World War II
Memories and Biography
27 June 1944
(Taken from a letter to Will Lundy)
December 17, 1986
Dear Mr. Lundy:
I'm sorry to have held you up on the completion of the Roll of Honor and Casualty Memorial on the 44th Bomb Group. We were away during September and part of October. After that period, I was just negligent in getting this information to you.
Just a bit of information regarding the crew:
Pilot Conrad Scheer
Copilot James Tucker
Navigator John A. Hess - 0-444153
Bombardier Alfred R. Wilson - 0-753096
Chief Engineer Santo Romeo (Killed)
Waist Gunner & Assist. Eng. Thomas J. Reeves
Radio Operator Raymond Khoury
Belly Turret Ivan C. Millican
Waist Gunner Leron M. Whiteside
Tail Turret Gunner Carl G. Breakey
After our first two missions, Conrad Scheer refused to fly any more missions and took over as First Pilot shortly therafter. We were never assigned a permanent copilot. We used any number of copilots from then on.
Carl G. Breakey was flying his last mission with a new crew on its first mission. They lost power on takeoff and crashed, killing all on board. I had finished my tour, hence the reason for his flying his last mission with another crew.
On June 27, 1944, our target was Creil, France approximately 50 kilometers north of Paris. Enemy action had been rather heavy on the way in, on the bomb run over the target, and anti aircraft fire was very heavy. We had direct hits on our No. 1 and No. 4 engines, knocking them out. After the bomb run, we were intercepted by enemy fighter aircraft that knocked our hydraulic and oxygen systems out. We lost our No. 3 engine over the Channel and lost our No. 2 engine near the coast of England.
We crash-landed on a fighter base just inland from the coastline. We were unable to lower the landing gear with the hydraulic system gone, nor lower it manually because of a malfunction. Upon learning that Sgt. Romeo had gone below the flight deck to try and lower the nose wheel in a down and locked position, I gave the order for him to return to the flight deck immediately as we were very close to ground contact. He did not return in time and upon contact, the nose wheel was forced back and crushed him. His death was immediate.
To clarify a few items, Santo Romeo was never a radio operator. He was always chief engineer. He was not wounded on any prior missions.
Raymond Khoury was the radio operator and he was wounded by anti-aircraft flak on a previous mission preceding the crash. His injury was not serious.
Carl G. Breakey was our tail gunner while we were in training and had surgery immediately preceding our departure, but he recovered enough to leave with us.
We picked up our assigned B-24 at Topeka, Kansas, and flew to South America, Africa, and Prestwick Air Force Base near Ayr, Scotland. In Prestwick, they kept our plane for combat modification. They then took us to Glasgow, Scotland by bus; then to Stoke-on-Trent, England by train; then to Belfast, Ireland for 30-day pre-combat training and then to Shipdham and the 44th B.G.
My wife and I got back to the British Isles in 1984. We got back to the 44th base. Not much left. Very much in disrepair. Nevertheless, we enjoyed the trip. Rented a car and drove 2,500 miles in England, Scotland and Wales. We saw the American cemetery and Carl Breakey's grave in Cambridge, England.
Again, I am sorry for my delay with this information.
Hope Christmas and New Year's bring you the best.