Captain Gordon Lee Hammond 0-742157
WW2 memorial.com entry:
Lead pilot b-24. Captain, 8th Air Force. From 1943 to 1945 392nd bomb group 579th squadron Wendling air base 118, England. The Hammond crew had trained on b-24 aircraft at Gowen field, Idaho (29th bomb group, 52nd squadron) and Pocatello, Idaho (382nd bomb group, 539th squadron) from April 1943 to September 1943, arriving in England October 1943. Originally destined for b-29 airplanes in the 29th bomb group. This crew was diverted to b-24s and assigned to 8th air force, England due to the attrition in crews there. He flew February 1944, missions known as big week.
The purpose was to degrade the German Luftwaffe prior to d-day. He flew all the march 1944, missions to Berlin. He was shot down on his 21st mission returning from Hamm, Germany on April 22, 1944 after making a second run on the target, losing us air cover his squadron was then attacked by 75 German fighters. He was the last to bail out after he flew the plane burning for 1 hour and 34 minutes to the English Channel before the right wing melted off. All 12 crew members, listed in missing aircraft report number 04171, aircraft number 42-52605, parachuted safely and became POWs at Stalag Luft 3, of great escape fame, then Stalag 13d Nuremburg and finally Stalag 7a Moosburg. He was a POW and a2 officer at Stalag Luft 3 west compound, Stalag 13d Nuremburg and Stalag 7a at Moosburg.
They were liberated by Patton on April 29, 1945. Hammond was awarded 2 purple hearts for Kiel bombing raid on January 4, 1944 and Hamm marshalling yards bombing raid on April 22, 1944. He was awarded the WWII Victory Medal, WWII lapel button, Air Medal with 4 Oak Leaf Clusters, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with two Bronze Service Stars and a Presidential Unit Citation for the 392nd raid on the Gotha aircraft factory on February 24, 1944. Correcting a navigational error of earlier lead groups and changing course at the last minute, the 392nd BG fought their way for two hours thru fighters and flak to reach the target. His crewmembers are in the missing aircrew report number 04171, aircraft number 42-52605. Hammond died in 2003, and received the POW Medal posthumously 2006.
Lieutenant Hammond flew on the difficult missions during big week, February 20, 1944, to February 26, 1944, to bomb German airfields and aircraft factories. He had flown the missions to Kiel. He flew all the early-March, 1944, missions to Berlin, the purpose of which was to degrade the German Luftwaffe prior to d-day.
Lead pilot B-24, captain, 8th Air Force from 1942 to 1946, 392nd Bomb Group, 579th Squadron Wendling Air Base 118, England. The Hammond crew, which had trained on b-24s at Gowen field, Idaho (29th BG, 52nd Squadron) and Pocatello, Idaho (382nd BG, 539th Squadron) from April, 1943, thru September, 1943, arrived in England, October 3,1943. According to his navigator's diary, they were originally destined for b-29s in the 29th BG, Pacific theater, but were diverted to B-24s and assigned to the 8th Air Force due to attrition in crews in the 8th Air Force over Germany.
Hammond was shot down on his 21st mission returning from Hamm, Germany on April 22, 1944. He was a POW and a2 officer at Stalag Luft 3 west compound, Nuremburg 13d, and Moosburg 7A. In Stalag Luft 3 Hammond interviewed all new POW officers entering the west compound. Force-marched on January 27, 1945, from Stalag Luft 3 at saga to Spremburg. Liberated by Patton on April 29, 1945.
Statement made by lt. Gordon l. Hammond on 10-10-45 upon repatriation from Stalag Luft 3-13d and 7a, "on April 18, 1944 I was listed in 392nd bomb group, 8th air force, as flight commander of 579th squadron. On April 22, 1944, I was designated to lead the group on my twenty-first mission to Hamm, Germany. Capt. Wyeth C. Everhart was command pilot, and major Robert l. Cox, operations officer of 484th bomb group, went as an observer. Due to a second run made on the target we were exposed to enemy fighters and without support at the time my ship was set afire 100 miles east of Coblenz, Germany. All members of the crew bailed out successfully, were imprisoned, and returned to military control in April 1945. I flew the plane burning for one hour and forty minutes, but was forced to bail out over English Channel when end of right wing melted off. Major Cox and Capt. Everhart were with me until the last minutes and were my companions and roommates during my entire imprisonment in Stalag Luft 3, saga, and Nurenburg, Bavaria, for twelve months and one week. Major Myron H. Keilman, a.c., -421819, was my squadron commander in 579th squadron and is familiar with my attempt to return to England.
"Among my missions were the first four raids to Berlin March 4, 6, 8 and 9, 1944. The six crucial raids to German airfield dating Feb. 20 - 26, 1944. One of which my group received the presidential citation to Gotha, Germany, Feb. 24, 1944. Other important raids successfully completed were Kiel, Zwickau, Bernberg, Augsburg, Munster, and Friedricshafen on the Switzerland boundary line."