World War II Memories
John Saladiak, born in Pittsburgh, December 10, 1917, earned his wings in the Canadian Air Force in 1941. He served as a navigator with the Canadian Air Force, R.A.F. and U.S.A.A.F. He served in the following battles and campaigns: Ardennes, Rhineland, Northern France, Central Europe, Normandy, Rome-Arno, African Middle East Campaign, and Ploesti, Romania.
For the August 1, 1943 raid on Ploesti he was with the 44th Bomb Group and was navigator in a Liberator. On this raid he flew with Edward Mitchell (pilot), Donald Decker (co-pilot), Julio Castellotti (w. gunner), Henry Flister (tail gunner), James Kipple (bombardier), David Collie (w. gunner), and Robert McAdams (flight engineer and top turret gunner). John and all the crew were interned in Turkey. John was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for extraordinary achievement while participating in operations against the Ploesti oil refineries.
In England he was stationed at Shipdham. Unforgettable was sharing a barracks room with Lts. Earl J. Guy, Morton R. Taylor, and Richard S. Pick. They held round table discussions on philosophy and political science. John (Sad Sal Saladiak) forced his buddies to listen to Beethoven, Brahms, and Bach.
After returning to the U. S. in 1945, he stayed in the Air until 1948 when he was honorably discharged as a First Lieutenant. War injuries which plagued him for many years eventually led to the amputation of his right leg.
I can find no records among John's papers listing his activities with the R.A.F. I know that while he was with the R.A.F., he was stationed for a time on the Isle of Man and also somewhere near Harrogate in Yorkshire. I also know he flew on raids while with the R.A.F. I think he flew in Lancaster bombers. Unfortunately, I have no details of this part of his service.
John's date of entry into the United States Army Air Force seems to have been May 25, 1943. John was with the Second Air Division, in the 44th Bomb Group and the 67th Squadron. Relief from active duty was April 22, 1948 when he was honorably discharged as a First Lieutenant.
While with the U.S.A.A.F. he served in the following battles and campaigns:
Ardennes, Rhineland, Northern France, Central Europe, Normandy, Rome-Arno, African Middle, East Campaign, and Ploesti, Romania.
Decorations and Citations (He might have received others, but I have records of the following):
World War II Victory Medal, Air Medal with 1 Oak Leaf Cluster, Distinguished Unit Citation, European, African, Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with 7 Bronze Stars, and The Distinguished Flying Cross.
John's biography is included in the history book Second Air Division, 8th Air Force, U.S.A.A.F. published by Turner Publishing Company, 1994.
Also John is included among the participants of the Ploesti raid in the book Ploesti: The Great Ground-Air Battle of 1 August 1943 by James Dugan and Carroll Stewart, Random House, 1962.
The crew of "Horse Fly" the plane Mitchell flew to Ploesti is in Michael Hill's Black Sunday: Ploesti. John's name is included as navigator and there is a photo of "Morse Fly."