I was leading the second section of fifteen aircrafts on a Ploesti mission during the summer of 1944. I got back to San Pan with seven ships even though not all were lost. Ploesti was not the only tough target that we hit, but we hit it so often that we came to dread to see it come up. The thing that made this such a memorable mission was ships lost and what occurred later. I had been over Ploesti without losing any planes. Henry Ford called Col. Graf and told him he was going to have to bail out. Col. Graf told him to use his own judgment but advised him to get as far as he could before bailing out. His left vertical fin and rudder were shot away, the nose section of number one engine was shot away, number three prop was running away and controlled only with the feathering button~ his hydraulic system was inoperative, and he had other damage. The feathering pump motor finally burned out, and he lost number three. He finally bailed out over Yugoslavia. They walked back and returned to San Pan. I think this was the mission that Capt. Moen, the armament officer, went on to see what it was like. The irony of this is that Henry Ford was shot down at Eglin AFB in 1946 while flying a B-17 mother ship controlling a B-17 drone. A P-47 was demonstrating use of radar in shooting down a plane. He locked on the mother ship instead of the target ship. Henry survived the war but was killed in this accident. Pop, the mess officer, told Moen he was going to get shot down, and he would drop him some cognac and a few loaves of bread.
August 17, 1944