|Birth: ||Aug. 23, 1919|
|Death: ||Feb. 24, 1998|
MAJ, US AIR FORCE, WWII, KOREA, VIETNAM
Twice 1st. Lt. Joseph F. Leukuma, B-24 Liberator pilot, of Route 3, Box 114, Dassel, MN ordered his crew to bail out and twice he stopped the orders because the entire crew wanted to ride their plane in.
The heavy bomber, "My Gal Georgia". had been hit by two huge bursts of flak over Port San Stefano, Italy and had suffered 250 flak holes. The two inboard motors were shot out, two main tires blown, the braking system destroyed and gasoline was spraying from pierced fuel tanks. The plane had been hit before the target, but it made its run in formation.
"After the run I peeled off and away from the formation for the danger of an explosion aboard was imminent," Leukuma said. "The crew could have left but they wanted to stick."
Any plane able to take that punishment and keep on flying would not let us down at the last moment," explained 2nd. Lt. Chester F. Zajac, 25, Navigator, of 118 Prospect Ave., Bayonne, NJ. He was the chief persuader for allowing the crew to stay by the pilot.
"God only knows how Leukuma did it, but he did it."remarked 2nd. Lt. Clem B Myers, 27 co-pilot, of 2501 Vance St., Little Rock, AR. "We had only a few minutes gas left when we headed in."
Just before landing Leukuma shouted, "hang onto your hats, fellows, here we go."
The heavy bomber hit smoothly on the flat tires and wobbled to a stop halfway down the runway. Sweating crew members poured out from every opening.
Crew of "My Gal Georgia", member of the 456th Bomb Group, Stornara, Italy, WWII, 747th Bomb Squadron:
1st. Lt. Joseph F. Leukuma, Route 3, Box 114, Dassel, MN - pilot
2nd Lt. Chester F. Zajac, 118 Prospect Ave. Bayonne, NJ - Navigator 25
2nd Lt. Clem B. Myers, 2501 Vance St., Little Rock, AR - co-pilot
T/Sgt. Edwin T. Brownell, North Pownal, VT - Engineer 22
S/Sgt Joseph Benko, 498 Black Rock Turnpike, Fairfield, CT - Radio Operator - 24
S/Sgt Peter J. Lysek, Summerdale, AL, Nose Turret Gunner - 20
S/Sgt Kenneth A. Breshears, Goodson, MO - Upper Turret Gunner - 22
S/Sgt Ernest M. Lorelli,, 323 Oakland Ave., Punxsutawney, PA - Lower Turret Gunner - 20
S/Sgt Lacy C. Geddie, 1605 N. John Street, Fayetteville, NC - Tail Turret Gunner - 21
MAJ, US AIR FORCE
Fort Snelling National Cemetery
Plot: 9-A, 0, 697
Maintained by: Jan Breshears Thomas
Originally Created by: US Veterans Affairs Offi...
Record added: Feb 25, 2000
Find A Grave Memorial# 915681