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Mission #124, 493rd Bomb Group
3 March 1945 | Hildesheim, Germany
The 493rd Bomb Group, 863rd Bomb Squadron of the Eighth Air Force was based at Station 152, Debach, England. This airfield was located northeast of Ipswich in the Suffolk countryside. The 493rd Bomb Group was nicknamed “Helton’s Hellcats.”
On Saturday, 3 March1945, the Eighth Air Force dispatched 1,102 bombers and 743 fighters to bomb oil refineries, oil plant equipment works, motor transport factory and rail bridges in north central and eastern Germany. The 493rd was to bomb a secondary target at Hildesheim with 38 B-17s. There were scattered clouds but unrestricted visibility that day.
2nd Lt. George Graff was the pilot of the B-17G serial number 43-39050. At 1027 hours his aircraft was attacked by enemy fighters. The number two engine caught fire and Graff tried to slip the flames out by going into a nose dive. The effort was unsuccessful. They continued to lag behind the formation with “C” squadron. Unable to put out the fire, he gave the order for the nine man crew to bail out. The aircraft descended into the clouds and exploded. Three crewmen were listed as killedin action (KIA). The plane crashed near Hildesheim. The five crewmen who bailed out were captured and sent to a prisoners of war camp. Missing Air Crew Report 12886 was filed when the crew failed to return to base.
However, one crew member who was listed as KIA, ball turret gunner Sgt. Francis M. Mungavin did manage to parachute to the ground only to suffer severe injuries and was sent to hospital. See his story below.
2nd Lt. George Graff (O-8308845) was the pilot. He was born in 1924 in Brooklyn, NY son of William and Theresa E. Graff of Brooklyn. He attended high school for two years.
After being liberated, Graff returned to Brooklyn.
William Henry Thomas, Jr.
2nd Lt. William H. Thomas, Jr. was the co-pilot. Thomas was born on 10 November 1923 in New York the son of William H. Thomas, Sr. and Lucy E. Thomas. He was killed in action after his B-17 was attacked. He died on 3 March 1945. He was later buried on 9 June 1949 in section 34, site 2674 of Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA.
Thomas was awarded the Air Medal on 14 October 1948 for his service in Germany.
Bernard Joseph McGivern
2nd Lt. Bernard J. McGivern was the navigator. McGivern was born on 6 July 1921 was born in Barberton, OH the youngest son of Michael Joseph McGivern (1882-1956) and Mary Ann (O'Brien) McGivern (1884-1968). After growin up in Barberton, McGivern enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Force on 31 July1942 in Milwaukee, WI. McGivern was able to bail out on that fateful day but was killed by German ground troops as he parachuted to the ground. According to a 25 June 1945 letter written to McGivern's family, Lt. Ray Goetschius stated that a German officer "showed me Lt. McGivern's dog tags and told me he landed dead." He continued, "I do not trust the Germans word that Lt. McGivern is dead as I did not see his body and the the last time I saw him he was a very much alive."
He was buried in plot A of the Ardennes American Cemetery at Neuville-en-Condroz, Liege, Belgium.
Ray Martin Goetschius
2nd Lt. Ray Martin Goetschius (O-783385) was the bombardier. He was born on 11 August 1921 in Tiffin, OH son of Rollie Ray and Eleanor (Martin) Goetschius. He married May Eunice May on 18 December 1943. He attended Heidleberg College before he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps. After his liberation, Goetschius wrote a letter to his co-pilot’s wife stating he would try and help her locate her missing husband. Goetschius stated the co-pilot was “one of my best friends.” He received his master’s degree from the University of Toledo and taught social studies and economics and was the high school guidance counselor at Woodmore School District for 28 years. He died on 21 January 2003 at age 81 in Elmore, OH and is buried in the Harris-Elmore Union Cemetery.
Paul F. Edmunds
Sgt. Paul F. Edmunds (33609309) was the top turret gunner. Edmunds was born on 16 March 1925 in Mayfield, PA the sone of William and Mary (McAndrew) Edmunds. He enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Force on 3 August 1943 in Wilkes-Barre, PA. After being liberated as a POW and discharged from the service, Edmunds married Elizabeth "Betty" O'Hara. They had no children. Edmunds worked for General Electric and later was a postman for the U.S. Postal Service in Jermyn, PA.
Edmunds was a member and secretary of the fourth degree Knights of Columbus. He was also a member of several local military organizations. He died on 24 November 2011 and was buried beside his wife in the Calvary Cemetery, Mayfield, PA.
Edmunds was awarded the Purple Heart for wounds suffered when his B-17 crashed on 3 March 1945.
Dwain Stanley Kantor
Sgt. Dwain S. Kantor (39705367) was the radio operator. Kantor was born on 2 May 1925 in Los Angeles County, CA. After he was liberated from being a prisoner-of-war, Kantor returned home to the United States aboard the Liberty ship SS William H. Jackson. The shipped arrived in New York Cityof 2 June 1945.
Kantor was married twice. His second wife was Marsha M. Hines whom he married on 14 November 1981 in San Diego, CA. They lived in San Diego and later Glendale, CA.
Kantor died on 5 July 2007in La Mesa, CA.
Francis M. Mungavin
Sgt. Francis M. Mungavin (32880735) was the ball turret gunner. Mungavin was born on 22 September 1924 in Waterbury, CT the son of Francis and Mary Mungavin. Shortly after he was born the family moved to Brooklyn, NY. Mungavin enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Force on 2 April 1943 in New York City.
Mungavin bailed out of the crippled B-17 on 3 March 1945 and according to the Missing Air Crew Report was presumed killed in action (KIA). However, it was later learned that he had indeed bailed out but had a disastrous parachute landing. He was hypoxic and unconsious. His back had been broken upon landing. He was found by local Germans and beaten. Finally taken to the nearby German Standart Hospital in Detmold, he lay unconsious for about two weeks. He later stated that he did receive good care during his stay at the local hospital. After liberation on 9 April 1945, he was taken to a series of hospitals in Europe and upon his return to the States, he continued his care and rehabilation in U.S. Army hospitals. He did not know the fate of his crewmates and they were not aware that he was still alive.
Mungavin died on 23 May 1994 in Bellmore, NY and is buried in section 28a, site 977 of the Calverton National Cemetery, Calverton, NY.
Robert G. Dawson
Sgt. Robert G. Dawson was the waist gunner. Dawson was born in 1909 in Iowa. He married Helen A.
Dawson enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps on 9 September 1942 in Denver, CO. In 1945, his wife Helen lived on a farm in Clinton County, IA.
Cameron T. McKim
Sgt. Cameron T. McKim (42046779) was the tail gunner. McKim was born on 21 May 1921 in Washington, DC the son of John S. and Winifred McKim. John was an immigrant from Scotland and Winifred an immigrant from Ireland. During the 1930's the family lived in North Bergen, NJ. After graduating from high school, McKim went back to Washington, DC where he was a bell boy in 1940. He enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps on 17 November 1943 at Fort Dix, NJ.
McKim died in April 1985 in Huntington, NY.