William Paterick's crew who were to fly the famous Flame McGoon on July 31, 1944 climbed aboard ready to head to Targoviste, an oil storage plant in Roumania. This was better known as the Ploesti Oil Refineries, one of the toughest targets in Europe at the time. As one of the oldest and most experienced crews, Bill's had the privilege offlying the Flame that day. Only the oldest and best crews were allowed this honor for two reasons: first, this plane led the Squadron and second, thanks to the love of the ground crew this plane was always in perfect flying condition. The Flame had seventy -five missions at this point without a turn back, which was an exceptional record.
Bill tells us that the 376 group formed in the air above Italy and headed east toward the Roumanian oil fields. "We went with the thought that we might be able to destroy the target once and for all. About 10:30 AM the group lead navigator flew the entire formation over four flak guns which were known to be there from our briefing that morning. Unfortunately, the Flame took four hits and went down in flames. All ten of the crew bailed out of the plane. The bombardier and navigator tried to go down double on one parachute as the bombardier's chute was destroyed with the first hit. The bombardier broke loose from the navigator and fell to the ground. He fell onto the plane and the eight thousand pound bombs we had on board exploded. Three of the crew were shot to death on the way down and the six remaining crewmen were captured within a short time. Had the plane flown another two minutes we would have come down in the mountains of Yugoslavia and may have been able to make contact with the underground and made it back home .... "
Listed are the names of the crew, their position and status
as I know it.
Paterick, William J.
in Woodland, Ca.
Editor's note: Status as of November 1989
"I believe this will finish the story of the Famous Flame McGoon. It is written as I remember it."
William J. Paterick
(Pilot of the last mission of the Flame McGoon)
Editor's Note: William Frese, the navigator that day on the "Flame," writes that he was flying his 50th mission on the famous good luck ship - and that they were shot down over Bar, Yugoslavia.