Last Known Activity
Robert M. Lasker was born in Wisconsin on February 17, 1923, a son of Mr/Mrs Herman Lasker. He graduated from Eau Claire High School in 1942 (one source states 1943), and enlisted in the US Army Air Forces in June, 1942 while attending Harvard University. He was called to active duty in February, 1943.
He was selected for flight duty, and graduated from Navigator's school on April 22, 1944. He was commissioned, and assigned to an operational unit in Tennessee for bomber training. He was sent overseas to England in July, 1944, and joined the combat crew headed by Lt William Lay.
He flew 8 credited missions with this crew, the first being in July, 1944. On September 28, 1944, the target was the Krupp Grunsonwerke A. G. plant located at Magdeburg, Germany. On the bomb run, the formation was suddenly attacked by a large number of enemy aircraft. Lay's aircraft was first seen as being in trouble when other crews in the formation reported it was on fire from the waist toward the tail.
The flames soon spread throughout the entire aircraft, as it rolled to an inverted position and plunged to the ground. Only one crew member survived. German reports state 9 bodies were recovered near the crash area, 4 that were identified and 5 rated as unknown. (Later it was learned that one of the bodies was from another B-17 shot down in the same area.)
These dead were buried in small local cemeteries in Heiningen and Linden, villages near the target. After the war, they were recovered and moved to various cemeteries. Lt Lasker was returned to the U.S. and buried in the Forest Hill Cemetery in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
Lt Robert M. Lasker was the assigned navigator on B-17G # 43-38206, named "Silver Fox," assigned to the 358th Bomb Squadron.
Missing Air Crew Report 9408 was issued to cover this loss. According to mission loading lists, the crew was composed of:
2 Lt William P. Lay p
2 Lt David A. Grenier c-p
2 Lt Robert M. Lasker nav
2 Lt Jackson R. Bohannon bomb
Sgt Ray A. Miller eng/tt gun
Sgt Freddie E. Kane r/o
Sgt Donald T. Hasper waist gun
Sgt Henry F. Gillespie tail gun
Sgt Richard J. Chaltraw tail gun
Note: Grades and ranks as given on date of mission.
Note: Sgt Miller was the only survivor, and was captured.
Note: Mission log gives both Gillespie and Chaltraw as tail gunner. Personnel records state Gillespie was the ball turret gunner.
Service photo source: