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Saturday, June 11, 2016

In Memoriam: John J. Crummey, U.S. Army Air Corps, POW, WWII

Given my respect for my father's generation of Americans, those who fought in World War II, today I rode further than my normal radius to stand a flag line at the church in Northwood, then at graveside in Deefield, with the New Hampshire Patriot Guard Riders.

Given my connections with, respect for, and love of Romania, this was a doubly-moving mission for me. You see, Mr. Crummey served as a flight engineer and turret gunner on a B-24 Liberator for the U. S. Army Air Corps, and his plane was shot down, he was wounded, and then captured on a mission from a base in Italy to bomb oil installations in Ploesti, Romania, on 6 May, 1944.

Here is a link to his Mr. Crummey's obituary:

15th Air Force B-24 Liberator, WWII
At the church in Northwood this morning, before the flag line was posted, John Crummey's youngest daughter (appearing to be a woman of fifty-something) came over to the car where our flags were waiting, and thanked the NHPGR for our presence at the funeral.  In the conversation that ensued, she told us a little more about her father's experience when his plane was shot down by a German fighter.  She said her Dad had told her that the plane was burning when the order was given to bail out. Being a top turret gunner, John had to descend through flames to get to the parachutes, and suffered burns that resulted in his receiving the Purple Heart.  In the fuselage he found a parachute, but when he jumped from the plane, he could not locate the rip cord.  Luckily, he discovered in time that he had the chute on upside-down, and found the rip cord on the opposite side from where he had expected it.  When he landed in a Bulgarian mud flat, he became stuck, and stayed there until pulled out by a German patrol.  He spent the next four months in a German P.O.W. camp.

The mission they were flying had been to bomb the oil industry in Ploesti, Romania, a primary source of fuel to the German forces.  

There was a large turnout today for Mr. Crummey's funeral.  Along with multitudes of grandchildren and great grandchildren were many of my age and older.  Obviously, Mr. Crummey had been a well-loved man in his community.

Here are a few pictures taken at the rural cemetery in Deerfield, New Hampshire, where the late John J. Crummey was laid to rest.

Representatives of today's U.S. Army provided full military honors. The sergeant who played taps gave the finest rendition of that tune that I have ever heard. There were few dry eyes in the flag line, if any.



For more history of the Ploesti campaign, please see:

Quoting from that website:  
   About 300 B-17s and B-24s, escorted by P-51s and P-38s, hit targets in Romania; the B-17s attack an aircraft factory at
 Brasov and marshalling yard at Turnu Severin; the B-24s bomb Ploiesti/Campina marshalling yard and an aircraft factory at Brasov."

Without apologizing for what had to be done at the time to defeat Hitler's forces, I hereby express my heartfelt sympathy to any of my Romanian friends whose relatives may have been killed of wounded in this campaign, some 71 years ago.