Last Known Activity
According to records located, Jack H. Benford was born in Portland, Oregon in September, 1915. His parents were Harry F. and Mary P. Benford. The US Census 1930 shows the family living in Portland. The US Census 1940 has Jack with 4 years of college (unnamed) and working as a truck driver.
Considering his rank and assignments, it is feasible he entered service in 1943. He was trained as a bombardier, and deployed to England about May, 1944. He was assigned to the William Wilon combat crew but flew only 10 missions with this crew. He flew 12 missions with other pilots and crews. He was a substitute on the fatal mission with Lt Hahn. He registered 23 total credited missions.
On September 28, 1944, the target area was a manufacturing plant in Magdeburg, Germany. While on the bomb run, the formation was attacked by a large number of enemy fighters. The aircraft in which Benford flew as substitute bombardier was hard hit. There was a large hole blown in the wing, a gas tank behind #4 engine was hit and roared into flame, while control systems were shot away. Several of the crew were killed in the plane at their stations. The bail-out signal was given, then the ship exploded.
Crew interviews later posited the death of Lt Benford while still in the plane. Several of the crew managed to parachute to safety, but at least two were murdered on the ground. Official records show 6 were Missing in Action (presumably killed) and 3 were taken prisoner. The dead were buried in a common grave. They were later retrieved and Lt Benford now rests in Wilhelm's Memorial Cemetery in Portland, Oregon.
www.303rdbg. com/combat crews
US Census 1930
US Census 1940
Lt Jack H. Benford was a substitute bombardier on B-17G # 42-97805, unnamed and with no nose art, assigned to the 360th Bomb Squadron.
Missing Air Crew Report 9412 was issued to cover this loss. Mission loading lists verify the crew was composed of:
1 Lt James T. Hahn p
2 Lt James O. Fulks c-p
2 Lt Charles F. Olson nav
2 Lt Jack H. Benford bomb
TSgt Pete M. Kalasky eng/tt gun
SSgt John R.Conklin r/o
Sgt Andrew Garbowski btg
SSgt Robert D. Proctor waist gun
SSgt Hans Howald tail gun
Note: Grades and ranks as of mission date.
Note: Fulks, Olson, and Kalasky survived but were taken prisoner.
In the Wilson crew photo, Benford is in the back row, 3rd from left.