US ARMY AIR FORCES WORLD WAR II Pilot 1st/Lt. Rex L. Johnson KIA Hometown: Mother, La Harpe, Kansas Squadron: 578th BS 392th Bomb Group Service #39240262 Awards: Air Medal, Purple Heart
Target: Friedrichshafen Germany Missing Air Crew Report Details USAAF MACR#:3326 Date Lost: 18-Mar-44 Serial Number: #42-52465 Aircraft Model B-24 Aircraft Letter: "X-Bar" Aircraft Name: (NO NICKNAME) 4th (?) Mission Location: (400) meters west of Mariatell near Schramberg, Cause: Cause of downing was ascribed to be "fighter" Crew of 10 8KIA 2POW
The mission this day would see the 392nd suffer its heaviest losses, both aircraft and aircrew members, of any individual raid ever flown during its combat experience in World War II. Before the mission was completed, (14) aircraft and crews would be lost and (9) other ships damaged by fighters and flak, all totaling (154) casualties. General briefing for (28) aircrews was conducted between 0400-0530 hours.
MISSION LOSS CIRCUMSTANCES: The returning crews' eye-witness observation : "This aircraft was seen to crash; no chutes seen". A German Report #KU1254 from Air Base Headquarters Echterdingen (outside Stuttgart) stated this aircraft had crashed at 1510 hours, (400) meters west of Mariatell near Schramberg, County of Rottweil, Germany and that (5) men were found dead at the crash and fate of the others was not known. The aircraft tail number was identified correctly but other recognition was not possible due to the burned condition. Cause of downing was ascribed to be "fighter". One deceased crewmember had been recovered in a field near Hardt, Schramberg, while (3) were found inside the plane and the fourth's location (Lt. Hunter) at the crash site wasn't given in this reporting. One of the two surviving crewmembers, Lt. Delmar Johnson, the crew Navigator, gave this report: That he and Sgt. Milliken were the only two crewmen thought to have bailed out of this stricken ship successfully; aircraft's position at the time it left the group formation was at approximately 48-1ON,08-25E; and all other crewmembers were in their battle positions, either badly injured or dead when the plane seemed to "pancake" into a vacant lot on the outskirts of a small village and catch on fire from ruptured wing fuel tanks; that he landed just east of this village near an evergreen forest where there was about one inch of snow covering the ground. He then met Sgt. Milliken, the other survivor, and they were sheltered in the village town hall where a nurse tended to the narrator's fractured left lower leg and injured right knee. He was later admitted to POW Hospital at St. Agnes in Freiberg on 19 March for treatment.
INDIVIDUAL ACCOUNTS OF CREWMEN FATES: Lt. Johnson's account noted further that he and Sgt. Milliken had been picked up in a Wehrmacht army truck and taken to a prison compound at Villingen, Germany. Along the way other downed American flyers had been picked up as well. While there, a Luftwaffe man questioned them about a crew member whose dog tags this individual had, Lt. Hunter, the crew Bombardier. Both denied any knowledge about Hunter, and the subject was not pressed further by the Germans. On other crewmen who apparently went down with the plane, some were known to be mortally injured or dead from the fighter attacks. The crew was reported to be on their 17th combat mission.
BURIAL RECORDS: The German report #KU1254 of 21 March 1944 notes that the (5) dead crewmembers found at the crash area were interred in the Cemetery of Mariatell, near Schramberg, County of Rottweil on 21 March 1944. A comprehensive investigation after the war by the 7887 Graves Registration Detachment revealed that this initial burial information was incorrect. The eight men in the Johnson crew were actually buried in the cemetery at Locherhof, Germany U.S. Military overseas Cemetery listings record the following re-interments: Paules at the U.S. National Cemetery of LORRAINE, France (Grave A-22-29); Kimball also in that location (Grave J-14-17) and Nixon as well (Grave J-44-17) including Wohlstrom (Grave D-14-18). Stancik is interred in the U.S. Military plot at BRITTANY, France (Grave I-9-16). 1/Lt Johnson is interred with S/Sgt Clifford Porter and S/Sgt Robert Hampton (MACR 3319) and Pvt Fred Gyure (MACR 3323) at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in Sec 84 Site 36-38. Limited information exists on Medals awarded to some of these crewmembers, as follows: Kimball (Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster); Nixon (Air Medal with (3) Oak Leaf Clusters); Stancik (Air Medal with (2) Oak Leaf Clusters, and the Purple Heart); and Wohlstrom (Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster and a Purple Heart).
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NARA records list this soldiers Home of Record as Allen County, Kansas...Finding Of Death...Re-interred on 01/15/1952...Your service and sacrifice must never be forgotten. -
Eric Ackerman Added: Nov. 4, 2015