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S/SGT  Ray U. MUFFLEY

UNIT: 349th BOMB Sqdn POSITION: WG

Pvt. Ray U. Muffley, Class 44-18, Flexible Gunnery School, Kingman Army Air Field, Ariz. (1944 yearbook, pg 116) - later Waist Gunner with the John Carroll Crew, 349th BS, 100th BG (H) - shot down 3 March 1945 while flying with Thrasher Crew over Brunswick and became POW. Photo courtesy of Chip Culpepper.

SERIAL #: 19022708 STATUS: POW
MACR: 12892 CR: 12892

Comments1: 3 MAR 45 BRUNSWICK (SEATTLE, WA)

COMMENTS & NOTES

MEMO 1:

CREW

2nd Lt John A.Carroll II             P     RFS                                                                          sn# O-452627
2nd Lt Thomas E. O'Neil        CP       KIA    31/3/45   ZEITZ  (with Lt Larsen Crew)               sn# O-925131
2nd Lt Joseph D.Bohrer         NAV    FEH    BECAME RADAR OPERATOR ON LT MURRAY CREW sn#O-2060229 
2nd Lt David D.Crichton,Jr.   BOM      NOC                                                                        sn#  O-723952
 S/Sgt Joseph M.Popson      ROG      KIA    31/3/45   ZEITZ (with Lt Larsen Crew)                sn# 13026774
   Cpl Raymond R.Bazata       TTE     KIA    31/3/45   ZEITZ (with Lt Larsen Crew)               sn# 37484231
   Cpl James P.Myers,Jr.       BTG      CPT   14/3/45   SEELZE & HANOVER                           sn# 13047398 
   Cpl Ray U.Muffley             WG       POW   3/3/45    BRUNSWICK (with Lt Thrasher Crew)  sn# 19022708 
   Cpl Clement P.Chovanak WG/TG    CPT     5/4/45    NURNBURG                                       sn# 19211161     
   Cpl John E.Kaiser,Jr.       TG/WG    POW  31/3/45  ZEITZ (WITH LARSEN CREW)               sn# 18243028

349th Sqdn.  Crew, as above,joined the 100th Group on 5/10/44.
Original ROG was Cpl Robert L. Greenlee sn# 37670254.  Chovanak was the original TG and Kaiser was a Waist Gunner.  Kaiser was serving as a TG on Lt Larsen Crew when they were shot down on Mar 31, 1945 and Chovanak completed his tour as a spare gunner. 

T/Sgt Jamse P. Myers flew 68 missions in the Pacific with the 5th Air Force in B-24's.  Then he flew 33 missions with the 100th Bomb Group. 
 
The 4 men who wert down on 31/3/45 were flying with the crew of A.G.Larsen. Ray Muffley was with the crew of J.W.Thrasher on 3/3/45

According to a letter from Lt Bohrer to Fred Wiegman on May 16, 1991, the above Crew was broken up because Lt John Carroll could not handle it anymore. They sent Lt Bohrer to radar school to train to be a Mickey Operator. After the training, I returned to the 349th and was put on Lt William Murray's Crew.  We flew about twenty lead missions and the crew consisted of:

LEAD CREW

2ND LT WILFORD B. MURRAY        P FEH
2ND LT GEORGE D. TIMMS          CP FEH
F/O HIRAM J. JOHNSON            NAV FEH
2ND LT ROBERT SWAN                BOM   FEH (FROM LT L.C. WILLIAMS CREW)
CPL FRANCIS L. LEANY             ROG FEH
CPL JOHN J. SIMPSON               TTE FEH
LT JOSEPH BOHRER                      RAD   FEH (FROM LT CARROLL II CREW)
CPL PAUL M. NEFF                   WG FEH
CPL JOSEPH E. OWEN                 TG FEH

29 JAN 45 KASSEL, TANK WORKS (This seems a long time between missions)..pw
14 FEB 45 CHEMNITZ, CITY (100TH "A" & "B")
17 FEB 45 FRANKFURT & GIESSEN
25 FEB 45 MUNICH, MY
28 FEB 45 KASSEL, MY
02 MAR 45 RUHLAND & DRESDEN, FACTORY AREA
12 MAR 45 SWINEMUNDE, DOCKS
14 MAR 45 SEELZE & HANOVER
17 MAR 45 RUHLAND * PLAUEN
19 MAR 45 FULDA, LUTZKENDORF, & JENA
22 MAR 45 ALHORN, AF
24 MAR 45 STEENWIJK/HAVELTE  & ZIEGENHAIN
31 MAR 45 ZEITZ, OIL REFINERY(100TH B, C & D)
04 APR 45 KIEL, SUB YARDS
09 APR 45 MUNICH/REIM, AF 


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

Letters to Chovanak 1983/1984 unanswered.

CREW

2nd Lt Jack W.Thrasher        P  KIA     3/3/45  BRUNSWICK
2nd Lt Ernest F.Coble,Jr.     CP  NOC                                                 A/C #44 8220
2nd Lt Gerald A.Rimmel     NAV  POW  3/3/45 BRUNSWICK                   MACR #12892,Microfiche #4704
   Cpl Thomas C.Browning  TTE  POW  3/3/45 BRUNSWICK
   Cpl Albert L.Egsieker      ROG  POW  3/3/45 BRUNSWICK               TAPS: 25 MAR 1970
   Cpl Alfred S.Collins          BTG  NOC                                            TAPS: 13 DEC 1971
   Cpl George E.Mensler       NG  NOC                                             TAPS: 1985
   Cpl Joseph E.Turenne     WG  NOC                                                   TAPS: 28 MAR 1954
   Cpl Cecil A.Baker          TG   KIA   3/3/45 BRUNSWICK

349th Sqdn. This crew,as above,joined the 100th Group on 3/12/44.

On board the A/C on 3/3/45  were:Lt Charles S.Bayha,  CP from the crew of J.V.DePlanque. He became a POW.   Lt Harry F.Bott,  BOM from the crew of Denzil Naar.  He became a POW. Lt Willis R. McGuire, Radar Nav from the crew of L.C.Williams was KIA. Sgt.Ray U. Muffley, WG from the crew of J.A.Carroll was a POW. 

EYEWITNESS:  "A/C 44-8220 was attacked by one of six jet E/A which made a pass at the formation at 1018 hours over the target just before bombs away.  The #1 engine was hit and burst into flames.  Bomb bay doors were closed and the aircraft slid away to the left.  The left wing crumpled and the aircraft flipped over on it's back and exploded.  The fuselage broke at the waist door and both wings fell away.  One chute was seen to leave the aircraft before it exploded.  Later  four (4) others were counted.  Pilot was seen in cockpit 30 seconds prior to the explosion."


Hi Janice; Here's what I current have on 1st Lt. Arthur G. Larsen....(Combat missions)....Just an FYI on how the 100th BG flew Group formations....On missions listed, the 100th flew 3 Squadron formations, A,B,C, Squadrons, with a LEAD,LOW, and HIGH FLGT. in each...with the exception of 28 & 31 March which are 4 Squadron formations, A,B,C,D...(The Group went to a 4 squadron formation as early as  23 March,1945  from what I've seen,flying 3 Squadron formations as late as 19 March,1945   Jack O'Leary     

# 276  10 MARCH,1945  DORTMUND,RAIL YARDS  C SQUADRON,LEAD FLGT, LARSEN  470  T  13A   (HARDSTAND 13A, AIRCRAFT 
          # 44-6470 XR-T )  
# 278  12 MARCH,1945  SWINEMUNDE,DOCKS   B SQUADRON,HIGH FLGT,LARSEN  470  T  13A , 
# 279 14 MARCH,1945  HANOVER,RAIL YARDS, A SQUADRON, HIGH FLGT , LARSEN  470  T  13A, 
# 280   15  MARCH,1945  BERLIN,ORANIENBURG, RAIL YARDS,  C SQUADRON, HIGH FLGT, LARSEN  945  F  48  (HARDSTAND 48, AIRCRAFT 
           43-38945  LD-F)  
# 282  18 MARCH,1945  BERLIN, RAIL YARDS,  B SQUADRON, LEAD FLGT,  LARSEN  470  T  13A,  
# 289  HANOVER,TANK PLANT 28 MARCH,1945  A SQUADRON, LARSEN  514  J   22  ( HARDSTAND 22, AIRCRAFT 43-38514  XR-J )  
# 291  ZEITZ/BAD BERKA  OIL REFINERIES  31 MARCH,1945  ,D SQUADRON, LARSEN  470  T  13A 


CREW
DATE: 31 March 1945          349th Sqdn.        A/C #44-6470

MISSION: Zeitz                                            MACR#13714,Microfiche#5010


1st Lt Arthur G.Larsen            P    KIA
1st Lt Thomas E.O'Neil       CP    KIA  (from Lt Carroll Crew)
2nd Lt Dale F.Watterson     NAV     KIA
T/Sgt Charles M,Dineen   TOGG    KIA
T/Sgt Raymond R.Bazata    TTE    KIA  (from Lt Carroll Crew)
T/Sgt Joseph M.Popson      ROG   KIA  (from Lt Carroll Crew)
S/> Willard P.Bostrom      BTG   KIA
S/Sgt Marvin F.Barner       WG    KIA   (from Lt Wieland Crew)
S/5gt John E.Kaiser           TG    POW  (from Lt Carroll Crew)

349th Sqdn.  Crew,as above,was taken from microfilm of the original  MACR. However, Sgt Obuchowski  (WG) was not aboard this A/C on 31/3/45. S/Sgt Marvin F.Barner was flying as WG and was KIA.

Of the above,O'Neill,Bazata,Popson and Kaiser were members of J.A.Carroll's crew which joined the 10Gth Group on 5/l0/44. Barner was from the crew of R.E.Wieland.

Arthur Larsen,Willard Bostrom & John Obuchowski were members of the John H.Williams crew when it joined the 100th on 23 Aug.1944. Larsen & Bostrom left that crew when it became a Pathfinder crew.

The Command Pilot for this mission was the 100th's unflappable "Air Boss",  Lt. Colonel Harry F. Cruver, shortly thereafter to become the Group Commander. Of interest is that the Command Navigator was Major Harry Crosby, the Group Navigator. Both of these "Harry's" are larger than life figures in the history of the 100th. 

EYEWITNESS:  " A/C 44-6470 was hit by flak immediately after bombs away.#3
             engine was knocked loose and dropped off the wing.The A/C nosed
             up;then leveled off and started for the undercast in a steep glide.
             At the Rally point pilot made a 180 degree turn and headed back
             toward Russia. He was heard over VHF saying that #4 prop was running away
             and that he would attempt to reach the Russian lines. The A/C was
             under control and there was no fire. One chute was seen to leave
             the A/C. Allied fighters were escorting A/C."

          STATEMENT OF S/SGT. JOHN E. KAISER.JR. 18243028

The following information was received by Captain Charles W.Terry,Station 139
Prisoner of War Officer on interrogation of S/Sgt.Kaiser 24 April 1945.S/Sgt
Kaiser, since this date has returned to the Zone of Interior.

    "On 31 March 1945,A/C 44-6470 was hit by flak while over the target at
Zeitz, Germany and its #3 engine was knocked out of its mount. It nosed up out
of the formation,levelled off,then started down in a steep glide. Just before
reaching the undercast,the pilot was heard to say he would try to reach the
Russian lines and the A/C went into the undercast on an easterly heading."

    S/Sgt Kaiser was flying as tail gunner and states that his A/C was hit twice.
After the flrst hit it remained in level flight and the engineer called on inter-
phone to ask if he was allright.There were noises from the front that sounded
like pieces of the plane were ripping away. When it was hit again a few seconds later,
the A/C started down in a steep glide. He fastened on his chute and called over in
interphone but no one answered. He looked back into the waist but could see nothing
because of smoke. The A/C was vibrating badly so he decided to get out. His cloth-
ing hung on the handle of the escape hatch and he was trapped there for about 30
seconds. He tried to climb back  nto the A/C but was ueak from lack of oxygen
and could not,so he pulled his-self up as far as possible and let go. This freed
him from the plane so he opened his chute and looked down. He floated across the
German Air Field located at 5059 N 1231 E. As he floated over the woods just east
of this A/F,he noticed that there were hundreds of E/A dispersed there. He landed in
an open field just east of the woods and was momentarily unconscious. When he came
to,he saw several soldiers (Luftwaffe) approaching,so he stood up with hls hands
over his head.

    After being captured and brought to a Prisoner of War Camp at Weimer he was
interrogated by a German Officer. The interrogator asked him the names of the
members of his crew. He gave him their last names end was told that his crew had
crashed a few miles away and all had been killed. As proof he produced a basket
containing the dog tags, bill folds, watches, and other personal property of the men.
Sgt.Kaiser was allowed to look through this equipment and when he found the wedd-
ing ring of his Pilot,1st Lt Arthur G.Larson,Jr. he asked the Interrogator if he
would not allow him to take it to Lt.Larsen's wife. He replied ''sure" and gave it
to him.

Subj: Re Crash of # 44-6470  
Date: 7/4/2002 5:02:15 PM Pacific Daylight Time 
From: JaniceKay4 
To: MPFaley, GOODMANC@BU.EDU, janr@cei.net 
 
Holidays seem to give incentives to write, and this July 4th I have recently received letters which confirm the crash site. The researchers also express the real possibility that the crew were murdered by SS troops and we may never have formal documentation on what happened. In 1955, there were rosters for 131 American dead still believed to be interred in East Germany.

This note is for you three personally because you have all  done so much to help solve the mystery of my father's death.  Please do NOT publish the note in the Splasher Six.  Let's wait until after we have heard something definitive and official from the US Army Memorial Team.  I just want to keep you updated as the search continues.

July 4, 2002

RE: Crashsite of AC #44-6470

I have recently received letters from Europe which confirm the crashsite of AC #44-6470 near Oberlungwitz, Germany.
"I can now confirm definitely that the bomber that crashed at Oberlungwitz (for which Mr. Giegling and the Community of Ernstthal-Hohenstein have collected eye-witness accounts etc.)is the one piloted by Lt. Larsen because all other bomber losses on that day are now accounted for.  The burial of T/Sgt Dineen in Ernstthal can be considered as circumstantial evidence for this loss of the Larsen aircraft.  Wreckage of the B-17 near Oberlungwtz has been completely removed since." As for the crew, Mr. Hey believes the crewman could have been victims of a war crime. Earlier, I forwarded the reports that 4-7 parachutes were seen, followed by SS troops searching for the crew with dogs and warning the people of the area that they would be shot if they aided the airmen. Mr. Hey  gave me suggestions to follow documentation although in his records, there is NO entry for victims of the 31st of March, 1945 Ernstthal area.  Then, the War Crimes records do not always show the names of the victims.

My German correspondent, Mr. Horst Giegling, has been in touch with Mr. Hey and with the people of Chemnitz and also sent me an important update.  Mrs. Korbitz of Chemnitz had a childhood memory of a burial at an unmarked grave and has recently returned to the site. Mr. Giegling's  friend at the U.S. Army Memorial Affairs Activity-Europe called Horst and said that the office intends to visit the area in August and will contact Mrs. Korbitz.  After so many years, there is little hope of recovering the remains of Lt. Larsen's crew but steps are being taken to explore possiblities.

Although the crashed plane has been moved, Mr. Giegling has sent me photos of the field where the plane crashed.  He actually included a small piece of metal he found at the site, about the size of a dog tag (but definitely NOT a dog tag.)  Again, the consideration of the researchers involved have become an important part of the search for the air crew.

On days like today, we know the price that has been paid for our freedoms. Thank you all for your continuing support in the search for Lt. Larsen's crew.  
Sincerely, Janice



100th Bomb Group Reunion–Houston, 9 Oct 2003

Once again, Jim and I had the privilege of attending a Reunion for the 100th Bomb Group. This became a highly anticipated event because of contacts ahead of time. Phil Soto, a flight engineer and friend of the togglier on my father’s plane, called me to make sure we would attend. Then, I was able to coax John Kaiser, the tailgunner and sole survivor of my father’s plane to attend as well. He had plans to be in Houston in the fall and arranged his schedule to visit the Reunion. We knew Ron Leigh was flying in from England with Jim Gintner. And finally, Darrin Barner, the nephew of the waist gunner, promised to attend. We had been in touch with John and Darrin for the past three years, but this would be our first meeting in person. Add to this the special people we have come to know as part of the 100th BG being together, and our excitement was understandable.

I can’t really say that we visited Houston, because Jim and I took the shuttle directly to the Adam’s Mark Hotel, and stayed there for the Reunion. We didn’t take any of the tours offered because we wanted to spend our time with the people of the 100th BG. Jan Riddling and Cindy Goodman seemed to be everywhere touching bases, connecting people, and putting their energy into the activities with Jim Gintner recording along with them. We were also impressed with the continuing enthusiasm of Jan Zdairsky to personally meet with as many people as possible.

Thursday, John Kaiser came to the hotel and quickly joined the Gunner’s Roundtable. John is a very quiet and precise man with an excellent memory for details. From the Roundtable discussion throughout the reunion, he was always surrounded by people talking and asking him questions. He was particularly touched to meet with the other gunners and with Joe Bohrer who was the Navigator on John’s first crew. The casual evening dinner was enthusiastically used to make contacts, to introduce each other to families, and to renew the special bond that holds the 100th BG together. 

On Friday, John Kaiser spent a number of hours going over photos and stories of the 100th. One outstanding feature at this Reunion was the electronic site set up by the three webmasters. A continuous slide show flashed images from sixty years ago. Meanwhile, Harry Nelson, Charles Cole and Paul West organized their equipment so that they could immediately scan precious photos and documents brought to the Reunion. These historical documents were entered into the 100th BG archives while the participants could describe them and then immediately take the original documents home with them. Mike Faley was instrumental in this documentation and took personal histories as well. 

Saturday contained the Membership meeting, more reunions in the Activity Room and sales of books. Greg Hatzenbuhler accepted memorabilia donations and described the artifacts he had displayed. Darrin Barner joined us for personal discussions with John Kaiser and for the banquet dinner. The Banquet was filled with a positive energy as participants continued to renew old friendships. For me, this was a time to meet with other daughters who were searching for their fathers, Adrian Liest Caldwell and Sharon Lewis Cross. I was familiar with their searches from reading SPLASHER SIX but to meet personally added a whole measure of meaning. Both daughters praised their husbands who as advocates furthered their searches. Ken Breaux who also assisted them took an interest in our search for AC #44-6470.

Sunday, we were on the speedtrack known as "the Beltway" back to the airport. For all the words and tributes paid to the Veterans and their families, the personal contact of being with them, listening in on their discussions, and sharing just a bit of their lives is even more energizing. There exists a wordless bond between these men and women who shared a most electric experience over 60 years ago. When I was leaving another Veterans reunion, one gentleman looked at me and said, "You think you know what went on, what it was like...but you can never know." Thank you, 100th BG for giving me a glimpse of what I can never know...

 

SEARCH UPDATE: In November, the Mortuary Services from Germany are scheduling a visit to the Ebersdorf Church with ground penetrating radar. At that time they will decide if the site should be scheduled for a comprehensive search. The visit dates will be determined by their responsibilities in Afghanistan and Iraq. Meanwhile, Jim is searching for three remaining families of crewmen to submit their names to the Army for possible mtDNA sample donors. The search, and the people involved, remain an inspiration to us.

MEMO 2:

From J. A. Carroll Crew.

KIA / MIA / EVA / INT INFORMATION:

TARGET: Brunswick DATE: 1945-03-03  
AIRCRAFT: (44-8220) CAUSE: EAC  

BURIAL INFORMATION

PLOT: ROW:  
GRAVE: CEMETERY:  
ID: 3742