As told by 2 Lt. Keith J. Koske, navigator:
We were on our way into the enemy coast when we were attacked by a group of FW 190s. On their first pass, I felt sure they had got us for there was a terrific explosion overhead and the ship rocked badly. A second later the top turret gunner, S/Sgt. Tyre C. Weaver, fell through the hatch and slumped to the floor at the rear of my nose compartment. When I got to him, I saw his left arm had been blown off at the shoulder and he was a mass of blood. I first tried to injejct some morphine, but the needle was bent, and I could not get it in.
As things turned out it was best I didn't give him any morphine. My first thought was to try and stop his loss of blood. I tried to apply a tourniquet, but it was impossible as the arm was off too close to the shoulder. I knew he had to have the right kind of medical treatment as soon as possible and we had almost four hours flying time ahead of us, so there was no alternative. I opened the escape hatch, adjusted his chute for him.
After I adjusted his chute and placed the ripcord ring firmly in his right hand, he must have become excited* and pulled the cord, opening the pilot chute in the up draft. I managed to gather it together and tuck it under his right arm, got him into a crouched position with legs through the hatch, made certain again that his good arm was holding the chute folds together, and toppled him out into space**. I learned somewhat later from our ball turret gunner, Sgt. James L. Ford, that the chute opened O.K. We were at 24,500 feet about 25 miles due west of Hannover, and our only hope was that he was found and given medical attention immediately.
The bombardier, 2nd Lt. Asa J. Irwin, had been busy with the nose guns and when I got back up in the nose he was getting ready to toggle his bombs. The target area was one mass of smoke and we added our contribution. After we dropped our bombs we were kept busy with the nose guns. However, all our attacks were from the tail and we could do very little good. I had tried to use my interphone several times, but could get no answer. The last I remember hearing over it was shortly after the first attack when someone was complaining about not getting any oxygen. Except for what I thought to be some violent evasive action we seemed to be flying okay.
It was about two hours later when we were 15 minutes out from the enemy coast that I decided to go up to check with the pilot and have a look around. I found the pilot, Lt. Campbell, slumped down in his seat, a mass of blood, the back of his head blown off. This had happened two hours before, on the first attack.
A shell had entered from the right side, crossed in front of F/O John C. Morgan, the co-pilot, and had hit Campbell in the head. Morgan was flying the plane with one hand, holding the half-dead pilot off with the other hand, and he had been doing it for over two hours!
Morgan told me we had to get Campbell out of his seat as the plane couldn't be landed from the co-pilot's seat as the glass on that side was shattered so badly you could barely see out.
Morgan and I struggled for 30 minutes getting the fatally injured pilot out of his seat and down into the rear of the navigator's compartment where the bombardier held him from slipping out the open hatch. Morgan was operating the controls with one hand and helping me handle the pilot with the other.
As reported in The Route as Briefed, by John S. Sloan, Argus Press, Cleveland, Ohio, 1946.
*According to notes from waist gunner Sgt. Gene Ponte, Koske put Weaver's hand on the rip cord.
Blood had frozen their hands together.
When Koske pulled his hand away, he pulled Weaver's hand also and thus the rip cord.
The chute caught on the fuse panel.
If it had opened all the way, he wouldn't have been able to send Weaver out.
At a reunion 37 years later, both Ponte and Weaver concluded this was probably the best thing that could have happened.
Both doubted Weaver had the strength to pull the cord himself.
**At a reunion 37 years after the mission, Weaver said he would always remember Koske's smile of encouragement as he left the a/c.
He was picked up immediately.
In December the squadron learned that he was well and a P/W in Stalag Luft IV.
Details from Col. James S. Sutton, 92nd Bomb Group CO
Morgan piloted during t/o, up to combat area
Campbell had just taken over controls when first group of fighters attacked
first pass* knocked out oxygen system to radio, waist, tail
a moment later an attack came at 2:00 out of sun
20 mm shell through windshield on co-pilot's side, totally shattering
passed in front of Morgan
hit Campbell in head
skull split open
pilot fell over wheel, wrapping arms around
a/c into dive
Morgan grabbed controls on his side, tried to pull a/c back into position
had to fight pilot
Campbell 6', 185 lbs, heavily muscled
held onto control column instinctively
*attack was from seven o'clock, spraying through the left side of a/c
a/c moved eratically through formation as Morgan tried to counteract pilot's struggling
visibility limited by shattered glass
could see above, to side
Morgan decided to stick with formation
had to pilot a/c with one hand, hold off pilot with other
did this for two hours
after Campbell was brought to the nose, the plight of the gunners was discovered
when revived, found to be badly frostbitten
Morgan had assumed they had bailed out
a/c had been undefended except for nose, ball turret guns
when Morgan brought a/c over England all the fuel gauges were in the red
gas tanks had been hit
lot of fuel lost
heavy traffic at first field saw
Morgan moved into pattern, landed
John Foley - TG - cranked wheels, flaps down by hand
Campbell died 1½ hours after reached England
rest of crew survived
Morgan was presented with the Congressional Medal of Honor on 18 December 1943 by General Ira Eaker at a special ceremony at 8th AF HQ. The presentation was broadcast on the BBC evening news. By this time Morgan was serving with the 482nd bomb group.
1 Lt. Robert L. Campbell - P
F/O John C. Morgan - C
2 Lt. Keith J. Koske - N
2 Lt. Asa J. Irwin - B
S/Sgt. Tyre C. Weaver - E
T/Sgt. John A. McClure - R
Sgt. James L. Ford - BT
Sgt. Eugene F. Ponte - WG
Sgt. Reece B. Walton - W
S/Sgt. John E. Foley - TG
Last updated 1-26-01 0738 est (1238 z)