Staff Sgt. Robert Smith Haws (19117015) was the top turret gunner. He was born on 2 February 1922 in Provo, UT, the son of Gilbert Lynn & Evaline (Smith) Haws. He graduated from Provo High School. He was active in band the Sea Scouts, where he earned his Eagle Scout award. He attended Brigham Young University but World War II interrupted his education. He enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps on 7 October 1942 in Salt Lake City, UT. He first married Peggy Hagan on 29 June 1945 in the Salt Lake City LDS Temple. She died on 13 February 1988. Secondly, Haws married Edna Robinson in the Ogden LDS Temple. He remembers his picture being taken on 18 February 1945. He was employed by the Bureau of Reclamation in Utah where he worked on Weber Basin projects. After retirement he worked at Weber State University as supervisor of the Hobby Center in the Student Union. He now lives in Ogden, UT where he enjoys gardening, genealogy research, painting, photography, and singing in the ward choir. He is active in the Latter Day Saints Church and has served in many callings.
In a telephone interview of Robert S. Haws on 10 April 2008, he remembered the following: Haws arrived in Italy to join his new squadron in October 1944. The photograph above was taken of Haws just before he flew on a mission in January 1945. He is wearing the Mae West, electric flight suit and his wool boots.
The 14 February 1945 mission was to be his 17th and last mission. His aircraft was in the number two position of the lead group. They were flying at 24,000 feet and had an extra navigator on-board and a crew of twelve.
The aircraft was hit at approximately 13:00 hours on the afternoon of 14 February 1945. They were carrying six 500 pound bombs. Haws managed to bail of the open bomb bay doors. He and others were sent to the town jail in Vienna, Austria. From there they took the train and walked. Four days later on 18 February 1945 they arrived at the Frankfort railway station. Their group consisted of nine prisoners lead by two guards. There were many civilians in the train station and to safe guard the POW’s, the guards put them into the basement of the railway station. Haws remembers it as being pitch black and lots of rats crawling around. Later they boarded another train for the short trip to Dulag Luft West –Oberusal interrogation center He was put into solitary confinement. He was here for several days. This is where his photograph was taken. He was also interrogated by an English speaking German soldier. Haws would only say his name, rank and serial number. The frustrated German interrogator told Haws. “I hope you go back to your cell and rot!”
Almost a month after being shot down, Haws arrived at Stalag Luft XIIId - Nuremberg. Conditions at the camp were deplorable. But with the quickly advancing Allied troops, the German authorities wanted to move the POWs to another camp. On 4 April 1945 the POW began a sixteen day march to Stalag Luft XIIa - Moosburg. During their long march, once a day the POWs were given black bread with some potato and sawdust soup to eat. Haws remembers getting three parcels from a Red Cross truck. Inside the parcels were seven packs of cigarettes which he traded for food. They arrived at Moosburg on 20 April. Only nine days later, on 29 April 1945, the POWs were liberated by Patton’s Third Army units.
On 7 May, Haws and others boarded U.S. Army Air Corps C-47’s like the ones pictured at right, to fly to France. He eventually went to Camp Luck Strike, boarded the S.S. Sea Porpoise at LaHarve, France and sailed home to America. He docked on 11 June 1945 in New York City. The next day he was processed at Camp Kilmer, NJ and the next day, 13 June 1945 boarded a train for the cross county trip back home to Salt Lake City, UT.