Crew 18 - 2Lt Francis J. Witt, 547th BS

Lt. Francis J. Witt was in command of an original crew in the 547th Squadron, formed in March, 1943, at Wendover field, Utah. On June 12, 1943, he and four of his crew were involved in a collision with the B-17 flown by LT Kowalski at Grafton-Underwood. Witt's crew survived, while the 5 men aboard Kowalski's crew were killed.

Witt's original assigned crew was:

  • 2LT Francis J. Witt
  • F/O T. L. Carter
  • 2LT Arthur C. Harris
  • 2LT Joseph Derer
  • SSGT Edward A. Thomason
  • SSGT Michael J. Vodilko
  • SSGT William F. Sears
  • SSGT Francis M. Seager
  • SSGT Claude R. Leslie
  • SSGT Rufus F. Douglas

He flew missions from June of 1943 until March, 1944. Witt had to bail out on his first mission to Berlin on March 6th, 1944. He managed to evade capture traveling across Belgium and France eventually climbing the Pyranees Mountains to freedom in Spain.
Lt. Witt remained in the Air Force and flew in the Berlin Air Lift for approximately six months.

Pictured below is a crew in which he flew tail gun observer on the first Berlin Mission. He is pictured second from the right in the top row.

Lt. Colonel, Francis J. Witt retired from the Air Force about 1956

Photos courtesy Francis Witt via Ed Goulder
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