O’Conner, Robert S.

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O’Conner, Robert S, born 16–10-1918, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur O’Connor, enlisted in the United States Army Air Forces. Served during World War II. O’Connor had the rank of First Lieutenant. Service number assignment was O-661542. Attached to 303rd Bomber Group, Heavy, 358th Bomber Squadron.  They assembled at Gowen Field, Idaho on 11-02-1942 where it conducted flight training until 12-06-1942. The Group then moved to Alamogordo Field, New.. O’Connor was copilot to Joseph E. Haas, upgraded to pilot 10 May 1943). 2Lt Joseph E. Haas had been with the B-17s at Midway in June 1942. Was KIA on 23-01-1943 mission #11 to Lorient, France in B-17F #41-24567 Beats Me (360BS) PU-J. Shot down by enemy fighters partly caused when the 303rd BG(H) formation was broken up over the target when another Group was bombing above the 303rd BG(H) B-17s. Was flying with members of the 1st Lieutenant Louis M. Schulstad Crew (7 KIA, 3 POW) (Back L-R) 1Lt Louis M. “Mel Schulstad (P)(1), 2Lt Roy W. Christianson (CP)(KIA)(3)(*),2Lt John H. Embach (N)(POW)(4), 2Lt Reinaldo J. Saiz (B)(2)

(Front L-R) T/Sgt Antone Pacheco (E)(KIA(3)(*), S/Sgt John Sherman (RWG)(KIA)(3)(*),T/Sgt Charles L. Roth (R)(POW)(3)(*), S/Sgt Wayne O. Stevens (TG)(KIA(3)(*),S/Sgt Peter Soria (BTG)(KIA)(3)(*)

Death and burial ground of O’Conner, Robert S.

 

Mission 48, 04-04-1943, in B-17F 42-5792  The Mugger (358BS) VK-I – was shot down just before reaching the initial point. Two engines were shot out and a third ran away and, finally, the right wing and the No 1 engine was completely in flames when 1st Lieuteant O’Connor ordered the crew to bail out. 1st Lieuteant O’Connor was steering his B-17 away from a town below to avoid civilian causalities. The B-17 exploded while the crew was bailing out and crashed two to three miles outside the town of Malicorne-Sur-Sarthe, France and the townspeople believed that 1st Lieutenant O’Connor stayed with his stricken B-17 so that would not crash in the town. A small granite monument was erected on the crash site in the 1949 that commemorates the sacrifice of Lieutenant O’Connor (P) and Lieutenant Peterson (B) who died in the crash.

Robert, left with police helmet.

The following crewmen were on this last mission of 1s Lieutenant O’Connor on 04-07-1943: 1st Lieutenan Robert S. O’Connor (P) – KIA(#); 2th Lieutenant Donovan B. Manifold (CP) -WIA/ POW; F/O Andrew N. Halloris (N) – POW; 2rth Lieutenant Richard W. Peterson (B) – KIA(#), T/Sergeant Bernard H. Koenig (E) – Evadee (E&E 63 – Returned to UK On 10-08-1943); T/Sergeant Earl Hogue (R) – POW; S/Sergeant Albert V.H. Carroll (BTG) – Evadee (E&E 123 – Returned to OK on 19-10-1943); Sergeant Edward F. Chonskie (LWG) – POW-Evadee (E&E 121 – Returned to UK on 18-10-1943) – Escaped while a POW and evaded recapture; Soldier Harry Thompson-Brundi (RWG) – POW; S/Sergeant John C. Zioance (TG) – Evadee (E&E 122 – Returned to UK on 18-10-1943). (#) Buried next to each other in the Normandy American Cemetery near Colleville-sur Mer, France. Plot J Row 14 Grave 34.

 

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