Last Known Activity
Richard J. Adam was born in Merchantsville, New Jersey, on May 29, 1915. In 1933, the family moved to West Chester, Pennsylvania to operate a dairy farm. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Richard and his brother quit farming, sold the dairy equipment, and Richard entered the Army Air Corps in March 1942.
After basic training, he was trained as an aerial gunner, and stationed at Tonopah, Nevada. In January 1944, he married Bette Dowdell at Tonopah. In March 1944, he was sent to North Africa where he was a crew member on a B-17. The unit moved across North Africa as bases were liberated, and finally moved to Italy.
Sgt Adam flew 30 missions, and on May 29, 1944, on a scheduled bombing mission to Wollersdorf, Germany, his aircraft was hit by flak. The aircraft went into a steep dive, trailing smoke from #2 engine. The aircraft banked to the left, dove, went into a tight spin. The aircraft exploded, but all the crew managed to bail out. They landed in Yugoslavia, and were found by partisans. Two of the crew were killed during the jump, and one was badly injured.
Wreckage from the aircraft fell to earth near Velike Plain. The partisans rescued five of the crew, but the injured man died.
On 10 June 1949, Sgts Adam and Leonard were returned to the U.S. and were buried together in Woodlawn National Cemetery in Elmira, New York. They lie in Plot G Site 4855.
The partisans buried Sgts Adam and Patersen at the crash site. (See photos.) A memorial was erected on the crash site in Yugoslavia in 1990.
Sgt Richard J. Adam died on his 29th birthday.
USAAC-USAAF Aircraft Inventory Records
USAAC Accident Reports
The aircraft in this incident was B-17G #42-97580, unnamed, assigned to the 353rd Bomb Squadron.
Missing Air Crew Report 5444 applies, and identifies the crew as:
2 Lt Francis A. DiDonizio p
2 Lt Otto H. Hinds c-p
2 Lt Jerome M. Cohen nav
2 Lt Charles L. Wensley bomb
Sgt William M. Lessere eng/tt gun
SSgt George A. Bertuzzi r/o
Sgt Richard J. Adam btg
Sgt Lester F. Paterson wg
Cpl Harold G. Swensen tail gun
SSgt Jimmie G. O'Leary photographer
Sgts Adam and Paterson were KIA; Lt Hinds died in partisan hospital; Lt DiDonizio and Sgt Benuzzi were captured; remainder were returned by partisans.
One of the POW crewmen later related that Lt Hinds stayed at the controls, steadying the aircraft long enough for the rest of the crew to bail out. Then, in his struggle to leave, he opened his parachute accidentally. According to reports, he jumped with his chute bundled in his arms, and released it after he was clear of the plane. Because he jumped at under 1,000 feet, the chute never opened properly, severely injuring him upon landing. These are the wounds he died from after four months in the partisan's hospital.