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CAPT  Bernard A. DEMARCO

UNIT: 350th BOMB Sqdn POSITION: P

 Bernard A. "Benny" DeMarco, P of the Bernard A. DeMarco crew. Detailed Information Photo courtesy of Albert M. Freitas 

Stateside photo Bernard “Benny” DeMarco; his father is standing in the background (photo courtesy of the DeMarco family)

Lt. Bernard "Benny" DeMarco (photo courtesy of the DeMarco family)

SERIAL #: O-791290 STATUS: POW #2978
MACR: 00950 CR: 00950

Comments1: 8 OCT 1943 BREMEN (Original 100th, Crew #15) POW #2978

COMMENTS & NOTES

MEMO 1:

CREW

CAPT BERNARD A. DeMARCO                         P POW 08 OCT 43 BREMEN
F/O JAMES P. THAYER                                 CP POW 08 OCT 43 BREMEN
1ST LT JOHN W.DOWNS                           NAV POW 08 OCT 43 BREMEN
2ND LT FRANCIS S. HARPER                       BOM POW 08 OCT 43 BREMEN
CPL THORNTON STRINGFELLOW                   ROG POW 08 OCT 43 BREMEN
T/SGT BENJAMIN J. BARR                           TTE POW 08 OCT 43 BREMEN
S/SGT ALBERT M. FREITAS                         BTG POW 28 APR 44 SOTTEVAST (WITH LT LAKIN/COL KELLY CREW)
CPL LEO T. CALLAHAN                                WG POW 21 FEB 44 BRUNSWICK (WITH LT WILLIAM FLETCHER CREW) 
S/SGT HARRY C. CALHOUN                          WG POW 08 OCT 43 BREMEN
S/SGT LEON A. CASTRO                               TG APPOINTED AVIATION CADET.

350TH SQDN.  THIS IS AN "ORIGINAL" 100TH CREW.

LEON CASTRO HAD BEEN SHIPPED BACK TO THE STATES FOR CADET TRAINING PRIOR TO 8 OCT 43; HE WAS REPLACED BY JEROME FERROGGIARO FROM THE N.H. SCOTT CREW.  ALBERT FREITAS AND LEO CALLAHAN WERE RECOVERING FROM WOUNDS RECEIVED ON THE 6 SEP 43 (STUTTGART) MISSION AND WERE REPLACED BY WILLIAM J. WILLIAMS OF CAPT MARK CARNELL'S CREW AND WILLIAM R. WOODBURY, A REPLACEMENT GUNNER.

GALE W. (BUCKY) CLEVEN, 350TH CO, FLEW AS COMMAND PILOT.
 
Note from..jb

Flak and Fighters over target. This ship leading the 350th.  Hit by flak & fighters and forced to leave formation. Three men
injured, all eleven (11) bailed out and landed near Essen, Germany.  Taken to Frankfurt for interrogartion. Downs (Lt John W. Downs)
says bailed out near Oldenburg. Cleven (Maj. Gale W. Cleven) says bail out near Osnabruck.

CREW (see graphic)

1st Lt Wiliam H. Fletcher             P   POW  21/2/44   Burnswick
2nd Lt Richard M.Roper            CP   POW    21/2/44   Brunswick
2nd Lt George A.Browning     NAV   POW    21/2/44   Brunswick
2nd Lt Howard D.Venzie        BOM   POW    21/2/44   Brunswick
 T/Sgt James H.Whitton         TTE  Injured in crash after about 7 missions 
 T/Sgt George A.Reid           ROG   POW   21/2/44   Brunswick
 S/Sgt Pietro J.Giaquinto         BTG   POW  21/2/44   Brunswick
 S/Sgt John J.Seman           RWG   POW  21/2/44   Brunswick
 S/Sgt Alexander Sosik           LWG   POW  21/2/44   Brunswick
 S/Sgt David V.Robb,Jr.            TG   POW  21/2/44   Brunswick

 MACR #276l Micro fiche #924    A/C #42 37796

350th Sqdn. Crew,as above,joined 100th Group in early Oct.1943
On 21/2/44,T/Sgt Leo T.Callahan,from the "Original" crew of B.DeMarco,was aboard in place of 
Sgt.James Whitton and became a POW. See p.184 MIGHTY EIGHTH WAR DIARY for picture and story of 
21/2/44  Also letter from Fletcher's nephew,Joseph M.Lee (1983) --PRESENT ADDRES IS 3 SYCAMORE STATION,
DECATUR, GA 30030 PHONE (404) 373-1336..paul west (Nov 1993)

CREW
            
350TH CREW #10  A/C #42-30047 "SWEATER GIRL"

CAPT    MARK E. CARNELL                      P: CPT   ORGINAL 100TH PILOT
2ND LT  EDWARD K. MOFFLY                CP: CPT
1ST LT  ANTHONY P. GOSPODAR        NAV: CPT   11 DEC 43 EMDEN
1ST LT  JAMES P. FITTON                   BOM: CPT
T/SGT   VERN M. BEST                         TTE: CPT
S/SGT   WILLIAM J. WILLIAMS   WG: POW  8 OCT 43 BREMEN (CREW #15 LT BERNIE DeMARCO)
SGT     EDMUND A. OLIVER                ROG: POW   10 JUL 43 PARIS (CREW #12 LT CHARLES DUNCAN)
S/SGT   STEVE BOSSER                     BTG: CPT
S/SGT   PAUL A. VRABEC, JR              WG: CPT   24 DEC 43 ST JOSEPH(NOBALL)
S/SGT   FLOYD P. BULLARD                  TG: CPT       24 DEC 43 ST JOSEPH(NOBALL)

NOTE: PAUL VRABEC NOT ONLY COMPLETED 25, BUT VOLUNTEERED AND FLEW FIVE ADDITIONAL MISSIONS.

On 10 July 1943, radio operator Ed Oliver flew with Crew #12 which was lost that day and Oliver became a POW.  He was soon replaced on the crew by George Rudden from Crew #17 which went down over Kiel on 25 July.  On 8 October 1943, William Williams flew with Crew #15 and went down over Bremen.

Accordinq to a letter from Vern Best in 1980, Mark Carnell suffered a broken arm in a bicycle accident on the field and was unable to fly for a considerable length of time.  He was replaced by Bill Desanders whose crew (#17) had been lost on 25 July.  Best also says that Paul Vrabec not only completed  25 missions but volunteered for five additional and finished those.


CREW
                             1ST LT BERNARD A. DEMARCO
                             ORGINAL 100TH PILOT
CREW #15  A/C #42-3233 "OUR BABY"         MACR #950

1ST LT  BERNARD A. DeMARCO         P: POW 8 OCT 43 BREMEN
F/O     JAMES P. THAYER                CP: POW 8 OCT 43 BREMEN
IST LT  JOHN W. DOWNS             NAV: POW 8 OCT 43 BREMEN
2ND LT  FRANCIS C. HARPER         BOM: POW 8 OCT 43 BREMEN
T/SGT   BENJAMIN J. BARR            TTE: POW 8 OCT 43 BREMEN
CPL     LEO T. CALLAHAN               WG: POW 21 FEB 44 BRUNSWICK (WITH LT WILLIAM FLETCHER CREW)
COL     THORNTON STRINGFELLOW ROG: POW 8 OCT 43 BREMEN
S/SGT   ALBERT M. FREITAS           BTG: POW 28 APR 44 SOTTEVAST
S/SGT   HARRY C. CALHOUN             WG: POW 8 OCT 43 BREMEN
S/SGT   LEON A. CASTRO                 TG: APPOINTED AVIATION CADET

        ON THE BREMEN MISSION LOE CALLAHAN, ALBERT FREITAS AND LEON CASTRO HAD BEEN REPLACED BY JEROME FERROGGIARO WHO FLEW AS TTE ON THIS MISSION (FROM CREW 13), WILLIAM J. WILLIAMS-BTG (FROM CREW 10) AND REPLACEMENT GUNNER WILLIAM R. WOODBURY-LWG. THE 350TH SQUADRON COMMANDER MAJ GALE "BUCK"  CLEVEN WAS ON BOARD.  ALL ELEVEN MEN REACHED THE GROUND SAFELY AND WERE TAKEN PRISONER.  CLEVEN LATER ESCAPED, RETURNING TO THORPE ABBOTS.  AS ESCAPING POWS WERE RESTRICTED FROM  RETURNING TO OPERATIONS, HE RETURNED TO THE STATES.
***********************

MEMO 2:

Bernard Andrew “Benny” DeMarco was born on February 8, 1918 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and the DeMarco family moved to Wilmette, Illinois shortly thereafter. The information detailed below on DeMarco’s WWII service was provided by John DeMarco and documented by Matt Mabe (100th BGF historical team).

Entrance into the Military: DeMarco enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps on September 9, 1940 as he wanted to learn to fly planes. DeMarco knew the country was about to go to war, but his desire to be a pilot far outweighed the personal dangers of war. DeMarco said he didn’t feel there was a bullet out there that had his name on it, perhaps the other guy, but not him. His initial training was as a radio operator but he soon began studying to take the qualifying test for cadet school. He scored well on the exam and was admitted to pilot training. DeMarco’s admittance was briefly held up for “clearance purposes”, and he learned that the military conducted an additional review of his family as his parents had been immigrants from Italy.

Friendship with Francis Harper: DeMarco was very close with his bombardier Francis Harper. During stateside training when they received a week of leave, Harper did not have enough time to travel back home to Alaska, so DeMarco invited Harper to come stay with his parents outside of Chicago. During his visit, Harper gave a presentation at an all-girls school where DeMarco’s sister attended, and Harper discussed his life in Alaska and Native American traditions. DeMarco recalled one instance at Thorpe Abbotts where Harper was injured on a bicycle; however Harper said it won’t stop him from flying missions, and Harper indeed did not miss any missions because of the injury.

Regensburg Mission: DeMarco said the pilots were warned during the mission briefing that they would take very heavy losses and DeMarco’s crew was given the “coffin corner” in the flying formation. DeMarco said his gas light was on and he was flying on empty when he finally reached Algeria. When he landed he counted 100 holes in the plane.

Bremen & Buck Cleven: While at Thorpe Abbotts, DeMarco developed a close friendship with Buck Cleven. When Cleven decided to fly with DeMarco’s crew for the Bremen mission on October 8, 1943, DeMarco told Cleven he thought it would be a “milk run.” After dropping their bombs and starting their return to base, their plane encountered more enemy fire which crippled their plane. With the plane losing altitude very quickly, DeMarco gave the order to bail out. DeMarco and Cleven were the last ones to bail out of the plane. DeMarco felt since he was the pilot he should be the last one out and Cleven felt since he was the highest ranking officer he should be the last to go. As the story goes, they both jumped out together. After the war, DeMarco remained in contact with Buck Cleven. Each year on October 8th, they would call each other and reminisce about that fateful day. DeMarco died on August 19th, 1992, and to keep with the tradition, DeMarco’s son John called Buck Cleven on October 8th of that year.

Stalag Luft III: In early January 1944, DeMarco told his parents that Harper was temporarily held in a separate part of the camp [note: This may have been a reference to when Harper was in solitary for an escape attempt]. As such, DeMarco said he primarily spent his time with his fellow officers James “Skip” Thayer and John “Johnny” Downs. In DeMarco’s letters from Feb/Mar 1944, Harper is apparently back with them as DeMarco passed along Harper’s best wishes in a letter he sent home and Harper also sent a POW letter to DeMarco’s family. In letters sent to his parents, DeMarco told his family that he and his fellow captives passed the time doing things like studying and playing bridge. DeMarco also told his parents that Buck Cleven was there with him.

Escape Attempt at Stalag Luft III: During Christmas 1943, the Germans brought in several large barrels of beer (low alcohol content) for the American POWs, which were quickly consumed. A plan was hastily devised to have DeMarco attempt to escape by hiding inside an empty beer barrel. While the Germans were hauling away the trash and the barrels, they saw that one of the barrels was unusually heavy. A German officer cocked his machine gun, pointed it at the barrel and said to “get out.” DeMarco complied, and was then sent for a stint in solitary confinement.

Treatment at Moosburg (Stalag VII-A): While DeMarco was held at the POW compound in Moosburg, there was a particular German officer who was unusually cruel to DeMarco. When John DeMarco asked his father “What did they do to you there?”, his dad replied “I’m sorry, I can’t go there, but let’s just say this officer did everything he could to make my life miserable.” When the camp was liberated, this same German officer was captured by the POWs, and another American officer brought the German to DeMarco and handed DeMarco a .45 caliber pistol, and said “we’ll say he was shot while trying to escape.” DeMarco took the pistol, put it up to the German, but decided not to pull the trigger. DeMarco said to take the German away and keep him in custody. During the course of his time in Stalag VII-A, DeMarco said he witnessed the Nazi Swastika flag flying high from the church steeple in the town of Moosburg. On April 29th, 1945 he watched as the Nazi flag came down and the Stars and Stripes went up. It was a very profound moment for DeMarco and he looked at his watch so he would never forget that exact moment in time. It was a moment that resonated in DeMarco’s memory for his entire life.

Click to open the flight log of Bernard DeMarco."

KIA / MIA / EVA / INT INFORMATION:

TARGET: Bremen DATE: 1943-10-08  
AIRCRAFT: "Our Baby" (42-3233) CAUSE: EAC  

BURIAL INFORMATION

PLOT: ROW:  
GRAVE: CEMETERY:  

PHOTOS:

 Crew photo of the Bernard A. DeMarco crew. Standing (L to R): Benjamin J. Barr TTE, Thornton Stringfellow ROG, Harry C. Calhoun TG, John W. Downs NAV and Francis C. Harper, BOM. Kneeling; Leon A. Castro WG, Leo T. Callahan WG, Albert M. Freitas BTG and Bernard A. DeMarco P. Detailed Information Photo courtesy of Albert M. Freitas 

 Part of the Bernard A. DeMarco crew: (Left to Right) Standing; Benjamin J. Barr, Leon A. Castro and Leo T. Callahan, Kneeling; Harry C. Calhoun and Albert M. Freitas with "Misty." Photo taken May 1943 in Casper, Wyoming. Detailed Information Photos courtesy of Albert Freitas 

 Part of the Bernard A. DeMarco crew: (Left to Right) Harvey Wardell Holloman - crew chief, Leon A. Castro, Albert M. Freitas and Harry C. Calhoun. Casper, Wyoming May 1944 Detailed Information Photos courtesy of Albert Freitas 

 Albert Freitas of the Bernard A. DeMarco crew and "Daphnie" in back and John N. Spiker of the William G. Larkin crew and Harry S. Lenk of the Herbert G. Devore crew in front. Photos courtesy of Albert Freitas 

Francis Harper and Bernard DeMarco with three students from Mallinckrodt High School where Lt. Harper gave a presentation on Native Alaskan Culture. (Photo courtesy of the DeMarco family)

Bernard DeMarco with his sisters Veronica, Mary, and Margaret (Mrs. Elmer Nelson). Photo courtesy of the DeMarco family. 

Nicola and Aurelia DeMarco posing with Bernard DeMarco (photo courtesy of the DeMarco family)

Bernard DeMarco's aviation cadet class photo (courtesy of the DeMarco family)

Article on Bernard DeMarco (photo courtesy of the DeMarco family)

Article on Bernard DeMarco (photo courtesy of the DeMarco family)

Article on Bernard DeMarco (photo courtesy of the DeMarco family)

Telegram home to the DeMarco family (photo courtesy of the DeMarco family)

Telegram to the DeMarco family (photo courtesy of the DeMarco family)

Stateside training photo of Bernard DeMarco (photo courtesy of the DeMarco family)

Benny DeMarco's POW file (photo courtesy of the DeMarco family)

Newspaper article showing Bernard DeMarco and Francis Harper (photo courtesy of the DeMarco family)

The original 350th Squadron patch from Benny DeMarco's A-2 jacket (courtesy of the DeMarco family)

Bernard DeMarco in the cockpit of "Our Baby" (courtesy of the DeMarco family)

 

SERVED IN:

Crew 1

Crew 2

ID: 1249