1st Lt. John W. Houck, Jr
In April, 1943, when we learned of the loss of my cousin - 1st Lt. John W. Houck, Jr.- over Palermo, Sicily, I was 12 years old. I recall that we were told that he was a pilot of a B-17 and had participated in bombing raids on France in 1942, but moved to North Africa in late 1942.
We were also told that he had completed his required 25 missions and was awaiting transportation to the U.S., but he volunteered to fly with a ?green? crew on a mission to Palermo. He was reported as Missing in Action as of April 18, 1943, on that mission.
None of the crew, nor the aircraft have ever been found.
In my investigation, I have learned that he was in the 353rd Squadron of the 301st Bomb Group.
Over the years, I have obtained possession of a few of his effects, including his Purple Heart and Air Medal. I wanted to pass on his history to my children, and other relatives, so I have done considerable research. I?ve even had one of the pilots from another squadron send me a page from his diary in which he witnessed the downing of my cousin?s aircraft. That gentleman was Kenneth Slaker of the 419th Squadron.
I am in possession of a Casualty Report, which states that John was flying as co-pilot on 41-24371 - Devils from Hell.
My purpose for writing to you is to determine:
1. If any of your members knew John?
2. Does this story make sense, i.e. was he actually a pilot and is it feasible that he flew as co-pilot on his last mission?
3. I have been able to amass a lot of data on his service, but I have considered going to the National Archives to review the Mission Reports, to determine just which missions he participated in - from England and from the various bases in North Africa. The question is, how many pages would comprise a ?Mission Report?? And how detailed are they?
4. How would one get on the distribution list for your newsletter?
And to thank you for setting up a web site for folks like me who want to know more about the 301st.
John Billing - Ocean Pines, MD
18 Mallard Drive West
ocean city MD 21811
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July 26, 1944 Revisited in 2009 by Bill Brainard
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