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Missions to Jungenthal munitions plant
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.
Sgt. Joseph (nmn) Andruskiewicz (31017943) was the nose turret gunner. He was born on 17 March 1918 in Massachusetts the son of Mary Andruskiewicz of Maynard, MA. He attended high school for three years and enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps on 26 February 1941 at Boston, MA. After his liberation from Stalag 7A where his prison number was 11296, he returned home aboard the USS Monticello on 3 June 1945. He was a member of the Boilermakers Union Local No. 29 in Quincy, MA for more than 40 years. Andruskiewicz died at age 82 on 9 February 2001 at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Brockton, MA and was buried in the St. Bridget Cemetery, Maynard, MA.
Sgt. Raymond (nmn) Govus (1205883) was the left waist gunner. He was born on 13 February 1921 in New Jersey the son of George W. and Edith C. (Walpone) Govus of Glen Rock, NJ. He graduated from high school, briefly studied art in New York City before enlisting in the U.S. Army Air Corps on 9 April 1942 in New York City. After the war, he was employed as a manager in the garment business for many years. Beginning in 1976, he devoted himself entirely to art and became widely known for his water colors and pen-and-ink drawings of Low Country and Coastal Carolina scenes. He produced many works on commission for historical societies and private collectors, and his work has been displayed in galleries, art shows, museums, and in the White House. He also had a big audience in the circus community with his many drawings and colors of the circus.
Govus died at age 79 on 10 May 2000 in Marion, SC. He was buried in section B grave 1789 of the Florence National Cemetery in Florence, SC.
Carlos Junior Hagvall
Sgt. Carlos Junior Hagvall (36755459) was the right waist gunner. He was born on 10 November 1924 in Illinois, son of Bruce Edward Hagvall (1884-1941) and Stella Crickit (Showalter) Hagvall (1888-1945) of Easton, IL. He was sent to Stalag 7A where his prison number was 11337. After his liberation, he returned home on 5 June 1945 aboard the USS Admiral Benson (AP-120). He lived in St. Charles, MO.
He died on 25 April 1972 and was buried in teh Laurel Hill Cemetery, Havana, IL.
Tech Sgt. Bruno Salazar (18068222) was the engineer. He was born on 12 February 1922 in Santa Fe, son of James D. and Delfina Olivas Salazar of Santa Fe, NM. He graduated from high school and enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps on 22 January 1942 in Santa Fe, NM. He was sent to Stalag 7A where his prison number was 11982. After his liberation, he returned home on 3 June 1945 aboard USS Santa Margarita. He was awarded the Purple Heart for his service. Salazar died on 7 August 2002 in Ionia, MI and is buried at the Fort Custer National Cemetery, Augusta, MI in section K, site 231.
Tzolag A. Aaronian
Staff Sgt. Tzolag A. Aaronian (31365447) was the radio operator. He was born in 1919 in Cambridge, MA the son of Arakel Aharonian (1888-1972) and Vartanoosh Aharonian (1891-unk). Both of his parents were born in Turkey. He graduated from Northeast Univeristy in 1943 with a liberal arts degree specializing in chemistry. He immediately enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Force on 2 July 1943 in Boston, MA.
He was killed in action (KIA) on 19 February 1945 in Germany when is parachute failed to open after he bailed out of the aircraft. His remains were recovered in September 1947 and he was buried in plot A, row 44, grave 7 of the Ardennes American Cemetery in Liege, Belgium.
He was posthumously awarded the Air Medal and Purple Heart for his service to his country.
A cousin, George Kasparian, was later able to locate a German woman who was an eyewitness to the event. The woman was a young 13-year-old girl in 1945 when she watched in horror as the body of Aaronian struck the ground a few hundred meters in front of her parents farmhouse.