LT William Drake crew (544th BS)

The Drake crew was shot down on the November 8, 1944 mission to Merseburg, Germany, flying B-17G 42-97282 "Rebel" 544th BG code SU*H. The plane was hit by flak over the target, setting the engines on fire and forcing the crew to bail out over Frankfurt.

Hart was killed when his chute failed to open. The others were captured and sent to POW camps. Pire was captured at gunpoint by a civilian, and taken to Stalag Luft IV with May. May was sent to Barth by train. On February 3, 1945, the POW's began a 500-600 mile forced march to escape the oncoming Russians from the east. The survivors were liberated by the British Royal Dragoons on MAy 2, 1945.

BACK L-R: F/O Leonard F. Dunning (N), 2LT Daniel A. Hart (B) KIA, 2LT William B. Drake (P), F/O Richard A. Johnson (CP), CPL Robert R. Owen (BT)

FRONT L-R: CPL Irwin J. Pire Jr. (TT), CPL Charles R. Clymer (RO), SGT Gayle G. May (TG), CPL Richard L. Lewis (WG)

photo courtesy of Norma Pire