Lyle J Curtis

Lyle J Curtis

World War II · US Army
World War II (1939 - 1945)
Branch

Army

Added by: Fold3_Team
Conflict Period

World War II

Added by: Fold3_Team
Army Branch

Air Corps

Added by: Fold3_Team
Army Serial Number

19072497

Added by: Fold3_Team
Source Of Army Personnel

Civil Life

Added by: Fold3_Team
Served For

United States of America

Added by: Fold3_Team
Service Number

O-687185

Added by: millebr

Stories about Lyle J Curtis

A Brave Young Man

    Lt. Lyle Curtis was a man amongst many who stepped up to the mark to fight for their country in World War Two. What singled Lyle out what that he was part of a special team of men, the 10-strong crew of B17 ''Mi-Amigo'', who gave their lives to save those of children playing in a municipal park in England. Lyle's wife Erma was expecting their child - a daughter, Barbara - when he shipped out overseas to join the 364th Bomber Squadron, 305th Bombardment Group based at Chelveston in Northamptonshire. Lyle didn't know he was going to be a father until he received the good news in a letter from his wife at home. And when that letter arrived, all Lyle wanted to do was complete his tour of 25 daylight bombing missions safely - and professionally - then return home to raise a family, and breed horses on the family farm (see photo of Lyle with a dog-drawn trolley on this page). He and his colleagues, led by pilot and crew captain1st. Lt. John G. Kriegshauser, flew 15 combat missions over France and Germany within a two-month period after arriving in England in December 1943, supplemented by training flights to get used to flying in a different climate compared to that where they'd trained at Geiger Field, Spokane, Washington State. Lyle was sustained in his faith as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and although the weather was the worst in living memory, he settled in to life at Chelveston, where he was regarded as a highly thought-of and thoroughly professional avaitor.and wholly-reliable, skilled co-pilot destined for his own crew. However, on February 22nd 1944, the crew of 'Mi-Amigo' were tasked to fly a mission to bomb the Luftwaffe airfield at Aalborg in Nazi-Occupied Denmark. They arrived, with 27 other B17s from the 305th BG and 36 more B17s, from the 92nd BG, to find the target overcast. A decision was made that the aircraft would drop their bombs harmlessly out to sea rather than risk civilian casualties on the ground. As they headed to the North Sea at 19,000-feet, the formation came under attack from German interceptors - Me 109 fighters. 'Mi-Amigo' was badly damaged and 3 crewmen in the rear of the aircraft were mortally wounded. In return, the gunners on board 'Mi-Amigo' (serial number 42-31322) brought down the attacking fighter which had mauled their aircraft. Trailling smoke from damaged engines, the 'Mi-Amigo' headed out across the sea, and made landfall in England over the Yorkshire coast, only to find the country covered in cloud. They flew on, seeking a safe landing spot, but when they emerged from the overcast - amidst snow and sleet - they found they were over a heavily-built up industrial city, Sheffield, rather over Doncaster, a few miles north where there were four desinated Royal Air Force bases. They prepared to make an emergency landing as 'Mi-Amigo' was now struggling to stay aloft, and as the pilots sought a safe landing spot, they suddenly spotted a park ahead - Endcliffe Park. They began an approach to make a wheels-up landing (due to battle damage) but as they were committed to their final approach, they suddenly spotted a group of children playing soccer in the park. A split-second decision was made, and 'Mi-Amigo' powered over the youngsters, only to crash into a heavily wooded hillside in the park, sadly killing all seven remaining crewmen instantly. A memorial stone now marks the crash site, in a peaceful grove of trees above a riverbank and behind the park's cafe, and an annual rememberance service is held to recall the crew's sacrifice, which was officially recognised by the awarding of a posthumous Distinguished Flying Cross to Lt. Kriegshauser, as crew captain. There is also now a 'Mi-Amigo' Memorial Woodland Walk to the site. The bravery of Lt. Curtis remains a source of enduring interest in Sheffield, and is told in the Kindle book ''Courage Above The Clouds''. His crew members were; Lt. John Humphrey (Navigator); Lt. Melchor Hernandez (Bombardier); Staff Sgt. Harry Estabrooks (flight engineer and top-turret gunner); Staff Sgt. Robert Mayfield (radio operator - killed in German fighter attack); Sgt. Charles Tuttle (ball turret gunner, also killed in attack); Sgt. Vito Ambrosio (right waist gunner); Master Sgt. Maurice 'Pert' Williams (left waist gunner), and Sgt. Maurice Robbins (rear gunner, killed in attack). the photos show Lyle with his wife; the 364 BS badge; the 'Mi-Amigo' crew under training, the memorial and the crash site.

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    Additional Info
    Owner:
    ontheroadjack66526 - Anyone can contribute
    Created:
    27 Nov 2008
    Modified:
    24 Aug 2020
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