323rd Bomber Squadron, 91st Bomber Group, Heavy, 8th Air Force.
Buried at Lorraine American Cemetery, St. Avold, France, K, 31, 38.
Aircraft B-17G, Serial number 42-31542, Nickname Bunky (coded OR-T), departed from AAF Station No. 121 (Bassingbourn, England) on a bombardment mission to Lechfeld, Germany and collided with aircraft B-17G, serial number 42-107075.
They crashed on July 19, 1944 about 1.5 km east of Hofgut Grossleuten an der Asch, County Weilheim/Obb. (Upper Bavaria) Germany.
Eyewitness statements from Sgt Bartolomeo Zanotto and S/Sgt Jack J. Williams:
Aircraft B-17G 42-107075 and B-17G 42-31542 were last seen just past the I.P. and during the bomb run or about 7 minutes before bombs away. The two aircraft were flying on our right. It appeared that aircraft B-17G 42-107075 got in the prop wash of an aircraft ahead or the aircraft momentarily was out of control for he slipped to his left and his left wing crashed into the right horizontal stabilizer of aircraft B-17G 42-31542. Each aircraft then pulled to the outside, 075 to the right and 542 to the left. At this point the tail section of aircraft 542 broke off at about the main entrance door and rocketed about 200 feet upward, then it went down in a diving spin and out of sight. The main part of aircraft 542 continued in a diving spin and went out of sight into clouds. Aircraft 075 went down in a slow flat spin and when last seen appeared to be pulling out of dive and leveling off. He then was lost from view in the clouds. No parachutes were seen to come from either of these aircraft.
All crew members of Aircraft 42-31542 were killed in action.
Pilot, 1st Lt Norman N. Burwick
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt Frank L. Way
Navigator 1st Lt Carl Sanders
Bombardier 1st Lt Albert E. Steelhammer
Radio Operator-Gunner T/Sgt George Raymond Beltz
Top Turret Gunner T/Sgt David M. Cotton
Waist Gunner S/Sgt Harry S. Carlson
Ball Turret Gunner S/Sgt Melvin A. Gemmill
Tail Gunner Sgt Gordon D. Smith
- Rank: Sergeant
- Date of death: 19 July 1944
- County: Hamilton
- Service Branch: Army/Army Air Forces
- Division/Assignment: 323rd Bomber Squadron, 91st Bomber Group, Heavy
- Theater: Europe
- Conflict: World War II
- Awards: Purple Heart
- Burial/Memorial Location: Lorraine American Cemetery, St. Avold (Moselle), France
- Location In Memorial: Pillar XI, Top Panel
- Contact us to sponsor Gordon D. Smith
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