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Mission 173 to Osnabruck, Germany
16 February 1945 | Emmen, Holland
The 467th Bomb Group, 790th Bomb Squadron of the Eighth Air Force was based at Station 145, Rackheath, England. Rackheath was located five miles north-east of Norwich and was built with a 6,000 foot main runway, two auxiliary runways, two T-2 hangers and temporary housing for 2,900 personnel. In March 1944, the 467th Bomb Group moved into Rackheath with fifty-eight B-24 Liberators. Although there were fifty hard standings, it was common practice to park two heavy bombers on each of the loop dispersals. The bomb group code marking was a “Circle P” located on the tail.
On Friday, 16 February 1945, the Eighth Air Force sent 1,042 bombers and 197 fighters to attack benzole plants, oil refineries and marshaling yards inside Germany. The weather was poor, but it was decided mission #173 could be flown. Flak over the target area was moderate but very accurate, and appeared to be fired from large caliber anti-aircraft guns, causing varying degrees of damage to the group ships. No enemy aircraft were sighted. Bombs were dropped on the target from an altitude of 23,500 feet by using H2X (Radar) equipment. The results achieved by the bombing were rated fair. Eight bombers were lost that day.
2nd Lt. John D. Mullican and his crew of the B-24H-25-FO aircraft number 42-95080, nicknamed “Super Wolf” flew to a primary target of opportunity, the marshaling yards at Osnabruck, Germany. The B-17s dropped their 12 x 500-lb GP bombs on the target. Upon returning home from the target, the crew reported moderate but very accurate large caliber flak. The aircraft was hit about 14:54 hours resulting in three holes penetrating the fuselage. One blast was so intense, the wires to the intervalometer were severed. Mullican gave the order to bail out. The entire crew bailed out over eastern Holland. The aircraft crashed about 15:30 hours between the town of Valthe and the town of Nieuw-Weerdinge which is located just north of Emmen, Holland. The parachute of engineer Walter M. Sies failed to open and he was killed.
When the crew failed to return to base, Missing Air Crew Report 12425 was issued to headquarters.
All of the other crew members were captured and became POWs. Co-pilot Jay S. Young, who was injured and unconscious, was taken to the hospital in Emmen where he stayed until his liberation on 11 April 1945. Navigator William Caselton evaded capture for over a week and was sheltered by some locals. Eventually he was captured including those who gave him shelter.
Matt James Brletich
Sgt. Matt James Brletich (37570442) was a gunner. He was born on 5 April 1923 in Keewatin, MN. He married Betty Jean Davis. He later worked for the Hanna Mining Company for 37 years as a welder. He was a member of the St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5516 and the American Legion Venier-Molea Post 452. He lived in Hibbing, MN and died on 8 October 1984 in Hibbing and is buried in plot 233-4-7W1/2 at the Maple Hill Cemetery, Hibbing, MN.
Francis William Conner, Jr.
Staff Sgt. Francis William Connor, Jr. (31299537) was the RCM operator. He was born on 9 May 1924 in Haverhill, MA. He graduated from high school and enlisted on 25 February 1943 at Boston, MA. After the war, he worked as a U.S. Postal Clerk for 30 years. He died at age 78, on 5 June 2002 in Vero Beach, FL. He was a life member of Disabled American Veterans, American Ex-Prisoners of War, Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Knights of Columbus.
Sgt. Mervyn Levin (13045340) was the radio operator. He was born on 4 September 1922 in Philadelphia, PA, the son of Nathan and Lena Levin. He graduated from high school and enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps on 22 December 1941 shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He married Doris Harriet and they lived in Minneapolis, MN. Levin now lives in Pompano Beach, FL.
Carl R. Pratt
Tech Sgt. Carl R. Pratt was a gunner. He was born on 13 September 1925 in Coatesville, PA. He attended high school for three years and enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps on 18 December 1943 in New Cumberland, PA. Upon his liberation, Pratt was staged at Camp Philip Morris near LeHarve, France and returned home on 9 December 1945 aboard the USS Argentina. He married Helen M. After the war, he became a mechanical draftsman and later worked for PECO as a meter tester and installer. He resides in Douglasville, PA.
William Harvey Willis
Sgt. William Harvey Willis was the nose gunner. He was born in 1925 in Kent County, DE, the son of Jonathan Spencer Willis (1892-1957) and Huldah E. (Davidson) Willis (1891-1971). He attended high school for three years and enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps on 20 August 1943 in Camden, NJ. His wife is Betty. He lives in Dover, DE.