Last Known Activity
Eino Viljo Alander was born around February/March of 1920, in Finland. He came with his family at age 8 months on the S.S. Caronia in December, 1920. Records at Ellis Island show that on October 23, 1924, Eino (age 4 years) accompanied by (presumably) his mother, arrived from Copenhagen, Denmark on the ship Hellig Olar. The address given is Indianapolis, Indiana, where the family settled some 3 years before.
Eino enlisted in the U.S. Army at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana on June 2, 1942 as a private. At this time, he had attended college for one year, and was working as a draftsman.
However, by the end of 1943, he had completed pilot training and arrived to join the 562nd Bomb Squadron of the 388th Bomb Group at Knettishall Air Station, England. Although rated as a B-17 pilot, he was assigned to Lt. Clarence A. Gridley's crew, replacing Lt. John Cyphers.
His first mission was flown on December 31, 1943. He continued flying missions with this crew until March 6, 1944, when a mission was scheduled against Berlin.
The trip to the target was relatively uneventful, although flak was heavy over the target. On the return home, the formation was engaged by a number of FW-190 and BF-109 aircraft as it approached the Dutch border. Six of the formation bombers were shot down, Lt. Gridley's being one of them. Four of the aircraft crashed within miles of each other near the town of Schoeningdorf, Germany.
According to some records, seven of the air crew were taken as POWs, and the remaining three were Killed In Action. Other accounts vary.
Lt. Alander is buried in Ardennes American Cemetery and Memorial located at Neuville-en-Cordroz, (Neupre) Belgium. He lies in Plot D, Row 3, Grave 38.
Aircraft involved was B-17G #42-31194, "Duchess of Dixie," 562nd Bomb Squadron, 388th Bomb Group. Missing Air Crew Report number 3084 applies.
According to 388th Bomb Group records, the crew consisted of:
1 Lt Clarence A. Gridley p
2 Lt Eino V. Alander c-p
2 Lt Donald F. Mecum bomb
TSgt George H. Hockenberry r/o
TSgt Robert W. Fanning r/o
Tsgt James H. Parker eng
SSgt David E. Liebman btg
SSgt James W. Johnson lwg
SSgt Bayne F. Tucker rwg
SSgt Selmer Thompson tail gun
There are discrepancies in the various reports concerning this aircraft loss.
According to the 562nd Bomb Squadron sortie listing, Fanning is listed as navigator; and Tucker is listed as ball turret gunner.
The MACR and 388th records state Alander, Parker, Liebman, and Tucker were KIA; others POW, disputing other reports that there were 3 KIA, 7 POW.
One account states that 2 crewmen were killed, with one being wounded and dying later of his wounds, leaving the figure of 7 POW intact.
Service photo source: