S/Sgt. John Allen Jr. was a medic in the 716th Squadron and one of only 25 members of the 449th BG(H) to be awarded the Soldier’s Medal, the Army’s highest award for non-combat bravery.
S/Sgt. was one of only a few ground personnel to fly to Grottaglie. He arrived in mid December and was responsible for setting up and ordering supplies for the medic stations so they would be ready once the entire group was on base.
S/Sgt. and two of his fellow 716th Medics were awarded the Soldier’s Medal for responding to the crash of a British plane near the base. Despite the plane being consumed by fire and ammunition exploding, the three of them entered the plane six times, bringing out a crew member each time. They were credited with saving the lives of three of the crew members by putting their own lives in jeopardy.
John went on to be a veterinarian after the war and passed away in the fall of 2016. He loved his 449th BGA reunions!
Alan R. Davis (son-in-law)
Chillicothe, Ohio, USA
My Dad late in his life told me a lot about many of the missions he went on deep into Romania as well as Germany. He hated the italian Alps as he said they were menacing. On one mission they were way behind the squadron over the Alps with two engines shot out and they were easy prey for German fighters. He further stated that the upper gunner saw two planes breaking down on them and they immediately thought they were German so they all racked their .50 caliber machine guns ready to fight. The planes swooped in on each side of them flying alongside however as they were P-51s. (Note: He told me this way before the Tuskegee Airmen ever gained any fame). He stated that both P-51s has red tails and the black pilot was waving at him in the tail section and giving him a thumbs up as they escorted them safely back to Grottaglie Airbase. True story-every word.
John A Carter
Ralph was born in Georgia on October 22, 1922. He enlisted in the Army on June 5, 1942 at Fort McPherson, Georgia. His service number was 14119900. He married Opal Lee Moore in Louisiana in November 1942. He attended aerial gunnery training at Tyndall, Florida. As an aircrew member in 719th Squadron, 449th Bomb Group Heavy, 15th Air Force, he departed for Grotagilie, Italy on January 19, 1945 arriving in Italy on January 27, 1945. He was a member of Toiro J. Rosander Crew. He departed Italy on May 15, 1945 for the US arriving May 25, 1945. Ralph was discharged on October 16, 1945 at Sioux Falls AAF, SD. Ralph (my father) passed away in Houston, TX in 1989 and is buried in Chatham County, Georgia. Ralph never talked much about his experiences during the war, but the one story I remember is one in which he received a wound in his lip during a mission. He told me that it was so cold that it did not bleed much and that he sewed it up with a needle and thread. Ralph was a Sargent at his discharge. I would appreciate any contact from others who may have know Ralph and/or information about missions he flew and the aircraft in which he flew.
Ronald R Anderson
L.D. Sies, Jr. was the original pilot of the Peerless Clipper. The “Clipper” was a B-24H flown to Grottaglie on 2 January 1944. The Sies Crew reportedly flew 25 sorties over Eastern Europe and then volunteered for the OSS and flew an additional 25 sorties. The “Clipper” after being reassigned to the Kury crew was lost over Austria on 2 April 1944 due to a midair collision with two other aircraft. The Kury crew was lost along with the crews of the other two B-24’s. Captain Sies was promoted to Major. Shortly there after he flew a P-51 Mustang under a bridge in Chattanooga, TN and at discharge he was again a Captain.
David B. Pope
Moneta, VA, USA
Original 449th BG, 717th squadron right waist gunner on Samuelson’s crew Cinnsy’s Margie (42-7723). He was credited with 50 missions flying out of Grottaglie mostly on Cinnsy’s Margie.
This picture of Cinnsy’s Margie was purchased from someone in the UK.
Lewes, DE, USA
He was in the 719th. We have his mission summary, and several commendations. He was a navigator on what we believed to be Sleepy Time Gal. However I’m not sure that’s accurate as there were 2 Sleepy Time Gals. #1 went down before he got to Europe, and #2 went down when he was in a navigator school Dec 26 44 to early Feb 45.
He had 35 sorties and completed 51 missions.
A family tradition of Army Aviation: COL (Ret.) Ralph W. LeGrow, Army rotary wing [Chinook] aircraft pilot, was buried 29Aug2017 at Arlington National Cemetery near the grave of his uncle and namesake, PFC Ralph LeGrow of the 449th, who was KIA 13Apr1944. Another nephew of PFC LeGrow, Lt. Arthur Russell LeGrow Jr., Army rotary wing aircraft pilot, died in Vietnam 14Jan1967.
Willington, CT USA
My father died when I was 7 and I have never heard much of his experiences n the Army. Nor of the ww2 experiences. Any help with this would be a life changing experience.
Tammy Stevenson Vargas