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Gerald Raschke - World War II

Gerald (Jerry) Raschke served as a tail gunner on a B-26 Marauder medium bomber in the European theater during World War II. Flying missions with the 320th Bomb Group, first out of Sardinia, then Corsica, and finally from a base south of Dijon, France, he chalked up sixty-one missions before being sent home. His plane was forced to crash land three times, but miraculously, not a single crew member was ever wounded or killed on any mission. Jerry shared his many detailed memories about the war, specific missions, and what it was like to serve in one of the most dangerous assignments of World War II.

Interview Links

Feature Excerpt 01

Kicking Bombs Out Of Aircraft

Abstract

Interview Session 01 (Audio)

Early life and Army Air Force training as a machine gunner on a B-26

Interview Session 02 (Audio)

Aerial combat as a B-26 tail gunner flying out of Sardinia and Corsica

Interview Session 03 (Audio)

Aerial combat while the 320th Bomb Group was based in France

Videos



Photos

Caption

Jerry Raschke when he was three, in Omaha, Nebraska.

Where:

Omaha, Nebraska

When:

1927

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

The Raschke family gathered for a photo in Omaha, circa 1928. Young Jerry is in the front center.

Where:

Omaha, Nebraska

When:

Circa 1928

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

In 1929 North High backfield star “Rambling Richard” (Jerry’s older brother) led all intercity prep scorers with 79 points, 13 touchdowns and one kick for extra point. The article appeared in the Omaha World Herald.

Where:

North High

When:

1929

Ownership:

May be restricted. Patrons desiring to use this photograph should contact the ALPL Audio-Visual Curator

Caption

A photo of Private Jerry Raschke in 1943 while he was stationed at Amarillo Air Force Base, Texas for Basic Training.

Where:

Amarillo, Texas

When:

1943

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption

Jerry Raschke while he was stationed at Barksdale, Louisiana near Shreveport, Louisiana in 1943. He received armament training while at Barksdale.

Where:

Barksdale, Louisiana

When:

1943

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption

Jerry went through his B-26 Marauder training with this group. [L-R] Joseph Mirabella, Howard Kithcart, Francis Youssi, Jerry Raschke, Roland Mitchell and John Hart. Mitchell was killed on August 15, 1944 and Kithcart died on February 6, 1945.

Where:

Barksdale, Louisiana

When:

Circa 1944

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

A member of the ground crew waits on the tarmac in Sardinia in the summer of 1944. The 320th Bomb Group was based there. The Group’s missions at the time were being flown against targets in Italy. (occupied territory).

Where:

Sardinia

When:

1944

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

The briefing for the invasion of southern France which occurred on August 15, 1944.

Where:

France

When:

August 15, 1944

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption

Jerry took this picture of a B-26 going down over Italy circa August 1944. As he recalled, two or three of the crew members survived, to include his tent-mate, Harvey Mullis.

Where:

Italy

When:

Circa August 1944

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

On Raschke’s Mission #9 on August 29, 1944, they flew against a railroad bridge near San dona Piave, Italy. Note: 1st bomb hit dead center on the bridge. Also see the next photo.

Where:

San dona Piave, Italy

When:

August 29, 1944

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption

On Mission, #9 on August 29, 1944 the bulk of the squadron’s bombs also hit the railroad bridge at San dona Piave, Italy. Note the tight bomb pattern in the bottom, center of the photo. Jerry’s good friend Blue was the squadron photographer.

Where:

San dona Piave, Italy

When:

August 29, 1944

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption

For Jerry’s Mission #32 on December 13, 1944 he wrote this on the mission report. “Crash landing with a full bomb load during Mission #32. Asher-Pilot, Rahl (KIA), Stone, Cirmo, Raschke.”

Where:

Italy

When:

December 13, 1944

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption

Jerry took this photo from the ground at Longecourt of a bomb group returning from a mission over Germany during the winter of 1944.

Where:

Longecourt, France

When:

1944

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

The 441st Squadron of the 320th Bomb Group bivouacked near Longemont, France in early 1945. Raschke’s tent is in the center, rear.

Where:

Longemont, France

When:

early 1945

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Bombs away for Jerry’s Mission #41 on February 2, 1945 against an ammunition fuel dump in Ramsbach, Germany.

Where:

Ramsbach, Germany

When:

February 2, 1945

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption

Before the war, the headquarters for the 320th Bomb Group in Longemont, France was the residence of an 18-year old Countess who the French hid from the Germans for her protection. Spring 1945.

Where:

Longemont, France

When:

Spring 1945

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption

Raschke served on the Lady Lynn on his 60th mission, shortly before he headed for home in May 1945. The Lady Lynn was the last B-26 shot down over Europe in WW II.

Where:

France

When:

Circa May 1945

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption

Bob Hope is on stage during one of his USO shows while he entertained the 320th Group in May 1945. Jerry missed the show, as he had departed the Group by that time.

Where:

Unknown

When:

May 1945

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption

Mildred and Jerry in the summer of 1945 in Omaha shortly after his return to the states.

Where:

Omaha

When:

Summer of 1945

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Raschke shows the signs of his year in combat and 61 combat missions in this photo taken in near Dijon, France (Longecourt) in the spring of 1945. He was sent home in July 1945.

Where:

Dijon, France

When:

Spring of 1945

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption

Jerry Raschke and Mildred Astleford pose together for a photo in August 1945 in Omaha, Nebraska, shortly after Jerry returned home from Europe.

Where:

Omaha, Nebraska

When:

August 1945

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Mildred and Jerry shortly after he returned to the States in August 1945.

Where:

Omaha, Nebraska

When:

August 1945

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

One of the squadron’s B-26s was hit by enemy flak and lost a wing before crashing somewhere over France.

Where:

France

When:

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption

The 320th Group held a Christmas party for the children of Longecourt. The little girl to the right of Santa Claus is Jeannette Fouchet. (See next photo) Jerry is the dark shadow behind Santa’s right shoulder.

Where:

Longecourt, France

When:

Christmas 1944

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

The bodies of the dead litter the ground outside the Ordruff Concentration Camp, near Buchenwald, Germany. This was the scene that so repulsed Jerry’s brother Richard when he saw it in 1945.

Where:

Ordruff Concentration Camp, near Buchenwald, Germany

When:

1945

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption

Two survivors at the Ordruff , Germany Concentration Camp (part of the Buchenwald camp system). Jerry was spared these scenes that so haunted his brother, who served in the Army.

Where:

Ordruff Concentration Camp, near Buchenwald, Germany

When:

Unknown

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption

A B-26 flies over Vatican City in Rome. Jerry took the photo of a B-26 that escorted them during the first of three times Jerry’s bomber was forced down.

Where:

Vatican City in Rome

When:

Unknown

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

The newlyweds, Jerry and Mildred Raschke on their wedding day in Omaha, June 22, 1946. Jerry wrote “the beautiful bride” next to the photo.

Where:

Omaha, Nebraska

When:

June 22, 1946

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

A reunion for the 320th Bomb Group, date and place unknown. Jerry started to attend reunions in the 1960s. He became the chaplain of the reunion group.

Where:

Unknown

When:

Unknown

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Jerry visited Longecourt in 1981 and met Jeannette Fouchet Cantain - the girl from photo #24 – and her husband and daughter. Note the resemblance.

Where:

Longecourt, France

When:

1981

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

These are the decorations, rank and other items from Jerry’s long career in the Air Force. Most notably, he received eight Air Medals, six Bronze Medals for the major battles he participated in, a French Croix de Guerre and the French Legion of Honor.

Where:

Unknown

When:

Unknown

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo



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