19 February 1945 — Krefeld, Germany
The 389th Bomb Group, 565th Bomb Squadron of the Eighth Air Force was based at Station 114, Hethel, England. Located seven miles south-west of Norwich a 6,000 foot main runway with two intersecting 4,200 foot runways, three hangers and fifty hardstands for the B-24 Liberators, the base was home to the 389th Bomb Group. The “Sky Scorpions” began operations in September 1943 and completed over 300 missions. The “Circle C” code markings were painted on the tail of their aircraft.
On 19 February 1945, 2nd Lt. Leo C. Mercer and his crew of the B-24H aircraft 42-95088 HP-X “Stinky/Win, Our Little Lady” of the 565th Bomb Squadron were sent on a mission to the munitions plant at Jungenthal, Germany. Shortly after the bomber formation had crossed the Zuiderzee, at 13:16 hours, Lt. Leo C. Mercer called up to say that all his instruments were out and he was heading back to base. The propeller on engine number 1 would not feather and they started loosing altitude very quickly.
When the aircraft reached an altitude of about 2,500 feet and the pilot thought they were over Allied line, 2nd Lt. Mercer gave the order to bail out. Eventually the crew bailed out with the navigator leaving out of the front nose wheel compartment; Andruskiewicz, Govus and Hagvall bailing out the rear escape hatch; and Salazar, Mercer, co-pilot and radio operator bailing out of the right forward bomb bay. The radio operator, Staff Sgt. Tzolog A. Aaronian was killed when his parachute failed to open. The aircraft crashed near Krefeld, Germany.
When the crew did not return to base, Missing Air Crew Report 12430 was issued to headquarters.