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SGT. RALPH D. MADERA, 776TH BS, 464TH BG, 15TH AAF, WW2
Technical Sergeant Ralph D. Madera,776th Bombardment Squadron, 464th Bombardment Group (H) 15th Army Air Force picture in the waist gun window of his B-24 Red J after it had been almost torn in half from flak over Blechhammer, Germany
Please add my father, Technical Sergeant Ralph D. Madera, to your roster of the 776th Bombardment Squadron, 464th Bombardment Group (H) 15th Army Air Force. His first mission with the 776th was 09/02/1944. His 35th mission with them was 04/10/1945. He was the "Tex" of the "Red J" mentioned in the editor's insert to John W. Graham's story, "Me and Pistol Packin' Mama." Yes, by his own account, he did use his shoestrings for the repair. He received the Distinguished Flying Cross for that mission.
Note:Technical Sergeant Ralph D. Madera's daughter Linda is interesting in hearing from you if you can help her with her research of her father. If you knew or knew of Technical Sergeant Ralph D. Madera during or after WW2 she would love to hear from you. Please e-mail me and I will forward any information to her
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Below is an insert From Master Sergeant John Graham's "Me and Pistol Packin' Mama" at http://www.zplace2b.com/464th/stories/stpmom.htm
After "Pistol Packin' Mama" was retired, I was assigned to "Red J". It was unpainted as were all replacement planes because they were said to fly a bit faster than the olive drab ones due to less wind resistance. Also the extra time consumed in camouflage painting may have been a factor.
"Red J" only made 16 missions and by a miracle landed on two engines at home base. The tail assembly was badly damaged and the control cables were cut. The crew had taken the arming wires from the bomb racks and spliced the cables together.
Above the waist doors (windows) the plane was nearly cut into two pieces by a direct flak burst. Gas tanks were punctured but the self-sealing tanks proved their worth. The wings had numerous holes. The aircraft did not return to its 776th hardstand but was salvaged for parts.
FROM AN EDITION OF THE 464TH BG NEWSLETTER
This apparently was the plane flown by Dave Eppley, of York County, PA, who we have not been able to locate. I recall that it was the 2 December '44 sortie to Blechhammer South Oil Refinery and that Dave scattered the formation by erratic flying till he recovered control by using the auto pilot. Because our crew had not been re-outfitted as yet after the Monday 20 November 44 ditching (Blechhammer South Refinery also), I was tower officer that day and when the red Very signals blossomed above the aircraft that had requested an emergency approach, I grabbed the binoculars and focused on the incoming B-24. As John has said, the aircraft was almost cut in half at the waist windows. The turtle back was cut badly and I was fearful that the fuselage would buckle when it landed. John stated that the bomb arming wires were used to splice the cables, however I heard that the engineer used his shoe laces to do this. His name was and is Tex, but that was because he was from Texas. A picture of this aircraft was published in the January '91 464th newsletter.
Above picture: David R. Eppley's crew, my dad Technical Sergeant Ralph D.Madera 776th SQ is 3rd from left on the bottom row
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