The 'Bottoms Up'

The Final Crew - 105th Mission

Rear L. to R. Navigator - Second Lieutenant Harold H. Hubka, Lieutenant Co-Pilot - Wesley S. Kozenka , Second Lieutenant, Pilot - Robert F. Harris, Bombardier - Frederick C Reinke. Front Row - Engineer - Sergeant Frank A. Davis, Radio Operator - Corporal Henry J. Dumont, Armorer - Corporal Tomas J. Domanack. Waist Gunner - Private Tony Sacalo, Nose Gunner - Corporal Richard E. Schaffer, Tail Gunner - Corporal George P. Quinn.

 

 

The Flight Over, Replacements...

Final Crew Biographies

•Historical Note: The Bombadier, Lt. Frederick C. Reinke (in the picture to the left; back row, far left) was not on the final flight on the 'Bottoms Up'.

When I spoke to his son in 2003, he indicated that his father was very ill with the flu the morning on March 16th and he did not fly the final mission. Reinke clearly remembered hearing the planes take off but did not get up to see them depart.

Side Bar: March 16th 1945 - this day was also important since one of the B-24's in the 723rd threw a prop on take off and sliced through the fuselage, killing the pilot (Lt. Dick Seeman) the bombardier (Lt. Burgers) and Flight Officer/Navigator (Gennone).

Update: I spoke with John Bozek at the 2005 reunion who indicated to me that his plane took off in front of Lt. Seeman's plane. He was an eyewitness to the accident and saw the smoke from the incident in his B-24 soon after takeoff. According to Bozek, "We had made a turn and were flying 180 degrees from the direction from which we had taken off and were perhaps, a couple of miles away. I saw a big black pall of smoke after we had taken off." For anyone interested, I have the official accident report for the Seeman disaster located here.

Photos of the Accident provided by Jim Ciborski:Photo 1 Photo 2

**Special thanks to the webmasters over at the 450th BG site. They put me in touch with Reinke's son. Also, thanks to Don Barnes who enhanced the above photo.

Picture provided by Fred C. Reinke, 721st Squadron, courtesy the 450th Bomb Group web site.