USAAF 384th Bomb Group
More than seventy years ago, America was involved in another fight against the enemies of freedom. The Eighth Air Force brought the battle to the enemy long before D-Day. Their B-17 bombers flew more than 290,000 sorties and dropped 640,000 tons of bombs while losing 4688 aircraft. More than 10,500 aircraft of all types were lost. The 384th Bombing Group flew 9348 sorties in 316 missions with the loss of 159 aircraft and 1625 men.
Total USAAF losses in the European Theater of Operations (ETO) were 30,000 killed, 14,000 wounded, and 28,000 captured as POWs. More than 27,000 aircraft were lost in combat.
384th Bombardment Group web site.
384th Bombardment Group Memorials at Grafton Underwood, UK
My father, Aldo J. Rovero, during those trying times. He and three brothers served concurrently in the war, one each in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Army Air Corps.
He applied as an Aviation Cadet in August 1942, took the West Point exams in December 1942, and reported for duty on March 3, 1943. Prior to commissioning, he graduated from the Army Air Forces Basic Navigation, Gunnery, and Advanced Navigation Schools. After commissioning, he was assigned to 333rd Combat Crew Training School in Dalhart, Texas. In mid-February 1944, the crew transferred to Kearney, Nebraska, and by the beginning of March were in Grafton-Underwood, England as part of the 545th Squadron, 384th Bombardment Group. He flew the first of 44 combat missions in April 1944.
He was awarded the Air Medal with 4 Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters and the Distinguished Flying Cross for service with the 384th. After the war, like many returning veterans, he attended college on the GI Bill. He married, raised a family, and worked for 32 years as an electrical engineer.
Lead Group, 41st C Combat Wing - 18 June 1944 - Laon/Athies, France
Back Row: LtCol Thomas Beckett, Air Commander; Capt Anthony Nilo, GH Op; Lt Dewayne Bennett, lead pilot; F/O Martin Rosenblum, bombadier; Lt Aldo Rovero, navigator; Front Row: S/Sgt James Trumbo, waist gunner; S/Sgt Verin Gale, waist gunner; T/Sgt Michael Perrone, radio operator; F/O Howard Morton, tail gunner/observer; T/Sgt James Holland, top turret gunner/engineer; S/Sgt Bernard Zelazoski, ball turret gunner. Official U.S. Army crew photo courtesy Dewayne "Ben" Bennett.
May they never be forgotten.
Additional 384th, Grafton-Underwood, and B-17 Links:
2015 70th Anniversary B-17 flyover of Grafton Underwood
2015 70th Anniversary Ceremonies at Grafton Underwood
YouTube Tribute to the 384th Bombardment Group
YouTube Dewayne Bennett Interview
Print by Heinz Krebs memorializing the April 13, 1944 Schweinfurt mission and my father's aircraft and crew.
IL2 computer generated movie of the same April 13, 1944 Schweinfurt Mission.