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SGT David Eugene Blackwelder

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SGT David Eugene Blackwelder

Birth
Concord, Cabarrus County, North Carolina, USA
Death 2 Mar 1944 (aged 25)
Bergen Municipality, Noord-Holland, Netherlands
Burial Margraten, Eijsden-Margraten Municipality, Limburg, Netherlands
Memorial ID 56296000 View Source
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--World War II Service. He served in the U.S. Army Air Forces, entering the service in October 1940. He served in the 814th Bomber Squadron. He took off from Alconbury, UK, Army Air Base #102, on 01 March 1944 at approximately 0100 hours. They were headed to Seething AAB, UK, for the purpose of leading the group that was stationed there on a Pathfinder mission the following morning. The Pathfinders of the 482nd Bomb Group played a key role in the implementation of the ‘Mickey' radar system that allowed improved navigation and bombing raids to be conducted during night missions and inclement weather or low-visibility conditions. The intended target of this particular mission was factories in Friedrichshafen in southern Germany. There were a total of 12 crew members on board. The crew received no briefing on weather conditions nor did they receive pertinent radio flimsies*, and no occult or pundit** flimsies. They did not receive the information reportedly because their plane had been late taking off. The GEE*** information was changed that night and was not given. Upon approach to Seething AAB, UK, the plane encountered violent weather conditions and up-drafts. In attempts to go around the storm, the crew ended up off-course over Holland. The crew believed they were still over the UK when they descended below the clouds and out of the weather formations. An attempt had previously been made to contact Seething AAB without success, and no assistance was received from any ground crews. Upon their descent, the aircraft was hit in multiple locations by heavy burning flak near Bergen, Holland on 2 March 1944 at approximately 0700 hours. Several of the crew members were unable to bail out due to being hit with burning flak. Sgt Blackwelder, the top turret gunner, was hit by flak and upon trying to crawl out of the top hatch, he got caught by his gear. Lieutenant Sternberger, the Navigator, attempted to free Sgt Blackwelder by tugging on his legs and trying to pull him out, but his chest pack was stuck, and it was impossible to free him. The Pilot, Lieutenant Taylor, had tried to put the aircraft on auto-pilot and adjust his chute. The CoPilot, Lieutenant Grohman, was attempting to help the Pilot, open the bomb bay doors, and put his chute on all at the same time, but the plane was engulfed in flames. Lieutenant Sternberger quoted Pilot Taylor saying. ‘Go ahead, Grohman'. He stated that Lieutenant Grohman could have saved himself if he had not tried to help the Pilot so much. He also stated that Sergeant Lloyd had helped him a great deal with the radio codes. Six airmen were killed and six bailed out successfully approximately ½ mile from Altmar, near Bergen, Holland, however, the six survivors were taken as POWs to Stalag Luft 3.


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