5 71 SPITTEN KITTEN / SKY TRAMP   
24-Mar-45 NORDHORN 212 4 42-51199 A Z5 41 UNKNOWN 023  
30-Mar-45 WILHELMSHAVEN 215 5 42-50456 D Z5 54 DOROTHY KAY SPECIAL  
05-Apr-45 PLAUEN 218 6 42-50516 V J3 31 STARDUST  
07-Apr-45 KRUMMEL 220 7 44-40298 E Z5 53 THE SHACK  
08-Apr-45 UNTERSCHLAUERSBACH  221 8 42-110059 T Z5 77 UNKNOWN 056  
09-Apr-45 LECHFELD 222 9 42-95108 B Z5 78 ENVY OF 'EM ALL II  
10-Apr-45 RECHLIN/LARZ 223 10 42-50578 F Z5 53 SKY ROOM  
14-Apr-45 POINTE DE GRAVE 225 11 42-95183 U Z5 100 BRINEY MARLIN  
18-Apr-45 PASSAU 228 12 42-95018 J Z5 105 OLD DOC'S YACHT  
19-Apr-45 ZWIESEL SCR -- 42-50640 O Z5 -- BUGS BUNNY SCRUBBED

2Lt James A. Welch

Photos courtesy: Shawn Dunlavy

June 1945

Back Row, (L-R): Don Engel, James Welch, John Reardon, Paul Mascaro
Middle Row, 3rd from right: Jeff Johnson
Front Row, 2nd from right: Orville Beduhn
(Photo: Todd Beduhn)