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Tour of Duty USAAF: how many missions?

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mckeesie
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2008/12/26 07:31:44 (permalink)
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Tour of Duty USAAF: how many missions?

Hi everyone,
 
Perhaps simple question but it puzzles me: how many missions had a crewmember of the USAAF Meighty 8th to fly to finisch his Tour of Duty? I always thought this was -officially-  25 Combat Missions for bomber crew and 50 Combat Missions for fighter crew. But I have several stories of vets that say they had to do 35 missions....
 
Who can help me?
 
Kees

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Re:Tour of Duty USAAF: how many missions? 2008/12/26 09:07:12 (permalink)
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At the start of the war, it was 25 missions for the bomber crews, I believe in late '43 they went up to 30 missions, but I do know that when dad went over in early '44 it was 30 missions.  He told me during the time he was there that the missions went up to 35 and finally near the end of the war it when up to 50 missions.  Unfortunately, I don't have access to the books that I used to have so I can't narrow down the dates any more then that.

Ron Hodges
Son of Tech. Sgt. Raymond Hodges
702nd Bomb Squadron
445th Bomb Group
8th Air Force
billrunnels
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Re:Tour of Duty USAAF: how many missions? 2008/12/26 09:18:24 (permalink)
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mckeesie

Hi everyone,
 
Perhaps simple question but it puzzles me: how many missions had a crewmember of the USAAF Meighty 8th to fly to finisch his Tour of Duty? I always thought this was -officially-  25 Combat Missions for bomber crew and 50 Combat Missions for fighter crew. But I have several stories of vets that say they had to do 35 missions....
 
Who can help me?
 
Kees


Kees'
 
I flew my missions early 1945 and a tour was 25.  However, at various times during the war it was 30 and 35.  Following VE-Day, 110 hours of combat time was considered a tour for re-assignment purposes.

Bill Runnels
Bombardier(B-17)
8TH Air Force
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http://www.303rdbg.com/runnels-memories.html
SHAEF1944
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Re:Tour of Duty USAAF: how many missions? 2008/12/26 10:18:20 (permalink)
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My understanding is that the combat tour for bomber crews was established at 25 missions during 1943.   In April 1944, General Arnold raised the number to 30 because the Mustang, flying escort missions with the 8th since Feb. 1944, had proven itself effective.  In September 1944, bomber losses in the ETO were at less than 2% per mission, so the required number was raised to 35, and remained that for the rest of the war.  There was a "sliding scale" when these numbers of required missions was raised, so that if an individual had flown a specific number of missions by a certain date before the new number went into effect, he did not have to fly all the new larger number.
 
MTO crews flew 50 missions for a tour, but I'm not sure when this went into effect.  I bet some of the Vets on here who flew out of Italy might know more.
 
 
PS: In regards to Bill Runnels post above.... his comments just show that there was the "Official" way, and then there was the way things REALLY happened.    It behooves us all who study history, and especially WWII AAF history to remember that the OFFICIAL ORDER/DIRECTIVE ( in this case, 35 mission requirement after Sept, 1944 ) was often not the way things actually occured.
 
Individuals flew the missions, and sometimes things we think are set-in-stone were actually done differently in some cases.   One of the great things Vets like Bill do for us here is to remind us that the AAF and Army during WWII was not an automaton, and that we cannot always rely on "the official word" as the way things military always happened.

SHAEF1944
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Re:Tour of Duty USAAF: how many missions? 2008/12/26 11:41:35 (permalink)
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Folks:

I just completed a personal mission history for a T/Sgt Harold Render, radio operator, 700th Bomb Squadron with the 445th Bomb Group.  The family provided some personal paperwork he kept and among them was his Separation Qualification Record.  On the backside of the certificate under 'Remarks' was listed the following:

D.F.C.
Air Medal and three (3) Clusters
E.T.O. Three (3) Battle Stars
Thirty (30) Missions - Two Hundred and twenty (220) combat hours

According to the crew load lists I have (obtained from the National Archives), Render flew 32 missions between 13 Dec 43 and 21 May 44.

Mike Simpson
VP, Heritage League of the 2nd Air Division
Webmaster & Unit Historian
445th Bomb Group (Heavy)
www.445bg.org
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Re:Tour of Duty USAAF: how many missions? 2008/12/26 11:47:39 (permalink)
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Follow-up:

1st Lt Samuel F. Miller was the first pilot to complete his tour with 29 missions between 13 Dec 43 and 13 Apr 44.  At that time the required number of missions was still 25.  He had 4 missions where they did not receive credit for flying.  It would be interesting to see what the criteria was for getting credit for a mission in the ETO.

Mike Simpson
VP, Heritage League of the 2nd Air Division
Webmaster & Unit Historian
445th Bomb Group (Heavy)
www.445bg.org
Neale600
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Re:Tour of Duty USAAF: how many missions? 2008/12/26 12:16:27 (permalink)
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By August 1944 the number of missions in England for the 388th BG had been raised to 35.
My brother was killed on his 33rd mission.  In one of his last letters home he said he would have some good news very soon.  Obviously he was refering to completion of his tour.
 
Neale600
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Re:Tour of Duty USAAF: how many missions? 2008/12/26 13:19:30 (permalink)
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SHAEF1944
  
 
PS: In regards to Bill Runnels post above.... his comments just show that there was the "Official" way, and then there was the way things REALLY happened.    It behooves us all who study history, and especially WWII AAF history to remember that the OFFICIAL ORDER/DIRECTIVE ( in this case, 35 mission requirement after Sept, 1944 ) was often not the way things actually occured.
 
Individuals flew the missions, and sometimes things we think are set-in-stone were actually done differently in some cases.   One of the great things Vets like Bill do for us here is to remind us that the AAF and Army during WWII was not an automaton, and that we cannot always rely on "the official word" as the way things military always happened.


Kees,  There is a lot of good info already posted on this Thread, and more to come I'm sure, but  thought I'd take off from this "PS"!  As in life, there are the Rules,"Order-of-the-day" guidelines, "Line-in-the-Sand" and many other euphemisms, but the bottom line seems to be "reality."  In war zones, despite the Theaters of Operation, things change.  I believe that many people might have the number "25" in their head because of the popular movie, Memphis Belle, which depicted the struggle and last mission of this famed A/C and its crew.  Throughout the war, the number varied, and, although 25, 30, 35 missions are often posted, many crews flew many more!  There were a lot of variables: which year, Theatre, "what constituted a mission," how logged, not so sure about severity (they were all dangerous), # of hours logged on a particular mission, etc. etc.  On average, you will see the 25 missions early-on with the number then settling in around 30/35.  The sad side is the fact that often a crew member who had reached  "his number," whatever it was at that time, might volunteer to fly an "extra mission" as a "back-fill" and then possibly become a KIA, MIA or POW.  He would have had the right to refuse, but many often did not. Probably more "food for thought" than a solid answer.  I have noticed, however, in a rather limited sampling that those flying in the MTO during the second half of 1944 and throughout 1945 seem to be in the 50 range.  Again, this was from a small sample.

 
Best Regards!
Steven P. Puhl
Ford Willow Run B-24 Bomber Plant (FO) Historian
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billrunnels
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Re:Tour of Duty USAAF: how many missions? 2008/12/26 13:41:12 (permalink)
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Steven,
 
Keep in mind that in the MTO they received 2 credits for one mission under certain conditions.  Hopefully, a crew member from the 15th will explain the conditions etc.

Bill Runnels
Bombardier(B-17)
8TH Air Force
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Re:Tour of Duty USAAF: how many missions? 2008/12/26 14:19:11 (permalink)
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billrunnels

Steven,
 
Keep in mind that in the MTO they received 2 credits for one mission under certain conditions.  Hopefully, a crew member from the 15th will explain the conditions etc.


Bill,  Thanks for the reminder!!  Yes, I had forgotten about the "two credit" rule under certain conditions.  I believe that Jim Peters had mentioned that somewhere in the past and may jump on here for a "refresher course!"  Thanks again!

 
Best Regards!
Steven P. Puhl
Ford Willow Run B-24 Bomber Plant (FO) Historian
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Re:Tour of Duty USAAF: how many missions? 2008/12/26 18:57:35 (permalink)
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Kees -
8th AF Fighter Command Missions: 
480 Hours to complete Tour of Duty.
This usually averaged about 80 Missions.
Mike
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Re:Tour of Duty USAAF: how many missions? 2008/12/26 23:11:57 (permalink)
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This hero lived quietly in our home town and flew 54 Missions.
  John F. Martin Jr.  John F. Martin Jr.
John F. Martin Jr., 86, of Country Meadows, Allentown, formerly of Carmel, Ind., died Friday, Dec. 19, 2008, in Lehigh Valley Hospital, Salisbury Township. He was the husband of Alice M. (Masterson) Martin. They celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in June. Born in Philadelphia, he was the son of the late John F. and Gertrude R. (Quinn) Martin. He was a 1940 graduate of Northeast Catholic High School and a 1949 graduate of Villanova University. During World War II, John served as a B-17 bomber pilot and achieved the rank of Captain. He flew 54 missions, including two missions on D-Day. He was a member of the 487th Bomb Group, Eighth Air Force. He was an Air Force veteran of the Korean War. He received numerous service decorations, including the Distinguished Flying Cross.
 
John retired as district manager for Kraft Foods Inc., Indianapolis, Ind., in 1983 after 37 years of service. He was a member of St. Thomas More Catholic Church, Allentown, and its PrimeTime Group. He was a former member of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church, Carmel, and a former member of its PrimeTime Group. He was a founding member of the Golden K Kiwanis Group, Carmel. Survivors: Wife; sons, John F. Martin III and his wife Mary of Acton, Mass., James J. Martin and his wife Debbie of Plano, Texas, Joseph B. Martin and his wife Cindy of Grafton, Wis., Robert J. and his wife Deb of Allentown; daughters, Denise Martin Hobbie, wife of C. Andrew Hobbie of Allentown, Pepper Martin Peale, wife of Cliff Peale of Covington, Ky.; brother, Joseph Martin and his wife Nancy of Fairfax, Va.; sisters, Betty McGovern of Gwynedd, Gertrude, wife of Tom Cusack of Philadelphia; 14 grandchildren, 16 great-grandchildren; nieces, nephews. Services: Funeral Mass, 10:30 a.m. Saturday, St. Thomas More Catholic Church, 1040 Flexer Ave., Allentown. Call 7-8:30 p.m. Friday, J.S. Burkholder Funeral Home, 16th and Hamilton streets, Allentown, and 9:30-10:30 a.m. Saturday in the church. Interment is private. Contributions: In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum, P.O. Box 1992, Savannah, GA 31402. (912) 748-8888. www.mightyeighth.org.
Published in the Morning Call from 12/22/2008 - 12/23/2008
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Sincerely, PA.Dutchman
Son of T/Sgt. Ray "Bud" Heilman

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mckeesie
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Re:Tour of Duty USAAF: how many missions? 2008/12/27 05:09:39 (permalink)
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Well, you were all again very helpfull. I have my answers and I will use it in our article.
 
As it happens, this question is related with the B-24J 44-40109 which is also in discussion on this forum. One of the crewmembers flew his 35th (and as they said his last) mission on Februari 14th 1945. But just before the start of the mission he switched from his own original crew to stand in for a sick crewmember on board another B-24, as you understand this was 44-40109.
His original crew flew its 35th mission unhurt and went back to the US. "Our" crewmember had to bail out from 44-40109 and was taken POW...
 
Kees
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Re:Tour of Duty USAAF: how many missions? 2008/12/27 08:15:14 (permalink)
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I began combat in Jan. 1945 til war's end. I was told when I arrived,  tour was 35 sorties. A sorty wa always one. Before the 15th  went to sorties, it had been 50 missions, which could include "doubles". Loosely, a double was long distances, and or difficulty, flak or fighters. We kept track orf our missions both ways The services were notorius for changing their minds.
When the war ended, I  had 28 out of 35 sorties, or 44 out of 50 missions. As you can see, it came out almost the same.
RHD
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Re:Tour of Duty USAAF: how many missions? 2008/12/27 11:16:46 (permalink)
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To all of you who actually made those sorties and missions, no matter how many "THANK YOU"!
 
 

Sincerely, PA.Dutchman
Son of T/Sgt. Ray "Bud" Heilman

11 TH F. A. 1937-40
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Re:Tour of Duty USAAF: how many missions? 2008/12/27 14:11:16 (permalink)
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PA.Dutchman

To all of you who actually made those sorties and missions, no matter how many "THANK YOU"!
 
 


Amen!

Mike Simpson
VP, Heritage League of the 2nd Air Division
Webmaster & Unit Historian
445th Bomb Group (Heavy)
www.445bg.org
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Re:Tour of Duty USAAF: how many missions? 2008/12/27 16:58:57 (permalink)
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Kees,
 My tour from 7/43 to 2/44 was 50 times over a target ( sorties/ missions) I was credited with 450 combat hours (one mission was 13+ hours aloft, later that target became a twofer).
In the 8th AF at that time they flew 25 times over a target. Their missions were tougher so in the MTO we flew twice as many. A crew finishing in the 8th received the DFC and 3 AM. I received 10 AM. This covers my time frame.

Jules Horowitz, B-17 pilot, 99th BG, 50 missions/sorties
My tour was from 7/19/43-2/13/44
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Re:Tour of Duty USAAF: how many missions? 2008/12/27 18:35:10 (permalink)
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My father enlisted in 1937 and he was at Hickam on December 7, 1941. He lost good friends within minutes of the Japanese coming overhead.
 
Then the B-17 he flew with on patrols around the Hawaiian islands after the Attack (B-17 41-2443) went out on East Sunday April 5, 1942. It and a Navy plane hit the mountain at Oahu trying to land in bad weather. Everyone was killed on both planes. My father and other ranking Sgts. did not go out on this flight because it was Easter. 
 
Again they all  lost some long time friends.
 
Then the 11 BG H went after the Japanese at Midway, Espiritu Santos, Guadalcanal and the Solomon Islands campaigns. When their B-17 were shot down over the Pacific nothing was recovered and the men were never seen again. One crew was picked up by a Japanese Destroyer and the Japanese destroyed the crew, killed every surviving member.
 
On February 1, 1943 the last three B-17s of the 42 Squadron went out on a mission with one B-17 from the 72 Squadron. Again all three planes of the 42 Squadron were shot out of the sky by at least 20 to 25 Zeros. No a single crew member survived to come home on the last three B-17s of the 42 Squadron.
 
I never knew this but I started looking for survivors of the 11 BG H the 42 Squadron, there are none from those early years of the war.
 
There are only the ones who were drafted or enlisted to replace the others in late 1943.
 
I have made contact with more than a half dozen family members whose loved ones are at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean somewhere.
The 11 BG H 42 Squadron was recommended for the Presidential Unit Citation by the Naval Commander.
 
They lived in tents, mosquitoes at them alive, various Jungle Fevers and malaria hit everyone. The rats ate everything including pistol holsters, shoes and anything else leather. Food, fuel, good water and ammunition were all in short supply.  
 
On one occasion the Navy floated drums of fuel onto the beach where the Air Corp picked them up and hand filled their planes for the next mission.
 
Henderson Field was bombed nearly every night for weeks. Everyday they had to repair the field and planes for the next mission.
 
I only mentioned this because many don't know just how bad it was in the Pacific Theater for the Air Corp Units.
 
Has anyone ever come here that flew in the Pacific Theater as anything on a B-17? Not that I know of. Family members show up, but you never see or hear from any flight crew members because there are none from 1941/42/early 43.
 
The Pacific Theater was for Americans like the Germans going to the Eastern Front. Your chances of returning home were not good.
 
Today I received a letter from Lt. John Krey he is 92 and lives in Florida. He told me he was asked to donate to the Pacific Aviation Museum. Lt. Krey checked it out and there is NOTHING of the Army Air Corp and all the men and planes they lost starting on 12/7/1941-1945.  It is mainly Navy and Marine Aviation nothing of the Air Corp.
 
Last summer Lt. Krey and I talked on the phone when I found out were he was living. He told me how they had to order my father to stop going out on patrols. He was the Ranking and Acting Armament Officer and they had NO ONE to replace him. 
 
Their Commander was taking men off transports going to Australia to man their planes.
 
I am only mentioning this because Lt. Krey wrote me today and he was so disappointed that they continue to forget all those who died in the first years of the war in the Pacific from the United States Army Air Corp.
 
It troubles Lt. Krey and the families to think their loved ones fought as hard as anyone in World War II under impossible conditions in impossible locations and no one seems to remember.
   

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Sincerely, PA.Dutchman
Son of T/Sgt. Ray "Bud" Heilman

11 TH F. A. 1937-40
Schofield Barracks
11 TH BGH 42 Sq.1940-45
Hickam 12/7/1941
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Dick D
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Re:Tour of Duty USAAF: how many missions? 2008/12/28 03:38:08 (permalink)
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Lots of correct answers. I will add my own experience and comments.  Ariving at Kimbolton, (379th BG), May 1944, we were told that mission requirement had recently been raised from 25 to 30. This was a because losses due to enemy action had been reduced considerably.  On my 22nd, June 25, 1944,  we were shot down and interned in Spain. Return to Kimbolton in August, and was told that while on vacation, the combat tour had been raised again, to 35. Since I already had 22 under my belt, I was told I would have to do 32, which I did.   Interestingly, when I first arrived there, and was told about mission increase from 25 to 30, we were also told that 10 man crew was being reduced to 9, with the elimination of one of the waist gunners, as losses had been considerably reduced.  
Dick D

Dick Daniels
8th AF B-17 Bombardier
32 Combat Missions with 379th Bomb Group
Tour: May 1944 - October 1944
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Re:Tour of Duty USAAF: how many missions? 2008/12/28 06:41:29 (permalink)
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jhor9

Kees,
 My tour from 7/43 to 2/44 was 50 times over a target ( sorties/ missions) I was credited with 450 combat hours (one mission was 13+ hours aloft, later that target became a twofer).


Jules,  Good morning, Sir, from AA!  My question has to do with the bold print (my addition) in your post.  Was there any "written order" about the "number of hours" on a mission that would  constitute a "two credit" mission?  I am comparing, for instance, your 13+ hours on a particular mission to the 13+ hours of the Ploesti Low Level mission of 01AU43.  I realize that it was at a different time period, different AAF, different circumstances, etc. Just curious on this one!  Thanks!
 

 
Best Regards!
Steven P. Puhl
Ford Willow Run B-24 Bomber Plant (FO) Historian
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