On April 1, 1944 he was assigned to the 321st Bomb Group (B-25 Mitchell Medium-Bombers), 445th Bomb Squad of the 57th Bomb Wing in the 12th Air Force. Then based at Solenzara on the Island of Corsica, France. His B-25 - J plane left Hunter Field, Georgia, for Corsica on 7 April, 1944, arriving 11 May, 1944 after stops in Florida, Puerto Rico, Guyana, Brazil, Ascension Island, Liberia, Senegal, Mauritania, Morocco and Algeria.
The 12th Air Force was then engaged in tactical bombing of bridges, railroads, roads, etc., in order to impede the movement of German troops and equipment as the Allied forces moved north up the Italian Peninsula (Operation Strangle). They also flew missions over Southern France in support of the invasion there on August 15, 1944 (Operation Anvil or Dragoon). The B-25's flew frequent missions, weather permitting.
A listing of the various missions for which Joe received the Air Medal and nine Oak Leaf clusters gives a good idea of the kinds of missions he flew. His Air Medal Citation read:
"For meritorious achievement while participating in aerial flight as a bombardier of a B-25 type aircraft during an attack upon a railroad viaduct near Vada, Italy, on 28 May 1944, which resulted in the complete destruction of this vital link in enemy communication lines. Lieutenant Voelker's proficiency in combat reflects great credit upon himself and the Military Service of the United States".
*****First Lt. Joseph M, Voelker was killed in action over Italy near Milan, Oct. 3, according to word received by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph A. Voelker of 7815 Narrows Ave. and his wife, Geraldine, in Fresno, Cal.
The 27-year-old bombardier-navigator, who wore the Air Medal with Cluster and a Unit Citation, was on his 54th mission with the 12th A. A. F. when downed. A graduate of Brooklyn Prep and Cornell University, Lieutenant Voelker entered service in February, 1941, receiving an assignment as armament and aerial gunnery officer. He wanted combat duty, however, and applied for bombardier-navigator training. He went overseas last April.******
57th Bomb Wing;