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S/SGT  Robert B. CROOKS

UNIT: 351st BOMB Sqdn POSITION: WG

SSgt. Robert B. Crooks from Luther Bennett Crew
According to discharge papers, he completed 80 combat missions, 2 tours of duty in the B-17's and B-25's. He was responsible for inspection, maintenance and repair of armament. He also manned upper-turret, waste gunner and toggleer positions during combat. He was awarded an air medal with one silver and 2 bronze OLC. He also received the Distinguished Flying Cross, Good Conduct medal and American Defense medal. He fought battles and campaigns in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Normandy, Northern France and Rhineland. He passed away at 89, after a well lived life

SERIAL #: STATUS: CPT
MACR:

Comments1: 28 SEP 44 MERSEBURG

COMMENTS & NOTES

MEMO 1:

CREW
 Lt Luther G.Bennett               P  CPT  28/9/44 MERSEBURG, OIL REFINERY
 Lt Robert Baker                     CP  NOC
 Lt Donald R.Gillis                  NAV  CPT  3/10/44 LUDWIGBURG, ILLESHEIM,NUNRBURGS
 Lt Alvin Christopher             BOM  CPT
 T/Sgt John D.Cannon          ROG  CPT  2/11/44 MERSEBURG, OIL REFINERY
 T/Sgt Harrison Roach,Jr.       TTE  CPT  2/10/44 KASSEL, AERO ENGINE
 S/Sgt Frederick A.Kirchubel   BTG  CPT
 S/Sgt Arthur W.Flowers        WG  KIA  10/4/45 (With crew of L.L.Bazin)
 S/Sgt Robert B.Crooks          WG  CPT   28/9/44 MERSEBURG, OIL REFINERY
 S/Sgt Salvatore J.Guido          TG  CPT  28/9/44 MERSEBURG, OIL REFINERY

351st Sqdn. Crew,as above,joined 100th BG on  22/5/44    See letter from H.Roach dated 20/11/87.
1st Lt A.R. Christovich (Nav) flew some missions with this Crew.
This Crew flew 42-107233 EP-N  "HUMPTY DUMPTY" 

According to Ray Bowdens book "Plane Names and Bloody Noses…100th Bomb Group this crew flew their first mission in HUMPTY DUMPTY on July 18, 1944 to Kiel.  Between then and Septmeber 28th, this crew flew 20 missions in this aircraft.  Missions included:

Kiel-July 18, 1944
Merseburg-July 29, 1944
Munich-July 31, 1944
Hamburg-Aug 4, 1944
Magdeburg-Aug 5, 1944
Berlin-Aug 6, 1944, 
Ludwigshaven-Aug 14, 1944
Warsaw Supply Drop, Sept 18, 1944 (Second Russian Shuttle Mission)
Szolnok (Hungary) Sept 19, 1944
Merseburg Sept 28, 1944

Missions of Lt Luther G. Bennett

Date Crew Nbr Mission Nbr Last Name Initial Rank Position Aircraft Nbr Target
6/11/1944 62 -137 BENNETT L.G. LT CP 107007 BERCK SUR MER (S.DEF)
6/14/1944 57 -139 BENNETT L.G. LT P 31256 LE CULOT (AIR FIELD)
6/18/1944 59 -141 BENNETT L.G. LT CP 107007 BRUNSBUTTELKOOG
6/20/1944 57 -143 BENNETT L.G. LT P 102667 FALLERSLEBEN
6/21/1944 57 -144 BENNETT L.G. LT P 31767 BASDORF & RUHLAND
7/4/1944   67 152 BENNETT L.G. LT P 31412 GIEN (RECALLED)
7/7/1944   57 155 BENNETT L.G. LT P 38047 BOHLEN/MERSEBURG
7/8/1944   57 156 BENNETT L.G. LT P 97126 CLAMECY-JOLGYN
7/13/1944 57 159 BENNETT L.G. LT P  MUNICH (JET ENGINES)
7/14/1944 57 160 BENNETT L.G. LT P 37936 SOUTH OF FRANCE
7/17/1944 57 161 BENNETT L.G. LT P 31412 AUXERRE & MONTGOURNOY
7/18/1944 57 162 BENNETT L.G. LT P 107233 KIEL & HEMMINGSTADT
7/19/1944 57 163 BENNETT L.G. LT P 39867 SCHWEINFURT & DUREN
7/20/1944 57 164 BENNETT L.G. LT P 37251 MERSEBURG
7/21/1944 57 165 BENNETT L.G. LT P 107233 REGENSBURG
7/24/1944 57 166 BENNETT L.G. LT P 107233 ST LO (GND SUPPORT)
7/29/1944 57 169 BENNETT L.G. LT P 107233 MERSEBURG
7/31/1944 57 170 BENNETT L.G. LT P 107233 MUNICH (AERO ENGINES)
8/2/1944   57 171 BENNETT L.G. LT P 107233 TERGNIER/LAFERE
8/3/1944   57 172 BENNETT L.G. LT P 97230 TROYES (RAIL YARD)
8/4/1944   57 173 BENNETT L.G. LT P 107233 HAMBURG (OIL)
8/5/1944   57 174 BENNETT L.G. LT P 107233 MAGDEBURG
8/6/1944   57 175 BENNETT L.G. LT P 107233 BERLIN
8/14/1944 57 180 BENNETT L.G. LT P 107233 LUDWIGHSAVEN (OIL)
8/15/1944 57 181 BENNETT L.G. LT P 107233 VENLO
8/24/1944 57 183 BENNETT L.G. LT P 107233 RUHLAND (OIL)
8/26/1944 57 185 BENNETT L.G. LT P 107233 BREST
8/27/1944 57 186 BENNETT L.G. LT P 107233 BERLIN (RECALL)
9/9/1944   57 192 BENNETT L.G. LT P 31708 DUSSELDORF
9/10/1944 57 193 BENNETT L.G. LT P 107233 NURNBURG
9/11/1944 57 194 BENNETT L.G. LT P 37812 RUHLAND (OIL)
9/12/1944 57 195 BENNETT L.G. LT P 97126 MAGDEBERG (OIL)
9/13/1944 57 196 BENNETT L.G. LT P 39867 SINDELFINGEN
9/18/1944 57 197 BENNETT L.G. LT P 107233 WARSAW
9/19/1944 57 198 BENNETT L.G. LT P 107233 SZOLNOK (FROM RUSSIA)
9/25/1944 02 199 BENNETT L.G. LT P 107233 LUDWIGSHAVEN
9/27/1944 57 201 BENNETT L.G. LT P 107233 MAINZ
9/28/1944 57 202 BENNETT L.G. LT P 107233 MERSEBERG

*******************************************************************************************

S/Sgt Arthur W. Flowers Missions with Lt Bennett Crew:  (mpf 2001)

1. 14/6/44  LeCulot,   A/C 42-31256  King Bee II EP-S
2. 20/6/44  Fallersleben  A/C 42-102667 Yankee Wahine EP-J
3. 21/6/44  Basdorf/Ruhland  A/C 42-31767 Our Gal Sal EP-E
4.  4/7/44  Gein (Recalled)  A/C 42-31412 Mason and Dixon EP-G
5.  7/7/44  Bohlen/Merseburg A/C 42-38047 Fever Beaver EP-O
6.  8/7/44  Clamecy  A/C 42-97126 The Latest Rumor EP-D
7. 13/7/44  Munich
8. 14/7/44  South of France  A/C 42-37936  All American Girl EP-M
     (recalled)
9. 17/7/44  Auxerre   A/C 42-32412 Mason and Dixon EP-G
10. 18/7/44  Kiel   A/C 42-107233  EP-N
11. 19/7/44  Schweinfurt  A/C 42-39867 EP-E 
12. 20/7/44  Merseburg  A/C 42-107233 EP-N
13. 21/744  St Lo (ground support) A/C 42-107233 EP-N

MEMO 2:

SSgt. Robert B. Crooks 
According to discharge papers, he completed 80 combat missions, 2 tours of duty in the B-17's and B-25's. He was responsible for inspection, maintenance and repair of armament. He also manned upper-turret, waste gunner and toggleer positions during combat. He was awarded an air medal with one silver and 2 bronze OLC. He also received the Distinguished Flying Cross, Good Conduct medal and American Defense medal. He fought battles and campaigns in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Normandy, Northern France and Rhineland. He passed away at 89, after a well lived life

                                           ROBERT BLAIN CROOKS
                                             STAFF SERGEANT 
                                UNITED STATES ARMY AIR CORPS
                                                      WWII

The following notes were taken by me, Marilyn Crooks Nyulassie, and my sister Vonda Crooks Brock.  We are Robert’s nieces.  His older brother and his only sibling was our father.  These notes were dictated to us by Uncle Blain (as we called him) when he was 86 years old.  He passed away three years later.
Robert Blain Crooks was a cowboy.  He also loved working on engines, but his first love was being a cowboy. His job description when he entered the service was “Assisted father on livestock ranch.  Fed and tended cattle and sheep. Rode horse back to herd cattle.  Raised some feed crops. Supervised sheepherders, drove a 1& ½ ton truck.”
My uncle’s journey in the Army Air Corps began on August 11, 1941 when he was drafted into the Army.  At the time he was drafted he was working as a ranch hand on our grandfather’s sheep ranch near Aspen, Colorado. 
The following are experts from some of his letters home, telling us where he was and what he was doing:
August 3, 1941	Fort Bliss, Texas
October 25, 1941	Air Corps Technical School, Lowery Field, Colorado
January 25, 1942	McCord – B25 Medium Bombers, 83rd Bomber Squadron, 
			        McCord Field, Washington
			       “I am a PFC making $36.00 a month.
February 7, 1942	McCord Field. “I am in a bombing Sqdn. We have B25 ships, they are medium bombers”
June 10, 1942	“Going to be instructor in chemical warfare, there is a rumor we 	start a heavy bomber squadron 
July 3, 1942		Have not left yet, but will soon.  Sargent now getting $132.00
July 19, 1942	McDill Field. “I did a little practice shooting from our new plane on the way down.  My turret sure works good”


EGYPT, JULY 1942
Uncle’s first deployment was to the Mediterranean Theatre.  He flew his new B25 Mitchell over.  He laughed because it was painted pink to better blend in with the sand in the desert.  On the way to Egypt they had to stop at Ascension Island to spend the night.  There was no food or any kind of rations on the island. They had to wait till morning to continue their flight, however, they had to wait a little longer than they wanted to because of the “wide awake birds” so called because they woke up early and flew off to find food. The planes could not take off until the birds left their roosts and cleared the runway.
12th Bombardment Group (Medium) Devesir
Mediterranean Theatre of Operations, 83rd Bombardment Squadron, “THE BLACK ANGELS” arrived in Ismailia, Egypt from the US with the B25s.  First Mission was August 16, 1942. The camp was made up of tents dug into the sand in hopes of anchoring them to keep them from flying away in the many dust storms, and wind that were frequent in the desert. This did not work very well and sand got into everything.  They would also occasionally have a rain storm which would flood the tents.  In general, the desert was a miserable place to be. 
The B25’s had to line up almost touching wing tip to wing tip on take off because they would kick up so much sand when they started up they could not see the runway.
My uncle really didn’t like the snakes either, one time he related, they came back from a mission with about 20 bullet holes in the plane, but that didn’t scare him, when he stepped off the plane and almost stepped on a snake. That scared him! He said he hated them and expected to find one in his bed anytime.
On another occasion they were coming back from a mission but had not deployed all their bombs. The plane had just touched down on the runway when a British fighter plane appeared above and just in front of them trying to land on the same runway.  The fighter pilot tried desperately to climb up and away but was too low to clear their plane.  The fighter plowed over the top of them and crashed into the top of their plane.  Everyone in the B25 bailed out through any opening they could find to flee the area.  Uncle said he bailed out too and ran like hell for a few seconds, then he realized there was no way he could run fast enough to get out of the way if the plane blew, so he immediately turned back and headed for the crash site to see if he could help extricate the pilot of the fighter. He and some other men did manage to pull him out of the burning plant to safety.  The bombs never exploded.  The pilot of the fighter survived.  Uncle said it was one of the closest calls he had.

Another time the they were coming back to base from a mission when they ran out of gas.  The pilot switched to his “Tokyo Tanks” stationed under the wings.  For some reason the lines plugged and the gas could not get through so they just had to land the best they could.  Uncle said they landed in a field full of vehicles and tanks.  They were all thinking they had bought the farm. When they hit the ground the plane bounced up in the air and over a tank, the next obstacle was a large truck, the plane bounced over that too.  The crew guessed the guys at the base thought they had crashed and burned as they all came rushing out with an ambulance.  No one was injured, they all walked away in one piece.

One of the planes Uncles crew was assigned to was named “13”.  There was one of the crew who was extremely superstitious.  He kept harping on the issue until even the pilot was extra careful.  They were on the runway, or “sandway”waiting to take off when suddenly a fighter plane came in for a landing and made a large cloud of dust, so the pilot of 13 decided to wait a bit for the dusts to settle before taking off.  Suddenly another fighter appeared trying to land also.  The pilot saw the B25 and pulled up but the wing of the fighter caught 13, the next thing they knew the fighter plane was cartwheeling into and over 13.  Of course it really messed 13 up. Uncle said he heard a sizzling sound and was afraid the bombs would go off but they didn’t.  The fighter pilot survived the crash, 13 was so damaged she never flew again.
There were things that also happened that had nothing to do with flying.  The 83rd had gone in after the allies had liberated an area in Lybia.  They found a large wine factory containing vats of wine that had not been damaged.  The flyers sat about filling up five gallon cans with wine.  They all had black teeth from drinking it.  When they finally got to the bottom of the vat they found a dead “WOG”.  I don’t know whether Uncle had anything to do with that or not but it was a story he told.  The story was such a highlight it was drawn up on the front of the Black Angel book.
On leave to Cairo Uncle said he was treated well and stayed in a nice hotel.  He told a story of one soldier who on leave happened into a village where they were auctioning off a young woman.  The soldier felt sorry for her and bought her, then he tried to set her free.  He did not know by doing this he was insulting the family. They later found the soldier with his heart cut out.
While on leave once, he and his buddies found a cow roaming around.  They were very hungry for beef. They killed the cow, butchered it and had a good beef dinner. They never got caught and they weren’t sure what would have happened t them if they had gotten caught.
During his time in Africa they bombed harbors, tanks and supply lines.  When bombing the harbors, they were only at about 500 ft., the ships had guns and could fire back.  He served with Canadians, Aussies, South Africans and The French Foreign Legion.  He really liked all of them but especially the South Africans.

The crew he flew with during his time in Africa 
Pilot	1st. Lt. R. B. Fletcher
CP	2nd. Lt. E. Bradly Jr.
BN	2nd Lt. D.S. McReynolds
RG	Sgt. N. S. Hulick
G	Sgt. R. B. Crooks.

He flew with this crew for all of his missions in Africa except one that I know of. On that mission his pilot was Cpt. J. McKee.
After his tour in Africa Uncle Blain came home for almost a year. He wasn’t allowed to volunteer to go back for that length of time.  He spent that year teaching basic machine gun courses.  He gave lectures and demonstrations and supervised practical exercises.  He also taught electrical bombardier controls.  He really hated teaching and was excited when he found they were forming a heavy bomber group with B17s, as soon as he could he began training for this.
During his time home our father, Uncle Blain’s older brother, died of severe kidney failure.  He was only thirty years old.  On the way to his funeral on a train, my uncle made the acquaintance of a very pretty, young lady, they really hit it off.  He told her he felt badly because he didn’t have a decent pair of shoes to wear to the funeral, she gave him her shoe stamps so he could buy a new pair of shoes.  They kept in touch and married as soon as they were able, they were married for sixty years until death parted them. I was only five when my father died but I remember very well Uncle Blain coming to his funeral.  He brought my sister and I a little pin with wings and a yellow and blue spiral on it.  I still have the pin.


EUROPE    May 4, 1944 to September 28, 1944
After training for the heavy bomber group, Uncle was sent to Thorpe Abbots.  He arrived May 4, 1944.  He told us he was so busy he had little time to think of anything else.  He joined Lt. Luther Bennett’s crew May 22, 1944.  The first letter we received from him was dated June 7, 1944.  He had flown out the day before, D Day, however, his  plane was called back because of the location of our troops. He said the weather was really bad, and the bombs were armed, but they landed safely.  The letter we received from him written June 7, 1944 was so cool, he didn’t mention anything about their flights, he seemed to be very careful not to say anything that might get the censors attention. All he said was “ we are pretty busy now and you probably know.”  I could not find any other letters from him referring to this time.  I know my mother kept all his letters so I can only assume some of them got lost in her moves.

Crew 
Lt. Luther Bennett	Pilot
Lt. Robert Baker Co Pilot
Lt. Donald R. Gillis	Navigator
Lt. Alvin Christopher Bombardier
T/Sgt. John Cannon ROG
T/Sgt. Harrison Roach, Jr.	TTE
S/Sgt.  Frederick A.Kirchubel      BTG       
 S/Sgt Arthur W. Flowers  WG			    
 S/Sgt Robert B. Crooks      WG
 S/Sgt/ Salvatore J. Guido   TG 
 
Uncle Blane came home after his last flight on September 28, 1944 to Merseburg.  He told us that the guys just groaned when they find they were going to Merseburg because they had to fly down a valley with both guns firing at them.  
September 28, 1944 is the same date he received his “Lucky Bastard” Certificate, for coming back from 80 missions with his underwear unsoiled, he said he wasn’t too sure about that part of it. The certificate was signed by Commanding Officer Thomas S. Jeffreys.

After finishing his tour in England, he took a ship full of war brides home, he said it seemed to him like they were all pregnant and all sick. He was really glad to get off that ship.  He arrived back in the United States November 1, 1944.  He married his wife, our Aunt Angie November 8, 1944.  They were married 60 years until death parted them in 1989 when he passed away.
His discharge papers  give him credit for 80 Missions as does the Lucky Bustard Certificate.  I found in the notes the following:
15 Flights    Weather Reconnaissance 
35 Missions   Mediterranean, Combat Missions 
Missions    European Theater, 30 Sorties



Enclosure:
Several sheets of Mission Assignment Sheets of the 83rd.

Several years ago my sister and I had the pleasure of finding Jerry Jerome.  His father was a member of The Black Angels.  He did not fly in the same plane with my uncle, but did fly on another plane with him.  He had extensive records of The Black Angels and the 83rd.  He kindly sent us some of the Mission lists that he had.  He said there were many more.  Unfortunately, we lost track of each other and I haven’t been able to find him if he is still with us.  
My sister and I have done our best to write an accurate accounting of our uncle’s activities.  I am sure there are more, and many our uncle chose not to share with us, but what we have is enough.  He is and always will be our hero.
Marilyn Crooks Nyulassie, niece
Vonda Crooks Brock, niece

KIA / MIA / EVA / INT INFORMATION:

TARGET: DATE:  
AIRCRAFT: CAUSE:  

BURIAL INFORMATION

PLOT: ROW:  
GRAVE: CEMETERY:  

PHOTOS:

 This group of 100th airmen are identified only as the Luther Bennett Crew. Blain Crooks is Standing third from the left. Detailed Information (100th Photo Archives) also in Photo is Col John Bennett standing fat left and John Hermann kneeling 2nd from Right 

 Luther G. Bennett crew. From left; Robert B. Crooks, Luther G. Bennett, Donald R. Gills, Robert Baker, Bee Baker, Harrison Roach, Jr., Frederick A. Kirchubel, Arthur W. Flowers, Bill Bennett, (Pilots brother) and Lt. Kristovich. Detailed Information (100th Photo Archives) 

 This group of 100th airmen are identified only as the Luther Bennett Crew. Blain Crooks is Standing third from the left. Detailed Information (100th Photo Archives) also in Photo is Col John Bennett standing fat left and John Hermann kneeling 2nd from Right 

 

SERVED IN:

Crew 1

ID: 1081