B-17G-45-BO (42-97203), 92nd Bomb Group, 407th Bomb Squadron, Eighth Army Air Force
Pilot - 1st Lt. William W.
Co-pilot - 2nd Lt. Oscar C. Sampson 'Sammy' winning his regiment's boxing championship
Navigator - 2nd Lt. John W. Steichen
Bombardier - 2nd Lt. John H. Garcia
Top turret/engineer - T/Sgt. Roy A. Hommer Roy's story
Radioman - T/Sgt. Carl D. Stetson Letter from Carl's sister
Ball turret - S/Sgt. William A. Dorsa
Right waist gunner- S/Sgt. When L. McKee
Left waist gunner - S/Sgt. Charles R. Gass
Tail gunner - S/Sgt. Lloyd H. Bradshaw
The local newspaper reports Sampson's
graduation from Basic Training
The officers in front of the Operations Building, Podington AAB, England
The Crew at Podington
Back row: Dorsa, Stetson, Steichen, Hommer, Parramore
Front row: Bradshaw, Gass, Garcia, Sampson
McKee may have been the photographer.
The original crew, except for the bombardier. Fred Blencoe was replaced by John Garcia, who joined the rest of the crew in Goose Bay, on the way to England.
Back row, left to right: Hommer, Gass, Stetson, Dorsa, Bradshaw, McKee
Front row, left to right: Parramore, Sampson, Steichen, Blencoe
Roy Hommer - the Wounded Engineer/Top Turret Gunner
During the initial fighter attack, a 20mm shell had passed through Hommer's body and exploded in front of his stomach. The blast had destroyed much of his abdomen and had also forced metal fragments from his parachute harness back into his body. Several of the crew, including Sampson, tended to him, giving him morphine and trying to stop the bleeding, during the remainder of the bomb run and the subsequent flight to Altenrhein.
Immediately after the landing, Hommer was carried by stretcher to the Dornier aircraft factory guard building at the airport. (This was the Altenrhein factory of the same company Baby had just bombed in Germany!) He was subsequently taken to the nearby hospital in nearby Rorschach. Because of his severe condition, Hommer was given a choice: the doctors would either just provide morphine for his pain until he died, or they could make an attempt to try to repair the extensive damage to his body. There was no guarantee that the doctors could even save his life. Hommer asked the doctors to do what they could. The medical team, led by Dr. Max Richard, was able to save Hommer's life, but he remained in critical condition for some time. Dr. Richard was the preeminent thyroid expert in Europe, and he is honored by a memorial at the hospital.
Dr. Max Richard, head doctor at Spital Rorschach, 1931 to 1953.
Hommer spent several months in the hospital and received periodic visits and blood donations from his fellow crew members. John Steichen relates: "When Hommer was in the hospital we took turns going there for about ten days. My turn came in August over my birthday. When I arrived there he was very bad; they could not combat the infection from all the fragments still going through his blood. I gave him blood and, as they were running it in him, I kidded him about getting my fine blood. As he always joked with me about my prominent nose, he replied, as sick as he was, 'Steich, I can feel my nose growing!' Shortly after I returned to Davos the French underground smuggled the first penicillin into Switzerland and that saved his life." Hommer recovered well enough to escape from internment on January 16, 1945.
Roy Hommer attended the crew's reunion in 1983 at John Steichen's home in Michigan.
See the Rorschach Hospital today, just a few miles from Altenrhein airfield.
The Flight Across the Atlantic
Life at Podington
The Missions of Baby's Crew
The Last Mission
Life in Switzerland
Escape from Switzerland
The Author's Trip
Go to Baby's home page
Copyright © 2001 by Ed Rathje