Robert M. Jones
322nd Bombardment Group, 449th Bomb Squadron
|10th February 1945. B-26 42-107600 PN-H plane un-named. 1.Lt's Thomas
H Felker; R C Bryant;2.Lt J C Spirakis; SSgt J S Rowell; C N Stearns;
T/Sgt R M Jones. Hit by flak and crashed 1 mile NW of Monchau, pilot
killed in crash, Stearns killed by flak in plane prior to crash. The pilot
was killed when he took the plane into a mountain, as I stated, knowing
that if he had crash landed it he would have become a POW, as both of his
legs were blown apart. One of the other gunners was also killed instantly
when the plane was hit with the flak that ended up being it's demise. The
flak hit him in the side of the neck, as my grandfather told it, and he
died right away and went down with the plane and the pilot. My pap's gun
then ended up getting jammed from the same flak coming into the plane, and
he had to take the gun from the gunner who had been killed, until he
eventually had to bail out, leaving the pilot who would not be rescued.
I have found out from my mother that I missed a part of that story. There was at least one other man that died in that plane. One of the other gunners was shot through the side of the plane and killed instantly, as my mother remembers the story being told to her. She remembers this, because my pap's gun had jammed on him, and he had to take the gun from the gunner who had been shot and killed, and use that one in the place of his. As she remembers it, my pap told her that this soldier went down with the plane, as well as the pilot. The truth of the story of the pilot, which I did not tell fully the first time that I sent this message, as I was not sure who would be getting and reading it, was that he would not abandon the plane intentionally. He told my pap, who had stayed too long in the hopes of saving him, to get out, and that he was too injured to be helped on purpose. My mom asked my pap on one occasion what he heard after he jumped out of the plane, and this is what my pap told her. "As bad of a shape as the plane was in and as sick as it sounded, he gave it all he could one last time. He took it into the rocks on purpose - no one wants to be a Prisoner Of War." My pap heard the plane hit whatever rocks it hit before he hit the ground and was knocked unconscious, which was only a matter of seconds. This tells you exactly how long he waited to jump hoping to save the pilot, and why the parachute basically didn't open until he hit the tree stump that was on the ground. So, the truth is, he heard his pilot die - this I have always known, but he didn't talk about it. He only ever told me of it once. I have only heard the story in detail that one time. This is all I know of the plane or the incident. My grandfather was in a plane that got shot down, and had to bail out. The pilot was badly wounded, hit in the legs, and my pap stayed after everyone else had already bailed out in the hopes of getting the pilot out of the plane with him. The pilot would not go, as he knew that it would have taken too long to move them and neither one of them would have made it. He told my grandfather to get out, that it was too late, and by the time my pap jumped his parachute almost didn't open because he was too close to the ground - he had waited too long to jump. He hit the ground moving far too fast, landed on a tree stump only a mile from the enemy lines, and had badly broken up legs. When he came to, he had men standing all around him with guns pointed at him - luckily, he was on the right side of the line. He did not, however, save the pilot that he was trying to save, as the pilot would not leave the plane. The pilot and the plane crashed into a mountain or cliff very shortly after my pap jumped. Also, after pap landed on the tree stump, his legs didn't get completely broken from hitting so fast. My gram says that he was one massive bruise from his toes to his waist, sprained from his feet all the way up his legs. They told him he probably would've been better off if his legs had actually just broken - they would've healed quicker, and it probably would've been less painful in the long run. This mission, 2/10/45, was the last in which he flew, as he was in the hospital and on crutches for quite some time thereafter. This was his 63rd (but they granted him his 64th as well) mission.