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I'm looking for any information at all on these pilots, especially more information on their military squadron/group and their exhumations by the American Red Cross. I'm brand new to WW2 research/archives, so any resources at all that you can point me to would also be greatly appreciated.
Thank you so much for your help!
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See page 24. Second Air Division Association Journal Volume 41 Number 2 Summer 2002
Try contacting RAY L. SHEWFELT (355TH FG) and Polish Air Force officer, Jerzy (Jurek) BocFinally, The Rest of the Story BY RAY L. SHEWFELT (355TH FG)
As so often happened when a plane went down, we never heard of the fate of the pilot until word came from the Red Cross that he was killed in action or hopefully was a prisoner of war. Rarely did we ever hear the details of his loss. In this case, 55 years later we have the rest of the story.
On September 18, 1944, 110 B-17s were tasked to drop badly needed supplies to Polish guerrillas in an uprising in Warsaw. They were escorted by 64 P-51s from the 355th Fighter Group. The mission was known as Operation FRANTIC VII, the last of seven so-called shuttle missions to Russia wherein the bombers bombed, or in this case dropped supplies in Poland and continued on to land in Russia. Two days later they bombed in Hungary and continued on to Italy. The third leg was a bombing mission in France enroute to their home base in England. In the Warsaw area, they were attacked by 109s from JG-51 (Moelders), and one B-17 and two P-51s were lost. (Four ME-109s were also shot down.) One B-17 and the P-51s of Lt. Joseph Vigna and Lt. Robert O. Peters of the 358th Fighter Squadron were lost.
Fast forward: In September 2000 I received an e-mail from a Polish Air Force officer, Jersey (Jurek) Boc, inquiring about the two pilots and asking for details from the records of the squadron such as the MACR (Missing Air Crew Report), the location of their crash, the Battle Order for this mission, and if possible, photos of the men and their planes. I complied with his request. He replied, “I finally found the places of death of Lts. Peters and Vigna. According to Mr. Wisniewski, an eyewitness, Lt. Peters made a controlled crash landing 15 km NW of Warsaw, near the village of Wrona. After the crash, the pilot was still alive for about thirty minutes but indicated that he did not want to get out of the cockpit. (I suspect that
he knew he was mortally wounded.) German soldiers surrounded the plane and didn’t allow inhabitants to rescue the pilot. The plane was now burning and he died very soon. He was buried next to the aircraft and the grave was marked with four pegs.” Due to the efforts of Jurek Boc and the local priest, a memorial service in honor of the two pilots was held in the village Catholic church on September 16, 2000, the 56th anniversary of their loss. The entire village was in attendance.
A case of serendipity: In February 2001 I received an e-mail from a young woman in North Carolina who was researching the loss of her father. She was two months old when he was lost. Mrs. Lynne Peters Ander - son was the daughter of Lt. Robert O. Peters. I immediately put her in touch via e-mail with the Polish officer and he told her what he had found. Lynne’s husband was planning a business trip to Warsaw, so she decided to accom-
pany him. Jurek met her and took her to the scene of her father’s crash, where there remain shards of the plane and .50 cal bullets. She met Mr. Wisniewski, who had been a 15- year-old boy working on the farm, and now she has a piece of the plane, which was located with a metal detector.
The experience finally brought closure to Lynne and her mother, Mrs. George Griese.
Unfortunately, Lt. Peters was shot down by one of the pilots in his own squadron when he slid into the line of fire. He was the recipient of the Distinguished Service Medal (DSM) for shooting down five enemy aircraft on July 20 while escorting bombers.
Lt. Vigna crashed several kilometers away. He was thrown from the plane. His face was shot away and his legs badly burned. German soldiers and the pilot who had shot him downarrived. He ordered the corpse to be put in a body bag and Vigna was buried near the crash. The Luftwaffe pilot claimed Vigna’s equipment as a trophy.
In September 2001, the 355th Fighter Group had its reunion in Pittsburgh, PA. John Anderson, Lynne’s husband, had worked hard and enlisted the aid of his congressman and had been successful in securing on short notice a visa for Jurek Boc to come to the United States for a visit. Jurek, Lynne, and John were honored guests at our reunion. Jurek subsequently toured the Air Force Museum at Dayton; Washington, D.C.; and New York.
Care of: Second Air Division Association Eighth Air Force
President ....................................................WALTER J. MUNDY
24030 Basin Harbor Court, Tehachapi, CA 93561-9638
Telephone: 661-821-5101 • Fax: 661-821-5816
Executive Vice President ........................RICHARD D. BUTLER
16828 Mitchell Circle, Air Force Village West, Riverside, CA 92518
Telephone: 909-697-2908 • Fax: 909-697-5875
The two pilots, as well as other pilots, are commemorated on the Virtual Wall of Remembrance,Warsaw Uprising Museum (Muzeum Powstania Warszawskiego )
https://www.1944.pl/wirtualny-mur-pamie ... nga,0.html
PETERS ROBERT O. - 1st Lt. Column: 49 Position: 37
VIGNA JOSEPH J. - 1st Lt. Column: 50 Position: 52
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My name is Jerzy Boc. For any information about Frantic VII mission and especially Lt. Peters and Lt. Vigna please write: email@example.com