1Lt Jerome Daniel “Jitters” Moderski

1Lt Jerome Daniel “Jitters” Moderski

Birth
Milwaukee, Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, USA
Death 15 Mar 1945 (aged 24)
Wittenberge, Landkreis Prignitz, Brandenburg, Germany
Burial Neuville-en-Condroz, Arrondissement de Liège, Liège, Belgium
Plot Plot D, Row 3, Grave 50
Memorial ID 56359892 · View Source
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First Lieutenant Jerome Daniel Moderski, Army serial number O-692506, was born at Milwaukee, Milwaukee County, Wisconsin on June 7, 1920. He was called 'Jitters' because he loved to dance. He was the only child of Stanley Louis Moderski (14 Apr 1893 – 23 Feb 1961) and Pelagia 'Pearl' (Latus) Moderski (10 Mar 1893 – 2 May 1975), who were born in Wisconsin. His parents married about 1919. His grandparents were all born in Poland. By 1935 the Stanley Moderski family lived at 2807 South 45th Street, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Stanley Moderski was a foreman for an express transportation company in Milwaukee. Jerome Moderski completed four years of high school, and worked as a checker. He was single, without dependents, when he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps at Milwaukee, Wisconsin on September 14, 1942. He married Marjorie E. Hamann (22 Sep 1922 – 1 Jun 2014) at Alamogordo, New Mexico in January 1944. In 1945 his wife lived at 3525 North 38th Street, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

He completed Army Air Forces bombardier training in Class 43-13 at Big Spring, Texas, and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant on September 16, 1943. He was then assigned to the heavy bomber crew of Lt Loye James 'Jack' Lauraine Jr in the 837th Bomb Squadron of the 487th Bomb Group at Alamogordo Army Air Base, New Mexico. There his crew completed B-24 crew training, and deployed with the Group to England in March 1944. They flew B-24H 42-52425 'The Tweachewous Wabbit' overseas via the southern Atlantic ferry route—a journey of about 10,000 miles—and arrived in England by mid-April 1944. The 487th Bomb Group was based at Army Air Forces Station 137 near Lavenham, Suffolk, England, and was part of the 8th U.S. Army Air Force in Europe. There is a photo of Lt Lauraine's original crew, taken after the crew arrived in England, that is posted on the 487th Bomb Group website; there is also a photo of B-24H 42-52425 'The Tweachewous Wabbit' taking off from Station 137.

Lt Moderski completed his first combat tour with the Lauraine crew. During that time, the 487th Bomb Group transitioned from the B-24 'Liberator' to the B-17 'Flying Fortress'. He returned to the United States for leave, and returned to Lavenham for a second combat tour. He was reassigned to the crew of Lt Lauraine, who had also returned for a second tour. Lt Thomas Hafner, the crew's original navigator, also rejoined the crew.

On November 25, 1944, the 487th Bomb Group dispatched three squadrons of B-17s to bomb the large I. G. Farben synthetic oil refinery at Leuna near Merseburg, Germany. The Lauraine crew flew B-17G 42-97997 'Honorable Patches' on this mission. The aircraft sustained severe flak damage on return from the mission, and some control cables were shot away. Lt Lauraine was able to pilot the aircraft across the English Channel, but was unable to land. Lt Moderski and the other crew members bailed out just north of Ipswich, England, and survived. Lt Lauraine stayed at the controls to prevent the aircraft from crashing on the base of the 390th Bomb Group at Framlingham. The aircraft then went into a spin and crashed two miles east of the base on Arthur Latter's farm. Lt Lauraine was unable to bail out, and died in the crash.

On March 15, 1945, Lt Moderski flew as bombardier on the lead crew of Lt Joseph D. Conwill Jr in the 837th Bomb Squadron. The mission was to bomb the railroad marshalling yards at Oranienburg, Germany. Lt Conwill's crew lead the Diamond Squadron (aka Low, Low Squadron) of the 487th Bomb Group formation. Air leader Captain Robert G. Reeder flew in the copilot seat. Copilot Lt Birtrum Lindquist moved to the tail gunner position as officer tail gunner and formation observer, as was the custom. Here is the crew roster on that day:

B-17G 44-8746 – 837th Bomb Squadron
Conwill Jr, Joseph D – 1/Lt – Pilot – KIA
• Reeder, Robert G – Capt – Air Leader – POW
McNeish, Cecil C – 2/Lt – Navigator – KIA
• Moderski, Jerome D – 1/Lt – Bombardier – KIA
Dippo, Ramor W – 2/Lt – Radar Operator – POW
Randall, Clarence W – S/Sgt – Engineer – KIA
• Polifka, George J – Sgt – Radio Operator – POW
Copelin, Robert L – Sgt – Ball Turret Gunner – POW
• Valentine, James A – Sgt – Waist Gunner – POW
• Lindquist, Birtrum – 2/Lt – Officer Tail Gunner – POW

Lt Moderski and three of his crewmates were killed in action when their aircraft, B-17G 44-8746, was shot down by flak over Wittenberge, Germany in the Elbe River Valley. They had dropped their bombs on the marshalling yards at Oranienburg, and encountered intense, accurate flak over Wittenberge on the return. A direct flak hit blew off the nose of the aircraft and the forward underside of the fuselage, probably killing Lt Moderski and navigator Lt McNeish instantly. The engineer, S/Sgt Randall, was observed to be seriously wounded and unconscious, lying on the floor near the bottom of the top turret. The catwalk in the bomb bay was blown away and his crewmates could not reach him. He went down with the plane. Pilot Lt Conwill survived the parachute jump, but was seriously wounded. He died of his wounds at a military hospital in Neuruppen, Germany on April 2, 1945.

Note: Wittenberge is misspelled Wittenberg in MACR 13089. The stated map coordinates, 53°00'N, 11°45'E, identify Wittenberge.

The remains of navigator Lt McNeish were found in a German churchyard in 1947. This was probably at Perleberg, Germany, a short distance northeast of Wittenberge. Lt Moderski's remains may have been found there about the same time.

His remains were permanently reinterred at Ardennes American Cemetery, Belgium in Plot D, Row 3, Grave 50. There is another photo of his grave posted on the 487th Bomb Group website.

In 1955 his widow Marjorie Moderski married Robert H. Hoppe (4 Aug 1922 – 18 Nov 2005) at Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Sources:
1. 487th Bomb Group Association

2. 1920 US Census; Wisconsin; Milwaukee County; Milwaukee; Ward 12. Moderski, Stanley. Jan 1920 (his father)

3. 1930 US Census; Wisconsin; Milwaukee County; Milwaukee. Moderski, Stanley. Apr 1930 (his father)

4. 1940 US Census; Wisconsin; Milwaukee County; Milwaukee; Ward 24; 2807 S 45th St. Maderski, Stanley [sic]. 11 Apr 1940 (his father)

5. American Battle Monuments Commission

6. Big Spring (TX) Daily Herald. Article about Lt Jerome D. Moderski receiving his wings at Big Spring Bombardier School. 16 Sep 1943

7. Cemetery Administration of Evangelical Parish of Neuruppin, Germany: Report of the burial of Joseph D. Conwill in the church cemetery on April 2, 1945. (Report confirms serial number; date of birth; and place of death, the Military Hospital of Neuruppin)

8. de Jong, Ivo. The History of the 487th Bomb Group (H). Paducah KY: Turner Publishing, Oct 2004

9. Donnel, Jim ed. Through the Crosshairs. c1943 (Class book for bombardier Class 43-13, Big Spring, Texas)

10. Eau Clair (WI) Leader-Telegram. Obituary of Marjorie E. Hoppe (1922 – 2014). 4 Jun 2014 (his widow, who remarried in 1955)

11. Enlistment Record of Jerome D. Moderski

12. HQ, 359th Combat Crew Training School, Alamogordo Army Air Base, New Mexico. Special Orders Number 71. 11 March 1944 (487th Bomb Group flight echelon order to proceed from Alamogordo, New Mexico to Herington, Kansas during the deployment to England)

13. Moderski, Jerome D. Personal letter to Marjorie Moderski, his wife. 30 Nov 1944 (provided by a family member)

14. Social Security Death Index

15. U.S. Army Air Forces Missing Air Crew Report 13089

16. U.S. National World War II Memorial Registry. World War II Honoree Jerome Moderski

17. Wisconsin Death Index, 1959–1997

18. World War I Draft Registration of Stanley Moderski. 5 Jun 1917 (his father)

19. World War II Draft Registration of Stanley Louis Moderski. 27 Apr 1942 (his father)

Research by:
Paul Webber
Secretary, 487th Bomb Group Association
Find A Grave member ID 47577572


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Inscription

JEROME D. MODERSKI
1 LT   837 BOMB SQ   487 BOMB GP (H)
WISCONSIN   MAR 15 1945

Gravesite Details Entered the service from Wisconsin.

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  • Maintained by: Paul Webber
  • Originally Created by: CWGC/ABMC
  • Added: 7 Aug 2010
  • Find A Grave Memorial 56359892
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for 1Lt Jerome Daniel “Jitters” Moderski (7 Jun 1920–15 Mar 1945), Find A Grave Memorial no. 56359892, citing Ardennes American Cemetery and Memorial, Neuville-en-Condroz, Arrondissement de Liège, Liège, Belgium ; Maintained by Paul Webber (contributor 47577572) .