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Mission to Engers rail bridge
14 February 1945 | Echgernach, Luxemburg
The 387th Bomb Group (Medium) of the Ninth Air Force was based at Station A-17, Clastres, France. Clastres was located on the northern edge of the village of Clastres, about seven miles south of the city of Saint-Quentin, France. The 387th Bomb Group (M) was one of eight U.S. Army Air Force B-26 Marauder groups deployed in the European Theater of Operations. Known as the “Tiger-Striped Marauders” or “Tiger Tails” because of the distinctive diagonal yellow and black stripes painted on the tails of their aircraft, the groups was made up of four squadrons: 556th, 557th, 558th, 559th Bomb Squadron (M).
The 387th Bomb Group (M) moved to Clastres in early November 1944 to keep up with rapidly advancing Allied troops. The group quickly set up a tent city and lived in tents near the runway. The operations tent was near group headquarters. It was furnished with wooden benches and a large map of western Europe. The map was marked with a grease pencil bomb line depicting the most advanced position of the Allied ground forces. A colored string stretched between pins showed the course to the target.
Members of the groups spent their spare time improving their quarters, including building floors, furniture and improving the tent heating systems. Building materials were scrounged from many sources including wood from bomb crates found at a German bomb dump in the nearby woods and nails form the charred ruins of an old German hanger. Crews also had the pleasure to visit local villages which had recently been liberated. Here they were able to meet the locals and purchase souvenirs of their time in France.
From the 558th Bomb Squadron, 1st Lt. Robert J. Tobin was the pilot of the B-26G-15 Marauder 44-67915 with identification markings of KX-M. At about 16:15 hours, this aircraft was hit by enemy anti-aircraft flak and pilot called for a bail out. According to Missing Air Crew Report 12342 all crew members were successful and landed on the ground before being captured by the Germans. The aircraft crashed near Echgernach, Luxemburg.
Robert C. Becker
Staff Sgt. Robert C. Becker (33427233) was the radio operator. He was born on 21 December 1924 in Pittsburgh, PA, the son of Herman Becker (1882-1946) and Anna B. (Proft) Becker (1890- ). He enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps on 19 February 1943 at Pittsburgh, PA. Becker died on 11 December 1990 in Rouseville, PA.
Leo Robert "Bob" Mossman
Staff Sgt. Leo Robert Mossman (373480497) was the armor/gunner. He was born on 8 May 1921 in Nebraska, son of Leo P. Mossman (1890-1959) and Blanche Estella (Bittner) Mossman (1893-1982) of Inman, NE. His wife was Mae Grace Scott. They lived in Santa Ana, CA. He was a supervisor for Rockwell for 33 years.
Mossman died on 21 October 1988 in Santa Ana, CA and was buried in Fairhaven Memorial Park, Santa Ana, CA. The above memorial plaque is located in Inman Cemetery, Inman, NE in honor of the three children of Leo P. and Blanche E. (Bittner) Mossman.
Harold Arthur Mueller
Staff Sgt. Harold Arthur Mueller (373553871) was the engineer/gunner. He was born 23 June 1922 in Elkton, SD son of Edward and Ida (Wobbema) Mueller of Sioux Falls, SD. He graduated from high school in Elkton, and worked as an airplane mechanic in California until he enlisted in the Army Air Corps on 6 March 1943. He was on his 26th mission when he was shot down. Having spent 81 days as a POW, he returned to the states and on 8 July 1945 married Valeria Krause on her Wisconsin family farm. They had three children. Mueller was honorably discharged on 9 October 1945. He was awarded the Air Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters for her service. He took watch repair training in Denver, CO and worked in Tracy until 1949, when he bought the Walt Thompson Jewelry Store in Canby, MN. He was “Mueller the Jeweler” for 34 years. He also served as a substitute mail carrier from 1954-1984. Mueller died on 7 February 2005 and is buried in Saint Stephens Cemetery, Canby, MN. Mueller enjoyed hunting, trap shooting, sporting clays, fishing, bowling, square dancing, playing cards, traveling, model airplanes and flying his Champion Citabra airplane. On 24 December 1990, he married Beatrice (Knutson) Pyle and gained three more children. He was a member of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, Canby Veterans of Foreign Wars, Porter American Legion and the Disabled American Veterans.