39th Bomb Group (VH)

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"City of Wilmington"
"Hell's Belle"
B-29 # 42-65365
"City of Santa Barbara"
B-29 # 44-61532

Guam: 26 Sept 1945
Photo Courtesy of Albert Fierro
L to R: Harold G. McNeese, AC; William B. Haas, RG, Hugh G. Roberts CFC and Albert Fierro, LG - City of Wilmington B-29 #42-65365 was named in honor of Fierro's hometown

Crew 41 was formed at Smoky Hill Army Air Field and received their B-29 training there. They arrived in Guam early August 1945. On 26 April 1945, "Hell's Belle" flew it's first combat mission against Kokubu airfield. Two days later it hit Kushira, another airfield. On their third strike, they once again returned to Kokubu. It was for this mission seven members of Crew 41 were awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross on 23 August 1945.

The recipents were as follows:

1st Lt Robert J. Breitbarth - Bombardier
1st Lt
Carl L. Davenport - Radar Observer
Cpl Vincent F. Dunleavy - Tail Gunner
Cpl Albert L. Fierro - Left Gunner
Cpl Frederick W. Levesque - Radio Operator

Sgt William B. Haas - Right Gunner
T/Sgt Hugh G. Roberts - CFC Gunner

The citations reads:

"For extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight on 30 April 1945. These individuals were members of the B-29 aircraft that led the entire force of the 39th Bombardment Group in the highly successful strike from a base in the Marianas against Kokubu airfield on the Japanese Island of Kyushu. Despite shattering barrages of heavy caliber anti-aircraft fire at the initial point and during the bombing run, these crewmembers maintained their plane exactly on the briefed heading without evasive tactics. At the target, where flak was most highly concentrated, they released their bombs squarely in the center of the airfield. Bombing on the lead airplane, the remainder of the formation laid such as excellent pattern on the airfield and repair hangers that this important base was rendered completely inoperative. During the withdrawal, the formation they led destroyed six, probably destroyed four additional, and damaged nine of an estimated 30 enemy interceptors which pressed repeated vicious attacks until after the Japanese coast was left far behind. The gunners from this lead aircraft alone were credited with three damaged enemy ships. The courage and the fortitude displayed by these veterans of repeated assaults against the Japanese homeland, together with their outstanding professional skill in carrying out an important assignment reflect great credit on themselves and the Army Air Force."

Crew 41 completed 27 combat missions by war's end, for which they received the DFC, Air Medal w/2 Oak Leaf Clusters and other decorations.

* After the war's end 1st Lt. Ralph A. Weston (P-47) became AC until this crew went home on points. Note: 25 August 2002, Hugh G. Roberts, CFC indicated that their first B-29 was "City of Wilmington" 42-65365 this number matches that listed at the time of the crew's stateside orders to Guam; 42-65365 is also the number found on Crew 55's plane City of Las Vegas (Round Trip Ticket) which was taken directly from the photo.; Frank Wrublevski, Crew 37 indicated that "City of Santa Fe" was the name of their crew's B-29 # 42-93975.

62nd Squadron Crew Index
Source: "History of the 39th Bomb Group"; Hugh G. Roberts, Ralph Weston