Walter Hollis Preston
Born 16 December 1922
Died 12 September 1944
487th Bomber Group, 838th Bomber Squadron, Heavy, 8th Air Force
Aircraft B-17 with serial number 44-6305 was on an operational mission to Magdeburg, Germany
2nd Lt Preston bailed out near St. Vith, Belgium. He was killed when his parachute did not fully open. He stayed with the ship longer than the other members and evidently bailed out from too low an altitude. He landed behind American lines and was found by Belgium civilians and was initially buried at St. Vith, Belgium.
Statement from S/Sgt R.H. Easley
The first engine failure was mechanical. We pulled out of the formation and dropped our bombs on a village. We then headed for the rally point, arriving too early to meet the others. We took off on course, and shortly afterward another engine went out, again due to mechanical failures, including a broken oil line, making it impossible to control the propeller. We flew about 170 miles on the remaining two engines and lost the third engine just behind the allied lines. This engine failure was due to too hard a load being placed upon it when the other two went out.
The possibility of landing was considered but deemed not advisable due to our low altitude – we were losing 500 feet a minute – and the rough terrain below us. The order was given to bail out; I went first. Lt Preston became entangled in the shroud lined and on landing broke his back and both legs. It is not probable that he lived.
Lt Spaid and Sgt Meyers landed safely. I imagine, since they have not returned, that they are prisoners of war, although they must have landed very close to allied territory.
Pilot, 2nd Lt Walter H. Preston
Co-Pilot, 2nd Lt William E. Bendt
Bombardier, F/O Orville N. Schulz
Navigator, 2nd Lt Ora Spaid Jr.
Engineer/Gunner, Sgt Robert H. Easley
Radio Operator, Sgt Roy C. Meyers
Ball Turret Gunner, Sgt Dorsey E. Wilson
Tail Gunner, Sgt Laurie S. Horner
Waist Gunner, Sgt Delmar J. Galloway
Buried at Morning View Cemetery, Bluff City, TN