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SSGT John H. Blekkenk, Jr

SSGT John H. Blekkenk, Jr

Birth
Rochester, Monroe County, New York, USA
Death 9 Apr 1944 (aged 20)
England
Burial Rochester, Monroe County, New York, USA
Plot Sec. S, vet. plot, grave 131
Memorial ID 68272311 · View Source
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Only son of John Henry and Amelia Treibor Blekkenk.

John served as a Staff Sergeant and tail gunner on a B-24 in the 578th Bomber Squadron, 392nd Bomber Group, Heavy, 8th Air Force, U.S. Army Air Force during World War II.

He resided at 488 Parsells Avenue, Rochester, Monroe County, New York prior to the war. He enlisted in the Army on January 20, 1943 in Rochester. He was noted as Single, without dependents.

He died in the "Line Of Duty" in a mid air collision with a plane from the 389th bomber group over England during division assembly prior to a raid on Tutow Germany. He was awarded a Purple Heart.
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Gunner S/Sgt. Dominick R. Adago KIA
Hometown: Rochester, New York
Squadron: 578th 392th Bomb Group
Service # 32675803
Awards: Purple Heart.
Pilot 2nd/Lt. Hubert F. Morefield RTD

Target: Tutow
Date Lost: 9-Apr-44
Serial Number: #41-29485
Aircraft Model B-24
Aircraft Letter:
Aircraft Name:
Location: England between Bintree and Twyford
Cause: MID AIR COLLISION Weather - Fog 8KIA 2RTD

The target, the airfield and air park at Tutow, was a continuation of the assault on the German Air Force, concentrating again major production of FW-190s.

During assembly over England, B-24 #41-29485 with 578th pilot 2/Lt Hubert F. Morefield and B-24 #42-99982, pilot 1/Lt Glen W. Reese from the 389th Bomb Group at Hethel, collided. The collision between [the two planes] occurred during the process of Division Assembly prior to an operational mission ( Tutow ). Aircraft #982 was hit by aircraft #485 at approximately mid-fuselage from an angle of about 90 degrees on the co-pilot side. Aircraft #982 was flying in the #2 position of the high right element of a 12 ship squadron at an approximate altitude of 7,000 feet. The planes collided at 0858. Both planes immediately disintegrated and amongst the falling wreckage I saw four parachutes and one body without parachute descending rapidly to earth. Both waist gunners of aircraft #982 were able to execute successful parachute jumps, but they did not, however, see the other aircraft involved in the collision and therefore cannot help in a statement of the cause. The nine other crew members [in #982] were killed in the ensuing crash. The assembly was done under instrument conditions through a thick overcast. Weather conditions at the time of the accident were reported as follows: Visibility 2500 yards; surface wind South 6 mph; 7/10 low cloud at 5000 feet, 2/10 middle cloud at 12000 feet. It is believed that neither pilot nor any member of crew was able to see the other aircraft because of weather conditions until it was too late to avoid the collision."

Since it was only about two miles from the crash site, RAF Foulsham was the first responder. On 10 Apr 1944, Flying Officer Cyril Alfred Gautier, the Duty Flying Control Officer, submitted this report: At 0850, "After taking over duty I walked out on to the balcony of the Control Tower to watch a formation of Liberators flying in a northerly direction over the airfield. One Liberator was flying through cloud and another flying almost at right angle to it - - the two Liberators collided.

"Both planes immediately disintegrated and amongst the falling wreckage I saw four parachutes and one body without parachute descending rapidly to earth. I immediately despatched two Crash Tenders, Ambulances and Medical Officer to spot where aircraft wreckage came to earth. Also Flying Control van to meet aircrew descending by parachute.

"[At 0918] Our M.T. driver reported one member of aircrew at bomb dump with broken leg and two others uninjured. Medical officer and ambulance immediately sent to bomb dump.
"[At 0930] Chief Marden from Twyford reported 7 dead bodies found between Bintree and Twyford.
"[At 0933] Bintree reported one member of aircrew at Ash Farm near Twyford injured. Ambulance immediately sent out and the Medical officer from Little Snoring sent out.
"[At 0955] Bintree reported above to be Lt. Morefield who was quite O.K. except for a minor cut over one eye and awaiting ambulance to take him to Foulsham."
Wreckage of the 389th Liberator crashed near Guist and the wreckage of the 392nd Liberator came down between Bintree and Twyford.

In a letter to S/Sgt Breithaupt's mother dated May 14, 1944, 1/Lt Morefield wrote, "I can't give all the details but perhaps what I can say will help... Easter Sunday we were on a routine flight over England when instrument weather was encountered and during our climb through the clouds we collided with another aircraft. Our altitude was very low, in the collision we lost our left wing and tail-section and time was too short to escape before crashing. Two of us did escape because we were thrown from the plane but Lt. Kaufman had a leg amputated in the collision. I escaped with only minor injuries but the eight other boys were not able to get out."

Crew of 41-29485,
2nd/Lt. 2/Lt. Rolland Grisell Co Pilot KIA
2nd/Lt. Ferdinand F. Kuttner Bombardier KIA
T/Sgt. Robert W. Gerrard Engineer KIA
T/Sgt. Ernest C. Betterley Radio Op. KIA
S/Sgt. Donald S. Coday Gunner KIA
S/Sgt. Herman Breithaupt Jr. Gunner KIA
S/Sgt. Dominick R. Adago Gunner KIA
S/Sgt. John H. Blekkenk Gunner KIA


Family Members

Parents

Inscription

SSGT, 578 AAF BOMB SQ WORLD WAR II


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  • Maintained by: John Dowdy
  • Originally Created by: FRH
  • Added: 12 Apr 2011
  • Find A Grave Memorial 68272311
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for SSGT John H. Blekkenk, Jr (1 Dec 1923–9 Apr 1944), Find A Grave Memorial no. 68272311, citing Riverside Cemetery, Rochester, Monroe County, New York, USA ; Maintained by John Dowdy (contributor 47791572) .