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Crash of B-17 44-8223 MACR 12549
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Mission to Nurnberg marshaling yards
The 388th Bomber Group of the Eighth Air Force was based at Station 136, Knettishall, England. The group’s tail code was a square H. This large airfield was located on the southern side of the Little Ouse Valley between the villages of Knettishall and Coney Weston in East Anglia countryside. The main 50-yard wide concrete runway was 2,000 yards long and had two smaller intersecting runways. There were 50 hardstands, two large hangers and airfield lighting for night flying. Barracks were mainly Nissen huts dispersed in various sites south of the field near the village of Coney Weston.
On 20 February 1945, over 900 aircraft were dispatched to bomb the railroad marshaling yards north of the city of Nurnberg. This would be mission 260 for the group. From the 562nd Bomb Squadron, Capt. Ivan Paul Woodburn was the pilot of B-17G 44-8223 nicknamed “Miss Karen K.” This aircraft was the lead plane of the low squadron with Captain Richard Eddy Gaspard as command pilot. The Pathfinder crew of 9 operated this radar equipped aircraft using PFF methods. Heavy cloud cover over the target area did not deter the group from dropping their bombs at about 1339 hours from approximately 25,900 feet. No German aircraft were spotted but intense and accurate flak was encountered.
The “Miss Karen K” was hit by the intense flak and a large hole was torn in the number 3 tank. Pilot Capt. Ivan P. Woodburn dropped away from the formation with the number 3 engine out and having trouble with engine number 4. He gave the order to bail out. Three crewmen were killed-in-action. Co-pilot 1st Lt. Adam J. Imthurn, navigator 1st Lt. Edwin Kabcenell and mickey operator 1st Lt. Joseph J. Zaic were all killed. The aircraft crashed at Ludwigsburg near Stuttgart, Germany. The other crewmen were taken prisoner. These included commander pilot Capt. Richard E. Gaspard, pilot Capt. Ivan P. Woodburn, bombardier Capt. Robert F. Nelson, radio operator Tech Sgt. Robert L. Hill, engineer Tech Sgt. Norman J. Lynn. It is not clear the fate of right waist gunner Staff Sgt. Fletcher H. Sauls. Other reports stated the plane crashed in Italy, which appears to be in error.
Missing Air Crew Report 12549 was completed when the crew failed to return to base.
- Ludwigsburg, Germany
- 20 February 1945
Richard Eddy Gaspard
Captain Richard Eddy Gaspard (O-24727) was command pilot of the lead squadron 388-C. The 13 Flying Fortress’ in this squadron were flying in the low position.
Gaspard was born on 3 July 1918 in Seattle, WA, the son of Irving Converse Gaspard (1885-1972) and Muriel Adeline (Eddy) Gaspard (1888-1996). After graduating from high school, he received a commission to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He graduated in 1942 and went on to earn his wings in the Army Air Corps. He married Elizabeth L. O’Day. He died on 17 January 2004 in Walnut Creek, CA and may be buried in Puyallup, WA.
Ivan Paul Woodburn
Captain Ivan Paul Woodburn(O-761688) was the pilot of the “Miss Karen K.” He was born on 9 April 1917 in Providence, UT, the son of Paul B. Woodburn (1890-1971) and Maggie Harrison (James) Woodburn (1893-1966). After graduating from high school, Woodburn was the plant superintendent for Royal Baking Company in Ogden. About 1941, he married Lois B. and enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps in June 1942. He was given service number 19073752. He later earned his pilots wings and in 1943 Woodburn and his wife had a daughter Karan Lois Woodburn. They lived in Ogden.
In August 1944, Woodburn was assigned to the 388th Bomb Group in England. His entire B-17 crew had the picture of his young two-year-old daughter on the back of their bomber jackets. A newspaper article “Skipper’s Daughter Adorns Jackets” make mention that beside her picture on the jackets, a likeness of young Karan W. was also on the plane and the plane named “Karan W.” However in all the subsequent reports of this downed aircraft the name of the plane 44-8233 was always “Miss Karen K”. It is unclear was the correct name was.
Woodburn was captured and spent time in a POW camp. For his service as a pilot, Woodburn was awarded the air medal with three oak clusters. After the war he moved to Hawaii and was superintendent of the Holsum Bakery. He lived in Aiea, HI. He died on 2 July 2008 in Honolulu at age 91. He was buried in section K at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Punchbowl.
Adam John Imthurn
1st Lt. Adam John Imthurn (O-762538) was the co-pilot. He was born in 1920 in California the son of Eleis Imthurm. Twenty-five year old Imthurn was killed as a result of the crash on 20 February 1945 and later buried in Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Gresham, OR.
1st Lt. Edwin Kabcenell (O-1997850) was the navigator. He was born in 1923 in Queens, NY, the son of Louis Kabcenell (1890- ). He was killed as a result of the crash on 20 February 1945. He was Jewish and is listed in the Jewish war dead records.
Robert Frank Nelson
Captain Robert Frank Nelson (O-757911) was the bombardier. He was born in November 1919 in La Salle, IL, son of Henry Frank Nelson (1873- ) and Julie Mabel (Krebs) Nelson (1890-1972). In 1930, the family lived in Muncie, IN. Nelson parachuted out safely and was captured as a POW. He was sent to Stalag Luft II in Sagan-Silesia and later transferred to Stalag XIID near Nurnberg.
Joseph Jacob Zaic
1st Lt. Joseph Jacob Zaic (O-443750) was the mickey operator. He was born on 9 December 1921 in Milwaukee, WI. He enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps on 5 March 1941 in Milwaukee, WI. He was married to Ethel V. Zaic who lived in Moxie, AL in 1945. Zaic was killed as a result of the crash on 20 February 1945 and was later buried in section C/24, site 14060 in the Fort Snelling National Cemetery, Minneapolis, MN.
Robert Lionel Hill
Tech Sgt. Robert Lionel Hill (16081656) was the radio operator. He was born on 16 February 1923 in Rock Island, IL, son of Walter Sheppard Hill (1895- ) and Melda Schrilla (Rigthnaur) Hill (1894- ). He attended Rock Island school and upon graduation, enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps. He was married to Marjorie L. “Marj” Dunn who lived on Lake Shore Drive in Crosby, MN in 1945. He parachuted out safely, was sent to Stalag XIID, Nurnberg, marched by foot on a 100 mile forced march to Stalag VII Moosburg. He was liberated on 29 April 1945 by elements of General George Patton’s Third Army.
After the war, Bob spent his working years in photography, technical illustration and aerospace computer engineering. His hobbies were gemology (he was a certified gemologist), lapidary, oil and water color painting. He was also an avid history buff, serving as curator at the Crater Rock Museum for 11 years. He died on 18 November 2004 in Central Point, OR. He was buried in section C1, site 257 in the Eagle Point National Cemetery, OR.
Norman Joseph Lynn
Tech Sgt. Norman Joseph Lynn (31310212) was the engineer. He was born on 18 September 1924 in Fall River, MA, the son of George Lynn (1894- ) and Esther A. Lynn (1894- ). He attended high school for two years before enlisting in the U.S. Army Air Corps on 13 April 1943 in Boston, MA. He parachuted safely from the plane, was taken prisoner and sent to a Stalag. He died on 16 November 1997 in Fall River, MA and is buried in St. Patrick’s Cemetery, Fall River.
Fletcher Henry Sauls
Staff Sgt. Fletcher Henry Sauls (39819514) was the right waist gunner. He was born in 1920 in Cobb County, GA, the son of Albert Fletcher Sauls (1897- ) and Iva V. (Klusmeyer) Sauls (1892- ). After graduating from high school, he attended college for two years. He enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps on 16 February 1942 at Fort Macarthur, San Pedro, CA. It is not clear the fate of Fletcher Sauls.