1Lt Joseph M. Voelker was a Bombardier and Navigator with the 12th Air Force; 57th Bombardment Wing; 321st Bombardment Group; 445th Bombardment Squadron; stationed in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations, (MTO).
His Hometown was Brooklyn, New York.
Tuesday, 3 October 1944
445th BS Mission Summary (Ops Order 578/mission 578) Group Mission # 578: The 445th squadron ran into plenty of trouble today when they helped bomb the Galliate road bridge, Italy. This “hot” target is surrounded by a heavy network of anti-aircraft defenses and the accurate flak cost the squadron two aircraft, including Capt. Russell, the leader. “Ace” Russell was very popular with the men in the squadron. In the ship with him were Capt. Casaburi, navigation officer, and Lt. Daniel Galindo, an ace bombardier. The ship was seen to go down under control and the crew all bailed out safely. Lt. Frank also went down with his crew. His ship went into flames and its doubtful if any got out. Even with the intense and accurate flak, this squadron’s bombardiers got their bombs well concentrated in the target area with 100 percent bombing accuracy.
445th BS: Extracts from Missing Air Crew Report # 9028:
A/C B-25; Serial No. 43-27553; Plane Nicknamed: “Evora”
MACR-9028 – hit by flak, went down in flames
P Frank, Robert R., 1Lt – KIA, buried in Florence, Italy
CP Reed, Donald C., 1Lt – KIA, buried in Florence, Italy
B Voelker, Joseph M., 1Lt – KIA, buried in Florence, Italy
E Miller, Emmanuel (NMI), Cpl – KIA, buried in Florence, Italy
R Davis, Olin (NMI), Jr., T/Sgt – KIA, buried in Florence, Italy
G Bricen, Thomas J., Jr., S/Sgt – KIA, buried in Florence, Italy
Eyewitness Accounts: Hatcher, Leon F., Jr., Capt, pilot, 445th BS
445th Bombardment Squadron (M) AAF
321st Bombardment Group (M) AAF
Office of the Operations Officer
APO 650 7 October 1944
AG-360.33 – Frank, Robert R. (0) and Crew.
SUBJECT: Missing Air Crew Report.
1. On 3 October 1944, after a raid on the Galliate Road Bridge (J-930673), Italy, aircraft 43-27753, B-25J received a direct flak hit in the left engine, causing and explosion and the left wing to fall away. The plane was seen to go down out of control and believed to have crashed into the ground at J-9268, just west of the target. There were no parachutes reported. The following observations were noted by various participants in the raid:
a. Sergeant Gerald M. Bertling, tail gunner in aircraft 44-28948, the right wing plane of the fourth element in the same flight in which the plane in question was flying, gives the following report of his observations:
“After we began our bomb run we encountered heavy, intense and accurate flak. A few seconds before the bombs were released, I saw two large pieces of metal fly past our element. I turned in time to see the left wing plane of the first element on fire sliding under the formation and losing altitude quickly. It began to spin and after it lost 3000 feet, one wing fell away and it began to spin faster. I saw the plane crash and burning a few miles from the target. I did not see any parachutes leave the plane.”
b. First Lieutenant Elwood F. McLaughlin Jr., pilot of aircraft 43-4008, flying on the opposite wing of the plane concerned, makes the following statements on his observations:
“Approximately four seconds before “bombs away”, Lt. Frank’s plane appeared to receive a direct flak hit in the left engine. The engine exploded and burst into flames. For a second, the left wing rose and then the plane slid off to the left. The entire left wing was burning when I lost sight of it.”
c. Staff Sergeant William A. Smith, tail gunner of aircraft 43-4008, flying on the opposite wing of the airplane in question, states as follows:
“Just before the bombs release point, I noticed a trail of flame coming from behind our left rudder. The next instant the aircraft came into view. The entire left side of it seemed to be engulfed in flames. Then the plane rolled over on its left side and started downward out of control leaving a trail of burning fragments. I did not observe any parachutes. We then went into a steep bank and I was unable to see the plane in question after we leveled off.”
LEON F. HATCHER, JR.
Captain, Air Corps,
445th BS: Extract From: Graves Registration Documents - File No. A.V. 1518/45
Airbase-Headquarters E(v) 203/VII (Lonante) _____Oct. 4, 1944
Referring to: Supreme Command, File No. 2f 63 e P.O.W.s Subject : Dead Members of enemy airforces. (general (V)
To: Quartermaster-General and Commander in Chief SW
On October 3, 1944 about 14.10 enemy aircraft crashed burning, about 2.5 km north-east Trecate, Province Novara in Upper Italy, after hit by anti-aircraft. Army grid square map leaf 44 WL 9c.
One crew-member tried to save his life by bailing out. Because the chute already was burning, this crew member was killed, like the 5 crew-members who remained in the plane.
Place and time of interment: Crew was interred on October 5, 1944 on Cemetery of Trecate, Province Novara, Upper Italy.
Grave No. 50 Davis, Olin (NMI), Jr., T/Sgt, radio-gunner
Grave No. 51 Frank, Robert R., 1Lt, pilot
Grave No. 52 Miller, Emanuel (NMI), Cpl, engineer-gunner
Grave No. 53 Reed, Donald C., 1Lt, pilot
Grave No. 54 Bricen, Thomas J., Jr., S/Sgt, gunner
Grave No. 55 Voelker, Joseph M., 1Lt, bombardier
After the War, 1Lt. Joseph M. Voelker's Remains were returned to the U.S. for burial in his hometown, of Brooklyn, New York