John (Jack) T. Evins
Initially, copilot for Stupen-Taket (#41-24549), one of the original nine crews of te B-17’s in the 323 Squadron of the 91st Bomb Group, deployed to England in the fall of 1942.
Jack would go on to complete 23 missions before he was shot down on May 13, 1943. He was also copilot for Stupntakit (#42-29559) after the original ship (Stupen-Taket) was shot down during the March 4th raid on the marshaling yards at Hamm, Germany . On that particular mission, Stupen-Taket was being flown by Capt. Martin McCarty and his crew. Later, Jack piloted Billie K, Vertigo, Delta Rebel #2 and his own ship Vulgar Virgin (#42-29642).
Jack's Final Mission #23 – May 13, 1943
Destination – Meaulte, France. Target – Aircraft Plant
(Information from the 323 Bomb Squadron Dailies and “The Ragged Irregulars of Bassingbourn” by Marion H. Havelaar)
On this particular mission, 1/Lt. Lawrence J. Stark, a recent transfer to the 323 squadron, was piloting Vulgar Virgin with Jack as copilot.
As the aircraft approached the target they were set upon by fighters, the yellow nosed aircraft from Jagdgeschwader 26. On this day, they brushed the RAF Spitfires aside and pressed their attacks on the Fortresses of the 91st Group with great determination and vigor. At times they pressed their attacks to within twenty-five yards of the bombers before they broke downwards.
The Vulgar Virgin was hit by the fighters just after they came off the target. A German fighter poured machine gun and cannon fire into the cockpit area and port wing of the plane. Flames immediately streamed back from the cockpit and No. 2 engine. The plan slid away from the formation into a circular flight path before exploding and crashing in Abbeville, France. On this day, there was an 11th crew member on the Vulgar Virgin, the 91st Photo Unit officer, 2/Lt. Neill Oakley. Only three of the aerial gunners from the crew survived the onslaught. (Survivors: Tom Bagwell (engineer), Wallace Mooney (radio operator) and Edward Brummal (tail gunner).
From Lt. Norman Retchin’s Combat Diary (aboard 323rd Squadron Ship #42-29657) May 13th – Ops. #4 - And 21 more to go. We were low group, low squadron and low element 39 – in short – Tail-end Charlie – and today I have seen it. Jerry always attacks the low flights, and I have never seen – nor hope to see again – fighters come in at us like that. Head-on, blasting away, looking as tho their entire wing was on fire and then two of our group going down: One blowing up completely - Stark and Evins, the other just going down – Biggs and Hayes. I saw them come and immediately pulled her up, then slowed her down and so went galumphing thru the sky, dodging bullets and .20mm cannon. We took it and the nose was blasted away; no one hurt and another piece going thru the wing and lodging about four feet below me.
The old Retchin luck held and hope it continues to do so. And my wife wants me to write her details. She would pass out in a dead faint if I ever wrote what happened today.
Jack was initially buried in an isolated grave located at Allery, France, but was later disinterred by American Graves Registration Personnel, and reinterred at the US Military Cemetery at St. Andre, located 48 miles west of Paris, France. Then, in 1949 per his family’s request, his remains were moved to Mission Burial Park in San Antonio, Texas.
Jack and his wife Jeanette Mae Huff had a baby daughter, Jean Etta, born March 16, 1943 while he was in England. Unfortunately, they never met before Jack was killed. His daughter never married and passed away in 2007. As per her wishes, she was cremated and her remains placed with her father’s grave at Mission Burial Park in San Antonio, Texas.