Zachary Taylor Nat'l Cemetery Memorial Page 9

The Z Square 7 Crew
Z Square 7 Crew Families
Z Square 7 Crew Cemeteries.
Missing Air Crew Report
Z Square 7 Crew Military Funeral
Memorial Lt Eugene M. Thomas Jr (Marion, Al)
Memorial Lt Francis X. Glacken (Cambridge, MA)
Memorial Lt Norman B. Bassett (Cornell University, Ithaca, NY)
Marcia Bassett McGrattan
Memorial Sgt George P. Demers (Lynn, MA)
Memorial Sgt George P. Demers (Lynn, MA)
Peter & Lillian Demers/Charlotte (Demers) Fiasconaro
Memorial Sgt Louis A. Dorio (Clarksville, VA)
POW-MIA-KIA Ceremony
Bill Mauldin With Willie And Joe
Father John McBride
S/Sgt Kenneth O. Eslick with Photo Album
Sgt Jesse S. Klein. 41-13180
Sgt James B. Rice, Radio Operator, C47, 42-108884
Frank Farr & Merseburg, Germany
Ivan Fail Introduction and "Long Before The Guns And Tanks."
Ivan Fail's "Tribute to the Queen"
Frank Farr Poetry "November 2, 1944", "Old Men And The War", " Merseburg"
Zachary Taylor Nat'l Cemetery Memorial Pages Introduction
Zachary Taylor Nat'l Cemetery Memorial Crew Index
Zachary Taylor Nat'l Cemetery Memorial Page 1
Zachary Taylor Nat'l Cemetery Memorial Page 2
Zachary Taylor Nat'l Cemetery Memorial Page 3
Zachary Taylor Nat'l Cemetery Memorial Page 4
Zachary Taylor Nat'l Cemetery Memorial Page 5
Zachary Taylor Nat'l Cemetery Memorial Page 6
Zachary Taylor Nat'l Cemetery Memorial Page 7
Zachary Taylor Nat'l Cemetery Memorial Page 8
Zachary Taylor Nat'l Cemetery Memorial Page 9
Zachary Taylor Nat'l Cemetery Memorial Page 10
Zachary Taylor Nat'l Cemetery Memorial Page 11
Zachary Taylor Nat'l Cemetery Memorial Page 12
Zachary Taylor Nat'l Cemetery Memorial Page 13
Zachary Taylor Nat'l Cemetery Memorial Page 14
Zachary Taylor Nat'l Cemetery Memorial Page 15
Zachary Taylor Nat'l Cemetery Memorial Page 16
Zachary Taylor Nat'l Cemetery Memorial Page 17
Zachary Taylor Nat'l Cemetery Memorial Page 18
Zachary Taylor Nat'l Cemetery Memorial Page 19
Zachary Taylor Nat'l Cemetery Memorial Page 20
Zachary Taylor Nat'l Cemetery Memorial Page 21
Zachary Taylor Nat'l Cemetery Memorial Page 22
Zachary Taylor Nat'l Cemetery Memorial Page 23
Zachary Taylor Nat'l Cemetery Memorial Page 24
Ivan Fail's "The Tuskegee Airmen"
Memorial Page #1
Memorial Page #2
Memorial Page #3
Memorial Page #4
Memorial Page #5
Memorial Page #6
The Navajo Code Talkers & Native American Medals Of Honor
Ivan Fail's "D Day, The Normandy Invasion"
Ivan Fail's "When The Mustangs Came"
Ivan Fail's "Against All Odds - Mission Complete"
Ford Tolbert by Sallyann
Ford Tolbert Pictures
A Tribute to Lt Raymond "Hap" Halloran
Lt Raymond "Hap" Halloran
Colonel Gregory "Pappy" Boyington, USMC, The Black Sheep Squadron
Lt Halloran Eulogy for Colonel Boyington
Omori POW Camp
Ivan Fail's "A Salute To Lt. Holguin"/ "Shoo Shoo Baby"
General Lemay's biography including a B-29 nose art photo album
March 9 and 10, 1945 Over Tokyo
Lt "Hap" Halloran on March 10, 1945
General Earl Johnson
General Earl Johnson Biography
313th Bomb Wing Mining Missions
Lt Robert Copeland, copilot, Z Square 8
Pyote Bomber Base With A Photo Album
"Hap" Halloran induction Combat Airman Hall of Fame
Blackie Blackburn with a photo album
Hap's Memorable Flight On FIFI
C. Douglas Caffey, A WW2 Veteran, Book Of Poetry
C. Douglas Caffey Collection Of Poetry
C. Douglas Caffey Poetry
C. Douglas Caffey Poem "Graveyard at the Bottom of the Sea"
C. Douglas Caffey Poem "I Saw Liberty Crying"
C. Douglas Caffey Poem "Old Memories"
C. Douglas Caffey Poem "I Saw An Old Veteran"
C. Douglas Caffey Poem "Flying Backwards"
C. Douglas Caffey Poem "All Is Quiet On Iwo Jima"
C. Douglas Caffey Poem "Bones In The Sand"
C. Douglas Caffey on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
C. Douglas Caffey With More on PTSD
C. Douglas Caffey Memorial Day Flying The Flag
C. Douglas Caffey Saying Goodbye To America
The Pacific Theater
Battle of Saipan, Mariana Islands
Saipan Medals of Honor
Battle of Tinian, Mariana Islands
Tinian Medals of Honor
Battle of Guam, Mariana Islands
Guam Medals of Honor
Battle of Iwo Jima
Iwo Jima Medals of Honor
Cpl Ira Hayes, USMC
Battle of Okinawa
Okinawa Medals of Honor
Ivan Fail's "The Saga Of The Superfortress"
Ivan Fail's "The Silent Sentries"
Last Page


This B-24 Liberator, 42-52171, “Victoria Vixen,” and crew were assigned to the 737th Squadron of the 454th Bomb Group. The aircraft was lost on June 4, 1944 during a mission to the West Marshalling Yard at Genoa, Italy. On February 15, 1950 the entire crew of “Victoria Vixen” was buried in Section E Site 294-295 at the Zachary Taylor National Cemetery.



T/Sgt Blasius, Ward H          

S/Sgt Goggin, James R        

2/Lt Hart, Meredith                               

T/Sgt Hawks, Wilbur K                                

T/Sgt Huff, Raymond E,                          

S/Sgt Lindsay, Russell W                              

Capt McKee, William H,                             

Sgt Rousseau, Richard W     

1/Lt Washer, Oscar N Jr    


This B-24 Liberator and crew were assigned to the 740th Squadron of the 455th Bomb Group. On December 20, 1944 the aircraft crashed into a granite cliff in Italy during bad weather and while returning from a mission. There were no survivors. On December 13, 1949 five crewmembers were buried in Section E Site 229 at the Zachary Taylor National Cemetery


Pilot            Stewart, William J Jr, Capt     Zachary Taylor National Cemetery
Co-Pilot       Ehrenkranz, William, 2/Lt       Zachary Taylor National Cemetery
Navigator    Thompson, Harold A, Flt Off    Zachary Taylor National Cemetery
Bombardier  Kerker, Barton G, Flt Off         Florence American Cemetery
Engineer     Schulte, Joseph P S/Sgt           Zachary Taylor National Cemetery
Radio Oper  Rausch, Robert L, T/Sgt          Zachary Taylor National Cemetery
Gunner       Nila, Pete, S/Sgt                      Sicily-Rome American Cemetery

Gunner        Wrigglesworth, Harry N, T/Sgt   Fort Sam Houston National     Cemetery
Gunner       Krugh, Walter M, Sgt
Gunner       Field, Joseph F S/Sgt


The crew were all KIA on 20 December 1944. The aircraft crashed into solid granite about 8 miles north of San Marco, Italy, while heading toward the Adriatic Sea.

37 B24's took off to bomb the Skoda Works at Pilsen, Germany. Only 27 aircraft dropped  bombs on the target. The Group lost 6 aircraft, 5 were by unexplained causes while 1 was seen to crash into a mountain. 62 crewmen were MIA.
Seven aircraft returned early, one because of an oxygen leak, four due to engine trouble, and two because of fuel problems.

One aircraft bombed Klagenfurt as an alternate because of a late takeoff that prevented it from making contact with the formation.

One aircraft bombed Regensburg after developing engine trouble before reaching Pilsen.

One aircraft had to salvo its bombs between the IP and the target due to engine failure.

The remaining 27 aircraft bombed the Pilsen Skoda Works, Czechoslovakia.  By the way, this was actually the first alternate target.   The group bombed Pilsen because the formation was 30 minutes behind schedule for the primary target due to a headwind.

One aircraft landed at the Isle of Vis, which may have been considered as missing. Another aircraft was thought to be lost, but actually landed at another airfield.  The weather over Italy was terrible that day, with a very low ceiling.  Two aircraft almost collided at the airfield as they both broke through the clouds, one attempting to land from the north, and the other from the south.  Their report for December 1944 stated that a total of three aircraft crashed into the mountains due to weather. 


This B-24 Liberator, 42-52286, and crew were assigned to the 747th Squadron of the 456th Bomb Group. The aircraft was damaged by a fighter and crashed near Rome, Italy on February 17, 1944. On July 20, 1949 two members of Lt Bessler’s crew were buried in Section E Site 44 at the Zachary Taylor National Cemetery





2/Lt Harry W. Bessler, Pilot    Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery

T/Sgt Erwin M Rahe, Radio Operator   Zachary Taylor National Cemetery

S/Sgt Joseph L Caruso, Engineer    Zachary Taylor National Cemetery


In Memory of
U.S. Army Air Force Second Lieutenant
Harry W. Bessler
Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Minnehaha County
May 19, 1920 - February 17, 1944
Killed in Action over Subiaco, Italy

Harry “Bill” Bessler was born on May 19, 1920, in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, to Harry and Mabelle Bessler.  Bill worked for his father doing electrical contracting for about one year.


In May of 1939, Harry Bessler enlisted in the army in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, before the Selective Service was implemented. Trained in the Air Corps, Bessler served within the continental United States through December 14, 1943.  Harry Bessler married Ava McDonald in Sacramento, California, in August of 1943.  On December 15, 1943, Bessler was shipped overseas to serve our country in Italy.


Second Lieutenant Bessler was the pilot of a B-24 Liberator bomber and took part in a bombing mission south of Rome.  His plane was damaged during the mission and crashed near Subiaco, Italy, which is approximately thirty miles east of Rome.  On February 17, 1944, Second Lieutenant Harry W. Bessler was reported missing in action.  On May 18, 1945, the Adjutant General officially declared Second Lieutenant Harry W. Bessler dead after he’d been missing in action for over a year.  A portion of the Adjutant General’s letter that was sent to Mrs. Harry Bessler’s wife read as follows:


I regret the necessity for this message but trust that the ending of a long period of
uncertainty may give at least some small measure of consolation.  An appraisal of
the sacrifice made by your husband in the service of his country compels in us
feelings of humility and respect.  May Providence grant a measure of relief from
the anguish and anxiety you have experienced during these many months.


Lt. Bessler’s plane was not found until several years later, and he was still at the controls. Although Lt. Bessler went down with his plane, most of his crew was able to parachute to safety. Second Lieutenant Harry W. Bessler will always be remembered and respected for his courage and the sacrifice that he made for his country.

This entry was respectfully submitted by Brandee J. Soles, Senior, Sioux Falls Christian High School, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, April 5, 2002.  Information for this entry was provided by South Dakota Veterans Bonus Records and by E. Warren Bessler, Louisville, Kentucky, cousin of Harry Bessler.



This B-24 Liberator, 42-99772, “Fat Joe,” and crew were assigned to the 747th Squadron of the 456th Bomb Group. The plane was shot down by flak on April 21, 1944 with four of the ten crewmembers parachuting from the stricken plane. However one crewmember was killed by ground fire before landing. On January 18, 1950 three crewmembers were buried in Section E Plot 243 at the Zachary Taylor National Cemetery.

The Crew:

  2/Lt Arthur Malinowski, Copilot       Zachary Taylor National Cemetery
 2/Lt. Joseph T. Taylor, Navigator    Zachary Taylor National Cemetery

 S/Sgt Bassil Garros, Gunner         Zachary Taylor National Cemetery
 2/Lt. Earl W. Wallace Jr, Pilot
 2/Lt. Wallace O. Tilt, Bombardier        Bailed out, POW was liberated.
 T/Sgt John C. Buehler, Flight Engineer
 S/Sgt Dennis W. Medenwaldt, Radio Operator            Bailed out.
 S/Sgt Hugh D. Borden, Gunner          Bailed out, POW. Liberated
 S/Sgt Eugene Wright, Gunner
 S/Sgt Frederick H. Battis, Gunner           Bailed out but KIA.

Mission History File

From Fred Riley, the 456th Bomb Group Association Historian. This is the story of the crew from S/Sgt Dennis Medenwaldt, Radio Operator. :

" In regards to our last mission on 4/21/44 the following is what occurred to the best of my recollection. We were unable to drop our bombs on either the primary or secondary targets due to adverse weather conditions. I am not sure but I think our target of last resort may have been Belgrade. As the radio operator I was manning the hand held 50 caliber machine gun from the right waist window of the aircraft (B-24).

We experienced a direct anti aircraft (Flak) hit on our tail and it and the tail gunner just disappeared. We immediately went into a spin. Luckily I was able to pull my self out of the right waist window.

We had ten (10) crew members aboard and only four (4) bailed out. They were, bombardier, 2nd Lt. Wallace O. Tilt, radio operator, T/Sgt. Dennis W. Meldenwaldt, upper turret gunner, S/Sgt. Hugh D. Borden, and ball turret gunner, S/Sgt. Frederick H. Battis. We were being fired upon by civilians from the ground as we descended in our chutes. Battis was hit in the neck and was dead when he hit the ground. That left only three (3) survivors of the ten crew members. 

The civilians who captured us were extremely angry at Allied airmen because of all of the bombing they had experienced and I am sure they would have killed us if a truck load of German soldiers had not arrived and took us from them. As it was they beat us up pretty well.

Let me tell you briefly what I recall of our crew that day:

Pilot Wallace was a replacement for our crew's regular pilot, 1st Lt. Phillips, who for some reason was not flying that day.

Flight engineer, Buehler was a replacement for our regular engineer, T/Sgt Moran, who was not flying that day.

All of the crew members except for the three who survived after bailing out perished.

I will now continue to outline what happened after our capture. We went through the normal couple of days of POW interrogation by the Germans somewhere in Belgrade. We were then placed on a train, along with two guards.

We had little to eat but the guards shared some very stale bread and cheese with us. Our destination turned out to be Stalag Luft III located in lower Silesia, one hundred miles South East of Berlin. We were placed in he West compound of Luft III which was just opened. This compound eventually contained 2500 American POW's. The entire Stalag Luft III housed over 10,000 from various countries. The three of us, myself, Borden and Tilt, remained together in Stalag Luft III. We remained there until January 28th, 1945 at which time 10,000 POW's were evacuated. The Russians were approaching and we could hear their Artillery fire. I'm sure that all 10,000 men will forever remember the tortuous trek that followed in the ever increasing fury of the blizzard and near zero temperatures, ill fitting packs, blisters, frozen feet, hands and sickness all contributed to the misery of the marchers.

There were seemingly endless hours of marching with occasional rest periods. Six days after leaving Luft III we boarded a train at Spremberg (40 x 8) box cars with our destination being Stalag XIII-D at Nuremberg for a miserable two month period. These two months were memorable for the large scale Allied Air Raids, lice, bed bugs, fleas and food shortage. The aptly named "Green Death" soup caused wide spread diarrhea and dysentery. Bites from bed bugs and lice covered every exposed part of the body to include the nose and eyelids.

The American Seventh and Third Armies pushing into Western Germany precipitated the Second evacuation by foot from Nuremberg on April 4, 1945. The weather was spring like so it was a better march. After a 10 day march we arrived at Moosburg, Germany Stalag Luft VIII-A. Upon arriving we were informed that President Roosevelt had died suddenly the day before. That was a shock to all. We remained at Moosburg for sixteen days. During that time we remained very cold, filthy and many were ill. But at least we were rid of the lice, fleas and bed bugs. We knew that he end of our captivity was near unless they moved us again.

We could hear the artillery fire and in fact shells were whistling over our heads. We remained low to avoid injury. A couple of days before our liberation American artillery spotting aircraft flew over Stalag VIII-A. On Sunday April 29th as Sunday mass was being conducted bullets began to whistle through camp amid the chatter of machine guns and rifle fire. Early in the afternoon Mooseburg fell. General Patton came into camp and was welcomed by thousands of POW's. The POW's were represented by nearly every Allied country as they had been moved to Mooseburg from camps throughout Germany as Allied forces advanced. We finally got some decent food and a bath. The white G.I. bread as I recall tasted angel food cake to us.

Most all American prisoners were taken to "Camp Lucky Strike" in France to be processed. And eighteen days after Liberation we were placed on ships at LeHavre, France to be returned to the good old U.S.A.

I have never seen Tilt after liberation. Borden and I still correspond, usually at Xmas time. Both Borden and I eventually made a career in the USAF. I retired as a CMSGT (E9) and Borden as a SMSGT (E8).

All crew members on A/C 42-99772 except Tilt, Borden and Medenwaldt were killed when the plane crashed.

 This is more information from Fred Riley, the 456th Bomb Group Association historian, about this mission. On 21 April 1944, it was the Group's 35th mission. The target was Bucharest Romania, marshalling yards (rail yards), Twenty four bombers were unable to reach the target because of a heavy overcast.

Three planes returned early due to enemy fighter damage. Sixty five enemy fighters were encountered, 3 destroyed, 4 probable's and 4 damaged. The Group lost 4 bombers. Lt. Lazewski and Lt. Williams of the 745th Squadron landed at alternate fields due to fuel shortage. Flak was heavy, moderate and accurate. The bombing results were nil as no bombs were dropped. Combat flight was 7:30 hours.


The B-29, 44-61573, Triangle 16, was assigned to the 792nd Squadron of the 468th Bomb Group. They crashed on June 29, 1945 with no survivors. Everyone on the crew was buried in Section E 21-22 at the Zachary Taylor National Cemetery on January 26, 1949.                



792nd Squadron; 468th Bomb Group E 21-22

1/Lt Melvin W Morris, Pilot

2/LtVernon D. Black, Copilot

1/Lt Bernard S Onan, Bombardier

1/Lt Thomas H. Wells, Radio Operator
2/Lt Ernest L Drew, Flight Engineer

Sgt Charles R. Shuler, Radar Operator

Sgt Francis E Heckler, Navigator

Cpl Rixby J. Leblanc, Gunner

Cpl George B. Petty, Gunner

Cpl Augustine L, Polacco, Gunner 

Pfc Robert F, Ardoline, CFC

44-61573 Triangle I6, 468th BG, 792 Sq, MACR 14691, Morris Crew, Crashed in Miyaura, Koura Village, Kojima County, Okayama Prefecture. 11 KIA. Some reports say the plane had engine trouble while on the way to the Okayama bombing raid.


The B-29, 42-6238, and crew were assigned to the 792nd Squadron of the 468th Bomb Group. On October 1, 1944 aircraft 42-6238, piloted by Captain Winkler, crashed on a routine cargo mission to the Advance Base at Chengdu, China.  Two airmen were buried July 21, 1949 in Section E 74 at the Zachary Taylor National Cemetery.

 Capt. Eddie Winkler – Aircraft Commander
1st Lt. Robert Purvis – Copilot    Zachary Taylor National Cemetery
2nd Lt. John Geene – Flight Engineer

2nd Lt. Earl Thompson - Navigator
Maj. John Matthews – Passenger
      Zachary Taylor National Cemetery
Capt. Thomas Maxwell – Passenger
   Honolulu Memorial Cemetery
T/Sgt. Jack Raymond – Radio Operator

T/Sgt. Ward Clark – Crew

S/Sgt. Henry Eyerman – Crew            Honolulu Memorial

T/Sgt. Samuel Spillers, Jr. – Crew Chief   Honolulu Memorial


While at Khangapur, India Major Matthews was given a command at an Advance Base (A-7) in Chengdu, China. He hitched a ride with a B-29 from the 792nd Squadron, that was converted to a tanker while in India, to check out the site.

The craft departed Kharagpur either September 30 or October 1. The last radio contact was while over Myitkyina. On October 1st the craft crashed into Omei Mountain (Emei Shan) southwest of their destination due to weather. It is assumed that all crew and passengers were killed instantaneously. What remains that were found were buried in a cemetery in Chengdu.



42-6238 – 792nd Bomb Squadron – Delivered to USAAF on 11/8/43 – Model B-29-1-MO – Departed Smoky Hill on 4/15/44 for India and gained by the 468th Bomb Group on 5/24/44.


India Combat Missions – 1

Hump Missions – 18


42-6238 was converted to a tanker in the CBI.


This B-17 Flying Fortress, 42-23129, “Stars And Stripes II,” and crew were assigned to the 346th Squadron of the 99th Bomb Group.  On June 25, 1948, T/Sgt Edward J. Pietras and S/Sgt Billy B. Bridges were buried in Section E Site 7 at the Zachary Taylor National Cemetery.




T/Sgt Edward J. Pietras            Zachary Taylor National Cemetery

S/Sgt Billy B. Bridges            Zachary Taylor National Cemetery       

1/Lt Howard W. Ebbers, Pilot      North Africa American Cemetery

T/Sgt Donald F. Carpenter      North Africa American Cemetery

S/Sgt Edward J. Bodnar         Buried in Tunis, Tunisia








While on a mission to Naples, Italy on August 1, 1943, Stars & Stripes II was attacked by fighters. One engine was shot and there was other major damage to the plane. During an emergency landing in Tunisia the pilot was forced to maneuver to avoid a collision with a B-26. The Stars & Stripes II turned on its side and burst into flames. No one survived.


This B-17, 42-30446, and crew were assigned to the 348th Squadron of the 99th Bomb Group. 9 members of the crew were Killed In Action on October 10, 1943 with only one survivor. They were flying from Oudna Field, Tunisia to bomb the Tatoi Aerodrome near Athens, Greece. They were buried on January 27, 1950 in Section E Plot 256-257 of the Zachary Taylor National Cemetery.


Crew list on mission:

1/Lt John C. Staffo, Bombardier  
2/Lt Samuel R. Gilmore, Pilot     Golden Gate Nat’l Cemetery

Lt George W. Rohrer, Copilot                   survived
2/Lt Morton M. Hantman, Navigator   

Sgt Richard A. Cleaver, Engineer   

Sgt. William B. Hill, Radio Operator 

Sgt Harold E. Wehby, Gunner 
Sgt Curtis Hinkle, Gunner    Fort Leavenworth Nat’l Cemetery
Sgt Jack G. Stankus, Gunner   Florence American Cemetery
Sgt Richard L. Myers, Gunner